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Spey Lines

by Matt Barthels
07/10/13 Schmidt Outfitters

With the two handed and swinging scene starting to gain popularity, there have been a lot of new developments in spey equipment. One of the largest areas of development is in spey lines and shooting heads. These are constantly changing and improving in both castability and fishability.

After years of few new developments, Scientific Anglers has completely overhauled their spey department. One of the best new lines to come out recently is the Skagit Extreme Intermediate Shooting Head. Skagit lines are great because they are typically pretty easy to cast and can turn over an extremely heavy sink-tip and a big bulky fly. Floating Skagits have been around for years and still work quite well, but there are some downfalls of the floating heads. First and foremost, with a thick floating line and a heavy sink tip, there is a hinging effect and the floating belly tends to hold the sink-tip up a bit. With the intermediate head, there is much less hinging and it keeps you at depth longer. Secondly, with a floating line you are at the mercy of the surface current speed which is quicker than the current where the fish hold. The intermediate line will sink a bit below the surface and slow your swing down. This is especially important as the water temperature starts to drop. I have found that with the intermediate heads, you can run a bit lighter head than you do for the floating head. For example, on the same rod you run a floating 560 grain head, you can run a 520 grain intermediate head.

Another great new line from Scientific Anglers is the Skagit Extreme with Integrated Tip. This is a floating line and was developed to eliminate all loops connecting running line to head and head to tip. It has a 12 foot length of T-12 integrated right onto the end of the head, and this lack of loops means no more hinging and no more loops getting caught up in the guides. Overall, it is an extremely easy casting line. It is great for fishing shallower runs and slower moving water where the intermediate head is just not needed. Although it is not the most versatile because you cannot change tips out, it is a great choice for those looking to get into the spey game as it is probably the easiest casting line out there.

RIO has long been an innovator in the spey game. This year they introduced a new intermediate Scandi line. If Skagit lines are not your thing and you want something that feels a little more precise and less bulky, this is a great line. Although Scandi lines are a bit longer in length making them more difficult to cast than Skagits, this line casts very nicely. As an intermediate head, it provides the same benefits as the intermediate Skagit because it doesn’t hinge and slows down the swing. Since this is a Scandi head, it is thinner than the Intermediate Skagit and therefore cuts through the water better.