East Coast corridor fly fishers have been described by bloggers “out west” as being smartly schooled in the old traditions of fly angling, but decades behind understanding the advantages of switch rods, spey rods, and of late, micro spey fly rods. They add, of course, lack of understanding a myriad of technical fly line developments – like OPST Commando Heads and Lazar running line.
It might be hard to argue their position
Visit any fly shop in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, New York, New England and maybe the Canadian Maritimes, and you will probably agree. Why? Because there are no switch rods, micro spey rods, shooting heads, tips or anything “spey” in those shop coordinates. And more than generally, no “reliable” knowledge regarding the latter. There are exceptions.
So as to not bog down with a lengthy discussion of all that was aforementioned, let’s take a look at what seriously qualified folks know about micro spey rods – Winston and Redington, and the OPST’s Commando (shooting) Heads and their remarkable Lazar running line.
Field & Stream’s Tim Romano on micro spey rods:
“When I first heard the term micro spey, I was a bit incredulous. I thought someone was simply referring to a switch rod. Micro speys are intended to be cast with both hands, whereas switch rods can be used with one or two hands, theoretically. . . . micro-spey rods (2- to 5-weight range). When used correctly, these rods can open up a whole new world of casting and fishing possibilities – letting you utilize two-handed techniques once reserved for salmon and steelhead anglers . . .”
Joe Rotter, Red’s Fly Shop guide service manager, commented on a new shooting head: OPST Commando Heads:
Rotter said he had never thought of a short 12- to 15-feet long shooting head could be effective but admitted he was very wrong.
“This is perfect for trout spey guys that need to do the ‘”fishy”’ stuff like jigging, side drifting, and strip retrieving. You can shoot a substantial amount of line, especially when paired with the OPST Lazar Line . . . it is considered the best.”
Think of the possibilities – you can keep on ticking
Editors’ Note: I put an OPST shooting head (275 grain) and Lazar Line (90-feet) on my formerly retired Sage Bass rod… the original one, not Bass II. The little 7’ 11” work-horse morphed. It launched, as if nitroglycerin injected, a dumbfounding 90-feet with rod and line purchasing the distance on their own. I overshot the mark on my initial cast by about 40-feet.
I coaxed a gathering of fly shop rats at my favorite stop in Georgia and had them all test drive my Sage / OPST “contraption.” Each, only capable of mounting a technical response: Holy s—t! The guffaw a response to reaching unplanned distances with a minimal effort.
Distance does not necessarily catch fish; often it’s a hindrance when trout fishing – think overline spook. What it does translate to is casting all day with very little shoulder and wrist employment, and much-improved accuracy.
More on micro spey – a guides point of view and what rods got game
Erik Carlson, a seasoned guide and Red’s fly shop winter season sales aid, as well as, fixer of whatever needs fixing, had this to say about micro spey rods.
We started our discussion on switch rods, which we agreed are not switch rods when they exceed 11-feet, or if a rod gets called a switch rod by a manufacturer and it’s over 11-feet, they are just short spey rods because they are a bear to overhand cast.
Erik, what about these new micro spey rods – who buys them? Are there length issues like there are with switch rods? What is the fascination?
“The micro spey rod addressed those folks who want to spey cast for trout – small species. Almost all the rod makers that have met the rush to satisfy the explosion of interest in micro have limited their selection to 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-weight rods.
No one has decided length limits as a guide, but the best rods are switch length or slightly longer. A 14-foot 3-weight would, most think, cause huge management problems.
The secondary reason for micro popularity is they are a lot of fun – it’s as simple as that. We have found new to fly angling folks buy them and spey dedicated anglers who want to trout fish have swarmed to them.”
An East Coaster who is on top of all things fly fishing
Richard Farino, former GM of Urban Anglers’ failed Virginia attempt to expand beyond its Manhattan (New York City) headquarters, is well versed in the use of, as well as limits of long rods in East Coast waters. Richard is probably the most knowledgeable individual in the Mid-Atlantic East Coast about matters fly fishing… or at least, the most qualified to have an “industry” opinion.
We asked him what he thought of micro spey rods and OPST Commando Head, and their Lazar running line: “The micros are great. Although we don’t have “spey” dedicated anglers here in the Washington DC area, these rods have gained in popularity because they lend to easily being cast and fished with. The 4-weights I’ve cast were the most impressive (Winston and Redington), and when I open my shop, it’s that micro weight that I’ll be sure to carry.
If someone catches a smallie (smallmouth bass) on the Potomac River using a micro, they’ll probably never go back to there 9-footer. It’s that much fun.
The OPST Commando Head and Lazar line can rejuvenate any old rod laying about in a closet. It can make casting a delight for the least of casters. And because of that, it’s a great teaching tool because it would be impossible to not feel the rod load, and there is no initial need to double haul to gain distance.”
All micro spey rods are not created equal – this one was easy
We have our micro rod preferences, and so do those we interviewed, as well as others we talked to. It seems it’s a perfect a cappella – Winston Boron III TH – Micro Spey Trout Rods
Winston Boron III TH – Micro Spey Trout Rods – 3 Weight – 10’6″ – 4 Piece
Winston Boron III TH – Micro Spey Trout Rods – 4 Weight – 11′ – 4 Piece
Winston Boron III TH – Micro Spey Trout Rods – 5 Weight – 11’6″ – 4 Piece
A critique, if it can be called that, was a consensus also. The Winston Micro Spey 4-Weight does everything the 5-weight can do, but the three was too light.
The question – is Winston’s micro worth $800? If you like near perfection, yes. If you can afford it, yes. If you are going to have one trout rod, yes. Does it cast better than number two micro fly rod? There is no number two, but there is a good micro that our interviewees gave good marks:
Redington Hydrogen Micro Spey Trout Rods – 2 Weight – 11’ – 4 Piece
Redington Hydrogen Micro Spey Trout Rods – 3 Weight – 11’ 3” – 4 Piece
Redington Hydrogen Micro Spey Trout Rods – 4 Weight – 11’ 6” – 4 Piece
There is an advantage aside from pocketbook protection. The Redington four casts the same heavy munitions as Winston’s five. No, it does not cast as well, but the fish don’t know that. Their three can be used as a switch rod, and that is a real advantage. Don’t turn your nose up on Redington’s entries.
Others shouted out in the micro category were Orvis’ Helios, R. B. Meiser Fly Rods, and Steve Rajeff’s ECHO. There are other micro-rods out there that will perform well so be sure to do your test drives.