Spey Rod Specs and Thoughts
What we have learnt so far
Bamboo as a material has some great features. Its responsive, sensitive and beautiful to behold. At one time it was the material of choice and was latter superseded by technology - fibreglass and graphite, synthetic materials. So can bamboo compete with these modern materials? The answer it is it has a place where it can compete quite nicely. Through hollowing and design bamboo spey rods in the shorter lengths,13 and under, are right in there. I would think of a bamboo rod as not a rod that does everything ,but as an arrow in your quiver. Its part of your arsenal. That is not to say that the longer bamboo rods are not worth having. Sure they are heavier and slower, but some people groove on this. I offer this type of rod a well. See then speycaster series.
The River Series Spey Rods
These modern bamboo spey rods are light and responsive. Being shorter the best suited lines are the shorter Scandinavian floating lines that are now made in shooting head form or with an integrated running line. A 12 foot mono leader compliments these lines. You can cast a moderate fly, say up to 2 inches well. For bigger flys pull out a rod that can cast a bigger line. Remember it's not the rod that casts the fly, it's the line. You may also use a shorter Skagit type line with these rods with sinking tips. make sure the tips match the line and do not overload your rod by casting T14 OR LC 13. There is just too much weight in these lines and they will overload your rod whatever the material is. During years of guiding I have seen many, mostly graphite rods break from over loading. All sink tips are bad this way as you also get a water load imposed on your rod especially, when the line is deeply sunk in slow water. Roll your line to the surface before casting. Whatever the material the rod is made from, it is a lot like us. It wears out. Overloading a rod shortens its life.
What the numbers mean in line selection
Rods are loaded by weight. We measure these in grains. So a rod that takes a particular line weight it has a corresponding grain weight. The higher the line weight the stouter the rod must be to cast it. This a handy thing to know when fighting a fish or casting a big fly or sinking line. Big line weights can do some things smaller lines cannot do. But then again if it is stealth you are after and you are using small flies, a smaller weight rod will do the trick. Pretty straight forward. The trouble is we now have been trained to associate certain numbers with certain tasks. All well and good until the powers that be change the rules.
IE - Spey designation. Again we use the same numbers, but the corresponding grain weights have been changed. Here's an example: Steelhead weight singled handed- Line weights 8-10, 200 to 300 grains. Spey designation line weights 8-10 - 450-650 grains. Here lies the trouble and when a person asks me whether a 5-6 spey rod can handle a steelhead. We must remember that rod will handle a line of over 350 grains. That in single handed terms is about a 11-12 weight. In the end think in terms of grains, instead of line designation, as the weight we are casting and a rod that can cast 350 grains will have to a certain amount of stiffness to do so.
So why do we even need the bigger sizes in spey rods? Certainly not to land the fish, but to be able to cast a line that will turn over very large articulated flies and or heavy sinking tips. Different strokes for different blokes.
The spliced joint is the most superior way to ferrule a rod. It makes it as one piece so the stress is transferred smoothly to a stronger portion of the rod. Many rods have been broken above or below the ferrule, as the ferrule can stop the transfer of stress. We often wonder why it broke there, when it could have broken in a much thinner part of the rod. The splice joint also has the feature of always coming apart. I routinely leave my rod up for the season when fishing home waters or at a camp.
These synthetic ferrules are superior to nickel silver ferrules because they do bend a bit and somewhat transfer the stress better. Nickel silver although attractive, is to stiff for a spey rod . A spey rod twists and turns and handles big fish. A trout rod with nickel silver is perfectly adequate. The one drawback with composite ferrules and with nickel silver ferrules for that matter is that they MUST be taken apart every night. Otherwise trapped water and moisture in the joint will swell the male ferrule and you will have to take the entire rod in the house to let it dry out, before you can take it apart. The big diameter of the joints also play a roll.
11 footers 5/6 6/7 and 7/8
12 footers 7/8 8/9
13 footers 8 8/9 9/10 Inbetweeners are also available in 6 inch increments
5 vs 6 One of the ways we get a more responsive rod is through weight 5 sided rods can be made with approximately 10% less material Therefore they travel throught the air quicker. Where you really start to notice this is in the 13 footer.
There is a certain sweetness in a 6 sided rod and for sinking tip work I prefer them. They lift better and seem to throw that open loop, which is needed for a sink tip line. A friend of mind said that a sink tip has a mind of its own and the best way to control it is to slow it down.
For the tradtionalist, these rods are line lifters rather than line shooters. They are heavier and slower due to their length and girth. Some people like therhythm of the rod and the mood it puts one in. Available in 14 foot 3 piece and 15 foot, 4 piece.
Single handed rods
Over the years I have had the pleasure of casting some great rods. Its all about evaluation, picking and choosing. Tweaking a bit here and there, adding the hollowing technique. Keep improving what's been there before us. It's what the builders before us did. It's about the journey that does not have an end.
Some models worth your consideration:
7'6'LF 4-5 light and quick
8'PB 3 Long and light- makes a 16 incher into a steelhead
8'3" PB 4-5 Fast and long
8'MK 5 3 piece smoothness
8'6"MK 5 The distance rod
8'6'CCR 7 3 piece Alaskan trout rod
8'9"GB 7-8 Single handed steelhead rod
9" P 4 Long line delicate presentation
9'P 7-8 Penta steelhead
I have a lot of other models too numerous to mention in nickel silver, composite and spliced ferrule arrangements. Call for a talk.
I like a lightly flamed rod. Flaming is tempering. Too much can make it it brittle and not enough can make it wimpy. In the past rods that were not flamed or adequately heat treated toke a set easily. At Riverwatch, we flame lightly and heat treat as well in an oven. It has been said that flaming a rod will shorten its lifespan. Everything in life is a trade-off. Would you rather fish a responsive flamed rod or a longer lasting, soft, easily setting rod?
Reel seats: We have two looks. Bright and dark in nickel silver and aluminum. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Aluminum -light and does not easily loosen available in bright or anodised dark blue. Nickel silver - It has an elegance ,but is considerably heavier and can loosen when fishing . It is very durable and attractive in bright or plated dark nickel. Styles in singles sliding band or down locking or uplocking.
Spey rod seats: Again same choices except in aluminum we have an especially made up seat from Struble that is wide and long enough to accommodate the reels of yesteryear. Will also fit the newer reels, so this seat is truly universal.
Wraps: Colours tan- medium brown -brick-red brown in spey rods
Singles Honey brown -red- green in silk
Guides: Chrome or darker titanium to match reel seats
Finish: Singles - Gloss or hand rubbed matt finish
Spey rods - matt-hand rubbed varnish finish. Oil finish on request. The hand rubbed finish looks like oil and is almost maintenance free.
All rod come with two tips, cloth bag and a powder coated aluminum tube with a Riverwatch logo unless specified.
Single handed rods:
- 2 piece with extra tip $1400.
- 3 piece with extra tip $1600.
- 3 piece two tips splice $2150
- 3 piece two tips composite ferrules $2250
- 14' 3 piece two tips $2350
- 15' 4 piece two tips $2650
25% deposit required - non-refundable - Please be sure of your order before you place it.
If you wish to pay for your order using Paypal please add 4%.
Please Note: Hand crafted Riverwatch Rods are only available from Bob Clay.
Riverwatch rods have been sent to Great Britain, Germany , Italy and the United States.
Waiting time: Rods built in order of deposit. Waiting time varies. Approximately a little over one year. Please contact Riverwatch for details.