It’s hard to make spey rods designed to catch big fish! Setting aside more ‘secondary’ factors like taper and grips, the two fundamental variables in rod design are length and weight. For anglers chasing king salmon where they’re bright and strong – places like the Kanektok and the Dean – each of these variables presents a bit of a quandry.
Longer rods in the 14 foot + range make it easier to make longer casts with heavy tips – and far away and deep describes the water where king salmon spend a lot of their time. On the other hand, shorter rods are much better for fighting big fish. A 15 foot rod will deliver your king rig to the water where kings are likely to live, but fighting a bright 25 pound fish on a 15 foot rod is no fun for anyone.
Lighter spey rods are generally more fun to cast, and they tire you out less. Heavier spey rods cast heavier lines and flies better, and are definitely much better for fighting big fish. An 8 weight spey rod may cast beautifully all day long, but it’s definitely not the best stick to put the wood to a big king.
Scott has just released their spey rod purpose-built for king salmon – the T2H 12510/4. If you know Scott’s nomenclature, you know that means it’s a 12 1/2 foot rod for a 10 weight line. In the ‘spey fishing for king salmon’ world, this rod is definitely on one extreme – its mission is to allow you to deliver heavy junk to a king salmon, sure, but primarily to be able to fight a strong fish, really hard, once hooked up.
We fished some preproduction models of this rod during king season at Alaska West this past summer, and we’ve cast the production model as well – this review is based on a mix of those experiences.
How It Casts
The butt section on this rod is extremely stout and powerful. It takes a whole boatload of grain weight to get it to load deeply (more on this below). During one test session your reviewer made a few casts working out to an easy, comfortable distance and noticed it was taking a while to strip back in between casts; counting strips on the next cast came up with 15. Even though this is a short rod in the spey world, distance is not a problem – the butt section more than makes up for the shorter length.
Like other short spey rods, it’s not particularly forgiving. Good casts sail, but good timing is important.
Scott calls it ‘Medium Fast’ and we agree. Your first impression with this rod is much more likely to be “Really Powerful” than “Buttery”. It’s a Howitzer.
We did all of our testing with the Airflo Skagit Compact 720. It took that line plus 15 feet of T-17 to get us thinking “OK, maybe this is too much”. The 720 plus 13 feet of T-14 was darned-near perfect – which is nice, given that 13 feet of T-14 is probably the tip we fish the most for kings at Alaska West.
How It Fights Big Fish
Better than any spey rod we’ve fished. Seriously, it’s a short, fast 10 weight spey rod. You can pull really hard with this thing. Turning the head of a big chrome salmon is never easy, but this rod makes you as the angler much less under-gunned than any other rod we’ve fought kings with.
Two More Things
The cork grips on the 12510/4 are longer than normal. The helps even more with this rod’s primary mission – pulling hard on big fish. That being said, some of us didn’t love them when casting. If you’ve spent a little time casting other short spey rods, these longer grips can take some getting used to – especially on off-shoulder casts that require your bottom hand to cross in front of your belly.
We love the alignment dots. Why don’t all fly rods have them?
The Scott T2H 12510/4 is an incredibly powerful spey rod that more than lives up to its mission as a dedicated king salmon stick. Fish it with a head somewhere north of 700 grains, and put the wood to ’em!