We love spey fishing and we write about it a lot on our blog. Our experience fishing spey rods comes largely from ‘traditional’ spey-oriented fisheries in the Northwest – swinging for king salmon at Alaska West, and for steelhead at BC West. In recent years we’ve also done a lot of two-handed fishing for trout in Alaska – but this sculpin/mouse/flesh-oriented fishery doesn’t exactly represent ‘normal’ trout fishing.
A recent conversation with our friend Ty Clifton at Colorado Skies Outfitters reminded us why two-handers are becoming so popular in more typical trout fisheries too. Ty is on the pro staffs of Scott Fly Rods, Scientific Anglers and Rising Tools. He and the folks at Colorado Skies do a bunch of spey and switch fishing in Colorado and Wyoming, and we asked Ty to tell us a bit about it.
He was kind enough to oblige. Thanks, Ty!
Switch and Spey Rods in Colorado
While Colorado isn’t exactly the first place in the world that most people think to find a spey or switch rod in someone’s arsenal, it’s a growing trend here in our state. They give us some versatility that we didn’t have before – everything from pitching a hopper to the other bank on a switch rod when the water is high, to swinging sculpins on a light spey rod on some of our bigger rivers.
With the switch rods coming in 10’8″ to almost 12′ configurations and weights ranging from 4 to 6, they are perfectly suited for what us trout guys are looking for. On some of our smaller rivers such as the South Platte it allows us to still cast and swing flies. We have found it a blast to skate hoppers during the summer, or to fish caddis flies, Adult Salmon flies or streamers and not be over matched for the river or fish. These rods also help us in situations faced a lot on our rivers – brush behind us, wind or not being able to wade out due to high water. Our rod of choice for this application is the Scott T2H 1085/4 or, 10’8” 5 weight for the guys that don’t know the Scott nomenclature.
Fishing our bigger rivers such as the Lower Roaring Fork, Lower Colorado or Lower Gunnison on the western slope or Grey’s Reef or the Miracle Mile in Central Wyoming is when we can step up to the longer rods. We typically fish either a 12′ 5 weight or a 12’6″ 6 weight Spey Rod. These rivers are the largest rivers in our area and it allows us to air out some longer casts; thus allowing us to reach part of the rivers that other guys can’t reach with a typical 9 foot 5 weight trout rod. With this in mind these rods are right at home allowing us to skate Green Drakes, Caddis, adult salmonflies, sculpins or more leechy patterns. Our rod of choice in this environment is typically the Scott T2H 1256/4 or 12’6” 6 weight. With this rod we are not limited in distance or ability to fish the tips that are typically used in our fishery.
With all of this in mind we have found a lot of water that before we couldn’t fish in the manner that we wanted. We also have greater line control, and can take advantage of fishing places where others can’t – and have a whole lot of fun doing it! This game gives us a chance to still have a ton of fun swinging flies since many of us are geographically challenged steelhead fishermen here in Colorado.
We’ve also found switch rods to work very well for the warm water side of our state. We have cast them overhead for wiper, pike, tiger muskie, and bass. When you need that extra distance and to beat the wind these rods are tools that shouldn’t be left on the table! The ability to cover a ton of water and pitch some really big flies using this system has made for some breakthroughs for our fishing.