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What is Trout Spey?


Spey casting allows the angler to utilize two hands to cast a fly line without an overhead backcast. Spey is popular on larger western rivers for Steelhead and on classic Atlantic Salmon rivers in eastern Canada. But what about two-handed casting for trout? 


Trout Spey has recently gained popularity in contemporary fly fishing. Trout Spey downsizes traditional Spey gear for smaller fish and smaller rivers. Lighter, thinner rods with softer actions allow two-handed enthusiasts to nymph or swing for trout, and just have more fun.


Because the rods are different, the lines are also different than traditional Spey lines. Namely, they are MUCH shorter. And they need to be to load shorter, softer rods efficiently. Tons of research continues to be done on Trout Spey lines because of Trout Spey’s recent rise in popularity, and we found that the Scandi side of things is still in need of improvement.


Trout Spey allows anglers to cover more water, minimize backcasting room, and reduce fatigue during long days on the water. If you haven’t watched our Trout Spey and Spey videos on YouTube featuring expert Spey caster Tom Larimer, they're worth watching, especially if you’re still confused about Spey.



How we tested


As is tradition in our fly rod shootouts, we took every important measurement, performed all the tests, and included every objective performance stat we could dream up. After the boring part was done, we took these rods out to the river and cast a variety of lines on every rod in not one but TWO all-day Trout Spey casting sessions. We fished these rods until we had a thorough understanding of the performance, action, and versatility of every rod. 



Deflection Board


The deflection board was a bit of a struggle with these longer rods (some up to 12’ in length). We couldn't get an accurate representation of each rod by tracing them on a whiteboard so we enlisted the help of our photographer and changed the way captured the flex of each rod. These are actual pictures of every rod laid on top of each other for as accurate a deflection board as we've ever seen or produced. Note: the T&T DNA Trout Spey and Clearwater Trout Spey were not available when we did the deflection board which is why they're not included in the results.


Tips and Lines


We tested a variety of Scandi Lines, Skagit Lines, and tips during this shootout. For an in-depth look at which tips were used and what we liked about them, check out our separate article on Trout Spey Lines and Tips.


The Categories


Swing Weight (10 Points) – Swing weight is an important measurement that’s often included in fly rod shootouts. How heavy does a rod feel when it’s in motion? Low overall rod weight is important when casting all day, especially in Trout Spey, but the rod’s balance point is also really important. The lower a rod’s swing weight, the easier it is to cast and the more balanced it feels in hand. 


Skagit (20 Points) – To determine Skagit ranking, we did as much research as possible and partnered each rod with a Skagit setup that maximized the rod’s performance. We tested a lot of different lines to find the right pairing. After choosing the right Skagit setup, each rod’s strengths and weaknesses became apparent when casting on the river. Unlike Swing Weight, Design, Fit and Finish, and Price, Skagit points were based on a subjective analysis of each rod.


The Skagit category received the highest total number of points awarded (20 points) because we felt it was the most important measurement in the shootout. Most Trout Spey rods are made to cast shorter, more aggressive line tapers. Because of this, most Trout Spey lines are Skagit-style lines. We also tested every rod with Scandi lines but found the group collectively performed worse with Scandi setups overall.


Scandi (10 Points) – Scandi is the second most popular style of Spey casting. Therefore, we felt that it was an important measurement to include in the shootout, but because the rods and lines are, largely, not designed for Scandi casting, we awarded fewer points to the Scandi category than we did to the Skagit category.


That being said, there were still some rods in the shootout that performed well with a Scandi setup. If you’re swinging wet flies without a sink tip on a larger river and prioritizing presentation and finesse, a Scandi setup may be the most productive casting method for you.


Distance (10 Points) – Distance is pretty self-explanatory. In this category, we rewarded rods that had extra power and solid accuracy when cast at longer distances. Distance is an important measurement in Trout Spey, especially when fishing some of the larger western rivers where longer casts are required.


Design, Fit, and Finish (10 Points) – Aesthetics that offer functionality and high-quality performance are important on any fly rod. For the Design, Fit and Finish category we considered everything from guides, cork quality, reel seat design, and rod blank technology. We rewarded rods made in the USA and rods that we felt had the best grip design, an important factor when considering a two-handed Spey rod.


Price (10 Points) – In our past comparisons of ‘specialized’ rods (rods that may not be used every time you head out on the water), we thought it relevant to include a measure of value. Trout Spey is no different so we included a measure of price and rewarded the lower-priced rods for their value-based design. 


Rod Specs

Trout Spey Rod Specs


Point Totals

Trout Spey Point Totals


The Winner(s)


Sage One Trout Spey Fly Rod 100


Sage ONE 11' 3wt Trout Spey


Sage is a juggernaut in contemporary fly fishing, so the fact that the ONE Trout Spey AND the new Trout Spey HD ended up at the top of the pack in the shootout is no surprise. The ONE single-handed series from Sage was arguably too fast, but the ONE Trout Spey settles into a more manageable fast-action design. Solid smoothness and reliable feedback provide the angler with the best all-around Trout Spey experience the industry has to offer. Another contributing factor to the ONE's top finish was its versatility on the water: this rod received one of the highest Skagit rankings and a solid Scandi ranking which, when combined with its solid Fit & Finish and Swing Weight score, propelled it to the top of the pack. The ONE is the ultimate in versatility, castability, and performance.


  • Swing Weight - The ONE has a swing weight of 134.7 gm2. While not the lightest rod overall, the ONE had one of the lightest swing weights in the shootout. If you account for its length, the ONE is respectably lightweight without sacrificing durability or performance.
  • Skagit - The ONE secured the second-highest Skagit ranking in our tests. The rod paired very well with Scientific Anglers Skagit Lite 240gr (or Rio 250gr) line. It's not only very forgiving but has plenty of power.
  • Scandi - The Scandi capabilities of the ONE may have been the strongest contributing factor to its first-place finish. We didn’t find another rod that performed as well in both casting categories. We partnered the ONE with a Scientific Anglers Scandi Lite 300gr which seemed to be the most common Scandi grain weight for the test. The ONE’s Skagit and Scandi performance speak volumes about the versatility of this rod.
  • Distance - This isn’t the rod that's going to put it on the far bank every time. The ONE falls middle-of-the-pack in terms of distance casting but it's more than adequate for an 11' rod.
  • Design, Fit, and Finish - Typical Sage. Fuji guides, Sage cork, nothing new going on here. While we think it's high time Sage upped their game in terms of componentry, the ONE has a great grip and a downlocking reel seat that makes it a great Trout Spey rod.


Price:

  • $950


Tight:

  • Extremely versatile with top performance where it counts
  • Light swing weight


Slack:

  • Discontinued :-(
  • Expensive at $950


Line Recs:

  • Skagit: SA Skagit Lite 240gr
  • Scandi: SA Scandi Lite 300gr


Bottom Line: The now discontinued Sage ONE Trout Spey represented (in our opinion) the best all-around Trout Spey on the market. It just does everything really well, particularly if you're a Skagit caster.



Sage 11' 3wt Trout Spey HD


Another Sage? Yeah, it seems like Sage is at the top of the Trout Spey game and their new Trout Spey HD rod exemplifies the company’s stellar research and design. How is it different from the ONE? Put simply, it’s more specialized. The Trout Spey HD is made for anglers who have two-handed experience and is far less caster-friendly than the ONE. If you know what you’re doing, this is the most powerful Trout Spey rod on the market. This rod isn't only powerful, however. The Trout Spey HD was the very best Scandi rod in the group AND received the highest distance score (tied with the IMX-Pro). This rod does a lot of things really well for the angler who knows how to harness its power and high performance. Warning: this isn’t a rod for the novice Spey angler.


  • Swing Weight - The Trout Spey HD has a swing weight of 141.1 gm2. While it's actually one of the lightest rods in the shootout, the Trout Spey HD has a heavy-ish swing weight. This heavier swing weight may be a result of the increased power Sage built into this rod.
  • Skagit - The Trout Spey HD fell in the top half of the Skagit rankings. While the rod casts well with an Airflo Skagit Scout 300gr, it didn’t receive a higher Skagit ranking because of it’s fast action and narrower timing window. Across the board, the HD fishes like a longer rod than it is, and we felt like it needed the longer Airflo line in order to stop from blowing anchors. It's also ~50gr heavier than most of the other rods in the test, which puts it closer to a 4wt than a 3wt, by our standards.
  • Scandi - This is where the Trout Spey HD really shines. Partnered with a longer line and lighter flies, the Trout Spey HD delivers flies powerfully and accurately. In fact, this was our favorite Scandi rod in the bunch. Again, it’s not the most forgiving Scandi rod of the bunch, but if you're looking to single Spey with some small flies, pair this rod with a Scientific Anglers Scandi Lite at 330gr and you'll love it.
  • Distance - This rod has some incredible capabilities at distance. If you’re an experienced Trout Spey angler and are looking for the next great distance rod, this is the rod for you. The powerful fast-action design of the Trout Spey HD is expertly designed for throwing tight loops with a long casting stroke at distance. Again, it just feels like you're casting a longer rod than you really are.
  • Design, Fit, and Finish - The Trout Spey HD received a high Design, Fit and Finish score because of its tangle-free Torzite-style Fuji guides, beautiful composite cork grip, and tight thread and trim wraps. We challenged Sage to change up their boring componentry and they took that challenge head-on with the Trout Spey HD.


Price:

  • $900


Tight:

  • Tons of power and capability at distance
  • Light overall weight


Slack:

  • Not as caster-friendly as the ONE


Line Recs:

  • Skagit: Airflo Skagit Scout 300gr
  • Scandi: SA Scandi Lite 330gr


Bottom Line: If you’re an experienced Trout Spey angler looking for a technical rod with tons of power, this is the rod for you. If you’re looking for the best Scandi rod in the shootout, this is it. If you’re looking for a forgiving rod, check out the Echo.


Best Buy



Redington Hydrogen 11' 3" 3wt Trout Spey Rod


The Hydrogen fell in the middle of the pack in terms of length, swing weight, action, and performance. This wasn’t our favorite rod in the group, but it held its own against rods with a much higher price tag. The softer action of the Hydrogen was much different than rods like the Trout Spey HD and caters to anglers with slower casting strokes. The Hydrogen is high performing but is also accommodating which makes it a great rod choice for novice Trout Spey anglers. The Hydrogen has a lot to offer any angler and, at an insanely affordable price, won the ‘Best Buy’ award in the shootout.


  • Swing Weight - The Hydrogen has a pretty heavy swing weight at 142.2 gm2. Redington finished this rod to be lightweight but we found it to be pretty tip heavy.
  • Skagit - With a nearly identical deflection to the ONE, it's no surprise that this rod casts a Skagit line beautifully. Pair that with a great price and the Hydrogen is a phenomenal rod for anglers looking to break into the Trout Spey game. The rod cast well with a Scientific Anglers Skagit Lite 270gr line. We found the 240gr Skagit line didn't fully load the Hydrogen. That being said, if you prefer a lighter line and don't need to maximize the distance capabilities of the Hydrogen a 240gr Skagit Lite will definitely get the job done.
  • Scandi - The Hydrogen wasn’t built for Scandi. We found the rod pretty inconsistent with a Scandi setup. The rod’s tip-heavy build may have contributed to its suboptimal performance when partnered with a Scandi line. We found the Hydrogen cast best with an SA Scandi Lite 300gr like most of the other rods in the shootout.
  • Distance - If you haven’t noticed, the Hydrogen ranks the same as the Echo in most categories. The two rods are very similar in terms of performance but we felt the Echo edged the Hydrogen when casting longer distances. The Hydrogen just doesn’t have the strong butt section and overall rod balance to be a true distance champ.
  • Design, Fit, and Finish - Redington worked some cool features into this rod to decrease rod weight. The reel seat is skeletonized and the rod blank is visible where other rods have a reel seat spacer. While the reel seat is unique and stylish, you can tell the rod is not super high-end. We also thought the grip on the Hydrogen was a little small and didn't accommodate anglers with larger hands.


Price:

  • $349.99


Tight:

  • Affordable price-point means the Hydrogen is the 'Best Buy'
  • Light overall rod weight


Slack:

  • Heavy swing weight and tip-heavy design


Line Recs:

  • Skagit: SA Skagit Lite 270gr
  • Scandi: SA Scandi Lite 300gr


Bottom Line:  The Hydrogen puts up top-notch performance, particularly when partnered with a Skagit setup, at an affordable price.


The Reviews



Echo 11' 3wt Trout Spey Rod


If you've cast the previous version of Echo Spey rods, they may have left you a bit disappointed. For 2019, Tim Rajeff revamped the lineup and the new Echo Trout Spey rod was born. It's a massive improvement over the old model, and one of the better Skagit rods we tested overall. If you're looking for a Scandi rod, this certainly isn't it, but most of the rods in the shootout aren't either. The componentry and finishing on The Echo rod also aren't anything to write home about, but its Skagit performance made us forget about the entry-level price tag.


  • Swing Weight - Echo’s Trout Spey rod has a swing weight of 143.2 gm2. The Echo Trout Spey's swing weight falls in the bottom half of the group. Oddly enough, we didn’t really notice the rod’s weight on the water.
  • Skagit - The Echo outshined some more expensive rods with a Skagit setup. The rod is smooth and well-balanced with a user-friendly action. We didn’t expect the Echo to be as versatile as it was. Tim Rajeff really maximized this rod’s Skagit performance without a premium price tag. Like many rods in the shootout, the Scientific Anglers Skagit Lite 240gr was the best Skagit line for the 3wt version of the Echo Trout Spey.
  • Scandi - Like most of the rods in the test, the Echo was not great with a Scandi line. The tip is just a bit too soft and the butt too stiff. Even when partnered with a Scientific Anglers Scandi Lite 300gr Scandi line, the line we found was best for the rod, the Echo was still weak, inconsistent, and clunky with a Scandi setup. Stick to your snap-T.
  • Distance - This isn’t the best distance rod, but at 11’ we didn’t necessarily expect it to be. Echo built the rod with modest power levels to accommodate a wide range of angler ability. That being said, the Echo Trout Spey actually has some pretty nice reserve power that can be accessed by an angler with a compact casting stroke who prefers to deliver casts off the tip of the rod.
  • Design, Fit, and Finish - Nothing to be too excited about here. The fit and finish on the Echo are purpose-driven as you’d expect in a mid-priced rod. While the componentry isn’t as nice as the T&T or the Winston, the price tag isn’t as high. The Echo Trout Spey is made in overseas so the rod lost some Fit & Finish points there, too.


Price:

  • $499.99


Tight:

  • Solidly middle-of-the-pack in every category
  • Surprising Skagit performance


Slack:

  • Didn’t dominate any particular category
  • Not the best Scandi rod


Line Recs:

  • Skagit: SA Skagit Lite 240gr
  • Scandi: SA Scandi Lite 300gr


Bottom Line:  A great mid-priced rod with performance that rivals rods that are twice the price.



G. Loomis IMX-Pro 11' 11" 3wt Short Spey Rod


The IMX-Pro is the longest rod in the shootout at nearly 12 feet. As such, it’s also the heaviest. That being said, the rod is well-balanced and really caster-friendly. When we first cast the IMX-Pro we thought it had a really solid chance of winning the shootout. The rod's softer mid-section and increased length made the IMX-Pro both forgiving and powerful, a rare combo. If it had finished a little higher in the swing weight and Scandi categories this rod would've won the shootout. That being said, if you’re looking for a distance rod and don't mind a swing weight that's on the heavy side of things, this is one of the best rods in the group.


  • Swing Weight - The IMX-Pro has a swing weight of 161.1 gm2. While the overall rod weight is by far the heaviest in the test, the T&T DNA Trout Spey and Orvis Clearwater Trout Spey rods actually have a heavier swing weight than the IMX-Pro. Longer rods have more swing weight so this really came as no surprise, and certainly, the benefits of having a longer rod will make sense for some anglers.
  • Skagit - The G. Loomis received a solid Skagit rating. We rewarded the IMX-Pro primarily based on stellar castability. The rod’s medium-fast action means it’s beautifully forgiving and accommodates a variety of casting strokes on the water, especially when partnered with an Airflo Skagit Scout Float 240gr. The Skagit Scout is a little longer than the Scientific Anglers Skagit Lite and casts better on longer rods like the IMX-Pro. Due to its softer action, it was a little less precise than some of the top Skagit rods and that kept it off the podium.
  • Scandi - The IMX-Pro did fine on the Scandi side of things. It wasn’t particularly inspiring or disheartening. We expected it to be a little closer to the top of the pack when partnered with longer Scandi lines. That being said, a Rio Scandi Short 330gr line worked best. The Rio Scandi Short has a longer front taper than the Scientific Anglers Scandi Lite which worked better on the IMX-Pro, a longer rod.
  • Distance - This is where the IMX-Pro really shines. Due to its longer length, this rod can chuck some line. When you consider that it's a softer rod, it's really impressive.
  • Design, Fit, and Finish - Ceramic stripping guides, anodized aluminum reel seat, and a stylish blank make the fit and finish of the IMX-Pro solidly middle-of-the-pack. We felt the grip on this rod was better than others with plenty of room for a strong bottom hand and a smooth cork handle. A downlocking reel seat also contributed to the stellar Fit & Finish score of the IMX-Pro.


Price:

  • $575


Tight:

  • One of the best distance rods
  • Incredibly caster-friendly


Slack:

  • Requires longer lines


Line Recs:

  • Skagit: Airflo Skagit Scout 240gr
  • Scandi: Rio Scandi Short 330gr


Bottom Line:  If you’re fishing large rivers, but still want the feel of a 3wt, this is going to be the rod for you. If you want to chuck bigger streamers, you'll probably want the 4wt with more grains.



Hardy Demon 10' 6" 3/4wt Switch Rod


Probably our biggest surprise in this shootout was the Hardy Demon Switch. Not that we haven't seen great things from Hardy in the past, but the Demon is a Spey rod we haven't heard much about. The Demon came really close to winning the shootout. This rod is without a doubt the nicest short, snappy rod in the shootout with plenty of power and the best overall Skagit performance rating. The Demon got edged by the ONE and Trout Spey HD because it was one of the worst when partnered with a Scandi setup. But the componentry of the Demon is top-notch, especially for a rod at its price-point, and the rod's performance is solid overall.


  • Swing Weight - The Demon has the second lightest swing weight in the shootout at 122.3 gm2. This makes sense for a 10’ 6” rod but it's also a testament to Hardy's expert rod design and the lightweight componentry of the Demon Switch.
  • Skagit - This is where the Demon blew the competition out of the water. Smooth, effortless, and efficient. This rod is perfect for medium-sized rivers where mid-distance casting is typical. As a shorter, fast action rod, the Demon rewards the angler with a smooth, compact casting stroke which is why it makes sense that we liked a lighter line like the Scientific Anglers Skagit Lite 240gr best on the Demon. That being said, we found the Demon to be forgiving and accommodating in most angling scenarios. This rod has some true beauty in the game of Skagit Trout Spey.
  • Scandi - We wouldn’t recommend fishing the Demon Switch Scandi style. The rod is clunky and just didn’t single Spey cast well with any of the setups we tried. Put a gun to my head and I'd pick the Scientific Anglers Scandi Lite 300gr line for the Demon. Maybe the rod’s shorter length contributed to this shortcoming. Stick to Skagit setups on the Demon.
  • Distance - The Demon Switch is solid at distance, especially for a shorter rod. The rod’s sweet spot is mid-distance as we expected with the shorter rod length but the rod has plenty of power.
  • Design, Fit, and Finish - In our opinion, Hardy found a way to finish this rod with some of the finest componentry without the price tag that generally comes with high-quality fit and finish. Fuji stripping guides, bar stock 6061 aluminum, and durable cork make this rod aesthetically appealing and functional. We did find the bottom grip to be a little short, however, for anglers with larger hands so the Demon Switch lost some points in that department. That being said, the downlocking reel seat is nice and helps balance a light reel on longer rods.


Price:

  • $589.95


Tight:

  • Lightweight design with solid componentry at a great price-point
  • The best Skagit rod in the shootout


Slack:

  • One of the worst Scandi rods


Line Recs:

  • Skagit: SA Skagit Lite 240gr
  • Scandi: SA Scandi Lite 300gr


Bottom Line: If you're looking for a short, fast Skagit rod, this is the one for you.



Orvis Clearwater 11' 4" 3wt Trout Spey Rod


The Clearwater Series from Orvis is an extremely diverse rod series with loads of rod models targeted at the intermediate angler. These rods are versatile, caster-friendly, forgiving, and affordable. The Clearwater Trout Spey Rod follows this pattern in many ways. There's nothing particularly impressive about the 11' 4" 3wt Clearwater Trout Spey but it's also not a complete dud. If you're looking for an affordable option that carries a recognizable brand name and features solid, versatile performance, this rod is a great option.


  • Swing Weight - With a swing weight of 176 gm2, this isn't a lightweight rod. In fact, the Clearwater has the heaviest swing weight in the shootout by a long shot, which is interesting because it's not the longest rod in the shootout. We didn't really feel the heavy swing weight when casting the Clearwater, however, which is typical in Spey rods.
  • Skagit - The Clearwater's Skagit performance was middle-of-the-road. We expected the rod do be caster-friendly and pretty forgiving as an entry-level/intermediate rod, and it was for the most part. But it's a quicker rod than most in this shootout and we had to throw more grains at it to get it to calm down. That being said, the fast action build of the rod certainly allows the angler to harness some power, and the Scientific Anglers Skagit Lite 300gr line works well. Overall, a decent Skagit performance. And, hence, the Clearwater received a middle-of-the-road point value in this category.
  • Scandi - The Clearwater's Scandi performance was not spectacular, like most of the rods in the test. We thought it performed better than rods like the Dually and Pulse when partnered with longer lines but not as well as some of the top Scandi rods in the shootout. A 330gr Scientific Anglers Scandi Lite fly line helped load the rod well and made Scandi-style casting more effortless than some of the lighter Scandi lines.
  • Distance - The Clearwater's fast action design, increased length, and heavy overall weight contributed to a great distance score in the shootout. In our opinion, this is what the rod does best. When partnered with the right line, this rod flexes deep into the butt section and provides the angler with a lot of power which is easily translated into performance at longer distances.
  • Design, Fit, and Finish - The Clearwater rod series is built for functionality, not necessarily showmanship. Simple stripping guides, hard chrome snake guides, an anodized aluminum reel seat, and double uplocking features contribute to this rod's affordability and pretty basic design. That being said, the cork handle is well-designed and features a composite cork fighting butt and handle topper for increased durability.


Price:

  • $398


Tight:

  • Versatile rod with decent performance in most categories
  • Caster-friendly


Slack:

  • Heaviest swing weight in the shootout


Line Recs:

  • Skagit: SA Skagit Lite 300gr
  • Scandi: SA Scandi Lite 330gr


Bottom Line:  A great rod choice for beginner/intermediate anglers who don't want to pay for a high-end rod and who don't care about China manufacturing.



Redington Dually 10' 6" 3wt Trout Spey Rod


Sage and Redington have had a stellar showing in this shootout so far, but the Dually, unfortunately, fell a little short. While it boasted the lightest swing weight in the test, the Dually, unfortunately, had the worst overall casting performance. We also weren't huge fans of the grip or the componentry on the Dually which is why it also received the lowest Fit & Finish score. If you're a novice angler and looking to get into Trout Spey for the first time, it's worth upgrading to either the Hydrogen or the Echo, especially if you know you're going to fish the rod more than a few times.


  • Swing Weight - The Dually's swing weight was the lightest in the shootout at 115.2 gm2 which isn't all that surprising considering it's a 10' 6" rod, one of the shortest in the shootout. That being said the rod had a heavy-ish overall weight, especially for a 10' 6" rod.
  • Skagit - With a rod action that’s on the softer side, the Dually’s medium-fast action design makes it caster-friendly and forgiving. That being said, the rod is low on power and short in overall rod length at just 10.5 feet, which we found to be a troublesome combo, especially when casting at longer distances. This rod’s Skagit performance falls short of the other rods in the shootout, especially for experienced anglers who prefer a rod with power, even when partnered with a heavier Skagit line: the Scientific Anglers Skagit Lite 300gr. We found that the 300gr line loaded the rod most efficiently but didn't really increase the accuracy or distance capabilities of the Dually.
  • Scandi - Similarly, the rod’s weak backbone and short overall length contributed to its low Scandi ranking. We just couldn’t find a Scandi setup that worked well on the Dually. We listed a Scientific Anglers Scandi Lite 300gr in our notes as the recommended line but it really wasn't great. Skagit lines are often easier to cast when learning the basics of two-handed Spey casting and *all* anglers should stick to those setups when fishing the Dually.
  • Distance - The Dually is certainly no distance champion. This rod is made for close/mid-range casting applications and smaller water.
  • Design, Fit, and Finish - Nothing super impressive here. The fit and finish on the Dually aren’t top-notch, but for a Trout Spey rod under $250, we don’t expect them to be. The componentry on the Dually is functional. We weren't huge fans of the composite cork grips and thought the lower grip on the Dually was slightly less comfortable than other rods. All Redington rods are made overseas, so the Dually lost some points for that as well.


Price:

  • $249.99


Tight:

  •  Lightest swing weight and cheapest price in the shootout


Slack:

  •  Didn’t perform particularly well in any performance-based category


Line Recs:

  • Skagit: SA Skagit Lite 300gr
  • Scandi: SA Scandi Lite 300gr


Bottom Line:  Spend an extra $100 and get the much better Redington Hydrogen.



Sage Pulse 11' 3wt Switch Rod


The Pulse is one of the fastest rods in the shootout. No surprise, it’s a Sage. If you’re throwing bulky rigs or heavy-ish lines, the Pulse is a great option, but we're sure there are 4wts out there that will serve you better. It’s also a stellar rod for the angler that wants a Sage but doesn’t want to yield to the higher price tag of the ONE or the Trout Spey HD. The Pulse has simple componentry and a classic cork handle for improved comfort on the water. To harness the power of the Pulse takes a better caster with a long casting stroke but after adjusting to the fast-action build of the rod it's truly a pleasure cast with a heavier line. In terms of mid-priced rods in the shootout, this is one of the most powerful.


  • Swing Weight - The Pulse has a swing weight of 133.9 gm2 which is respectable for an 11' rod in the shootout.
  • Skagit - The Pulse benefitted from a Skagit setup that was heavier than most other rods in the shootout, in part because of its super-fast action design. The Pulse was a bit clunky and a little fast for our taste but certainly could throw a lot of line when partnered with a Scientific Anglers Skagit Lite 300gr. We tried casting lighter Skagit heads on the Pulse but the rod is just too stiff to throw a 240gr or 270gr line. This rod benefited from the heaviest Skagit line in the shootout and had a grain window from about 300-325.
  • Scandi - The Pulse also wasn’t a particularly standout Scandi rod. The rod’s fast action design and tip flex made casting longer Scandi lines difficult, especially when single Speying. The best Scandi rods in the shootout loaded deep into the butt section and the Pulse just wasn’t designed to be a deep loading rod. Interestingly enough, the Pulse fished best with a Scientific Anglers Scandi Lite 300gr instead of a 330gr like the Trout Spey HD. That being said, the Pulse isn't really a Scandi rod.
  • Distance - As a fast action rod paired with a heavier Skagit setup, the Pulse performed well at longer distances. This rod is a great option if you find yourself routinely casting in the 80-100 foot range. The Pulse was more ‘snappy’ than other rods and had lots of power.
  • Design, Fit, and Finish - The componentry on the Pulse is what we’ve come to expect from Sage: top-notch. This rod received the highest fit and finish score for a mid-priced rod in the shootout. We also thought the grip was sized correctly to accommodate a variety of hand sizes and positions.


Price:

  • $550


Tight:

  • Plenty of power and solid performance at distance
  • Sage fit and finish


Slack:

  •  Not really a 3wt
  • Too fast


Line Recs:

  • Skagit: SA Skagit Lite 300gr
  • Scandi: SA Scandi Lite 300gr


Bottom Line:  The Pulse is ultra-fast and good for long distances and aggressive casting strokes.



Thomas & Thomas DNA 11' 6" 3wt Trout Spey Rod


The DNA Trout Spey rod is beautiful; in fact, this rod has some of the nicest fit and finish in the pack. We’ve come to expect nothing less from Thomas & Thomas. Of course, it's built in the USA and designed by some of the best in the business. But how does it cast? We enjoyed casting it, certainly, although I expected it to finish a little closer to the top of the pile. The DNA lost points in the weight rankings and Skagit rankings. Because it's a longer rod, we found it was a better Scandi rod than Skagit rod. The rod's increased length also made it a great rod at longer distances.


  • Swing Weight - The DNA has one of the heaviest swing weights in the group at 162.1 gm2. This is a heavy rod but it’s also a long rod.
  • Skagit - We found the T&T’s increased weight made casts feel a little more sluggish and less snappy than casts made with some of the lighter rods. You really have to slow down and lengthen your casting stroke with this rod. We liked the SA Skagit Lite 240gr on it, but the rod was just a little clunky and we couldn't find a better line match for it.
  • Scandi - What the T&T lacked in Skagit performance it made up for when partnered with a Scandi setup. An SA Scandi Lite 300gr line optimized this rod's Scandi capabilities by allowing us to cast tight loops and access the river. Scandi lines also allowed us to harness the powerful butt section of the DNA for long-distance casting which boosted its distance rank, too.
  • Distance - The T&T doesn't lack power. It took us a little while to find it, but once we got the right Scandi line on the rod it was one of the best in the shootout at longer distances.
  • Design, Fit, and Finish - T&T has always prided itself on the very finest componentry. The DNA Trout Spey has a classic T&T look with a regal blue blank and a nickel silver reel seat with a beautiful burled wood insert. The grip was also smooth and versatile to make casting all-day comfortable and efficient.


Price:

  • $950


Tight:

  • A well-designed rod with a great fit and finish
  • Solid performance at long distances and plenty of power


Slack:

  •  Heavy swing weight and sub-par Skagit performance


Line Recs:

  • Skagit: SA Skagit Lite 240gr
  • Scandi: SA Scandi Lite 300gr


Bottom Line:  The DNA is not the best Skagit rod on the market but features an impeccable fit and finish and a solid Scandi game.



Winston Boron III TH-MS 10' 6" 3wt Micro Spey Rod


The Boron III TH-MS, released in 2014, is the oldest rod in the shootout. While loads of research has been done on Trout Spey since 2014, the design of the Boron III TH-MS was clearly ahead of its time. While this rod had one of the weirdest rod profiles in our deflection research, we enjoyed casting it on the water. The softer midsection of the rod means the Winston really rewards the angler with a slower casting stroke. No surprise here, it is a Winston after all. The rod's shorter length means it's a great rod for wet flies and shorter casts.


  • Swing Weight - The TH-MS is pretty light which isn’t a huge accomplishment for a 10’ 6” rod. The swing weight is also competitive at 131.1 gm2.
  • Skagit - Even though Winston labels the rod as ‘fast action’, we found a slower casting stroke worked best with a Skagit setup. Think classic Winston feel. After adjusting to the slower casting stroke, we found this rod to be smooth but not outstanding with shorter Skagit lines. The Scientific Anglers Skagit Lite 240gr line (the most popular line in the shootout) partnered well with the TH-MS and loaded the rod well at all distances.
  • Scandi - A Scientific Anglers Scandi Lite 300gr line partnered with a slow casting stroke makes this rod come alive. The rod is extremely well-balanced with a softer middle section to encourage tight loops and great accuracy, especially during single Spey casts. In a world where more and more rod manufacturers are producing fast action rods designed to be cast off of the rod tip, the Winston is a refreshing rod with traditional Spey character. It finished near the top of the pack in the Scandi category.
  • Distance - The TH-MS didn’t cast particularly well at longer distances. Considering there are rods in the shootout 1.5 feet longer than the Winston, this isn’t a huge surprise. This rod is perfect for medium-sized rivers and Winston designed it that way.
  • Design, Fit, and Finish - Forever a Winston strong suit. Winston rods are beautifully crafted with the utmost attention to detail and the TH-MS is no exception. The rod grip accommodates most grip styles, the guides are all top-of-the-line (stripping guide has a nanoplasma ring), and the reel seat is made with corrosion-resistant anodized aluminum. The componentry on this rod is the best but you pay for it.


Price:

  • $1,050


Tight:

  • One of the best Scandi rods in the shootout
  • Winston fit and finish


Slack:

  •  The most expensive rod in the shootout


Line Recs:

  • Skagit: SA Skagit Lite 240gr
  • Scandi: SA Scandi Lite 300gr


Bottom Line:  This is the best lightweight Scandi rod on the market with top-of-the-line craftsmanship.


Questions?


Give us a call here at the shop at (888) 413-5211 or email us anytime at support@tridentflyfishing.com. Thanks for taking the time to read this! Please leave a comment with any thoughts/questions/comments. Tight Lines and happy Trout Speying.