In our first ever Spey rod review in ages, I thought I would start out with a real winner – and a rod for which there’s little to no information – the 7130-4 Asquith Spey Rod (Yup – it’s got a silly name, but get over it). This rod is awesome. I first fished it with Tom Larimer on the Big Hole when we filmed some Spey casting videos and I was so impressed that I went out and bought it. Fast forward a year and I got to actually get out and fish the rod on our first ever hosted trip to the Kedgwick River in New Brunswick. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see how the rod performed on a really big Atlantic Salmon, but that’s a story for a different day.
My goal with our series of Spey rod reviews will be differ slightly from the single hand reviews. We’re less concerned about accuracy, and a lot more interested in the flex patterns of the rods. Further, I’m going to really dial in the line recommendations for both Skagit and Scandi, and get really specific about it. We’re going to do all of the homework so that when you’re ready to pull the trigger, you’ll have a setup that’s probably going to work really well for you. Of course, as with all things spey, your mileage may vary.
I personally feel that Loomis has upped its game big time in this department on the Asquith. As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, the Asquith is a nice looking rod, but lacks the personal touches of some of the more “boutique” rod shops. The grips on the rod are solid. No complaints on either hand.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Asquith is the lightest feeling 7/8 weight Spey rod on the market. It weighs in at 6.9 ounces (remember when single handers weighed that much?!?), with a mere 2.1 oz in the top 3 sections. The Sage X 7130 edges it out in terms of overall weight, but this weight comes out of the butt section and it feels heavier.
I fished the Einarsson Invictus 10/12 on it. I can say definitively that it’s too much reel for a rod this light. I would definitely go down a size and look for a reel in the 9-10 oz range.
One word: Progressive. One of the best things about the Asquith is how it casts in a wide variety of situations and lines. You can make short tippy casts or deep loading long-belly style casts and they are all great!
Loomis’ Spey chart recommends a 510gr Airflo Skagit Switch, which I have a lot of faith in, since Tom Larimer designed the chart. I also tried the 540gr Skagit Switch, which I thought was also excellent. I really love short Skagit heads. They are really forgiving, fun, and easy to cast. The issue is, on this 13’ rod, you have to pay a lot of attention of the overhang if you’re going to use one of these lines. If you’re too short, you’re going to rip it off the water on every cast. This doesn’t happen at all on the 600gr Rio Skagit Max, but it isn’t as easy to cast.
What I really love about the Asquith is how flexible it is. It casts a Scandi as well or better than a Skagit. I thought the recommendations were way off here. First, I tried a 523gr Gaelforce Equalizer Head, expecting it to be just about right given my experience with other rods, but it was *meh*. I then tested the new Rio Scandi 3D line in a 580 gr F/H/I configuration and it came alive! I then threw on my trusty 600gr Equalizer head (I fish it on the 8140 X), and that was really great too. I like a nice deep load when I’m fishing Scandi, and so my recommended Scandi grain window is 550-600gr. Of course if you prefer to fish off the tip of the rod, then go with something less.
Yup, still lifetime. But if you snap a tip, this will set you back a pretty penny.
Price: $1200 – actually kind of a good value when you compare it to the single handers.
I haven’t yet cast every Spey rod under the sun, but I have cast a few of them. The 7130 Asquith achieves something that is really hard to do: it’s exceptionally good at just about everything. While the price may be hard to swallow at first, one might even call it a good value when you consider that you will probably not need another Spey rod for a very long time.
Still to be tested is how it handles overhead casting… everything in due time.