One of the questions we’ve gotten most often about our recent Trout Spey Shootout has been in regards to our line recommendations. More specifically, why our recommendations for Scandi lines are much heavier than one might expect, relative to our Skagit recommendations. This has been particularly true for Pacific NW anglers who have been indoctrinated into thinking that Scandi is ALWAYS lighter than Skagit, no matter what.
First and foremost, the line recommendations in our shootout represent our opinions and casting styles, which may differ from your preferences and casting style. While these are the lines that we would fish on these rods, if you’re purchasing one of the rods in our shootout (or any review/shootout that we do), you should expect to adjust our line recommendations to your personal style and angling needs. In fact, when buying a new Spey rod, we tell our customers to expect to purchase 3 lines before they are fully dialed in.
With the multitude of line charts out there, why should we trust your recommendations? It’s a great question, and, keeping the previous paragraph in mind, we carry lines from all of the major manufacturers and are able to select the “best” option amongst all of the lines out there for any given rod. Moreover, we actually cast every rod/line combination that we recommended and generally quite a few different lines for each rod before deciding which is best. In fact, about half the time we spent on the shootout was devoted to finding the perfect line match.
Well, that’s not really true. If you look at RIO's Spey Line Rec’s for the ONE Trout Spey 3110-4, they recommend A:250 to B:300 grains for Skagit and A:240 to B:270 grains for Scandi. On the surface it might seem that Skagit is heavier, but if you were, say, an "A" Skagit caster with a short, fast, stroke and a "B" Scandi caster with a longer slower stroke, you would, according to RIO, prefer a Scandi head that’s heavier than a Skagit head. This holds true for many rods in the chart.
Still not convinced? Check out OPST's recommendation for the ONE 3wt. They only recommend a 200gr head, which is WELL below Rio's Scandi recommendation (OPST doesn’t offer a Scandi recommendation). Finally, many-time World Spey Casting champ James Chalmers takes it a step further by actually recommending a heavier 'Scandi' line (EIH at 523gr vs ESP at 500gr) than Skagit on this rod, and others as well.
The true source of confusion is that there's no standard for what Skagit and Scandi heads are. We've found ourselves in a world where Skagit lines have gotten shorter and shorter and Scandi lines have remained somewhat unchanged or gotten longer. OPST has heads as short as 13’ while Rio’s Skagit Max Long is up to 30’ long. On the Scandi side, Rio’s Scandi Short starts at 28’ while the Gaelforce EESH is 49’.
Why does this matter? Generally speaking, and all else being equal, the longer the head is, the heavier the grain weight needs to be. This is because a longer head generally requires a longer casting stroke and a longer stoke typically needs a heavier line to maintain a straight path of the rod tip and to generate a tight loop.
Without any standard in head length, there can’t be any ‘rule’
to tell you how to select a Scandi line based on a Skagit line.
While you hopefully found this article to be interesting and informative, it’s extremely important to remember that the fish don’t care about the grain weight of your Scandi and Skagit heads. If you like more or less grains, it’s not a comment on your casting ability – it’s just personal preference. Figure out what works for you and go with it! Use our line recommendations as a guide, but don’t lose sight of the most important thing: Get out on the water and HAVE FUN!
PS - If you *still* don’t believe us, check out OPST’s blog post on a very similar topic here.