OPST Commando Heads Review and Explained - Trout Spey Casters Rejoice!

December 15, 2015

Hey this is a pretty cool product.  I started playing around with the OPST Commando Head line after Craig Hettinger, our resident switch rod guru, nudged me pretty hard on getting familiar with it. He had been using it and the customer response to it was overwhelming.  I had never really considered a head that is 12-15' long to be effective.  I was certainly wrong. 

Trout spey casters (these are essentially switch rods in the 2-4 weight range) enjoy throwing light rods but we also want to fish large flies.  Even a 12" rainbow can't resist a 3-4" sculpin.  Trout also live in quick plunge pools so using a fast sinking tip with a weighted fly is often the best recipe.  The challenge comes when you are using a light rod, heavy tip, and heavy fly.  A traditional Skagit head that is 23' long can be tough to cast using a small rod.  As the head is made to be more compact, it becomes more powerful and can be paired with a "true sink tip" not a versileader.  Stay with me here. The 12-15' Commando heads when paired with a 10' RIO MOW Tip become a 22-25' shooting head, combine that with 5' of leader and you are fishing out to near 30' without shooting any line.  This is perfect for trout spey guys that need to do the "fishy" stuff like jigging, side drifting, and strip retrieving.  You can shoot a substantial amount of line, especially when paired with the OPST Lazar Line.  It costs $16 more than the RIO Slick Shooter but is the premium brand.  For what its worth I like both products but the OPST Lazar Line is considered the best. 

About the OPST Commando Heads

A 12' - 15' head!!! What in the world is this thing. This is exactly what we were thinking too. Then... we cast it. Then... we fished it. This is a GREAT line for trout spey or compact waters for several reasons. Here are things that jumped out at me.

1.  You can cast full 10' MOW tips on even the lightest trout spey. 10' of true sink tip (NOT a wimpy versileader) is so nice to have. They turn over big stuff way better than polyleaders. It allows you to use 2-4 weight switch rods and still fish big streamers.

2.  Stripping line in. The shorter head helps you fish the end of the swing and strip it back up the seamline without bringing the "head/running line connection" into your guides. Mono running line casts way better than traditional fly line, but a lot of anglers don't like stripping in the connection. The problem with mono running line on a Scandi or full Skagit is that when you are trout spey fishing and want to strip retrieve you bump into the loop to loop connection pretty early in your retrieve. Then... bump bump bump the loop to loop goes back out as you shake the head back out to re-cast. With a super short head you simply strip up to the line junction, make your next cast. Shorter is better for this. 15' head works great.

3.  Cast it anywhere. Brush behind you or whatever. Combined with a good shooting line it is easy to cast.

4.  Out of a boat... no problem! This applies more to trout anglers but it is so easy to cast you can throw it spey or overhead from the boat.

5.  25' casts are real world casts. In both trout spey situations and tight steelhead situations a 25' cast is real. You need it, you need to be able to do it. Now you can fish the short inside seams and actually throw full speed and achieve good turnover.
Here is a shot of a fish hooked up while field testing the OPST Commando Head.

We fished the 300 Grain Head on a Winston Boron III-TH Micro Spey 4 Weight. It was a bit on the heavy side, but combined with a 10' T-8 MOW Tip  it trout fishes great.

What the OPST Commando Won't Do

  1. This is not for nymphing. At all. Don't try it.
  2. This is not for big distance, its a short powerful head made for sink tips and big flies.
  3. It will overhand cast but is very chunky.  Don't false cast it. One stroke is all you need to shoot big distance.

How to Choose the Correct Grain Weight

This is super easy.  Just find your rod weight, index the grain weight on the left and see the recommended sink tip or polyleader on the right.  

  1. I have found that these lines are a game changer while spey casting single hand rods as well. While the OPST chart doesn't specify it, I go with a MOW tip down to 175 grains with no problems.
  2. Great article! In it though you say that it's not for nymphing, in one of OPST's videos they mention that it is good for nymphing: https://youtu.be/M24h0SHBSCg?t=5m10s I'm curious, is your comment specifically in regards to light trout switch rods + OPST commando head? Thanks!
  3. 'Hi folks hoping to get a little direction on what head or heads I should purchase. I am fishing off rocky headlands with a standard 12wt line, and a 2 hand rod I built my self the head length is 25/30 ' I have limited back cast with the structure behind and I need a shooting head system or the Commando system you write about. I would prefer it to be floating. Short heads sound exactly what I require. I am happy to follow your recommendations with my current line, line connections or go to the mono running line. I have a friend visiting Mitchigan in a few months so linking up by mail is not a problem. Hope we can talk further. Regards. Gordon
  4. What would it cost me to get the hole set up to use commando + plus mow head for a 5 w 9 ft ready to spool. Not sure of how the hole system is intrigued .
  5. I am looking to pick one of these up, but not sure what weight to buy. I will be putting it on a fast action 9'6" 8wt single hand rod, and plan on using a mono running/shooting line. A few weeks ago I borrowed a buddies 400 grain Wulff Ambush line and it threw line out like nobody's business. I notice the chart above would put my rod into a 325 grain head, but I am hesitant to pull the trigger because of my experience with the 400 grain line. Would it be foolish to jump to the 350 grain or even 375 grain? I look forward to purchasing from you after watching so many killer videos. Thank you for your time and all that you do to make fly fishing knowledge more accessible. Regards.
  6. Hello ! I own an 11 feet sage one trout spey rod for #3 line , according to opst chart I should use a 175 grains opst commando but Sage says I should match a 250 grains with that rod, What do you recommend ?
  7. I put 35 lb. Lazar line and the 325 grain head on my fast 9' 8 wt. Initially found it really heavy but after taking it out 5 or 6 times here in B.C. I love it. I sometimes wish I had gone with the 300 but that's usually after casting my 5 wt with floating line and 5x tapered leader. I will certainly be getting a 200 to use with 5 and 6 wt rods just because it opens up so much more water that currently only belongs to the gear fisherman. It's another tool in the box, I still have spare spool with a standard WFF line so I can land a cast without making big waves in the frog water On a side note I really appreciate very much the lack of plastic wrap in the packaging, shows that OPST is thinking more broadly about the impact we have on our world while they make a living doing what they have committed their lives to (the closure of every river in their neighbourhood has to hurt pretty bad) TLDR; 325 on a fast 8wt single hand is almost too much but its great!
  8. What weight should I use on a 9 foot 8 weight Single hand rod. I want to use it for pink Salmon and sea run cutts.
  9. I have a Redington 4wt Hydrogen trout spey and love the 225gr OPST head on the rod with a 10' T8 floating or sink tip and tapered leader for trout! Just remember to subtract 75gr from your skagit head weight to get the OPST weight. So as an example, my rod takes a traditional 300gr skagit head - subtract 75gr and you get 225gr for an OPST head. I love my OPST head - I use it for soft hackles, streamers, and dries - just leave the OPST on the spool and change the tip out with all the different types of tips (floating, half sink, full sink, short sections of T14 custom welded, etc) and it becomes a different fishing line!
  10. Moving water bias. We are using these heads for presenting nymphs and midges, under an indicator, on local still water fisheries. For us, mending the line is not an issue, but at times it is handy to cast 50', or so, with an indicator. I use a 200 gr Commando head on my 5 wt single-handed rod, Sage 99, with 5 ft of Ti. It fills the bill just fine.
  11. use a 425 grain of 3 rods..Orvis silver label 9 foot for a `11` weight...Tfo mini mag..and a loop booster...have caught big pike,salmon, trout and bass. Using a variety of tips makes this line a very versatile fishing tool for casting big poppers , streamers ,closures ,and huge articulated streamers. will be trying it on snook, tarpon and other saltwater species,,but for now its my go to big fish rod here in Alberta. lots of fun!
  12. I have a sage 3 wt Trout One switch rod with OPST Commando 150 gr Skagit line.What pound test would you recommend in OPST Lazer line?
  13. Just wondering... I want to try to use my 10' 8wt Orvis Clearwater setup with hydros sw all-rounder WF-8-F for a little impromptu surf fishing when I go to OBX in a month. I'm going to struggle to shoot out past the breakers... but what would happen if I threw a OPST commando head onto the end? Might seem foolish, but I'm kind of interested in seeing what would happen. I only have one spool for my only saltwaterproof reel, so the other option is to remove my scandi setup from my behemoth reel and throw it onto my saltwater ree... but i'de rather not.
  14. Hi, I am currently using redington dually rods 5 and 6wt switch rods for big rainbows on the Missouri river. On the dually 6wt I am using a OPST commando 350gr and 12' t11 to get my crawdad patterns down to some really great trout (up to 6 pounds). I am considering a Hydrogen spey 4wt, but I reading that it only throws a 225grain opst head, which will not work for me. Is that all it will throw? Come to think of it...I was throwing 225 gr. head on the Hydrogen spey 2wt???? Can you help a guy out? todd Helena, Mt.
  15. I have been considering this line set up could this be used for small streams in the uk Kind regards steve
  16. Good afternoon, I intend to buy a Commando Head for my 8wt switch rod. The rod's maximum load is specified at 480 grains. The advice that I have received as to which Commando line to purchase is so varied that it causes me much confusion. Generally it comes down to divided opinion about whether or not to include the weight of the tip in the total mass to be cast. Some say that I should ignore the tip weight, while others say that it should be included. From my perspective, mass is mass and therefore the entire weight, head + tip, should be taken into account. Currently I use the RIO Scandi short package with 4 tips, which does in fact specify weights based on the shooting head plus the supplied tips. I purchased the T11 MOW tips for my 8wt. The tips range from 110 to 120 grains. Looking at your Commando chart above, I would therefore buy either the 350 or 375 heads to match with the T11s. Which would you recommend? Thank you.