Commando Smooth - Best Line for Trout Spey!
January 11, 2019
The mild weather we've had over the past few weeks in the Yakima canyon has created a great window to get out and swing flies for hungry winter Rainbows! We've got several "go to" runs, including one right in front of our shop, that we can sneak away and swing through in an easy afternoon session. I recently traded out my OPST Commando head with lazar runnning line for the Commando Smooth. The difference in those setups is simply that the Commando Smooth is an integrated running line, thus requires no knot to connect the 12' head to the running line. It is amazing what a noticeable improvement that minor change has made to fishing trout spey. As most of you spey casters know, that connection doesn't go through the guides often, except when you're fighting and landing fish and stripping flies - which I do on occasion with Trout Spey. I've hooked a few really nice trout these past few weeks, and the absence of that connection knot has been noted and appreciated. In addition to improved ease of reeling the line in (especially under tension when you have a fish on), the castability and line/ loop management has been excellent. We had heard rumors of this line coming out for months before we saw it, and it's apparent that the crew at OPST were simply making sure it was ready to go! The one draw back is that changing heads likely now requires a different spool - but we don't trade out rods with trout spey nearly as often as we do with Steelhead.
Click here to view OPST Commando Smooth.
Tips for Trout Spey:
1. Gear set up: 2-5 weight Trout spey rod with lightweight reel, Commando Smooth Line (huge improvement), 10'-15' sink tip, 4' of straight 1X fluorocarbon tippet loop connected to sink tip AND loop connected to fly. That loop connection to the fly is important, as action does improve significantly.
2. The spey rod and heads to accompany has trended shorter and lighter over the past few years. While the Kack handed and Snap T casts are still relevant - one that used to be extremely difficult with a long head has gotten much easier - the Switch cast. A switch cast allows you to drag the fly upstream past your body (without Snap T) to throw a cast off that shoulder. With a long bellied line, that was a "touch N go" cast that left little margin of error to execute properly. It is, however, MUCH easier with these 12' lines, and I've found it to work very well in swirling winds and especially with wind directly in your face. Practice that and I'm sure you'll use it regularly.
3. Give the fly some action! We use a straight, flat swing most of the time when targeting Steelhead; however, trout often respond to accelerating or slowing the fly down. I describe the action I like as "pumping the fly". To do this, I make my cast, and as the line begins to come tight and swing across, I simply pinch the line next to the reel and slowly pull it, then just as slowly let it back down - doing so without letting go of the line. Not only does this pinch between your fingers create a sensitive connection to the fly, but keeping the line length the same as your casting distance allows you to keep the fly in the midriver trench that you want to be fishing in. If you were to simply strip the fly across, your line shortens and your fly is past the trench in just a few strips.
4. Fish good water! Good water = where you caught a fish or saw someone else catch one! Winter fish tend to stack up in the slow, deep water and finding an active pod is half the battle. Many rivers are located right along highways, and you can learn a lot by driving down the highway watching. Watch where other anglers and guides are fishing and go fish those spots once they vacate, or choose water that looks similar in texture.
5. Select lightly weighted or unweighted flies. Not only is casting easier, but lightly weighted or unweighted flies present horizontally in the water making a larger more natural broadside presentation to the trout. A fly with a heavy head doesn't cast as well, but more importantly rides head down which isn't a profile the fish seem to like as well. The weight of your tip enables you to get the fly down in the water column. Again, use a loop connection to attach the fly.
Any questions about Trout spey, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We're happy to help in any way we can!