As a full time spey rod guide I spend a lot of time with two handed rods, my rods, client rods; I get to cast lots of different rods. For the last decade I’ve been a staunch Winston advocate and I still am. That said, when Winston re-upped their BIIX line up to the BIIITH, I bought them, I fish them, and they’re great. However, it wasn’t anything new and almost not even different. We see it year in and year out with some fly rod manufacturers, rebranding and remarketing, but never anything dramatically new. In the world of Spey Rods nothing noticeably different…until now.
I’m friends with the National Fly Fishing Sales Manager for Gloomis, Tom Larimer, and I were going to take a day to go steelhead fishing on the Deschutes. Tom and I were supposed to fish with Travis Duddles who owns the Gorge Fly Shop in Hood River where I live. Tom had a last minute call he had to be on so Travis and I took off for the Deschutes with some brand new loaner Asquiths in tow. On board we had a 6129, 7130 and an 8136. Tom gave us a bunch of reels and lines, so off we went.
Immediately you notice how light these rods are and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure I would like it. Swing weight is something you become accustomed to and the ultra lightweight of these rods unlined makes you feel like you’re holding a one hander. We strung up a 7130 and a 6129 with a 450 rage and a 390 rage respectively. We split up one of my most productive runs and went to work – me with the 7 and Travis with the 6.
I like 7 weight spey rods for the power and the distance, which are prerequisites to fishing on the windy Deschutes. That said, they are overkill for most A-run one salt steelhead we encounter on the Deschutes. Based on Tom’s recommendation to fish a 450 rage on the Asquith, I hoped maybe just a little bit of fish crushing power would be missing. You wouldn’t notice any lack in power casting this rod. Easy lifting and effortless straight casts. As chance would have it I got smoked about half way through the run by one hot rod one salt fish. The lightness of this rod made it a lot more fun to fight a 26” steelhead than my 7133 Winston or any of my other 7 weights. As luck would have it and the ultra poor returns of 2016, this would be our only chance to play a fish that day.
Next up I fished the 6129 with a 390 rage. This rod is noticeably lighter that any six weight I’ve fished. Lighter in grain window and what I anticipated fish defeating power. If you like to generate line speed and cast real, real far, this is your stick. I don’t know how this thing’s going to act with a twelve pounder on it, but I’m looking forward to finding out. One thing is for sure, this is going to be an awesome one salt rod.
I have a favorite run and if you’ve fished with me you probably know where it is. I parked Travis in the run and strung up the 8136 with a 600-grain compact Skagit, 12’ of t14, a heavy bug, and headed down below in a long deep run that goes forever. Again, I’m asking a lot of this rod; wading deep and standing in slow water, the 8136 will deliver a big payload with no complaints. It feels like a 7130 not an 8136.
So back to what makes this rod different. The blanks were designed locally in Woodland, but Shimano rolled the blanks in the world’s only Spiral X production facility in Kumamoto, Japan, only to be returned to Woodland for dressing. I’m not super geeky but the spiral x technology is exactly what it sounds like, tape wrapped 45 degree one way, then the opposite with a medium in the middle. This creates mega strength without the weight. There’s a lot more, but like I said I’m pretty low tech. What’s also new is a $1,200 spey rod. I wasn’t sure I would put these in my boat based on price, but after seeing how fast they are selling at the Gorge Fly Shop I picked up a 7130 and a 6129.
Not so unimportant to mention is that these rods are very nice looking. Beautiful reels seat, titanium guides, just the right size on the cork. The blank is dark green and the spiral x is visually noticeable but it gives off some sparkle in the sun.
Definitely a GET IT recommendation. Stay tuned for the next episode.
|MODEL||LENGTH||LINE WT.||ROD WEIGHT||PIECES||HANDLE||ACTION|
|ASQ 490-4||9′||4||not published||4||A||Fast|
|ASQ 590-4||9′||5||not published||4||A||Fast|
|ASQ 690-4||9′||6||not published||4||A||Fast|
|ASQ 790-4||9′||7||not published||4||B||Fast|
|ASQ 890-4||9′||8||not published||4||B||Fast|
|ASQ 990-4||9′||9||not published||4||B||Fast|
|ASQ 1090-4||9′||10||not published||4||B||Fast|
|ASQ 1290-4||9′||12||not published||4||B||Fast|