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Spey Rods for King Salmon

Posted on July 04 2012

Spey Rods for Chinook Salmon
Carry a big stick.

One of our specialties at Deneki Outdoors is spey fishing for king salmon.  Alaska West and BC West are located on two of the very few rivers in the world that provide consistent, productive fishing for kings (call ’em chinooks when you’re in Canada) on swung flies, and spey rods are the preferred tool for many folks who like swingin’.

During our opening week at BC West this year, we assembled a quiver of four spey rods designed for king salmon, from four different manufacturers.  Over the coming month we’ll be posting reviews of each of these four rods.  Today we’re starting with an introduction to spey rods for kings.

Common Features

Line Weight

Purpose-built king spey rods need to fight big fish well, and they need to cast heavy tips and big flies.  Most rods in this class are 10 weights.  They cast Skagit heads (you really want to fish in the Skagit style when you’re chasing kings) in the 700-800 grain range.  Yep, they’re big, powerful rods.


In the past most 10 weight  rods were 15 feet long.  15 foot rods are great for throwing a cast into the next zip code, but they’re pretty tiring to cast all day.  More importantly where kings are concerned, 15 foot rods aren’t the best for fighting big, heavy, powerful fish.  That long length makes them a little clumsy, and it can be hard to apply the right kind of side pressure with such a long stick.

King rods tend to be 12 1/2 to 13 1/2 feet long.  Giving up that length might compromise distance a tiny bit, but we’re talking 10 weights here – maybe you’ll ‘only’ be able to comfortably cast 90 or 100 feet.  News flash: very rarely do kings get hooked beyond 90 or 100 feet.

The real beauty of this length is that when you take all the power that it takes to cast a 750ish grain head, and concentrate it into 13 feet, you wind up with a fish fighting machine.  The butt sections of all of these rods are extremely powerful – perfect for pulling hard on that 20 to 50 pounds of purple-backed chrome.


Spey rods designed for king salmon tend to have long grips.  They’re not the lightest rods in the world, and the longer grips tend to give you more control.  Fish fighting is a big factor here – having your hands spread further apart on the butt section helps you pull hard on that heavy critter.  For those of us who are more used to fishing shorter rods (especially switch rods), this can take a bit of adjustment to say the least.  At the same time that we understand the need for long grips, your fearless editor would list the long grip as the biggest downside of fishing a dedicated king rod.

So, Which Rods Specifically?

We tested four of the newest, best king rods we could get our hands on.

  • The Sage 10130-4 ONE, the king rod in Sage’s brand-spankin’ new ONE two-handed series
  • The ECHO K-10130 King, and easy-loading 13 footer
  • The Pieroway Metal Detector 720, a 13’5″ rod designed for Airflo’s Skagit Compact 720
  • The Scott T2H 12510/4, a cannon of a 12 1/2 footer

For in-depth reviews of each, check back right here over the next month.

Happy Independence Day!

More on Spey Fishing for Kings

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