Rediscover Your Home Water with a Trout-Spey Rod
By Shawn Combs, Orvis Director of Product Development/Design
Fifteen years ago, long before I came to work at Orvis, I made my first cast on the famed Battenkill in southwestern Vermont, and I fell in love with the river and its large, wild brown trout. After I joined the company in 2011, I spent countless hours on the river, from April through October, mostly targeting sipping fish or casting streamers from a drift boat. Although the dry-fly fishing can be wonderful, the hatch windows are short, and throwing streamers lets me cover much more water during those times when the fish aren’t showing themselves. After a few years, I thought I knew every nook and cranny—and every good trout lie—from the headwaters to the Hudson. But in the fall of 2018, a new way of fishing opened my eyes to so much I had missed, allowing me to rediscover my home water all over again.
I was looking for a way to develop and test our new, two-handed Clearwater fly rod—an 11 foot 4 inch, 3-weight trout-Spey model—so I challenged myself to fish the last ten miles of the Battenkill in Vermont on foot, two-handed casting and swinging flies through every inch of water. I soon realized that, explored this way, the Battenkill became a new river with new possibilities. Even better, I caught trout, including many from spots I had never considered might hold fish.
Over the course of 40 days, I covered the entire stretch—a mile or so at a time, often before work at first light. I quickly realized that the Battenkill is perfect for trout-Spey fishing, which is most effective on streams and rivers that feature a consistent flow across the entire width of riffles and pools. The beauty of this method is that forty- to sixty-foot casts help you to cover water that under normal circumstances would require you to wade farther and deeper, so you end up spooking far fewer fish.