What is the best line for Atlantic salmon? I think I now have the answer — RIO’s new InTouch Single Handed Spey Line 3D. After using it this season it is, without question, my favorite line for not only chasing but actually catching Atlantic salmon. But let’s back up a second.
When people think of Spey casting, they think first of double-handed rods. Given the origins of Spey casting, this of course makes sense, but it neglects the notion that “Spey casting” does not describe a kind of rod, but a highly-versatile casting style. For instance, Spey casting can be done by both single and double-handed rods (maybe even Tenkara, probably, but I haven’t tried!), in both fresh and salt-water environments, in still and moving water, with the full gamut of line weights and sink rates. So why not try single-handed spey casting?
The advantages of single handed spey casting
After Spey casting for a number of years, I’ve come to believe that single-handed Spey casting offers some distinct advantages.
To begin, while Spey casting with a large double handed rod can be effective at throwing long casts over big water, it’s only as effective as the person is proficient at the cast. For many people, single handed rods are more familiar — they’re what we grew up with. I would suggest learning how to Spey cast with a single-handed rod is better first step than jumping right to a big double handed rod.
While fighting a fish with a double handed rod is more effective in some situations, this is most often true of only the large fish on large water. Even then, Lee Wulff offers a compelling counter-example of how one can effectively fight and land large fish on small rods. But I find that most often I don’t catch large fish, but nice fish, and fighting them with a large double handed rod becomes a kind of forgone conclusion. It dulls the connection to the fish, and takes the “risk” out of the fight. With a single handed rod, you feel directly connected to the fish; you feel all the movements, jumps, etc. Lee Wulff is alleged to once have said he could feel the salmon’s heart-beat. While this is no doubt an exaggeration, the point is well taken; with a smaller rod, you feel that unmediated, electrical connection to the fish.
With single handed spey casting, you can cast in smaller spaces, sometimes mend with greater precision, and feel many of the bumps, rolls, and other non-takes that, while they don’t immediately hook a fish, may eventually lead you to hook up.
RIO InTouch Single Handed Spey Line 3D
I took RIO’s new InTouch single handed spey line to the Gaspé peninsula this summer, and found it to be remarkably effective at catching fish, and an absolute joy to cast. There’s a few things that stand out for me.
The first was the “3D”, which refers to three different density coatings applied along the length of the fly line. This line has three different sink rates to it — first, a long section of floating line through the vast majority of the line and then, right at the end, a 1 IPS and a 2 IPS section (or floating, hover, intermediate). This meant that the line got down in the water column just enough so that it was more visible to the salmon without the herky-jerky nature casting a sinker, and without the risk of hooking bottom. I believe this makes a big difference. Given it’s a smooth, continuous line, the casting motion is wonderfully smooth, with none of the slappy, hinging movement that comes with a loop-to-loop connection.
Similarly, given the head is 34′ long, this is a line that you can confidently cast over-hand. If you’re not happy with your Spey casting, or are tight to a rock, you can easily pick it up and shoot line.
It’s also versatile in a way that I didn’t anticipate: throwing dries. Given it has two slow sink sections, I thought that this line would quickly and easily drag down dries, but I found that if I found a rising fish, I could switch and fish dries with it — sometimes even skating them, if the current wasn’t fast. This was remarkable to me: the kind of sinking line I like, with a head that slow enough to allow me to cast a dry. Damn.
The line is built on RIO’s ConnectCore, a line core that they claim reduces stretch so you can feel more takes. I can only say that I had a number of subtle rises and misses on this trip — and that I felt them all (or, all the ones I could see). This connection was extremely helpful.
RIO InTouch Single Handed Spey Line 3D: the best line for Atlantic salmon fishing?
I think it just might be. As I said in the video, I plan to fish this line almost exclusively for Atlantic salmon. It is now the top line I recommend, and the first line I reach for.
Find it at Rio’s website for $99.