Today our series of king salmon spey rod reviews marches on! You can read the background on this series here, and you can also check out the first two reviews in the series – the ECHO King and the Sage 10130-4 ONE.
Last month Brian Niska wrote up a really detailed article for us about the concepts behind the Metal Detector series of spey rods he designed for Pieroway. It’s a really interesting read if you’re a spey geek like…ahem…some of us. Have a look.
We fished the heaviest in the series, the 720, on the Dean earlier this year. It’s tailor made for king salmon fishing. Here’s what we thought.
The 720 Metal Detector is 13’5″, making it the longest rod in the group that we tested. It’s also the heaviest at 9 1/2 ounces (but we didn’t mind – more below). Rather than calling it a 9 weight or a 10 weight, they just named it after the line (the Airflo Skagit Compact 720) they designed it for, which makes a whole lot of sense to us.
The action on this rod is somewhat unusual, combining a fast mid-section with slower butt and tip sections. Brian covered the concept behind this action in detail in his post last month. He’s smarter than we are on this kind of stuff so we’ll not try to repeat what he said – our really quick summary is that the fast mid section provides plenty of power, the softer butt allows you to feel the rod load deep between your hands, and the softer tip helps maintain constant load throughout the casting stroke.
These rods have the coolest reel seats we’ve ever seen. “Fight to preserve wild fish in wild rivers”…cheers to that. Fishing one of these has got to help your river karma.
The grips are medium length compared to the other rods we tested – a nice balance between easy casting and ‘pull hard on big fish’ power. They’re a little bit thick for our taste, but shaving them down is a really easy fix if you care.
“It’s slow but it’s fast”. Folks who fished it tended to agree – the action is really different from other rods in this class. We’re not rod designers or championship casters, but we totally buy the concept. You can definitely feel the cork bend, which gives it a really easy-casting feel, but the stiff mid-section gives it tons of power and doesn’t buckle when you overload it or really pull hard on a cast. Whether or not the tip helps maintain load throughout the casting stroke is an issue beyond our pay grade – but it was definitely easy to cast this rod well.
The extra length (probably combined with the stiff mid-section) made this our rod of choice when we wanted to really dredge. Big tips like, say, 15 feet of T-17, came out of the water easily, and it was straightforward to form the D-loop necessary to fire all those grains over to the other side of the river.
It’s a really well-balanced rod, and we really didn’t notice the fact that it was the heaviest in the group. These rods are all light compared to 10 weights of the past (a Sage 10150-4 Z-Axis, for example, weighs 5/8 of an ounce more than the Pieroway). If anything, the more moderate weight made it easier to pair this rod up with a ‘king reel’ and not be out of balance.
Airflo Skagit Compact 720, as well as the Airflo Skagit Intermediate 720. Designing a rod to cast a specific head is a great concept and it worked here – it’s totally dialed with 720 grains. They claim a grain window of +/- 50 grains…we liked it enough with the 720 grain heads that we didn’t try anything else.
It balanced great with a Bauer Rogue 7 Classic, which weighs 11 ounces. This reel has a solid frame to help balance spey rods, and it works here for sure.
We really like how this rod fishes. Brian has taken a different path with its design, and we really can’t argue with it. It’s easy loading but still plenty powerful, and it particularly shines when you’re throwing the heavy stuff.
It’s also the second-least-expensive of the four we fished, at $579 CAD.