By Kirk Deeter
I just returned from a trip to Patagonia, where casting and fishing challenges range from open water/heavy wind to tiny clear spring creeks. I didn’t have the luxury (or the weight allowance) to bring 10 different rods to match all the conditions, so I did the next best thing: I brought three different 5-weights, and 10 different fly lines, which in effect, was like bringing 30 different rods.
I’m starting to feel that one important measure of a fly rod is how well you can work it with a variety of lines that feature a variety of tapers, in a variety of conditions. In other words, you can make any pig dance if you find the right line for it (and your casting stroke). But start playing around with different lines in different conditions, throwing big hoppers and then streamers, and then tiny dry flies… and that is when the cream rises.
I’ve been a fan of the Scott Radian and Sage One for that reason (among others), and I have found that the newest T&T offering–the Spire–is worthy of joining the club. I like the rod a lot for a few reasons, most of all its versatility.
I tested the 9-foot 5-weight, as well as an 8-foot, 9-inch 5-weight and I liked the 9-footer just a tad better. I do think the 8-9 has apparent value for more of a Michigan-type setting, and were I fishing 90 percent of the time of the Pere Marquette, rather than western rivers, I might lean that way. But in the context of versatility and throwing some larger bugs like hoppers, I like the 9-footer.
I read that the Yellowstone Angler 5-weight Shootout dinged the Spire for “swing weight” (I covered that in a recent Field & Stream column). I think those guys did a great job, but that’s a variable that can be tweaked with reel and line balance. I found good balance on the Spire with a Hatch Outdoors 3-plus and a RIO InTouch GOLD fly line. But I also liked it with a Scientific Anglers Ultimate Trout, MPX, the Airflo Super-Dri Bandit.
I felt most comfortable casting the rod in the 15-40-foot range. It’s not an ultra-boomer, but neither am I. I thought it was responsive and easy to load in short as well. In terms of accuracy I thought it was solid (when I was solid). It didn’t cover up my mistakes. It’s an honest rod.
But to be honest with you, the number-one selling proposition is probably the most obvious. At least it’s what my wife cares about most. Spire is probably the prettiest fly rod on the market right now. With all respect to my friends who wear green, the cork and the components on Spire are quite slick, and the rich blue finish is top of the game.
Which, I know, makes absolutely no difference in the performance of the rod. But this is a story for dealers. And dealers care about things like curb appeal, or at least sales rack appeal. I’m telling you, this one is a looker, and it will get noticed. And when it goes to the practice pond, it won’t disappoint.
Maybe the larger issue is whether or not T&T is truly back in the game, and a viable player for some high-end rod market share. I think that’s the case, and I think Spire is worth a look if you’re thinking about filling in a few pegs on your fly rack with a new brand, if you aren’t carrying T&T already.