Redington Hydrogen Trout Spey and Rise Reel - A Killer Combo!

Redington Hydrogen Trout Spey

I spend most of my fishing time with a spey rod in my hand.  Chasing steelhead around the Northwest is my absolute favorite pastime and I will continue to do so until I am no longer able.  That being said, I still love trout fishing, and bass fishing, and carp fishing, and chasing just about any other fish that I can put a fly in front of.  One can only take so much swinging when the chances of a grab are near zero.  So I split my fishing time up into a good variety of activities, including a lot of trout fishing.

I really do love trout fishing, and when I discovered this trout spey thing, it changed my life for the better.  Now I can swing streamers with ease, as an alternative to nymphing when needed, I can throw a soft hackle or emerger, and when the fish aren't eating dries.

I can even turn upstream and throw a dry if they turn on, and it’s not anywhere near as awkward as I would have thought.

I picked up the Redington Hydrogen 11’ 2 wt last summer, along with a Redington Rise 7/8 reel and a trio of lines:  a Rio Switch Chucker #2, a Rio Single HandSpey #5 and a Rio Skagit Max Short 225gr head. 

I found that my first impressions with this rod were quite biased.  I have cast the Redington Hydrogen 9’ 5wt single hand rod quite a few times.  It is light, but it is faster than I, perosnally like for most dry fly fishing.  Fast single hand rods have their place, but a spey/switch rod needs to have a more moderate action because we are using a heavy line to load the rod.  That line has to load on the water, and it needs to bend the rod a little bit or our casts won’t have the energy behind them that we need.   I was expecting the Hydrogen Trout Spey to be fast like it’s shorter cousin.  It is not the case at all.  This rod is quite flexible, yet responsive.  It is very light in hand and has a very nice, simple finish along with a very cool reel seat. 

Now why would I want a spey rod for trout?  This is the ultimate question.  Money is tight and if I am going to buy a new rod, it needs to be one that is going to get used, abused and is worth the investment. 

Chris with another beauty bow.
Our main trout river here is the Deschutes.  As many of you might know, the Deschutes is a big river and fishing out of a boat is not allowed.  So reason #1 is that there are fish that live farther from access than I can typically cast with my 9’ 5 wt.  My first experience with this was during the Salmonfly hatch in 2014.  Chris dropped anchor on this little waist deep gravel bar in the middle of the river, jumped out of the boat with a 12’6” 6wt spey rod and started firing casts towards this little mid-river bucket 70’ or so from our boat.  As the fly landed, a fish fully breached the water with the fly in its mouth.  This continued through the next half hour.  A few times, the fish would miss the fly on its take and another fish would immediately grab in the same manner.  We knew that this spot was inaccessible from the bank and that these fish had not seen any flies that year.  To this day, it is one of the most memorable sessions in my trout fishing career as Chris and I took turns hooking fish after fish and laughing like kids again.  I am very doubtful that we could have hit those fish with a single hand rod given the distance we had to cover and the conditions (middle of the river in swift, knee to waist deep water). 

Now the Hydrogen 2wt isn’t going to add that much distance to your cast over a stout 9' 6 wt.  It is a 2 wt and it has its limits, but what it does is add that ability to fish water that is inaccessible with a single hand rod.  The 4 wt is more appropriate for covering distance, but there are some things that all spey rods will help out with. Trees behind you?  No problem.  Need to high stick it over a fast current?  Gotcha covered. 
Epic Deschutes Salmonfly session about to commence
The next reason that I picked up this trout spey I stated earlier.  If I reach that situation where the fish are really keyed in on nymphs and I don’t want to throw a indicator, I can throw a soft hackle, traditional wet fly or emerger on a dry line. 

Now streamers are the main reason that I would fish a two handed trout rod.  Hucking a streamer across a pool and slowly stripping it back is one of my favorite ways to catch a trout (or bass) and the trout spey makes it infinitely easier.  I can throw a bigger fly and bigger sink tip much easier than with a single hand rod, especially given the likelihood of obstacles in my backcast. 

I do bring a couple of rods with me when I trout fish a river (or lake for that matter).  My 9’ 5 wt is still the first rod to come out of the quiver.  If I can catch that fish with a dry fly, then the 9’ 5 wt is the weapon of choice for that.  It is the most accurate and quickest way for me to present a dry fly to a sipping trout. 

I have begun using my Hydrogen Trout spey for chironomid fishing in lakes as well.  I generally prefer lake fishing to river fishing as I can go at my own pace, wander aimlessly around a lake in a float tube, and generally I don’t have any fishing buddies getting up in my grill for committing any of the various infractions of fishing with a partner like taking my time in a spot, spooking fish, breaking off, etc… Maybe I just like sitting in my float tube drinking a beer and enjoying the scenery.  Whatever it is, I now like using this Hydrogen for this most productive springtime fishing technique.  Ironically, this often requires using indicators.  But much of the time I can get away with fishing a chironomid rig without a indicator.

But which model?

I got the 2 wt and I am glad I did, but I would choose the 4 wt if I had to choose only one.  It is a more versatile tool than the 2 wt, but I will be honest, I already had a 4 wt trout spey and didn’t need another.  I chose the 2 wt specifically because I already had the 4 wt for big streamers and I am not a huge fan of the (competition's) 4 wt that I picked up.   I wanted a rod that was going to do better with dry line stuff; soft hackles, emergers, and then chironomids in my float tube.  That is how to look at it.  The 2 wt is light, handles small streamers and is good for dry lines.  The 4 wt is meatier, can throw bigger streamers and heavier nymph rigs, while the 3wt is a happy medium that can do it all but will stress out a little more when you push it with a bigger fly or trying to get mega-distance.

OK, so what line do I get with this rod? 

For streamer fishing, the Skagit Max Short or the OPST Commando Head are all that you need.  Matched up with a MOW Light 10' T-8 Sink Tip, you have an ideal streamer setup.  Skagit heads won’t throw a nymph or dry worth a darn, but they rule streamers.  Skagit lines are super heavy and are built to turn over the biggest of flies and sink tips, but they don’t have great flotation and given that the head is detached from the running line, the ability to mend a Skagit head is mediocre at best.  You will need a running line to go with the head and tip (we prefer the OPST Lazar Line), but it is versatile and super fun and easy to cast.  
Brown Trout love streamers!

The con with the head system like the Skagit Max is that it is possible to get the loop-to-loop connections hung up in your guides.  I usually stop stripping the fly and start using the rod tip to move the fly the last few feet when I get to the loop, but there is no right or wrong way to do it.

The Single Hand Spey is a very nice line to cast a soft hackle, dry, emerger, or wet fly with.  Easy, light and accurate (for such a long rod), this line delivers beautiful casts with smaller flies, but has a hard time turning over streamers or bigger weighted nymphs.  You could in theory use any standard weight forward floating line in three sizes heavier than the rod, but this line is the one that is built for this type of situation.

The Switch Chucker is the line you want to do it all.  It is not pretty, but it will turn over a nymph rig, streamer or a small child.  Because it is so heavy, it doesn’t have great dry fly presentation, but it does deliver just about any fly you have to the part of the river you want to get to.  If you want to nymph with your trout spey rod, get this line.  You could throw a versileader on it and throw streamers as well.  Do not oversize it, the 2 wt Switch Chucker matches the 2 wt Trout Spey perfectly.  

What about reels?

When getting a trout spey (or steelhead spey), size the reel up at least three sizes.  I could have chosen a 5/6 reel, but with the extra length of the rod, I wanted to counterbalance the rod a bit more weight, plus I am more likely to need another 7/8 reel than another 5/6...  Spey rods should be a little back-heavy, so you can go with a bigger reel.  You want to back-load the rod because of the nature of the cast, constantly lifting the rod tip in the air is easier when there is more weight in the butt of the rod.  So a 5/6 reel is ok, a 7/8 reel is a better fit. 

Another reason why we size up our reels is that the lines are bigger.  The Rio Switch Chucker #2 is a darn big line, even taking into consideration that it is built for a 2 wt.  I would guess it takes up more room on a reel than some 7wt floating lines.

The Rise reel is good looking, well-made and has a good drag to get the job done when you need it.  I have no complaints at all about it and do truly believe it to be one of the top reels on the market in that price point. All I really want from my reel is that it doesn't fail, balances the rod, holds the line and it's a bonus if it looks good too. 

So this trout spey thing is fun, it's growing in popularity and the usefulness of these rods are still being explored.  I am sure looking forward to this warmer weather and getting this rod out in more and more situations.  

Andrew Perrault



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The Blog of Big Y Fly Co: Redington Hydrogen Trout Spey and Rise Reel - A Killer Combo!
Redington Hydrogen Trout Spey and Rise Reel - A Killer Combo!
The Blog of Big Y Fly Co
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