Well, I officially failed my attempt to “blog” on a regular basis. Those who read my last entry know exactly what I mean. Sorry about that. I’m going to give it another go, and try to deliver fresh content to you with fair regularity. Enough about that. It’s time to talk about my new favorite summer steelhead rod: The DHII 6.5129!
6.5 you ask? And I do know you ask. I’m even privy to some ridicule and “fun-poking” about the designation via various chat forums and social media outlets. The question often comes up; “why not call it a 6/7?” To be honest, I’ve been at this fly fishing game for going on 40 years and I have always wondered when a rod has a two-line designation such as 4/5 or 6/7 which one is it? Is that 4/5 a 4 or a 5? Is it really a 6wt or is it in fact a 7wt. Yes, of course I understand that every rod has a grain window and will accept a relative range of line sizes and weights, but do I need a “two-line” designation to tell me that?? Ok got that off my chest…
The 6.5129 is a 12 foot 9 inch 6.5 weight spey rod born from my personal wants and needs fishing for fall steelhead over that last several years. From my original line of DH rods I would grab one of two models to fish fall steelhead in the lower 48 on rivers like The Deschutes, Grande Ronde, Salmon, and Trinity. You know the type: classic runs with steelhead that typically range from 4 to 10 pounds, and water temperatures that invite floating line and/or light sink-tip presentations. I would fish the 6126 or the 7130. Quite often it was the 6126. There were times however – as much as I absolutely love fishing that rod – that it wasn’t quite enough. Conversely, I would be fishing the 7130 and at times catch myself feeling like was just a bit too much. Not the worst problem to have, I know, but I found myself wishing that I could have a rod that was literally in between the 6 and the 7. On countless occasions I would say to myself, “Damn. I wish I had a six-and-a-half weight!”
One day I shared my feelings and experiences with Tim. I guess he felt my convictions because he immediately said, “Let’s do it.” Guess I should have asked sooner. We called the initial prototype a 6.5 because it just made sense. We never looked back. The rod is everything I had hoped for – the perfect summer/fall steelhead rod for the above described conditions. As Goldilocks would say, “This one is just right…”
To my delight, every angler I’ve introduced this rod to feels the same. With a generous grain window (420-540), you can load the rod to suit your style of fishing and casting for any situation you may encounter. I have done the bulk of my fishing over the last two seasons with a Scandi Compact 450, a 20# Ridge running line, and 10’ foot Polyleader. The set-up is sweet, sweet music! I also enjoy tossing the new Delta II 6/7 on the 6.5129. When water temps chill near the end of the season and I need to fish deep, I’ve been using the Skagit Intermediate Compact 480 with a 9’ of T-11 Sink-tip. The rod also casts and fishes the entire range of Polyleaders beautifully.
Last October I enjoyed a great trip to The Deschutes River joined by my wife Amy and our awesome friend Mike Adams. The three of us were armed with 6.5129’s, and all agreed that this was the perfect stick for what we were doing. Mike and Amy both had the pleasure – and honor – of christening their new rods by hooking and landing a couple of beautiful wild Deschutes steelhead! Final score: a buck for Amy, a doe for Mike. I had the equal honor of being by their sides and tailing those very special fish. The photo of Mike and I was shot on a glorious morning as the sun was just starting to break. Amy caught hers at (very) last light of day. The photo is soft and grainy but still captures the magic moment.
See ya on the river!
Dec’s book “A Passion for Steelhead” is one of the top volumes on Steelhead fishing history and techniques. He’s a master spey caster, expert casting instructor, and all around great guy. Please click here for more info on Dec.