Above: photo depicts the head color and black holding line
PNW Spey Lines is a new boutique line maker head up by two THCI certified spey casting instructors, Todd Somsel and Rick Williams.
Their initial line offering is the PNW Scandi Pro Shooting Head, a “scandi-long” style head, which features a uniquely long rear taper which transitions into a “holding line” and then a loop connection to add your preferred running line.
The line I tested was the 7-weight version listed at 525 grains and 40 feet. Rick and Todd noted that the line is a little heavier than many scandi heads aimed at 7-weight spey rods, but that in the longer length they’d found this weight to be appropriate. After testing, I can confirm that in my opinion this was the proper weight for my test 7-weight rod (Winston B2X 13’3″ 7-wt).
The main head is a pleasing pale/mint green, while the rear taper and holding line are a black color, which makes determining a consistent hold point for casting fairly simple. I found the line to cast well with the color transition anywhere from in the guides to up to eight feet or more out of the tip — which is a reflection of a longer back taper and allows a lot of flexibility for the end user.
Listed at a 40′ head but also featuring the holding line, I measured out a few things: the length to the color change (40′), and to where the bulk of the rear taper ends, in the black holding line (approx 43′). I forgot to measure the total holding line length, but it’s long enough to have the entire head outside the guides by 5-6′ and still be holding black line — so I’d guess there’s 20′ or so of black holding line before the loop, where you add a shooting line of your choosing.
I found the most noteworthy quality of these lines to be excellent turnover — which is a quality that cannot be overvalued. The taper is refined and turns over with authority and no noticeable hinging or tendency to crumble. That’s something I am picky about and these do great. And I don’t think any caster used to a shorter scandi will find these longer ones more difficult to cast.
This is an interesting line offering — something different with the holding line, which will certainly appeal to those who have trouble gripping mono and other fine diameter running lines. The positive turnover makes it a great fishing line for both new and seasoned casters alike.
I’ve never been one to like a long back taper or a holding line, but after trying this one, I can see why some people would. And to gain a little more information on why they chose that route, I asked Todd Somsel, one of the designers, and he said:
“The long back taper, as you suggest, was a deliberate design choice. We recognized early in development of the line that many of the current line offerings had little or no back taper. We felt this limited versatility of the line for varying distances, and can also create a ‘hinge’ effect that impedes smoothness for anchors and distance casting. The long back taper adds to the versatility of the head by giving casters the ability to adjust the overhang to their casting level (see Casting Notes below). For example, a caster has the ability to cast short or long depending on the run they are fishing as a result of the back taper (holding line) and where they place the head-taper (green-black) junction ranging from inside the rod to 3-5′ overhang. More advanced casters can cast with the head-taper junction further out to achieve even longer casting distances.”
Todd goes on to add more detail behind their design decisions, which may contain a little of the designer’s biases but are also helpful for understanding this new line offering:
“One concern regarding the long back taper, might be that its length and possible resistance of the line and rear loop running through the rod guides, would impair distance casting for the line. That has not been our experience. The line shoots very well, authoritatively pulls running lines of all types, and allows distance casts to be achieved with ease. Casters of intermediate (or greater) skill will typically have 3-4’ of the rear taper outside of the rod tip when casting. This is the point where the rear taper naturally starts to diminish in size, so the subsequent shoot allows line to flow smoothly out of the rod without resistance.
We put together these casting notes to help anglers of all different abilities enjoy success casting the PNW Scandi Pro lines.
Casting Notes: For casters new to PNW Scandi Pro lines, we recommend starting to use it with the green-black color change (head-rear taper junction) placed at the rod tip and then casting with varying amounts of overhang until a preferred amount of overhang is identified (the ’sweet spot’). This will vary by caster, casting style, and rod choice.
For beginning two-hand casters, we often bring 2-4 feet of the color change back inside the rod tip until the beginning student gains feel and confidence. Once that happens, we move the color change to the rod tip. As casters gain additional confidence, competence, and efficiency, they will likely feel more comfortable with the color change further out the rod tip.
Intermediate level casters will probably feel most comfortable with the color change about 2’ outside the rod tip.
More advanced casters often find a ‘sweet spot’ with 3-4’ of rear taper outside the rod tip. Conveniently, this usually places the end of the rear taper near the upper end of the cork handle, where the caster can pin it prior to release on the forward cast for added distance. Being able to pin the line at this point, facilitates maintaining control of the line prior to shooting and provides a more secure ‘grip’ than holding slick running line during cold weather or when hands are wet.
Elite level casters may be able to use even more overhang to achieve long casts while using a long smooth casting stroke and maintaining contact with the line.”
The PNW Scandi Pro is an interesting new offering, different than a lot of what was already available with the holding line, and provides easy and consistent turnover.