I was a bit puzzled when first I used Cortland’s new Long Belly Spey, 9 Weight. I had taken along a Loop 11′ 3″ 9 weight – a rod suited to rivers with little back room and to the Scandinavian interest in shooting heads.

The Tri-colore does indeed have three colours: chartreuse for the tip and taper (19 feet), yellow for the belly (57 feet) and mint green for the running line (60 feet), a long line of roughly 140 feet.

I threw 30 feet of yellow behind the 19 feet of tip and front taper and found that my casts were falling, usually an indication of the rod being underlined. After some frustration, it came to me that if you still have belly inside your line guides, it means you only have to let out more line until you reach the line’s sweet spot, i.e. where the line best reaches out and turns over.

Hence I decided to throw another 20 feet of belly into the aerialized line, and with some vigour, found it reaching out completely but with the fly not turning over as well as I would have liked. As I fish in the Pacific north west where we are constantly thinking: how much heavier a tip do I need for these rain swollen months?, I then changed up to better match line and fly.

I added ten feet of stepped down leader, and a simple Spey fly without the heavy bead eyes and/or lead we typically use in winter. Voila, how nicely this coloured floating line then with delicacy turned over the fly.

To make a better match rod wise, I turned to a longer rod with a stiffer butt, a 14’0″, 10/11 Weight Lamiglas Travel Rod (a 15′ rod would be even better). Then I extended the entire belly, leaving the change to mint running line within the line guides on the rod.

It was very pretty then to watch the line unfurl itself all the way across the river turning the fly to just touch the leaves on the other side before dropping into the water.

All in all, I would say that this Long Belly is suited best to those casters of better skills who can aerialize greater head lengths – in this case 19′ plus 57′ plus 10 feet leader = 86 feet – and fly fishing in the cast and swing style on broad flattish, unbushy rivers for Atlantic Salmon. On the west coast, a similar river would include the South Thompson, BC, for its legendary 20 lbs summer steelhead in those distant lies.

And once the entire head is aerialized, the new Duraslik coating on the running line really helps sizzle it through the line guides for truly outstanding distance.

I would also add a 9 foot salmon sink tip behind the leader to put in a little sink – but that’s because I am from the wet coast.

Next time, I will review the mid-belly line of this new series from Cortland..