What is the Snowbee Spectre fly rod?
Snowbee's Spectre range of fly rods is positioned in the mid-to-upper end of their collection, with the top of the line Snowbee Prestige at the premium end and the Snowbee Classic at the budget end. The Spectre range is priced from £195 to £225, while the Prestige is pitched at £259 to £319 and the Classic at £67 to £99, depending on the model. The rods have a modern appearance and casting action and come in a range of sizes to suit most common kinds of river and stillwater fly fishing for trout.
What models are in the Spectre range?
There are now eight models in the Spectre fly rod range, from an 8'6" #5 model for river trouting to a 10' #7 for reservoir fly fishing and a 9' #8 for heavy-duty situations, such as saltwater fly fishing, carp or even small pike. The full range includes #5, #6, #7 and #8 rods in various lengths from 8'6" to 10 to suit a range of fly fishing types.
|Model||Length||Line weight||Rod weight|
How do these rods look?
I really like the styling of the Spectre range. They're classy looking rods that are low on bling with subtle, stealthy colours. The lowest part of the butt section is glossy, but the rest of the rod has a matt finish. Snowbee says it uses a natural "unground" finish and doesn't conceal any blemishes in the blank under a layer of paint or hide dodgy thread wraps under coloured epoxy. The rings and guides are black and very neatly whipped.
The reel seat is one of the smartest I've seen. It looks stunning with a reel with a similarly matt black finish. The rod sections have the usual alignment dots to help you assemble the rod neatly and the overall feel is of a high-quality rod.
What's the reel seat like?
The Spectre has a great looking reel seat. There's a skeletonised inner section revealing a glossy section of the blank, which both looks cool and reduces weight. There's an up-locking mechanism featuring two rings and, unusually, a little diamante crystal on the back.
Yes, I know I said it was low on bling, however, this actually serves a useful practical purpose. How many times have you rotated the reel locking ring on your reel seat over and over again to find the little shoe into which the bottom of the reel inserts? Well, the Spectre's diamante crystal serves as a little marker for the slot which means you can line it up far more easily. Clever.
What's the handle like?
The cork handle is as good as most other rods these days. Cork quality is good and the handle is comfortable to hold. The ends of the handle have sections of tougher resin mixed cork which is a mixture of black and cork in colour. This looks great and adds a bit of extra durability to the sensitive bits of the handle to help it last longer.
The #6 rod I've been using has a full wells handle, which suits this well, especially when coupled with a quick loading shooting head style line or when carrying a lot of line using a long belly. The smaller models in the range use the reverse half wells handles common on lighter fly rods.
What sort of stripper guides are fitted?
The stripper rings are oversized and sit out from the rod at 90 degrees to improve casting. They're lined with zirconium to improve resilience and reduce friction, so the fly line just zips through them. Like the rest of the metalwork on the rods, everything is neatly lined up, nicely whipped and varnished to perfection. I couldn't really see any flaws in mine. The rod maker at Snowbee has a steady hand.
What are the guides like?
The tip uses an oversized "Hayfork" tip ring, while all the other guides are the usual snake style. They're black in colour and share the same shiny black whippings as the rest of the rod, and every one of them was neat and tidily made.
What are they like to use?
We've been using the Snowbee Spectre 10' #6 rod and have had it paired with Snowbee's cassette reel and an XStra Distance intermediate fly line. Unsurprisingly, this combination works very well.
Snowbee doesn't seem to state the rods' actions on its site, but I'd say the 10' #6 is medium-fast to fast, when compared to the other rods I use. The rod feels quite stiff in the hand but has good sensitivity when casting. I found it a fairly fast actioned rod and it recovered quite quickly during casting without much wobbling.
While it's far from a heavy rod, it doesn't feel amazingly light when you're using it and you can feel the power reserves available. However, despite the feel, it's actually lighter than my usual #6 despite being a foot longer!
Had I not known the rating beforehand, I might have assumed it felt more like a #7 than a #6 as it has an element of sturdiness and solidity to it - in a good way. But it definitely feels like it's well matched to a #6 line when you're casting it.
We were able to throw some nice loops with this rod and the power reserves it has let you carry a fair amount of line when distance casting. On the field, chucking a full 90' line was fairly easy and we even saw the backing knot on the 120' line a few times.
It's comfortable to cast and hold and handles fish well, too. To me, it felt like it was better suited to medium or long distance casts than to close up work. It's an excellent all-round rod but felt more at home chucking lures and teams of flies than it did fishing a single dry. A different line might change that completely, though.
What lines are suited to these fly rods?
Of all the lines we tried, the Snowbee XStra Distance did seem to be the best matched to the 10' #6 we're using. The relatively short head loads it quickly and it shoots really well. It handles these shooting head style lines very well. It's also fine for sinking lines and worked well with 6/7 an Airflo Sixth Sense Di3 when the fish went down deeper. It definitely feels better with a #6 than a #7, so that #6 rating is definitely right.
Long belly lines also work well with the Spectre. The Barrio GT125 in a #6 worked beautifully and it carried an impressive amount of line - the GT125 I often use has a 70-foot head and it coped fine with all of that. Presentation with that line was really good - indeed Snowbee makes a similar one itself, the Competition Long Cast.
What's the rod tube like?
The Snowbee Spectre comes with a compartmentalised rod sock or sleeve to keep the sections separated in transit, as well as a Cordura rod tube with a foam cap to protect the tips. It's fairly standard as rod tubes go.
What guarantee is provided with Snowbee fly rods?
Obviously, fly rods generally break from misuse rather than manufacturing defects. If you whack the rod with a tungsten headed fly during a cast, overload the rod by using it to lift the fish, step on it or shut it in your car door, it might break - through no fault of the maker. So it's therefore pretty generous of them to offer often very attractive guarantees that even covers accidental damage.
Snowbee's guarantee is up there with the best of them and the company has an Orvis-like reputation for looking after its customers. The Snowbee Spectre fly rod comes with a lifetime guarantee for the original purchaser. Providing you register your purchase with Snowbee within 30 days, and keep hold of your receipt, Snowbee will replace the rod or damaged part and send you a new one. The only cost is a £25 handling fee to cover postage.
How much do these fly rods cost?
These are mid-priced in terms of fly rods and range in cost from £195 for the 8'6" #5 fly rod to £229 for the 10' #7 version. The #6 one I've been using costs £225. It's a lot of rod for the money and I think it represents good value. The quality is great, it's a pleasure to cast and to fish with, and the guarantee is as good as it gets. These are well worth considering if you're in the market for a new fly rod.
Available from: Snowbee