OPST Commando Heads Review and Explained - Trout Spey Casters Rejoice!December 15, 2015
Hey this is a pretty cool product. I started playing around with the OPST Commando Head line after Craig Hettinger, our resident switch rod guru, nudged me pretty hard on getting familiar with it. He had been using it and the customer response to it was overwhelming. I had never really considered a head that is 12-15' long to be effective. I was certainly wrong.
Trout spey casters (these are essentially switch rods in the 2-4 weight range) enjoy throwing light rods but we also want to fish large flies. Even a 12" rainbow can't resist a 3-4" sculpin. Trout also live in quick plunge pools so using a fast sinking tip with a weighted fly is often the best recipe. The challenge comes when you are using a light rod, heavy tip, and heavy fly. A traditional Skagit head that is 23' long can be tough to cast using a small rod. As the head is made to be more compact, it becomes more powerful and can be paired with a "true sink tip" not a versileader. Stay with me here. The 12-15' Commando heads when paired with a 10' RIO MOW Tip become a 22-25' shooting head, combine that with 5' of leader and you are fishing out to near 30' without shooting any line. This is perfect for trout spey guys that need to do the "fishy" stuff like jigging, side drifting, and strip retrieving. You can shoot a substantial amount of line, especially when paired with the OPST Lazar Line. It costs $16 more than the RIO Slick Shooter but is the premium brand. For what its worth I like both products but the OPST Lazar Line is considered the best.
About the OPST Commando Heads
A 12' - 15' head!!! What in the world is this thing. This is exactly what we were thinking too. Then... we cast it. Then... we fished it. This is a GREAT line for trout spey or compact waters for several reasons. Here are things that jumped out at me.
1. You can cast full 10' MOW tips on even the lightest trout spey. 10' of true sink tip (NOT a wimpy versileader) is so nice to have. They turn over big stuff way better than polyleaders. It allows you to use 2-4 weight switch rods and still fish big streamers.
2. Stripping line in. The shorter head helps you fish the end of the swing and strip it back up the seamline without bringing the "head/running line connection" into your guides. Mono running line casts way better than traditional fly line, but a lot of anglers don't like stripping in the connection. The problem with mono running line on a Scandi or full Skagit is that when you are trout spey fishing and want to strip retrieve you bump into the loop to loop connection pretty early in your retrieve. Then... bump bump bump the loop to loop goes back out as you shake the head back out to re-cast. With a super short head you simply strip up to the line junction, make your next cast. Shorter is better for this. 15' head works great.
3. Cast it anywhere. Brush behind you or whatever. Combined with a good shooting line it is easy to cast.
4. Out of a boat... no problem! This applies more to trout anglers but it is so easy to cast you can throw it spey or overhead from the boat.
5. 25' casts are real world casts. In both trout spey situations and tight steelhead situations a 25' cast is real. You need it, you need to be able to do it. Now you can fish the short inside seams and actually throw full speed and achieve good turnover.
Here is a shot of a fish hooked up while field testing the OPST Commando Head.
We fished the 300 Grain Head on a Winston Boron III-TH Micro Spey 4 Weight. It was a bit on the heavy side, but combined with a 10' T-8 MOW Tip it trout fishes great.
What the OPST Commando Won't Do
- This is not for nymphing. At all. Don't try it.
- This is not for big distance, its a short powerful head made for sink tips and big flies.
- It will overhand cast but is very chunky. Don't false cast it. One stroke is all you need to shoot big distance.
How to Choose the Correct Grain Weight
This is super easy. Just find your rod weight, index the grain weight on the left and see the recommended sink tip or polyleader on the right.