The spey rod market has never been so ripe with Skagit rods. Nearly every manufacturer has a stick or two in their arsenal that excels at throwing short heads and big flies. Most of these rods are 13 footers designed for the big water situations we see in the media: broad, riffling runs with a half dozen fish-collecting boulders strewn about.
But if you come tour the West Coast's winter steelhead rivers, you might be surprised by how much "unconventional" water you see. In fact, (dare I say it) the majority of our winter steelhead are holding not in the easy-to-fish runs but in the tighter and deeper runs in between. And these spots rarely have easy beaches to wade--or wide open skies that allow long rods.
The rod designers at Beulah understand this, clearly. Enter the 12' 4" 8 wt Platinum, a big game two-hander that excels at fishing the tighter and deeper runs that--at this very moment--are holding big, dime bright steelhead.
I've been fishing this rod since January. It's the stick I reach for when I'll be standing on a bouldery shore, casting big or heavy flies out from under a canopy of alders. Its shorter size allows a full rod stroke in more places, but it remains long enough to allow technical mending and swing steering for those far-side lies. Its flex profile allows it to cast well at short ranges (casting with just the tip) and at longer distances (casting with the whole rod). And it has the power reserve to turn over my heaviest tips (T-17) and, if the current is really cranking, worm weights.
I match the rod with a 580 grain Beulah Tonic Skagit head, though if I'm going to be throwing the heavy stuff, I bump up to a 600 grain Compact Skagit. I suspect the rod could handle a much heavier head without tip-wobbling, especially for short-range work.
The rod is listed as having a slightly "regressive flex," meaning the majority of the flex happens lower in the stick. My own experience with the rod is that feels more progressive than Beulah's other rods in the Platinum Series. In fact, its flex profile is one that makes timing during the cast essential; hence, I recommend the rod for intermediate and experienced spey casters, folks who have learned how to maintain load through the sweep and D-loop.
The rod has Beulah's trademark lightness and recovery. At 7 ounces, it is far lighter than most 8 wt 12 footers, and thanks to its smartly designed taper and graphite, it recovers after the forward stroke almost instantaneously, resulting in immediate transfer of power from the cast into the line. In short, you can have a poorly placed anchor or an abbreviated D-loop and--so long as you come to a crisp stop on the forward stroke--still send a fishable cast.
This rod, like the other Beulah's I've fished, is clearly designed by folks who spend a lot of time on the water catching steelhead. Give it a fish, and I think you'll be impressed.