OPST Commando Smooth & Micro Skagit Rod

// Text and Photos by Leonard Schoenberger

Ed Ward of OPST is one of the most innovative figures in fly fishing. We got the chance to fish his Micro Skagit 10’4″ Fly Rod with a Commando Smooth line.

In the Pacific Northwest fishing for steelhead is a passion that many fly fishermen and women have drawn their attention to over the years. Although hard to catch, the power and beauty of these wild fish will keep you coming back for more once you’ve experienced the tug. OPST (Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics) has established itself as one of the go-to brands when you’re into this kind of fishing.

Stuart Longhurst of Baltic Fly Fisher makes sure European anglers get a chance to get their hands on OPST products and experience the innovations from the American West Coast. He was kind enough to provide us with an OPST Micro Skagit 10’4″ 5wt rod. We paired it with the Commando Smooth Integrated Skagit Head and Running Line.

OPST Commando Head and Micro Skagit Fly Rod
The OPST Micro Skagit 10’4″ 5wt with the Commando Smooth on a Vosseler DC3 reel

A Rod with Self Confidence

In Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland you can swing big streamers at rainbow and brown trouts on the rivers flowing out of the Alps. I was looking for a setup that facilitated my quest to fish for long hours and cover a lot of water effectively. The rod and line I had in mind had to be light enough to fish all day and yet have the power to handle big trout.

I had heard of OPST fly lines before and knew they had gained many fans out there. New to me was the fact that OPST had started producing fly rods as well. After everything I had heard about Ed Ward I was pretty sure that he had been working on the combination of rod and line for a while. The icing on the cake was the fact that the new OPST Commando Smooth Heads were available with an integrated running line.

The OPST Micro Skagit 10’4″ 5wt with the Commando Smooth on a Vosseler DC3 reel

In the end Stuart suggested to go for the lighter of the two line options and recommended the 225gr Commando Smooth to me. The setup was quick and easy since the only thing you have to do is to connect the Commando Smooth to your backing and you’re ready to go.

When putting the 10’4″ 5wt fly rod together for the first time I was surprised how light it was despite its length and the size of the full-wells grip. Since I am a big fan of two handed rods, I instantly liked the look and feel of this powerful, yet delicate rod.

The 10'4" 5wt OPST Micro Skagit Fly Rod
The 10’4″ 5wt OPST Micro Skagit Fly Rod

The design of the rod is minimalistic and the matte grey/black suits its character well. It doesn’t need to show off, since its beauty lies within and is underlined externally by subtle blue accent wraps.

The 10'4" 5wt OPST Micro Skagit Fly Rod
OPST 10’4″ 5wt with matte black finish and blue accent wraps

We paired the rod with a vintage Vosseler DC3 fly reel which works well in terms of balance and adds to the understated look of the OPST Micro Skagit fly rod.

The OPST Micro Skagit 10'4" 5wt with the Commando Smooth on a Vosseler DC3 reel
The OPST Micro Skagit 10’4″ 5wt with the Commando Smooth on a Vosseler DC3 reel

Plenty of Power and Precision

When doing the first casts, I was instantly blown away by the power of this small rod. The same was true for everybody else who I made cast the rod. You can tell that Ed Ward spent years perfecting this set up, creating rods that fit the lines he had invented before. No matter which style of fishing you prefer, this setup can handle it all.

As mentioned before my intention for this setup was to swing big flies on large Alpine rivers. The rod and the Commando Smooth head with a length of 99.8ft (30.32m) transport even big streamers with ease over long distances. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer to use two handed casts, single spey or single-hand overhead casts. It feels like the rod takes pleasure in showing off its capabilities.

OPST Micro Skagit rod and Commando Smooth Head
OPST Commando Smooth Shooting Head with integrated running line

Since I like the OPST Micro Skagit 10’4″ 5wt with the Commando Smooth so much, I decided to give it a try for sea trout and lake trout as well. Here again it showed its potential. You can cover long distances with ease and your arm won’t tire no matter which style you are fishing. The Commando Smooth loads very easily and precisely. This setup is also great for female anglers, since power is not the deciding factor.

OPST Micro Skagit Fly Rod on rock
The OPST Micro Skagit paired with a Vosseler Air Two reel

As a combination, the OPST Micro Skagit 10’4″ fly rod paired with the Commando Smooth 225gr Skagit Head are tough to beat. If you are looking for a rod that will cover many different situations without feeling like you have to compromise, this combo is definitely worth a look. And you can be sure you’ll make the heads of your fellow anglers turn once you hand the rod over to them to give it a try.

Check out Baltic Fly Fisher for more info on this setup and to get your OPST gear