I'm with RD. I'd go a 4 or 5. I've got a 11'7 4wt Meiser. I like all kinds of lines on it, but for your neighborhood I'd suggest a RAGE head as a starting point. It's either a fat scandi head (fat delicate) or a light skagit head (skinning husky), depending on who you talk to. IF you want to throw really fat meaty stuff, you can get a full skagit, if you want to throw delicate soft hackles and smaller streamers, a scandi. But you said you are going to get a second spool, so there ya go.
My Meiser throws a 6 wt airflow 40+ like a missile, so RD's pretty spot on with that comparison too.
I think echo might makes something in that range, Beulah does, and Meiser. I'm a Meiser fan, I know RD loves his Beulahs.
I'd stay away from a switch to begin with- just easier to learn on the longer rod. The 11'5 or 6 inch rods have a similar feel to the longer spey and I think are easier to learn on than the shorties.
All that said, the 12'6 6 wt is a really nice rig, and where I started. It will kick the ass of most of your local fish, but it will be sweet to learn on. Are you really thinking you're only going to have one spey rod?
If you can, get a lesson. I know, you've been flyfishing since you were knee high to an elk but all that's useless. I quit single hand casting for a few years because it kept messing me up. With the spray pole it's all about the bottom hand, and keeping that top hand quiet is (or was for me) a hard lesson to learn. I think Howard Cole is back at Jack Dennis High Country Anglers in Jackson. I got my first intro class from him quite awhile ago. One of the nicest guys I've ever met in the fishing business and an excellent instructor. He was just getting started with the spray when I met him, but he's one of the finest single hand casters I've ever seen. I imagine by now he's the same with a two hander.
At any rate, no matter when you start, here's my best couple tips-
1- go slow- meaning movements. Rods longer, tip speed is amplified. Go slow, then go half that speed.
b- Don't try so hard. Just like single hand, the harder you try, the more you're inclined to tailing loops and other problems. Now ad a fulcrum into the mix so you can really magnify your too strong efforts. So just relax. And as Michelle Obama, the undisputedly greatest and most beautiful First Lady ever, reminded me of Yard's advice, Draw your loop with your bottom hand.
And did I mention going slow?
I'll be in your neighborhood sometime this summer. Be fun to get out with our long sticks.
It's lime the battles between sperm whales and giant squid half a mile below the surface of the ocean. Only it happens in the palm I your hand.- thndr
when I fall, I am still cold and wet, but much more stylishly dressed. as my hat disappears in the riffle- flybug.pa
"Sugar? No thank you Turkish, I'm sweet enough."