RE: spey rods???
For the Erie tribs, you don't want a true "spey" rod, rather, you'll want to use what they now refer to as a "switch" rod. These rods are typically 11-12 feet in length. They have short rear grips, and front grips longer than a traditional single-hand full wells, but shorter than a true spey foregrip. Basically, these are super light rods, capable of doing short, quick spey casts (think Snap-T's and single speys) and also capable of over-head casting as well (thus the term "switch...) A lot of guys use these, myself included. The 2 most popular rods seem to be the Winston BIIx 11' 7wt, and the Sage Z-Axis 11' 7wt. I've been fishing the WInston for a few years now, and just got the Sage to try out as well. Flip a coin- they're both terrific.
Basically, these rods are simply roll-casting and mending machines. The added length really aids in high-sticking, since you don't have to raise your arm as high, you have a lot less fatigue.
For in the lake, long "surf" casting with spey rods is possible. However, if you are a decent caster, you will be far better off simply using your traditional 9' 7 or 8wt and a stripping basket. If you want added distance, switch to a shooting head system.
True spey rods (we'll call them 12-15' rods for 6-10wts) are really just designed to cover maximum water while swinging flies. Some spey rods are designed to shoot some line into the cast- others, are desigend to fish fixed line amounts. Skagit-style rods are for short, "punch" style casts, often for dredging with quick sinking heads. Few of these application apply here in the Erie tribs. You see some guys using shorter spey rods on some of the bigger tribs (ie in OH and NY) but in PA, not too useful.
Hope that this helps. Feel free to PM me with any additional questions.