So it isn’t as though this is new but I get the feeling many have been sitting around, waiting to see if the fad of “switch” rods was going to go as fast as it came. Unfortunately I just don’t see that happening.
Pushed by recent interest in trying these new light weight switches by some clients, we have gone ahead and picked up a number of them to see if there was something relevant in our area where we could see using them, and we have.
Puget Sound is the perfect fishery for swinging or stripping baitfish patterns for aggressive sea run cutthroat. When our steelhead rivers are all blown and dedicated spey sport is still wanting to partake, game on! Locations in the Sound have enough current that is appears to be a river in front of you and allows for a natural lift, place, sweep and cast for spey casters and then the fly can work across current very naturally and does indeed get picked up by the marauding trout in the area.
Not that these couldn’t work on trout rivers all over, in fact I bought my first “switch” rod from Scott in 1997, the 11’9″ Arc seen above to use on the Gunnison where I was guiding at the time. Back then there weren’t really any lines that worked well on it and most wondered what on earth I would own one for and many more wondered why Scott even made it.
Well those days are WAY behind us and now we have lines and heads that work exceptionally well on these rods from Rio, S/A, Airflo and others. The other option here is to use appropriate grain weighted standard Weight Forward floating lines, this is actually a great option if the over head cast is going to be your prime use.
For us, our new found love for them is actually on Puget Sound for sea run cutthroat. It is a fun and exciting way to fish the beaches as well as gives the opportunity for other anglers to learn some new casting skills that will make them better anglers in the long run.
While nymphing with one in a river could be one application, we prefer to use them with Compact Scandi heads and utilize a variety of casts from 2 hand over-head casts to pokes, single speys and snaps to change direction on moving fish.
Some of these slightly heavier rods are going to be wonderful summer steelhead sticks on rivers where and when wind isn’t an issue and others will make sweet streamer trout sticks on larger water. Some will cover what is left in between.
Are we just getting bored with same old single hand casting or is there a genuine need/niche for rods like these? Good question. I believe there are some legit reasons for why someone would benefit from these and learning how to spey/underhand cast.
One is the age old reason that a roll cast is ever brought up to beginners learning to fly fish. No room for back casting. I believe a single spey and even the snap T and double spey are more dynamic casts that allow anglers to be more accurate, cover more water and do so in a more calculated fashion.
Secondly is that learning these casts will make ALL fly anglers a better angler period as these casts are all achievable with your single handed rod, clear down to your 000wt from Sage. Yep, that rod can come alive with these casts and these longer rods make learning how to do it, very easy.
Thirdly, as we begin to fish longer distances in the same watersheds, line management is a key factor in realizing success. These longer rods will allow even semi novice anglers a much easier time with mending than a more common 9ft 5wt will.
The lightest switch we are using is the Echo SR 4wt and are waiting for the 240 grain Compact Scandi head to make its way to the public so we can really give it its fair shake.
Probably one of the toughest aspects of figuring out which rod to buy is a side by side test. Actions are all over the board from company to company as are the lengths from 10’6 5wt Redington to 12’6″ Echo by Dec Hogan.
There are a few we don’t have yet but will by end of the summer to round this out and going in everyone should know there are some that are great as small spey rods and others that are going to perform much better as an overhead casting rod, even though they will obviously do both. As with nearly everything in this sport, final judgement is quite subjective from angler to angler.
Any questions, let us know, happy to answer them. Happy 4th of July to everyone.