Switch Rod

by Mysticfish on February 19, 2013

Hank Patterson's Fly Rod

This won’t get it done Hank.

Are you feeling inadequate with your fly rod?  Is it under 10’?  Can you hold it with only one hand?  Are you frequently false casting?  Is your fishing partner constantly finding excuses not to go fishing?  It’s time to take charge and do something about your issues.  It’s time to switch your rod.

Switch Rod Steelhead

Two Handed Prescription

Everyone is talking about them, articles are being written about them, and blogs are filled with details about them.  What is happening to conventional fly rods?    Anglers are switching them up.

Ross Reach Switch

Switch Rods feature longer fore and rear grips.


 Why Use A Switch Rod?  

The versatility of a switch rod is hard to beat.   A switch rod is designed to bridge the gap between single hand and two-handed spey style casting.  You can enjoy the benefits of a longer rod for overhead casting and line control even without spey casting.  Learning to spey cast will increase your skill and flexibility as an angler and is also loads of fun.  Picking up a switch rod can be your keystone to a whole new world of fly fishing.

Switch Rods Alaska Fly Fishing

Switch Rod Rainbow

The ways that you can use a switch rod are almost limitless.  Setting it up properly for your intended uses is the key.  Without going into great detail about all the line lengths, grain weights and head styles available, I am going to describe how you can get great benefit from a switch rod with one reel, 1 extra spool and three fly lines. Then you can start getting ready to switch it up.

Switch Rod Grayling

Not Just for Steelhead

Rio Switch LineThe first obvious choice for a fly line is to spool up with a Switch Line.  A switch line is designed to match your rods switch capabilities.  In other words, you can switch between single and double handed casts.  While a switch line allows you to do anything you would normally do with a floating line, in my experience, a switch line is the best choice for nymphing.  This is because a switch line is a fully integrated floating line with no loop connections between running line and head.  A switch line on a switch rod allows an angler to cast a strike indicator with split shot further and with less effort than with a conventional single hand outfit.  Overhead casting, roll casting, and single and double spey casts are all easy to perform.   The ability to utilize spey style casts benefits the angler in tight quarters where back casting room is minimal to nonexistent.  As an added benefit, the length of a switch rod makes it possible to extend longer drifts, mend more line and cover more water effectively.

On the second spool, a running line is attached to the backing.  For switch rods, I prefer mono running line.  Mono provides maximum casting efficiency for spey style casts when using rods less than 12’.  At the end of the mono running line, a large loop is tied in.  I like to use a non-slip mono loop knot with an opening large enough to easily pass a fly reel through.  To this loop, we can now attach any head we desire. The first head choice is a Scandi or Scandinavian style floating head.  This is the presentation line for spey casting small to medium flies and for fishing surface to mid-range depths.  I love spey casting a scandi line for trout on a switch rod with a conventional tapered leader approximately 11-13’ long.  You can swing streamers, traditional wet flies, soft hackles and even nymphs.  Skating dry flies when the time is right is the bomb with a scandi.

When you need to get deep and/or drag larger flies, you need to switch to your Skagit head.  Simply loop off the Scandi head, coil it up, bag it, and loop on your Skagit head.  The next step with the Skagit is to select your tip.  To make this really easy, pick up a wallet with the Rio MOW tip series of light, medium or heavy sinking tips (depending on your rod size).  To your tip, add 3-5’ of leader material and tie on your fly.  Pick a big one that will move a big fish.  The casting may not be as elegant as with the Scandi, but who cares.  You are going deeper after big game.

Compact D Loop

Tom Larimer Switch Casting “Compact D Loop”

With your new switch rod and three lines, you will soon conquer most situations and take your fly fishing to a new level.  Before long, you will have partners lining up and anglers will be checking you out wherever you are casting.

Reece Needs a Switch

Guess Reese wanted a Switch.

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