On a couple of steelhead trips last year I wound up fishing with borrowed rods. They were switch rods, a Winston and a Ross, and I had the chance to fish them for both summer and winter steelhead. I really liked the feel of these short Spey rods and decided that I needed one. I have no use for my long Spey rods when fishing at home in the southeast and I liked the idea of a two hander I could use for trout here at home.
I chose the Scott L2h 1106/4, an 11 foot 6 wt. It’s a great rod and I’ve been very happy with it. It’s light and well balanced with plenty of power and a nice feel. The rod really talks to you when you cast it, so you know when it’s loaded.
I chose to set it up with 2 reels. A Nautilus FW7 which I loaded with the RIO Switch line in a 5/6 wt and a Bauer CFX-5 Spey that I set up with RIO slick shooter and a 425 grain Skagit Short head, also from RIO. This set up gives me the flexibility of fishing the Switch line for nymphing or changing reels to fish any Spey line I like by changing heads via the loop to loop connection. For now I chose the Skagit Short. You could use one reel with 2 spools but I had these in the line up so that’s what I went with.
The RIO Switch Line
The power of this line combined with the switch rod came into sharp focus the other day. Kent and I fished a North Carolina tail water while the dam was running water. We were both fishing 3 fly rigs with more or less the same patterns. There was a run with a bit of soft water in a pocket surrounded by fast, high current.
Kent fished it hard with his 9 foot single hander and got nothing. I fished behind him with my 11 foot switch rod. The switch rod allowed me to fish a 15 foot leader with more weight and gave me better line control, allowing me to cast farther up stream and still maintain my drift. I caught 3 fish from that pocket in 5 casts.
The RIO switch line turned over that long leader and 6X tippet with 3 weighted flies, split shot and a thingamabobber with ease, casting with either one or two hands. It mended well and floated high. What’s more, from that spot under a tree with a high bank behind me, I used a double Spey cast to fish a run on the far bank some 70 feet away. Kent was green with envy. I think I sold him a switch rod.
The Switch Line is a very effective tool. Here at home it is likely the line I will use the most. I have found only 2 shortcomings. First, I am used to mono shooting line on my Spey rods. By comparison the switch line is a chore to shoot. That’s the nature of coated running line and the price you pay for being mendable. That said, the 55 foot head means that you don’t need to shoot a lot of line. I can easily make an 80 foot cast and nymphing at 80 feet is generally a wast of time. It’s kind of academic.
The second issue has to do with that long head as well. 55 feet well exceeds the ideal 3:1 ratio for head length to rod length. This means that in order to aerialize the head I have to speed up my sweep. If this becomes a habit that carries over to casting my long rods, it will result in a lot of blown anchor placements. This is something I will need to be vigilant about. Otherwise, I love this line.
The RIO Skagit Short
Though not as versatile a tool as the Switch Line the Skagit short is beautiful at what it does. It’s the only line you need to swing flies to steelhead. Combined with the RIO slick shooter and MOW tips it’s a dream to cast and deadly effective. The 425 grain head loads my Scott 6 wt nicely and it gives me great distance and the power to turn over heavy sink tips.
For trout fishing here at home, it is limited to streamer fishing but it does that well. I like it for swinging unweighted streamers on a sink tip. Not long ago after nymphing a run with no success I switched to skagit head and sink tip and tied on a wiggle minnow. I caught a big rainbow on the first cast where nymphs had failed to produce.
No downside to the Skagit short. The 20 foot head is perfect for the switch rod and in 425 grain handles sink tips up to T14 with no problems. I will fish this line a lot.
I hope the information in these three posts has helped to demystify the host of line choices for the switch rod. As I add lines to my arsenal, I’ll let you know what I like. Since there are many great lines that I have not had the chance to cast I welcome your suggestions. If you have a line that you like on your switch rod, please post a comment and tell us what it is and why you like it.
If you have a switch rod gathering dust in your closet, pull it out and get the right line on it. It’s too good a tool not to fish.
I’d like to say a big thanks to my friend Simon Gawesworth at RIO for all of the information he provided for this post. There’s lots more great info at RIO’s Spey Central. http://www.rioproducts.com/spey-central/www.ginkandgasoline.com email@example.com Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!