≡ Menu

Switch Rods: When to Switch, and when not to Switch?

Sage Fly Rods

George Cook is our rep for Sage, Rio, Redington and Sitka. We asked George to help us shed some light on using Switch rods – here’s what he had to say:

Why should you consider a switch rod?

It is a fascinating tool with many uses that offers advantages over a single handed rod that are simply unrivaled.  It will provide you with a multi-faceted tool that can span a broad spectrum of uses, from Baby Spey to Beach Bomber, Nymph Stick to Soft Hackle Sweeper.

What do you gain and what do you give up?

The gains will come in waves as the angler armed with a Switch Rod can gain a distinctive advantage very quickly and decisively. Examples abound… here’s just a sampling: Steelhead Nymph Tool, Big Trout+ Steelhead even Salmon “Baby Spey” Rod, Puget Sound “Beach Bomber” , Western Swinging Streamer Stick, Mid river Soft Hackle Sweeper, Sleeper Lake Fishing Weapon.

What do you give up: Mediocrity in situations where the single hander is nothing more than a bow where a rifle is warranted! In all seriousness the only thing lost is close quarters use but honestly such a tool likely wouldn’t draw that small situational assignment anyway. On the flip side the casting and fishing methods learned with that nifty Switch rod can and will transcend back to that single hander be it a 10’ 7 weight or a 7’9” three weight as all the various spey and hybrid cast work great on single hander’s in many situations.

How long should your switch rod be? Why?

Great question here!  Switch rods generally are available in lengths from 10’6’ to 11’9” in line weights 4 thru 9. As one views this the breakdown for both likely and effective use sets up like this: 10’6” to 11’4” are true historical Switch Rods that can play both a single handed role (with an eye towards typical single handed cast along with small ball spey use + Beach and Sleeper Lake uses). At 11’6” to 11’9” they become Baby Spey tools that will perform at extordinary levels with today’s lines. One should note that once these Switch Rods hit 11’6”+ lengths they are really a two handed tool as even the most robust individual will be headed for Tommy John surgery if he or she truly tries to muscle through it single handed for any length of time/effort.

How will your approach or experience be different with a switch rod?  

Think the ‘3 B’s” BETTER Coverage/ BETTER Control/ BETTER Opportunities.

Maybe a Spey rod or 10 foot single hand is a better choice?  

To be sure, all 3 will have their place. To really master Spey casting the use of a true Spey Rod ( 12’6” to 13’6”) will undoubtedly provide the clearest  path through the learning curve. The 10’ Single hander’s from 4 thru 9 weight are at times super wicked choices with lake fishing, Steelhead (Coastal Oregon/SE Alaska/Great Lakes) or outsized Trout fishing Alaskan fisheries as an example (Particularly from a boat).

Let’s talk Switch Rod Line Selection shall we… lots of choices here and all have specific strategic value. There is no silver bullet when it comes to lines for the Switch Rod game, most folks will end up with 2 lines, maybe even 3+ lines for their Switch Rod, it simply depends on regionalism and targeted fishery use. Here’s a simplistic guide:

Give a good entry level set up and a good premium level set up for trout.

How about GOOD-BETTER-BEST, let’s roll with that!

Good: Redington Dually Switch in a 5 weight (5106-4) Matched with line or lines as listed above for desired/targeted task-fishery. Trout work, across the board, stream and lake.

Better: Sage ACCEL 6114-4 , 11’4” 6 Weight Switch Rod. Line match as desired/targeted. Full on Trout, light Steelhead, beach bomber.

BEST: SAGE ONE 7116-4…The .30-06 Of Switch, Big Trout , Steelhead, Sea Run Browns, Silver-Chum and Pink Salmon.  Likely Line direction/use is Skagit Max Short or Switch Chucker. Baby Spey approach will be the game here VS single handed usage.

Conclusion: To Switch Or Not To Switch… silly question, get a mitt and get in the game as the game here is incredibly interesting, efficient and effective folks.

4 comments… add one
  • Steve February 3, 2015, 6:00 pm

    Great blog. I love my switch rod. This is my main tool for the rivers in the West Michigan area.
    Takes the challenge to a new level. I still have not found a line that does the job. Looking at trying a 6# Rio Switch Chucker.

  • Perry February 3, 2015, 6:52 pm

    This guy talks way too much crap. Was that supposed to be educational? Smelt more like a dealer trying to convince me my life isn’t complete until I buy another (Sage) fly rod – and he might have succeeded if he’d explained its use in plain English, instead of all this balony:.
    “In all seriousness the only thing lost is close quarters use but honestly such a tool likely wouldn’t draw that small situational assignment anyway.”
    Saywhat?! Sorry, no sale here…

    • James July 2, 2016, 6:50 am

      That’s just George. Yeah, he sells rods for a living, and he gives a LOT of clinics and lessons annually, and his word choice shows it, but you know what? In my experience, he’s telling the truth. The ONLY single handed rod that sees water is my beloved 7’8″ 3-weight for tiny creeks. My 3-5-7-weight switch rods do 70% of my fishing.

Leave a Comment

Please wait...

Subscribe to Stillwater Simplified and Never Miss an Article

Want to be notified when our article is published? Enter your email address and name below to be the first to know.