Mar 3, 2010

Switch Rods Continued

I am unable to free my mind from the topic of Switch Rods. If you have tuned in to an earlier post on the subject, you know that these rods are not ideal for every situation but their benefits are extreme for certain types of water and anglers alike. During the past week, I resolved to try some smaller rods. Sticking with the Sage lineup, I grabbed a 5wt and 6wt Z-axis that George Cook dropped by the shop. Both of these sticks at 11 foot long, could essentially be considered long singlehand or short spey rods. Do they dominate casts in each style? No. But they can provide a creative and effective niche to your overall fishing adventures.

So the question that we keep coming back to in the shop is, "What type of lines do we throw on these suckas?" So I headed out to local waters to try to dial in some rod and line combinations...

The two out-of-the-box lines that I tried out were the Skagit Short from Rio and the Scandi Compact from Airflo. Keep in mind that line matchups for these rods can also be achieved by taking a heavier line and cutting the length back until you find those "good vibrations". This can take some time and can be tedious, so I think that I will leave that for another post. In short, upon much experimentation I have come up with the following Line combinations for these rods:

11' 8wt Z-Axis -> 475 Skagit Short

11' 7wt Z-Axis -> 425 Skagit Short

11' 6wt Z-Axis -> 375 Skagit Short, 300 Scandi Compact

11' 5wt Z-Axis -> 325 Skagit Short, 270 Scandi Compact

I was really excited to cast the 5 and 6wt switches as I think they will be interesting tools for trout fishing on the Deschutes this year. One still has the option to overhead cast these rods and with the combination of Spey techniques, those fish that were always just a little out of reach before, become accessible. As many of you know the Deschutes has some tricky wading and places where you must stand right up against the bank. These rods allow anglers to rollcast line great distances without the mishaps that a long backcast can encourage.

The Scandi Heads are best used for dry fly fishing and swinging soft-hackle emerger patterns while the Skagit Head is the tool for drifting Sculpins and other heavy streamer patterns. Although I haven't yet figured out the best line for chucking indicators and split shot, I think for now, a Skagit Head with a short dry tip of about 6 feet should work ok.

The Z-Axis rods are very smooth sticks and linger on the medium to fast side. Stiffer, faster rods will handle a little more grain weight just as softer, slower rods will need a lighter load. Since these rods lack the length of traditional Spey Rods, their lever is shorter so there is a shorter load base in the rod. Line speed must be increased to make up for this lack of load base. Timing becomes crucial as the window becomes smaller. Shorter rods loose their load faster and their D-Loops are smaller. Casters must start their forward casting stroke sooner so that the rod does not loose load and so that the D-Loop does not collapse to the river.

I think these line matchups are a great starting point. Every caster is a bit different; some being load casters and others being linespeed casters. Load casters who really want to feel the rod flex down into the butt might want to bump up the grain weight a notch. Line Speed casters can drop down a notch in grain weight. As time goes on, and your personal casting improves, bordering on the lighter side will grant you the greatest distance with switch rods. "Overloading" however, will be easier for beginners to send out a decent enough cast. The 7 and 8 weights are awesome steelhead sticks. The 5 wt is my true love for trout. The 6 wt could very easily crossover but you would be way outmatched if hooked up to a large Steelie.

See you out on the river. Have a good time,


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