Switch/spey rods, the difference?

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by wyofly, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. Will someone please explain the differences, both pro and con of the subject rods? Bear in mind that I know very little about these rods and their use.
  2. Not an expert but since I've received so much I feel an obligation to give a little back.

    Switch rods are short two handed rods ranging generally from 10' to 11'. Supposedly you can cast them overhand one handed or two-handed spey casting but most people use them as short spey rods. They are considered most appropriate when fishing on waters where the trees overhang.

    Spey rods are longer, of course...some up to 18'...and are almost always cast two-handed with the D-loop being formed under the tip of the rod as opposed to over the tip as in one handed casting.

    Spey casting can be much easier on the body even though the rods are usually significantly longer than even the longest traditional one handed rod. The point is often made that since the line is not aerialized as much (no false casting to speak of) spey casting allows you to have the fly in the water and fishing more. And since steelhead are a "fish of a thousand casts" it maximizes your chance of catching one.

    Hope that helps...
    Bothellfisher and fredaevans like this.
  3. The only difference is in terminology, and that anglers, sometimes under certain circumstances, may use a switch rod single handed. But not often, or all day. The length separating one from the other is subjective. To me, switch rods are around 10 1/2 feet to 12 feet. (It's like determining what is the minimum height for a tall man, something that, as a 5' 11 1/2" youth, I used to obsess about.):confused:
  4. One is a crecent wrench the other a boxended of a specific size---Check out Reds Fly shop video sections--they have a great breakdown of what your are asking about.

    Two handed casting has been fun for me learn, but I have caught fewer fish so far---

  5. That's pretty much it in a nutshell. The idea is that you can "switch" back and forth between overhead single handed casts and two handed "spey" casts.

    In my experience, the best use for the "switch" rod is as a short spey. As macSuibhne notes, they are optimal in tight quarters. Personally, I'd rather carry a couple rods that are optimized for their intended uses, rather than a "jack-of-all-trades..." The box end vs. the adjustable wrench eh cmann?
  6. Switch rods can deliver great casting distances using a two handed overhead casting stroke. Aim high and watch it fly. You can single hand cast them and two hand cast them. Will they outperform single handed rods and Spey rods? Doubtful across the board, but they are a tool with a place in the toolbox. I really like them off the beach and in very tight quarters.
  7. Single handing a switch all day can be ruff work depending on what you are tossing. Some of them have a removable butt and that helps balance it out better when single handing it. They work with sustained, touch and go or add a single hand line and drift bobbers or float dries..... They can do it all. The main difference when thinking about a spey or switch has to do with the water size your mainly fishing. Over here in the SE Washington I fish a switch on the GR because I find it a little tight in spots with a full sized spey and I'm not needing to cast it as far. Driving back and stopping on the Snake or CW and using a 13+ size rod can get you out there a lot farther.
  8. switch rods are short spey rods.....

    You can single hand cast spey rods too. You can overhead cast spey rods too. If I plan on single hand casting for the day I grab a single hand fly rod.
  9. You wouldn't want to single hand a 14' 8 wt. more than once. But, you could conceivably cast an 8 wt. switch rod for quite a while. The distances would vary because of the leverage of the longer rod. The use of a switch rod allows the occasional single handed cast but the use of a spey cast in tight quarters and it allows a smaller rod wt. due to the advantage of the additional length and number of guides that put pressure on the fish. Where one would use an 8 wt single handed rod, he/she could drop down to a 6 wt. switch and handle the same fish, theoretically.
  10. It's true, switch rods are short spey rods. But it may be worth noting that the manufacturers make these distinctions. The rods don't care. It's possible to spey cast with a single handed rod.

    The OP said he knew nothing about spey or switch rods...go into any shop, big or little, as a newbie and you'll be given a clear choice of switch rod or spey rod. No one will try to sell you a "short spey rod." No one will extol the virtues of a short spey rod.

    The point is that as a newbie, it's hard to know the difference. Or the capabilities.

    And if the manufacturers and the guides and the spey jedi refer to switch rods as distinct from spey rods then I suspect we all have to go along.
    fredaevans likes this.
  11. Thank you one and all. One more question please. Under what casting/fishing arenas does a spey rod have advantages over a single handed 9' rod or visa versa?
  12. There is one other major difference between Switch and a full on spey rod. And that's not how far you can cast, but how short you can actually cast. Many times a 'long rod' is just over kill for the fishing conditions and that's where the short speys really come into their own.
    Wadecalvin likes this.
  13. Personally, as I said above, I think the spey/switch rod...if spey casting...is easier on you physically than a single handed rod. Less tiring, less stressful.

    I cast a 10' 7wt. Sage and a 10' 9wt Loomis for many years chasing steelhead. I was a pretty good caster...taught casting for my flyfishing club. I could cast an entire WF 7 line and about three feet of backing outside the tip of the rod using a double haul. (Heck, I could cast a tight looped 30' of WF without any rod of any kind) But eventually it boogered me up so bad I had to have cortisone shots in my shoulder just to comb my hair.

    Spey casting--I am not very good...just started with 2H rods last September but, on good days, I can already cast near as far as I could with a singlehanded rod. But the forward casting stroke with sustained anchor is just so compact and efficient, I doubt I'll ever have physical problems again. .

    Spey casting you get five sweeps of the fly for every one casting single handed.

    Anytime you don't have room for a backcast ...and most of the good water is in situations like that...a spey/switch rod will get you over fish. You just don't have to "edit" the river near as much.
    Matthew LeBret likes this.
  14. Dead on, point by point. If you do have 'physical problems' its your casting, not the rod (assuming here you're not swinging an 18' stick!!). These things are just a long lever, let it do the work. Find casting the rod tires you out? Rod is telling you its too long for you. Drop back 6" of rod and give that a go; still too much? Drop back another 6"'s of rod. Have, or rather had in some cases, 2handers from 10' to 18 and at 70 a 14' 7 or 8wt rod is all I can reasonably handle for a real casting season on the Rogue.
  15. The short distance cast is why I played around and built a 9" two handed rod. I get tired after several hour of single hand casting, as I should. I wanted to be able to make a 40 ft. two handed cast (just an example) but had trouble with my spey rod. So, I took a kit that I had had for several years and added four cork rings to the butt before mounting the handle. In essence, I have a bit shorter rod with a longer handle. I made sure the blank went all the way through all of the cork rings and into the butt so it wouldn't break up. I haven't really done much testing but hope to get out soon to really give it a try.
    fredaevans likes this.
  16. Thanks Steve, you bring up a point that I have been running through my mind and that is ... why not spey cast with a single handed rod?
    Please note the minor handle extensions on the pictured rods. There is enough space for me to wrap three fingers of my left hand around the extension, especially on the 1st three rods. Which means to me that I have rods that can be cast using two hands. What say ye?

  17. You can spey cast with one hand if you want, you don't even need to use your bottom hand. You might need to change the line for maximum results but a lot of folks use spey techniques with one hand.
  18. "Please note the minor handle extensions on the pictured rods. There is enough space for me to wrap three fingers of my left hand around the extension, especially on the 1st three rods. Which means to me that I have rods that can be cast using two hands. What say ye?"

    Beautiful rods. I have an older (1987) Powell with a 2-1/2" extension on the seat that I SH spey cast with an Ambush line. Two handed has not worked well for me, I think the hands are too close together. One handed works fine for Double Spey and other casts, I can do alright with an Atlantic Salmon/Steelhead taper as well, just need more line out to properly load the rod.
  19. Just a personal observation here only. Once you hit a 7wt at 9.5 'thing' doesn't care how you build it out. For 1handers you do need to use '1hander' lines for 2hander casting. They weren't designed to handle the heavier 2hander lines unless you drop down at least two line sizes. Fiddly, but it will work.
  20. What are your thoughts on a 6 wt. 9' rod and say a 7 wt or 8 wt. line?

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