Probably been covered before, but . . . spey or switch?

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by Richard E, Dec 17, 2010.

  1. shotgunner

    shotgunner Anywhere ~ Anytime

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,271
    Likes Received:
    727
    Location:
    45th Parallel NW Michigan
    In my opinion, the difference in a short spey and a switch are grip configurations. Short speys have fuller / longer corks, upper and lower. Some switch rods I've tried have been pretty pinched up in that area, hands closely spaced by default.. like it or not. You may also see slight variation in actions.
     
  2. Nooksack Mac

    Nooksack Mac Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Messages:
    2,292
    Likes Received:
    329
    Location:
    Bellingham, WA, USA.
    As a philosopher would tell us, concepts are devices that we invent to order and clarify our thinking. However, some concepts are less useful than others; in fact, they're often misleading. "Arch-conservative," "mulatto," "terrorism," etc. As a concept, "switch rod" may confuse more than it clarifies.

    I agree that switch rods are usually under 12 feet, with handles more or less designed for two hands. (These handles are often uncomfortably cramped. My switch rods are built with handles closer to full size: slender, but long enough for normal hands and arms.) As for the dual function, I think that switch rods are too heavy for normal folks to use one-handed. I rarely see one used single-handed.

    An additional problem, for the present, is that some switch rods are "sized" by their maker for single-hand lines; others are sized for spey lines. As most of us know, spey lines of a given size designation are roughly twice as heavy as a single-hand line of the same numerical size. Switch rod and line standards are still being developed. Fitting a line to any spey rod can be tricky; the present state of flux makes properly lining a switch rod even more problematic. That's not the rod's fault, just a problem of a time of transition.

    For most practical purposes, switch rods are nothing more or less than short, light spey rods. Their utility depends on where and how they're used - just like single-hand rods. A 7-foot 3-weight is delightful and practical on the right size water; too short and overtaxed on big water. Switch rods are no different.

    This thread began with reference to "rivers like the Methow and the Deschutes." That's confusing, since those streams are different in size, and are best fished with different tackle. Let me give a few examples in terms of well-known Washington streams (ratings are my own opinions, not those of the Management):

    The North Fork of the Stillaguamish, above Deer Creek: either a single-hander or a switch rod
    The North Stilly, below Deer Creek: a switch rod or medium spey rod, up to about 14 feet
    The Methow River: perfect for a switch rod
    The Wenatchee and Grand Ronde Rivers: medium spey rod
    The Skagit; the Clearwater; the Deschutes (OR): a medium rod at minimum, up to the biggest, longest lever you care to play with

    And as we've done for the last century, you can sort of manage with a single-handed rod almost everywhere, with some degree of handicap on big streams.
     
  3. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Messages:
    4,141
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    Selkirk Mountains, Idaho Panhandle
    If you want to spey cast, why not just use a real two-hander, like a 13/7? I don't see how this is any less practicle than a 11 or 12 footer on a river like the Klick, Met, or Ronde. I think my opinion on switches is pretty well stated. Using a switch will vastly limit your ease of use as many have pointed out on this thread. By adding one foot and making a switch a spey, you open up your arsenal in a big way. Where is the overkill rational when the purpose of spey casting is to make things easier? Now Oregon coastal rivers are the only application my mind sees in the world of a switch. Having said that, I would be far more effective with a 9.8 ft 8wt single hander over there. Anyone want to buy a Redington CPX switch rod? :D
     
  4. Rick Sharp

    Rick Sharp Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Messages:
    377
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    West Richland, WA 99353
    I have to agree after trying the switch rods I settled on a spey 13' 7wt and then built a 14' 9wt, I really like the 13' for most of the areas I fish and in my opinion the speyrod was easier to learn on than a switch rod.
     
  5. Steve Call

    Steve Call Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Messages:
    1,600
    Likes Received:
    295
    Location:
    Wetside, WA
    I really appreciate all the input. As stated before, I've only tried a switch rod once and have yet to pick-up a spey rod - hoping to do so in the near future. I'm eager to get into two handed rods, but don't want to waste time and $ blindly buying and learning to cast a bunch of different rods. The joy is being able to ask questions, get advice and ultimately learn something entirely new.

    The forum is a great place to benefit from the knowledge and experience of others.

    Thanks again.

    Steve
     
  6. shotgunner

    shotgunner Anywhere ~ Anytime

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,271
    Likes Received:
    727
    Location:
    45th Parallel NW Michigan
    I'm getting the feeling I'd be right at home on Oregon coastal rivers.

    Some plus points for me and a short double hand.

    Ease of maneuverability, both casting and travel, on smaller waters.

    Ability to fish heavier heads / tips / bigger flies.. ie handle more grains comfortably. The lightest Skagit I fish is 400gr, with tip your at 500 'ish'.. not in the comfort zone of a single hand stick.

    It's WAY easier for me to combat heavy wind and obstacles with more casts available.

    Less physical wear and tear over a full day with heavy winds / extreme weather.

    All that said, I really enjoy fishing a single hand rod when conditions cooporate. With low water and livable breeze [better yet, none] it's a joy.
     
  7. fredaevans

    fredaevans Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Messages:
    3,187
    Likes Received:
    177
    Location:
    White City, Oregon, USA.
    Some very good input above, and I'll only add a bit. For the most part .... 'switch rods' will be a 'Ho-Hum' for most folks in real world application. But there are times where they're the equipment of choice. That, from personal experience, is where casting room is at a bare minimum, and I do mean 'tight.' An example would be a full on 2-hander needs about twice its length to operate (form cast/D Loop/etc). Two places this may well not be the case: Over hanging tree limbs or heavy brush/rock wall/what-ever right up against your Butt. There the shorter rod will shine. You could possible add that the shorter rod is far less 'physically taxing' over a long days casting.

    The term (not the rod concept) started here in Southern Oregon (R B Meiser Rods) and a lot of them are sold to folks. Seen lots of them on the river, but never once have I actually seen one 'over-hand' cast.

    fae
     
  8. Richard E

    Richard E Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2001
    Messages:
    4,711
    Likes Received:
    223
    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA.
    I picked up a switch at a fly fishing outfit, and made a few overhead casts. I'm not a little weak fella, and I could tell single casting that stick would get old pretty quick. It was something like a 10'6" rod, and it sure seemed like it was a lot heavier and much more awkward than a single hand 10' rod.
     
  9. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    19,705
    Likes Received:
    4,737
    Location:
    Kitsap Peninsula
    I know one fellow that can cast his switch rod single handed all day long. He is one big fellow that could pound me like a nail and his rod is the lightest on the market. On the beach they are a two handed overhead cast dream for more distance, wind cutting and longer current drifts or stripping, be it out toward where the gear and downrigger crowd are marking fish or angled along a beach where the near shore feeding frenzies might be taking place.

    This weekend I was standing in the woods alongside a swollen OP river in a location where a true spey rod would have been banging on the limbs around me. A single hander would have been impossible to back cast (but single handed speys with short shooting head systems could have been fine). My switch rod was not booming out huge casts, but I was getting 40-50' out into fishable water with no effort. I put in a couple dozen casts at this spot before my spey rod armed pal decided that upon his inspection of the area that there was no way to fish this spot.

    Again, I'm a fan, but obviously there are others, perhaps many others, who are not. It is a tool, not for every job and not for every craftsman. I'll strongly urge anyone to try before you buy, but don't avoid them just because it is not what the cool kids are using. A pocket protector can keep ink of the shirt pocket when used properly by the geek who's got one.
     
  10. shotgunner

    shotgunner Anywhere ~ Anytime

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,271
    Likes Received:
    727
    Location:
    45th Parallel NW Michigan
    I'd totally agree with you. The term 'Switch' has been reduced to a catch market phrase. Originally coined by Mr. Meiser many years ago, his rods were engineered with a removable lower grip so the term was accurate with these.. and eventually became slang for any short two handed rod.

    Not many are physically light enough for extended single hand casting.. Winstons BIIx and Orvis Helios are exceptions [I don't own either] Most others are primarily two hand sticks. Two handed overhead casts are a viable 'all the live long day' option though :)
     
  11. Steve Call

    Steve Call Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Messages:
    1,600
    Likes Received:
    295
    Location:
    Wetside, WA
    As I indicated in my earlier post on this thread, I know nothing about switch rods and even less about spey rods. The comments here have been great. Mumble's/Ed's description of fishing an OP river with trees/brush behind him and with no back casting room reflects my potential use. I like to fish small and medium size rivers, and since I rarely get the opportunity to fish from a boat, back casting with a single handed rod is limited when wading. Hence my interest in switch rods.

    Thanks again to everyone for sharing.

    Steve
     
  12. DLoop

    DLoop Creating memories one cast at a time

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2003
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Washington.
    Yikes, I'm glad this thread wasn't written years ago. If it had been, I might not have given switch rods a try and I would have missed out on some of my most joyful and productive flyfishing.

    I have many spey rods that I love to cast, but when I'm 'fishing' I use a switch rod 90% of the time. And rarely, if ever, do I single hand cast them. These are tactical, double-handed casting weapons for me.

    Denny, I do recommend you learn how to double-hand speycast with a true spey rod, but after you have the mechanics down, consider giving switch rods a try.

    Switch rods provide me the best of both worlds. I can cast the way I prefer (double-handed), but when I have a fish on, it still feels like a single-handed rod. I'm sorry, but fighting a fish with a 13-15' rod is just not as enjoyable for me. And with the right lines, I can easily cast farther than than I should be fishing.

    For steelhead/salmon I prefer Bob Meiser 7/8/9 switch rods matched to 480/500 grain compact skagit lines.

    For trout, I built a switch rod from a Dan Craft 4wt 10' FT blank that is a dream to spey cast with a 280 grain single handed spey line.

    Best of luck to you Denny.
     
  13. Lugan

    Lugan Joe Streamer

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2005
    Messages:
    4,277
    Likes Received:
    3,714
    Location:
    Beautiful View, WA
    The only caveat to going with a full-on spey is river size. I fish smaller rivers more often than big ones like the Sky or Skagit, so I got a Meiser 11'0" Switch in 7/8 weight. It's a "switch" in name only. Talking with Bob Meiser by phone before purchasing it a few years ago, he made clear that the rod is not at all suited for single-hand casts beyond the odd close-in plunk. He's right. Anyway, that rod is a great spey caster in the 30'-60' range in the small streams I fish. I'll bet a more proficient spey caster with a scandi line could manage 70' or more.
     
  14. Dustin Bise

    Dustin Bise Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,086
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    509
    hving just got a switch rod, im surprised at the hate for single handing them. I have it "underlined" a bit for the spey game, but it overhands very nice and has increased my distance with overhand casting. I have lawn cast it for a few hours and it did not seem more harder then my single hander. I had to work less to achieve the same distance, even though the rod is is a little heavier. both 8wts
     
  15. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Messages:
    4,141
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    Selkirk Mountains, Idaho Panhandle
    Dustin, have you got a chance to single hand it all day in real fishing conditions?