What size switch rod, 5wt or 6wt?

Looking to understand a couple of things for a prospective large trout rod (3~10 pounds) for an Alaska trip this summer.

I'm looking for a switch rod/micro spey in the 11.5' range. I'm uncertain if a 5wt, 5/6wt or 6wt would be preferred. We will be stripping stripping streamers, mice and nymphing some egg & flesh flies. Most with floating lines, minimal heavy deep stuff. Probably spey casting 75% and overhead nymph work 25% of the time.

My ideal rod would have just enough backbone to handle up to a 10 pound fish, but not feel like a broom handle for 3 pound fish (I have a 7wt spey for larger fish)

How can you look at a rod spec (rod weight, length and grain windows) to understand what size of fish it should handle? Does the grain window correlate to a fish size?

A final question - are all switch rod/micro spey rod weights equivalent to ~+2 size heavier single handed rods? (5wt switch = 7wt single hand)

Thanks in advance


Active Member
A 5wt switch rod can handle a 20# fish if the angler knows what she/he is doing. A 7wt switch rod could get blown up by the same 20# fish also if it's not fought properly.

A challenge you can run into with a lighter switch rod is not whether it can handle big fish, but if it can handle big flies. I would not want to try to cast a big bushy flesh fly or mouse with a #5 switch. But depending how big the fly and how far I needed to cast it, I might also not want to try it with a #6 switch either.

I think you should try to also understand the diversity of fly sizes you'll be fishing, not just the fish sizes.

And no, not every rod is equivalent to +2 single hand, though it's a good very general rule of thumb. Some rods are faster action and might fish heavier than a slower action rod.

Best thing you can do before a trip of a lifetime like this is try to find a rod and line combo you are comfortable with, regardless of what weight it is (within reason). The fish won't know what rod you're fishing, unless it makes a mess of your fly presentation. And nothing is more frustrating than not being able to put your fly where you need to put it when the opportunity you traveled all that way for presents itself 70' out from your casting position.

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