Friday, January 4, 2013

Selecting fly lines for Switch rod

Here is a good introductory video on how to select the right fly line for your Switch rod. A Switch rod can be used for either overhead casting or Spey casting. If you want to know more about Switch rod, please refer to my earlier post on Why Switch Rod .

To supplement this video, I am including a more comprehensive guideline below:

Lines suitable for Skagit Spey casting with Switch rod:
1) Wulff Ambush line - wonderful line that cast easy even with minimal D-loop. Available also in intermediate sink as Ambush Clear Head or the slower suspend sink Ambush Neutralizer.
2) RIO Skagit Short - good for turning over very big fly or very heavy sink tip but clunky
3) RIO Skagit Flight - a more refined version of the skagit short. Available in intermediate sink as Skagit iFlight.
4) SA Skagit Extreme - SA version of the Skagit Short but with a more refined front taper but still plenty powerful. Available also in intermediate sink.
5) Airflo Skagit Compact - a favourite of many skagit caster in the early days
6) Airflo Skagit Switch - a shorter version than Skagit Compact more in tune with Switch rod

Lines suitable for Scandi Spey casting with Switch rod:
1) Wulff Ambush line - make sure you match it with a 15ft floating or clear Versileader before attempting Scandi casting with this line or it will prove too short
3) RIO Scandi Short - this line was designed after AFS to cater to shorter Switch rod
4) RIO Switch line - this line has long back taper suitable for mending but not so good for shooting line
5) RIO Steelhead Scandi - designed for rods 13 ft or less. Long 22ft front taper design supposed give better presentation.
6) SA Scandi Extreme - a very long front taper scandi line.
7) Airflo Scandi Compact

Lines suitable for double hand overhead casting with Switch rod:
1) RIO Outbound short - 30ft head. Comes in floating and intermediate sink; tropical or cold water formulation.
2) AIRFLO Forty Plus - 35ft head. Comes in floating and multiple sink version.
3) Wulff Ambush line - This line is so versatile that it can shoot with the best of them. Just match it with a 10ft versileader to form a 30ft head and shoot away.

Lines suitable for indicator nymphing with Switch rod:
1) RIO Switch line - the long back taper ensures easy mending
2) AIRFLO Speydicator - with 12- 15 ft rear taper for good mending.
3) Wulff Ambush line - This line works great for indicator nymphing as well. It will turn over heavy flies easily even in tight quarter.


  1. I noticed that you were using a 350 grain on a Sage one 4 wt. Reds Fly shop recommends a 235 grain (6 wt). I tried the 235 grain today with my Sage one 4 wt. I am new to this but I really had a hard time with tungsten bead heads, and bigger flies. I was using a versileader (5.6 IPS) (7 feet).
    Is it most likely my inexperience, or should I try the 350 grain... the lines are 75 U.S.D., so I like to be sensible and not buy if not necessary...

    1. Hi Michael, If you look at RIO recommendation for Sage One 4wt Switch, it is 275-325 grain for Skagit and 280-310 grain for Scandi. Are you doing Skagit or Scandi style casting? I think 235 grain is too light for this rod if you are using heavy sink tips/fly. If you are doing Skagit, do not hesitate to go with 350 will lift and turn over big fly with ease. Also try to learn the Speed Poke if you want to turn over big/heavy fly with small rod.

    2. Thanks. I loaded it with 350 ambush for sagit. Can't wait till tomorrow when I try it. Really appreciate your advice and this site. Let me know if you visit the states.

  2. the 350 grain worked well. enjoyed the day casting. and caught my first trout of the year.
    I can tell it is slightly heavy for the 4 wt but not excessively so. I'm going to get a 8 wt which is about 300 grain. the question now, will be what rod should I move up to for my heavier fishing? should it be a 6 weight or a 7?

    I was amazed at how the 350 was as you said, superior in terms of launching the larger flies... i was using ambush 350 with a 10 ft T8 MOW sink tip and firing out a large honker (#2 hook with long tail) and it worked great... thanks Yuenmah...

    1. Hi Michael, I was casting Clouser with the 290 grain (8wt) and 350 grain (9wt) Ambush line yesterday with ONE 4wt in preparation for my coming saltwater trip.

      With the 290 grain line, I had to work the rod harder to get the distance whereas with the 350 grain, the rod did all the work and distance comes easy. You might want to take that into consideration before you invest in the 8wt.

  3. Hi Micheal, glad things are working out well for you. The Sage ONE Switch is so powerful that it can launch the 350 grain 90-100 ft with ease. I am planing to use this rod for saltwater flats fishing end Feb. Will report back on how it perform for Saltwater soon. The Wulff Ambush just came out with the 350 grain clear intermediate head and I will be using that in Maldives end Feb.

    You might want to consider the Sage ONE 6wt 12'6" when moving up. It is not a Switch rod but I find the Sage ONE so light that the longer length becomes a non factor. The 6wt 12"6" will easily launch 450 - 500 grain line.

  4. Hello, I use 7# St Croix switch rod and rio outbound short 9# F fly line. But I cannot turn over the sink tip well by roll cast or switch cast when I add a 6’ sink tip on it. What ‘s wrong with it? Thanks.

    1. Hi, I think you are using the wrong line for roll cast or switch cast. The outbound short has a reverse taper head i.e the front nearer to the fly is heavy whereas the end nearer to the rod is lighter. Such a taper will not roll cast well. Do refer to my post on "Anatomy of a Good Spey Casting Line" to understand this better.
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      Outbound short 9wt is only 375grain. You will need at least 450 grain to load your 7wt rod well for any kind of spey cast. I highly recommend the Wulff Ambush line if you want to roll cast well with sink tip.

    2. Thank you Yuenmah.

      if Wulff Ambush line, which size should be for 7wt switch rod,9 or 11 #? Wulff Ambush line 9# is about 350 grain.

      RIO AFS is good choice ?


    3. Wulff Ambush 11wt is 450 grain and should work well with your 7wt switch rod. You can find the link to Wulff Ambush grain wt chart at the top right corner of my blog.

      RIO AFS is more a Scandi casting line. If you are casting sink tip, it is best to stick to Skagit type line.

  5. Looking for a bit of advice here. I just purchased a Helios 2 8wt 11' switch rod for a trip to Mongolia for Taimen. I got the rod for one basic purpose and that is to overhead cast big flies, buck tail pike type, with big distance. I have been messing around with a Rio Outbound short 10wt line, 425 grain and have had some success. It just does not seem like the rod loads enough with this line. I keep seeing the Wulff Ambush that is talked about a lot. My goal here is to be able to make that one double handed overhead cast and shoot these big flies out as far as possible. Big rivers in Mongolia and just want to cover a lot of water without destroying my arms and shoulders. Any advice would really be appreciated, thanks!

    1. Hi, I would suggest you keep with the Outbound line for overhead casting. Ambush line can do it but you will need to add a versileader. If 425 grain is not loading your rod well, go another weight up.

    2. Really appreciate the advice, thank you!