Friday, November 29, 2013

Fishing with Ultralight Switch Rod

I have been advocating ultralight switch rod since 2010 so when I did a web survey recently on 3wt switch rods, I was pleasantly surprised to see 3wt Switch offering by Echo and Mystic Rods. Echo came out with a new 3wt 10'6" SR Switch rod and Mystic has a 3wt M-series Switch rod at 11'3". Those interested can check out the Mystic 3wt review at 2handedtrout blog.

** May 2014 update: Here is another review of the Mystic 3wt Switch
** Feb 2015 update: Winston now has a 3wt Microspey rod and Echo has a 3wt Echo Glass Switch rod
** Aug 2015 update: Sage now has a 2wt & 3wt Sage ONE Trout Spey 

Being the adventurous pioneering sort, I was one of the very few who dabbled in a 3wt Switch rod in the early days. Back in 2010, there were non in the market and I had to fiddle around to get a set up working. When TFO came up with the BVK series of 10 ft Czech nymphing rod in 2011, I jumped at the opportunity. I took a 10ft BVK 3wt and converted it to a Switch rod by adding a 6" removable bottom handle making it a total of 10'6". This outfit gave me great pleasure when going after smallish fish in my local waters. This early blog post shows me taking my new toy out for a swing.

I started out this rod with a 235 grain Ambush line but found it a bit too heavy. Subsequently, I custom made an intermediate sink Skagit line for this rod by splicing 12 ft belly of an old Hardy type 2 line (approx 140 grain) to the tip 18ft section of 4wt SA Stillwater line. This turned out to be a great set-up for smallish Peacock bass and Tarpon.

Fast forward to 2013 and this rod has since seen great action with fish big and small. I found new respect for this rod recently when I went salt water pond fishing with it on 8lb tippet. Typically, a Barra will rub through the tippet in no time but this is when the Czech nymphing pedigree of this rod really shines. The forgiving tip really helps cushion and protect the tippet even when badly abraded. As long as you have a smooth drag and let the rod and reel combo do its magic, big fish can be landed in good time. Photos below show some of the fishes I successfully landed with this rod on light tippet.

I am also very impress with the butt power of this rod. When need be, and if the tippet strength allow, you can really yank the fish in, capitalizing on the butt power. So this rod is no longer a small fish rod in my book. I now have great confidence in this rod having tackle numerous big fish on it, including a Giant Trevally.

The key to really having fun with this rod is to keep the fly smallish and manageable. Surf candies, Charlies and small Clousers are very manageable with this rod. In case you need to cast heavier fly, this rod can single hand cast very well too as long as the line is not too heavy. My 140 grain line works great as a shooting head when single hand casting.

Here is a nice video of Ed Ward casting with a micro Skagit set up....essentially a 4/5 wt single hand rod converted to a double hand....great fun.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Choosing the Ideal Spey Line

Here is a good video by Simon Gawesworth of RIO on how to choose the ideal Spey line for your application. It covers the 2013 range of Spey lines by RIO and is very informative on the purpose and usage each of the Spey line type from Skagit to Scandi to traditional long belly Spey.

Most of RIO Spey lines do not come integrated with shooting / running line. You will have to buy a separate shooting line to loop to loop to your Skagit or Scandi head. Below is another video that covers the 2013 range of shooting lines by RIO to help you select the ideal shooting line for your application.

For those who like to read about buying the right line for their Spey/Switch rod, here is a good article by American Fly Fishing Co.

For those who are still not sure on whether to choose Skagit or Scandi heads, here  is an article by Whitney Gould on Skagit vs Scandi heads.

The more recent RIO Spey line that caught my attention is the RIO Scandi body. The profile of this line is very similar to my favorite Wulff Ambush line but it comes in the form of head only in 3 densities, floating, intermediate sink and 5ips sink rate. This line is very versatile because it can cast both Scandi and Skagit style equally well as long as you match it up with the appropriate Spey versileader.