Tuesday, January 5, 2016

6 Piece Travel Switch Rod


I have been hunting high and low for a 6pc travel length switch rod for some time now. So, when a newly acquainted fellow angler pointed me in the direction of  Shakespeare fly rods, specifically the Oracle EXP range, I was both delighted and intrigue.

Intrigue because Shakespeare has never been popular for their fly rods. Spinning rods ...yes, the famous Ugly Stick comes to mind but fly rods??!!. I kept an open mind and did some research on the web. There are not a whole lot of reviews that I can find but here are a few good ones:



Here is the promo video by Shakespeare for this rod range:



In the end, I took the plunge and bought the Oracle EXP #7/8 11ft 6pc Switch. I had the rod for a while now and has been fishing with it to put it through its paces. Now I think I am ready to write a review.

The Oracle EXP #7/8 is AFTM rated. This means that it is equivalent to a single hand 7/8 wt rod rating. If we go by the US Switch rod rating, I would rate this as a 5/6 wt Switch rod. After some experimentation with different grain Skagit lines, I concluded the grain window for this rod is between 350 and 450 grains.

This rod amazes me with its recovery speed. Although not marketed as a fast rod, it does exhibit very good recovery and can generate some pretty good line speed. Furthermore, I like the progressive action of the rod. The more you load the rod, the lower down it bends and the more it powers up. I like how it launches the 450 grain Ambush head with ease, flexing progressively to the mid section.

Aesthetically, there is nothing to shout about. It is best described as low key and functional. The cork quality is no worse than my TFO and the blank is matte camo green to reduce fish spooking glare. I was impressed by how well the ferules fit together for a rod of this price range. It shows no sign of loosening or twisting even after pro-long casting. The reel seat is anodized aluminium which means I can use it in saltwater. Despite being 6pc, this rod does not feel heavy at all. In fact the swing weight is comparable to my TFO Deer Creek 6wt. This rod is also built tough and you can really yank on the fish without worrying about breakage.

Overall, this is a great rod and very affordable to boot. I like it that it can be broken down to 6pc and fits easily into my check-in luggage for travel. It cast well, it fish well and the 6pc design makes it a handy backup travel rod.

Here are some pics of fish I have done battle with on this rod.

Giant Trevally

Mangrove Jack


Jungle Perch


Currently the Oracle EXP range of Switch rod comes only in #7/8 and #8/9. I wish Shakespeare would consider making a #4/5 and #5/6 version which I would buy in a heartbeat. I have also spent an hour or so test casting the Oracle EXP #8/9 rod with 450 grain Ambush line. The verdict is that this rod is casting more from the top one third of the rod. The flex is not as progressive as the #7/8. This is not necessarily a bad thing as this "tip flexing" action gives very consistent tight loops. I think the Scandi casters will like this action.

Note:
Another option for multi piece travel switch rod would be the Guideline LXi T-Pac switch rod. It is 11'6", breaks down to 5 pieces and comes in  #6/7, #7/8, #8/9 (AFTM rating).

*Updated 11 May 2016:
I just came back from Thailand fishing trip using the Oracle EXP #7/8 rod. This rod has what it takes to handle big fish and is plenty tough too. There was an occasion when I accidentally whacked the rod tip onto a nearby tiled roof during a difficult cast and the rod survived. I was expecting the worst but the rod just went on as if nothing has happened.

Here are some pics of big fish I caught there pairing up the rod with my trusty Lamson Speedster and 400 grain SA Skagit Extreme line.

Chao Phraya Catfish
Mekong Catfish

Giant Pacu



8 comments:

  1. I used a 4pc version of Oracle EXP #7/8 to land several Mekong Catfish over 10kg to 16kg. During the fight, the strong fish kept forcing its way to the left or right side of the pond. To prevent the fish from going too far to the side, I applied a lot of butt pressure on the fish many many time. Even the experienced guide thought I was going to break the rod at some occasions. The rod is very tough indeed! The rod had landed Siamese Carp to 15kg, Pacu around 6-8kg and numerous Patin catfish.
    I had used the 6pc #8/9 to land Mekong Catfish to over 20kg. Thumbs up for a nice rod at a fantastic value!!!

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    1. Thanks Kin Wai for recommending the rod. Shakespeare really nailed it with this Oracle range of Switch rods. Hope they will come up with the #5/6 and #6/7 soon ;)

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  2. It's my pleasure, Mah Shifu ;)

    Yes, really hope that Shakespeare can come up with #6/7, #5/6 or even lighter switch rods to rival the more expensive #2/3 switch rods!

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  3. Thanks for the review of this rod. I was looking for a travel switch rod to fish a small Scottish river for Atlantic salmon. Based on your comments and other articles I decided to get the 8/9 version. Casts a Rio scandi in 460 or my preferred size the 400 extremely well. Favorite line though was the Airflo switch floating line in a 390. This is a great line on the 8/9 Shakespeare. As a note the 270 or 300 of this line is also really good on the sage one 4116 which I know you like

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  4. Hey there...thanks for this blog....I am lookig for a rod, that I might use for diffrent situations...for pike ins smaller lakes and rivers, fishing at the mediterranien sea during holidays, fishing for trout at bigger rivers....do you think the Oracle will be fine? 7/8 or 8/9? which one would be better for castig bigger pike-flies or streamers?

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    1. Hi Tobias, the Orcale 7/8 will be a great rod for your situations. The 7/8 is good enough to handle pike flies if you are overhead casting. It can handle 300-350 grain shooting head line for overhead cast. If you are Spey casting, go with 400 - 450 grain.

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  5. Great review. I'm sorry I didn't find your blog earlier. I've got the same rod - the 7/8 switch. It likes a 425 grain skagit short head but I've been looking for the right line to do some indicator nymphing with big indicators and heavy flies (on the Tongariro). Do you think the Wulff Ambush might do the job? What weight Ambush would you recommend on the 7/8? Maybe the 400?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kym, For indicator fishing you don't need to cast far. I think a 300 grain Ambush line will do nicely.

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