Thursday, January 7, 2016

Making Sense of Switch Rods and Lines - by RIO

Here is a good write up by RIO on how to make sense of the plethora of lines offered by RIO for Switch rods. If you are ever in doubt as to which RIO Spey line to select for your need, read this and be enlightened.


  1. Hi,

    Looking for line and rig suggestions for skagit casting for largemouth bass, and light saltwater species like what you do.

    The waters I fish are open lakes and ponds in China similar to yours, where I often need to make 80' plus cast and strip the fly back to catch fish. My current single handed combos are 9' 8wt and 6wt, both with shooting head type lines like Rio Outbound Short. There are some spots which do not have enough back cast space, and I'd like to try skagit spey cast.

    I am going to purchase a 6wt switch rod, the Z-axis 6110. Rio pdf recommends 325-375gr skagit head for this rod. I am deciding between the followings:

    Rio Skagit Max Short, 375gr, 20ft'.
    OPST Commando Heads, 275gr, 13.5'.

    Which head is better for my application? I read many good things about the OPST casting bigger flies, which seems good for my big bass flies. However, some reviews say it is not for big distance. (because of the short head?) Can the OPST shoot 80' plus? Or it's only for close quarter work?

    Then the tip, both Rio and OPST recommend light T8 MOW tip for the specific head weight.

    Is this tip heavy/stiff enough to turn over bass flies? Or the suggestion is more for trout? I read somewhere that people use T14 for bass fly. Do I need to go heavier? Then maybe cut it shorter to reduce the gr weight? eg: a 10ft T8 tip vs a 5ft T14 tip?

    Then what density do I need? I am thinking of getting a full floating MOW, then a full sinking T, then maybe a 5ft float 5ft T. The waters I fish are usually 1.5~2m deep.

    Finally, tippet. A level 20lb will do? Or tapered one?


    1. Hi Ben,
      I usually fish lakes and saltwater with intermediate sink Skagit line (Wulff Ambush clear head) because I find the floating Skagit does not present my fly deep enough when striped fast. If you are slowly crawling nymphs then it is OK.

      Having said that, it is much easier for a beginner to learn with floating Skagit head. If you are fishing fast sink tip, a level leader of 5'-7' will do. For floating tip, I usually use 10ft of leader/tippet (e.g. 5ft 20lb + 5ft 8lb).

      If you are not fishing rivers, you do not need MOW tips. You will be better off buying a set of 12ft Spey versi-leaders in various sink rates. I regularly cast big Clouser with versileaders. The length of the tip is dictated by the depth you want to fish. T14 may be too heavy for your 375 grain line to turn over, so I suggest you stick to T8 if you insist on MOW tips.

      As for OPST Commando vs Skagit MAX Short, I would say that if you are wading mostly, you can opt for the shorter Commando head but if like me, a lot of the casting can be standing on land/high banks, you will be better off with the 20' Skagit MAX head. Skagit MAX will give you better casting distance if you intent on covering 80 plus feet. It will also be better for Saltwater fishing.

  2. Thanks for your reply. Very helpful.

    I posted the same question on some spey forums but the responses are not really relevant. Guess they don’t understand our fishing spots condition, whereas your fishing ponds I read on this blog are very similar to mine.

    I am targeting bass on fly at the moment here in winter. Catch rate is much lower than lures, but still doable. In summer, then there will be barra time.

    My rod is coming soon and I am going to order some heads and lines. I ll let you know how it goes. Keep contact.

    Cheers, Ben.

  3. Hello I ah e a 5wt one switch 11'6". What grain of skagit max will be best? I going to be swinging streamers. I found a 400 grain super on sale. Will this work or do I need 375?

    1. Hi Brady, I use up to 350 grain on my 4wt Sage One. For 5wt Sage One, I think 375 grain would be better but it can certainly take 400 grain if need be.