Switch rods are a concept that has become more mainstream for many people and locations in the past few years. Traditionally they were brought into creation for the use of spey casting in places where full spey rods were too large, however they’re growing in popularity because many are realizing that they can be used for more than just two handed casting in tight situations. I myself have started using my eleven foot switch rods more over the past couple years, and found they’ve worked super well. Not to say they’re perfect for every application, but in some situations they’re definitely more practical, and even more fun to fish than single handed rods.
One place where I have found myself picking up my eleven footers over my nines this season is when I’m fishing lakes (out of a boat or from shore), which is pretty frequently around the upper midwest. Since the month of May this year I’ve utilized my switch rods to catch walleye, lake trout, brown trout, bass, and pike. The main reason for fishing a switch rod, especially if you fish sink tips, is the ease of casting distances. When covering as much water as possible is a necessity for the best results, a longer rod makes a huge difference. With a 30 foot 300gr sink tip fly line and a five inch streamer on my 11’ 7wt, I can cast the full 90 feet in two false casts with minimal effort. That being said, it takes a little getting used to as it feels a little different than overhead casting a traditional nine footer, but once you find a rhythm it’s actually really enjoyable.
Typically when choosing a line to pair with my switch rods for overhead casting, I’ll overweight it by one weight for a WF line, or by roughly 50 grains for a sink tip (which translates to roughly about one line weight). For example, on my 11’ 7wt, when I’m fishing a floating line I’ll choose an 8wt rather than a 7wt, and when I’m fishing a sink tip I’ll choose a 300gr rather than a 250gr. This seems to work well as a general baseline without having to try a bunch of different lines to see exactly what works.
The vast majority of what I’ve done fishing switch rods on lakes involves covering a lot of water with decent sized streamers (as I’ve highlighted), however there are other applications that would work as well which I will definitely be exploring in the future. If you’re someone who has been curious about adding a switch rod to your quiver, I would highly recommend it. They’re great tools to have around, and can be used for a lot more than just swinging flies.