Switch rods are great tools for fishing almost any species short of Brook Trout in a small stream. Where they seem to be the most popular are the mid-sized Steelhead Rivers of the Pacific Northwest because they can be used to spey swing OR they can be used with a strike indicator and nymphs. A switch rod is perfect for reaching out a touch further than your old single handed rod but isn’t so awkward that you lose finesse on small seam-lines or pocket water.
Many anglers that buy switch rods do so for the versatility they offer. Folks want to be able to spey swing, spey cast, indicator fish, or overhead cast with one rod. Switch rods will do all of this and more. We like to use our switch rods to spey swing flies in the morning and evening, but we like to indicator fish during mid-day hours too. This all sounds great, but the problems start to arise when you try to indicator fish with your spey line. Spey lines shoot line and cast big flies far with ease but they do not nymph fish very well! Nymphing with too short of a line might make good anger management training. The heads are too short which forces you to try to mend, feed, and roll cast your running line. This is frustrating. If you see a bald guy indicator fishing the Methow River with a spey line it is because he ripped all his hair out. His name is Frank, don’t be a Frank. Switch rods are limited by the fly line you choose. If you spent the money on switch rod and want to indicator fish…. pony up and get a switch line. Do it right because your time on the water is precious.
While there is lots of information on spey lines for Switch Rods, we haven’t openly discussed how the angler should manage the problem of choosing a fly line for your switch rod. The best fly line on the market for indicator fishing is the Rio Switch Line. It has a long beefy head that mends, roll casts, and spey flops an indicator like a champ. What it won’t do is spey cast and shoot larger flies and sink tips… but it nymph fishes so well it should be illegal. The line has a 55′ head that was designed for managing long drifts in mid-river seams.
If you have already own a switch rod and are ready to get an extra reel and Rio Switch line; consider the complete steelhead nymphing package we offer. It includes an Echo Ion Reel, Rio Switch Line, Strike Indicators, Backing, and a Rio Tapered Steelhead leader. This is everything you need to get your switch rod dialed in for nymph fishing. The Echo Ion Fly Reel is only $99 and a great value, perfect for a reel that you may not use as your primary. This makes getting a backup reel and nymphing line on your switch rod cost effective and convenient.