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Discussion Starter #1
i am beginner fly-fisher
i have a 9' 5wt rod & reel (still learning to cast properly)
going to be at the Matapedia the last week of August and want to try salmon fishing (may become an annual affair)
was looking for an 8wt rod & reel, but my fishing partner just got back from the Matapedia and suggested a 2-handed rod would be better
now i'm confused between spey & switch rods, which i agree would probably be a better fit

my understanding is that the switch rod can do both spey & overhand casting, maybe a slight compromise for both, while the spey rod is optimized for spey casting

found an Orvis Clearwater 13'6" spey rod on sale and was thinking of an Orvis Clearwater 6/7/8 reel
my partner thought an 11' 7wt switch rod would be a better choice
& if i did buy the Orvis gear, i'm not sure what i would put on the reel, other than backing i.e. skagit, scandi, spey

of course i could just rent equipment at the river for the couple of days, but i wouldn't get to practice with it ahead of time

mark
 

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A "switch" rod is really just a shorter "spey" rod. Most people end up liking a 12-13+ foot rod better than the shorter "switch" rods, but not everyone. The shorter "switch" rods are very useful tools when you will be fishing in very tight quarters - a tight bank with trees/brush and not much room behind you or above you, etc. Almost all rods these days are very very good and a switch or spey rod can be used effectively in place of the other once you get used to the action/casting timing/etc. In theory, a longer rod has more leverage potential and can cast further.

As far as what to put on the reel goes, you will need backing and then a running line and then you put the scandi or skagit head on the end of the running line. Then you will usually add a 10-15' sink tip to the end of the scandi/skagit head and then 3-4' of tippet to the fly.

Your best bet would be to talk to a shop or someone with expertise on the Matapedia and have them recommend or fit you with an outfit that would work best on that river to get started.
 

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Forget about the switch/spey terminology. A switch is just a short 2-hander. You likely won't overhead cast it anyway, and why would you. I'm not familiar with Orvis gear but I see no reason not to own it. For lines I usually suggest a scandi for beginners. Very versatile in many situations.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
my partner just called and a local shop has a Sage Pulse 11'4" 8wt on for 1/2 price (still more than the Orvis)
i like the thought of the 13'6" spey rod, because as you said, i won't be overhead casting and the extra length will help in long casts
 

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I know the price points on the Clearwaters are low, but I would recommend not starting with a Clearwater. imho those rods are wet noodles. The SAGE Pulse is a better bet.

I did most of my learning on 7/8wt 11' rods, and then graduated to 14' and beyond. Some will argue best to learn on a longer, 13'6" rod, little more forgiving. Also, even at low water, the Matapedia river flows are generally big water in most spots, and few spots with cramped d-loop room behind you, especially as you will be wading in further in low water. I like a 16' and a 13'6" for the Matapedia.

None the less an 11' is a great place to start and you'll be covering water just fine with that. I happen to have an Orvis H2 for sale, and although an excellent performing and forgiving rod, might be too expensive for your first rod. You could look at ECHO rods, Redignton, perhaps a used Beulah are all great rods at entry level prices.

Actually, if you happen to be in the Montreal area, and would agree to take good care of them, I could lend you the H2 11' 7wt and/or a Beulah Onyx 7 or 8wt for your trip. Also, I can give you some info on the Matapedia.
 

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I would highly recommend a spey rod of 13'. If you have not learned to spey cast, the longer rod will be more forgiving IMO. The Matapedia is pretty big water in many pools. If you are unsure of what to purchase you may be able to rent a rod at the fly shop in Causapscal. If interested, give it a Google. Good luck.
 

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Scott, T&T, and OPST two handers; Scott, Orvis, Winston and Fenwick SH. Danielsson and Hardy Reels
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I have two Thomas & Thomas seven weight rods, one is 11' 7" and the other is 13'. I really don't need them both. Both are in very good to pristine condition. As to which is best for you, since you are learning I would lean toward the 13' rod. It is easier to learn with a longer rod. You can have either for $500. The 11'7" rod is currently in the Classifieds with pictures. I can send pictures of the 13' if you are interested.
 

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Scott, T&T, and OPST two handers; Scott, Orvis, Winston and Fenwick SH. Danielsson and Hardy Reels
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As far as lines go, most NE anglers tend to be Scandi followers and with the right kind of line I agree with them. The dual or triple density lines available from Gaelforce, Nextcast, Rio, and Airflo are all nice lines, I listed them in the order I'd prefer. For the money, the Rio probably has best selection and value. I personally fish the Hover, Intermediate, Sink 3 version from Gaelforce, the F S2 from Nextcast, and the Rio HIS2. If you want to go with a Skagit-type line, I think the new OPST Groove intermediate line (floating butt and intermediate tip to which you add a sink tip) is hard to beat.
 

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This time of year on the Matapedia (and most the rest of the year on most Quebec rivers) I would only recommend you start out with a short scandi compact, like Airflo or something from the Rio or Scientific Anglers lineup. Shorter heads are easier to learn on, and stick to full floating lines. Next spring, get a triple density head and have at it, but for now keep it simple, easy and on-target for the water conditions.
You won't need anything skagitty on the Matapedia nor most Atlantic Salmon waters.
If you do go with a short-head scandi, I would suggest an intermediate 10 foot polyleader. Easy to cast, helps with anchoring and turnover when you're learning, and means you only have one relatively short section of tippet to manage. For shooting line, there are plenty of options from straight mono to coated connect-core lines. Personally, I would recommend Rio's Gripshooter lines, the 44lb red one to be precise.
 

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I want to be honest with you here... If it were me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

New Flyfisher with the opportunity to fish the fabled Matapedia .. Do Not try to be a hero, get a 8 wt/9wt rod and single hand fish the s#Yt out of your time there, learn the river... Adding the complexities of DH fishing as a new Flyfisher will take all of the good that has so graciously been given to you in regards to this opportunity.

You mentioned Annual then there is lots of time to break out the DH sticks, This time is not the time

Tough Love sorry, enjoy your trip
 

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That is good advice for new sport, new river, but I do secretly smirk at the guys on the bank giving themselves tendonitis and muscle pain trying to work 1/3 of the river.

None the less, since you will mostly be targeting holding pools, for your first trip it's still good advice.

If you are there for many days, then there's room to try a DH, but if your in and out in three days or less, then stick to what you already know.

Hopefully your fishing partner could give some lessons with the DH to maximize your time there.
 

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The OP's first statement was that he was NEW, brand new. So whether it's single or double hand he needs to learn. A fishing trip, especially one to the Matapedia is not the place to learn. It's the place to fish. Doesn't matter how you want to cast but I would suggest the double, Just learn as much as you can before you go. Find somewhere to get a proper lesson for a least one day and then practice, then practice again and again......... Search your area for 2-H folks and get together with them. Around here there is usually a few guys gathering to tighten up their skills. We have a few guys meeting up this weekend just for that reason. The chrome is coming, get it together now and you will be rewarded later. I envy you and wish you great luck on your new journey.

Side note: I went to 2-handed because I can't cast a single to save my life. But I still do it and love it.

Dan
 

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How well do you cast your single hand rod? Can you consistently throw accurate 60 foot casts that turn over a medium size fly? You said you’re a new fly fisher. How much actual experience do you have. If you have no real experience with either SH or DH rods you may find it easier to fish the DH rod. Strange as it seems, the learning curve is (IMHO) steeper with a single hand rod. I have seen rank beginners in Tierra Del Fuego learn to handle a Spey rod well enough to catch fish in just a few hours. Whatever you decide try to get a lesson or two. Try your instructor’s rods before you buy one.
Enjoy the journey.
 

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The OP's first statement was that he was NEW, brand new. So whether it's single or double hand he needs to learn. A fishing trip, especially one to the Matapedia is not the place to learn. It's the place to fish. Doesn't matter how you want to cast but I would suggest the double, Just learn as much as you can before you go. Find somewhere to get a proper lesson for a least one day and then practice, then practice again and again......... Search your area for 2-H folks and get together with them. Around here there is usually a few guys gathering to tighten up their skills. We have a few guys meeting up this weekend just for that reason. The chrome is coming, get it together now and you will be rewarded later. I envy you and wish you great luck on your new journey.

Side note: I went to 2-handed because I can't cast a single to save my life. But I still do it and love it.

Dan
I read your post and laughed about your single hand casting ability because I basically suck at it too. Then I read Budcrist's post after yours and laughed even harder about getting out a sixty foot cast accurately. There are creatures that are meant to cast with two hands and I guess that is why we are here. I remember seeing a guy on the Green River down stream of Flaming Gorge Dam earlier this year that was bombing 100' single hand casts with bullet shaped loops. It was awesome to watch but I knew I had never been nor was ever to be that guy.
 

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My single hand fu is ok as long as I spey cast. It's a bit messy overhead casting but I make it work.

Dan
 

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It is easier to learn to fly cast, either single hand or two hand if you've never cast a spinning or spin cast rod and it is easier to learn two hand casting than if you are an accomplished single hander trying to learn two-hand casts
 

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I agree with the 13' recommendation, rather than an 11' switch. I have both and even though I cast only overhead, the longer rod will cast way further for me, with less effort. It can be tricky to match up lines and heads with your rod and your style of casting. It can help immensely if you have access to a person who already has experience with your new rod, for advice. Like the folks on this forum.

I started two-handing about 2 years ago because I blew out my shoulder casting for silvers in Alaska for a week. Started out with an Echo 11' switch stick because I mostly cast overhead in the surf (no anchored casts). I caught plenty of fish on that rig, but I ever felt like I had it totally working for me. More recently, I found a great deal on this forum, thanks to another member's guidance, and bought myself a 12'6" Ross Reach for $150 in pristine condition. My fellow forum members guided me through the process of setting up sinking and floating lines for my target species--striped bass and coho salmon. I quite enjoy the process of making my own heads, as I do tying my own flies.

It was quite a thrill to be able to throw my entire fly line the first time I had that Ross on the water (with a short Scandi head). My running line is an old fly line with the head chopped off for tips. Granted, I had no fly tied on and a favorable breeze, but still... that had never happened to me before. Sometimes it's the little victories that keep me going. So in my case, the longer rod made a big difference, even though it's only 18" longer. I think the Ross is a faster rod than the Echo Classic as well.
 
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Discussion Starter #19
thanks for all the advice - it is really helping

when i say new, i bought my stuff 6 years ago and then in Nfld last year hired a guide/instructor for a day and learned to cast ok
i got out a few more times in Nfld and that has been it
i've watched a lot of videos since and when it isn't 30+ out, i go to a small pond behind me to practice (so not a lot this summer so far)
i still need a lot of work on the timing of the back cast (i really need a lot of work on everything to be truthful)

i am leaning towards a true spey rod instead of a switch rod
my partner who just got back from the Matapedia started with a standard 8wt setup & i think bought a new switch rod while there, so that has sparked my interest in DH rods

we'll be up near La John checking out the moose hunting for 5 nights and thought we'd be able to hop over to the upper Matapedia for 2-3 days of fishin, altho my partner decided last minute to head up there last week with his RV to get a head start - had a couple on, but wasn't able to land anything - lots of fish in the pools

i agree that if i do get a spey rod, i'll need quite a bit of practice here at home to be effective at all on the river (learning on the river shouldn't be an option), but i'll need to perfect my regular overhand cast too - not sure which is going to be easier

maybe just renting a 7/8wt while there is my best option for the short term

i thank glcaddis for the offer of either of his setups, but between exchange/shipping/import taxes it is probably going to be more than i think i want to spend (i did say 'think', reality might be different in the end)
i am still considering a trip to Montreal (5 hr round trip) to borrow a setup from Concrete Angler, so i could practice and i could drop it off on the way back, as i have to go past Montreal anyway

way too many decisions for my poor brain...

mark

going back to re-read everything above again
 

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Your poor brain should feel good after some good advice (for free), and some nice offers to help get you moving in the right direction. Don’t worry about switch length versus Spey length. Start somewhere and just try rods of different lengths and the heads and lines that go with them. It’s a deep dark hole you will be falling into but it’s a great trip once things start to gel. I’d take Concrete Angler up on the 11’ 7 wt H2 offer. It’s super generous and a great place to start.
 
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