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Any experienced river smallie fishermen out there using switch rods successfully? Have never tried spey yet, but after getting hooked on river smallies last year am considering trying a switch rod for special situations: high bank wade fishing, longer distance when needed and hopefully making it easier on a very bad rotor cuff and arthritic hand & wrist. Does top water and subsurface fishing (stripping)for river smallies fit in with the longer rod vs hanging on with a dead swing as done in much of steelheading? For clarification, I don't use indicators or short-line dead drift. How effective is the switch rod fishing poppers for SMB? If I get a switch rod I plan to still use my 9 & 9.5 unless of course I find the switch is all around less stressful on the joints. Line recommendations for top and sub surface fishing are welcomed. Does everyone agree that a 10.5 or 11 ft switch rod is less tiring to cast and fish than a 9 ft Rod? Many thanks in advance for all comments........Mataura
 

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I enjoy using a switch rod for smallmouth bass.

My experience is with the Sage 5110-4 Z-Axis, TFO 5110-4 Professional and the TFO 4110-4 Deer Creek. I like the Skagit lines with these rods, easy casting heavy sinking flys and larger wind resistant foam/deer hair bugs.

I have several spots with very deep drops offs a few steps from the bank, with trees/brush up to the river edge. The TH switch rods are a pleasure to use on this type of situation. My previous SM rods were a 9ft 6wt and a 10ft 7wt,,,, they hardly get used after setting up the TH rods. Much easier to cast and control drifts than the shorter rods.

On the deep water pools I use a quick change tip with T-14 and LC-13 tips in lengths of 3ft, 5ft, 8ft and 10ft,,,,, just change out the tip to reach the productive fly depth.

Regards,
FK
 

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the thinking man's idiot
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I've been throwing a TFO Deer Creek 11' 6wt switch with a Skagit Compact 450 and 10' tips (Type 3, T-8 and T-14) very comfortably. This will be my go-to rod for big-river smallies (the smallies really aren't so big) here on the James. This rod will also see post-spawn duty for the large cats that head up to the fall line in the spring.

FWIW the 6wt might be a TAD on the heavy side for the fish, but it really excels at throwing heavy sinkers and bushy flies alike (as mentioned above).
 

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Hey ToughGuy: Give me a buz the next time you plan a trip downunder. Have a place right on the Mataura, 18 trips to NZ, age keeping me pretty close to home waters now......Cheers......Mataura
 
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There is a Beulah Switch rod 6/7 for sale in the classifieds here.

Make a nice smallie rod....
 

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5/6 Switch Rod and a 12'6" 5 or 6' spey rod

Any experienced river smallie fishermen out there using switch rods successfully? Have never tried spey yet, but after getting hooked on river smallies last year am considering trying a switch rod for special situations: high bank wade fishing, longer distance when needed and hopefully making it easier on a very bad rotor cuff and arthritic hand & wrist. Does top water and subsurface fishing (stripping)for river smallies fit in with the longer rod vs hanging on with a dead swing as done in much of steelheading? For clarification, I don't use indicators or short-line dead drift. How effective is the switch rod fishing poppers for SMB? If I get a switch rod I plan to still use my 9 & 9.5 unless of course I find the switch is all around less stressful on the joints. Line recommendations for top and sub surface fishing are welcomed. Does everyone agree that a 10.5 or 11 ft switch rod is less tiring to cast and fish than a 9 ft Rod? Many thanks in advance for all comments........Mataura
I use my Meiser 5/6 switch rod for closer casts and during the early season when the smallies are not as wary.

By May, the smallies on the Russian River where I fish for smallies become very wary. I need to cast even by the bank up stream or down stream 50 to 60'. Also, they tend to get on the opposite shore where wild pigs would have a hard time getting to fish them due to brush, black berries and willows.

So I then go to my Sage Z6126 with the 6/7 AFS head and 15' floating Spey or intermediate leader. If they are below the surface, I will replace the longer leaders with 7' intemediate Versi Leaders.

Jeff Putnam has a new cd out re casting with Switch Rods.

Last but not least, a balance Switch or Spey rod outfit is a lot less stressful than one handed rods with rotator cuff problems.
 

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bow river ninja
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dont forget too check out the new loop opti switch rods in 6 and 8 wt's... i have never fished for smallmouth before but those are two more rods in the elngth and weights u were thinking of... i do feel that spey casting is less tiresome throughout the day when fishing larger streamers and other bugs for pike and bulltrout.. specially in big water!!!!!!
 

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What does switch rod mean to you? Switching between two handed and single handed casting, or switching between Spey casting and conventional casting? To me it is switching between Spey casting and conventional casting. As for arthritic hand and wrist condition, I can personally say that I got over my joint problems with red wine and daily juicing with a high quality juicer, and some high quality supplements like MSM. Arthritis problems are NOT caused by pressure on the joints and are actually PREVENTED by common sense use and pressure on joints....provided you get the right nutrients into your body. Painkillers and nonuse of joints GUARANTEES no end of problems with your joints. Get informed by alternative medical doctors like Dr. Mercola, Dr. Campbell and Dr. Whitaker. If you have to lighten up on your joints for a while, then do that, but going to a two-handed rod and staying there is not the long term solution.

Go to a two-handed rod when you no longer have the physical strength to handle the rod length you want to fish. I actualy DID go two-handed for a while because of joint problems, but I stayed there after the problems went away because I sometimes want to use longer rods that I am not physically strong enough to throw single-handed. Two-handed salmon rods work better with nonstretch lines like Fireline when bass fishing because they cushion the shocks better than short and stiff rods. Long rods roll cast better, and they clear the brush better on backcasts, etc. I also know some situations where they suck, such as jigging from boats. But for wading anglers, longer rods GENERALLY work better than the short rods that obviously became popular from watching too many Bill Dance type shows where fishing from boats is the norm. It soon became obvious to me that his shows were geared for the benefit of his sponsors, since they paid his salary. I think it's the same for most outdoor shows, and since The American Sportsman went off the air, most outdoor hunting/fishing shows have been crap by comparison. Mutual of Omaha was not selling fishing and hunting gear, and therefore the show was a lot more informative and entertaining. Since Bill Dance did not hawk fly fishing gear on his show, it seemed obvious that it might be worth trying, and in summer months it was the hot ticket for bass. I still have a Bill Dance endorsed lure that is yet to catch it's first bass, in fact it seems to scare off bass.

I ordered the 9'6" 7 wt. 4-piece LST rod and expected it to be the same as my 9' 8wt. 4-piece LST rod except for lighter line. Except for the similar full wells grip and reel seat, it is quite a bit different from the 908 LST. It definitely has a more full flexing action, and it has considerably larger stripping gruides and 3 of them instead of 2 as on the 908 LST. If 9'6" is long enough, it would make a good switch rod for 6 wt. Spey line. It is more geared to fishing wet flies than the 908 LST which is more of a line cannon with a stiffer butt section for dry flies. This is not to imply that the 967 LST is a slow rod.....far from it. It's just more manageable for fishing in close and fishing wet and for roll casting.....making it better for Spey casts.

I gave around $180, and it has a 25-year warranty. Check out the reviews, as the LST rods are about the highest rated rods Cabela's has ever sold. They really do directly compare to rods that cost twice as much from the big name brands in every way. The cork on mine is considerably nicer than $650 Orvis rods I looked at, and mine felt lighter in hand than the Zero Gravity rod.

As far as the LST switch rods go, they look exactly like Loop rods to me, except for the blank colors. At one time the LL Bean Streamlight rods looked almost identical to the LST rods, but Bean has cheapened up on the cosmetics of the Streamlight rods while the LST rods are still very high class in cosmetics. There are also a lot more sizes available in the LST series, and when you count the 6 two-handed rods in the series, it's a versatile series that is equaled by few big name manufacturers, and by none of them at that cost. The TFO professional series does not have the lightness and cosmetics or high end casting ability of the LST series (I own a TFO pro rod, so I know).

Because of the high modulus graphite, users are reporting some breakages. That goes with high modulus territory in general, and Cabela's is good for the warranty if it breaks. The TFO pro series Spey is medium modulus, and I would suspect it being less likely to break, but with the big difference in casting feel, I'll stay with the LST and stick enough coin back in my pocket to pay for a Spey line. I picked up a TFO pro Spey rod at a shop, and it seemed heavier and deader in my hands.....in other words like the difference between my singlehand LST and TFO rods.

Be aware that the 967 LST does NOT have a rear handle, only a 1" cork extension butt. You can switch between Spey casting and conventional styles, but a rear grip would have to be added to make it two-handed. I still consider it a switch rod as it is longer than 9' and it switches between Spey and conventional casting better than any other rod I own. It's so light and easy to handle that adding a rear grip would probably degrade the performance for me, but a young child might like a rear grip added and it would thus be almost 10' long. Cabela's could add the rear grip and place it in the switch rod category with their two other LST switch rods, or you could do the conversion.

I have been smallie fishing with fly gear for 20+ years, and the 967 LST may be the most versatile rod I own for smallie fishing. The 908 LST is more of a pike and largemouth rod. The 905 LST is too light to be a true all rounder for smallies, and western trout would be its best description. The 967 LST has the more medium flexing action that allows better Spey casts and better wet fly casts. It's obvious design intent was as a steelhead and light salmon rod.

As for lines, you can just use regular bass bug lines or a saltwater triangle taper line with the 967 LST. Longer bellied Spey lines would be useful for pushing for distance, but drop a line weight of course.

One of the LST switch rods that are two-handed might be better for your physical problem, but changing the 967 LST to two-handed gives you an even lighter rod than either of those. If I HAD to throw two-handed all the time, I would look at the 12'4" LST for 8 wt. line, especially if going for distance casts and skagit type lines. Owning the 967 LST and 12'4" LST gives me more options, and either one of those other two LST switch rods would be a compromise if deciding to fish heavy or light for smallies. But, if one rod has to do it all, and be two-handed, then one of the LST switch rods would be great.

Like Mel Krieger, I feel that dropping much below 13' defeats the purpose of the two-handed rod. Rather than getting an 11' switch rod, I'll take my 9'6" single-handed rod for lighter work and move up close to 13' when I go two-handed. This is an adult bias. If I was a young kid, an 11' two-handed rod might be ideal. There is really nothing an 11' switch rod can do that my 967 LST cannot do.....except get my hand on a rear grip.....which is totally unnecessary for such a lightweight rod.
 

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Like Mel Krieger, I feel that dropping much below 13' defeats the purpose of the two-handed rod.
To each his own.

I feel two-handed switch rods are great fishing tools.
 

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Yes, I agree, the switch rod CAN be a useful tool. Like me, the original poster said he would still be using his 9'6" rod. A 10' switch rod would be equivalent to a 9'6" single-handed rod when you subtract 6" for the rear grip. No use in going there. An 11' switch rod would be such little additional length that it might not be worth the cost and would offer little additional usefulness over the 9'6" rod. When you get up to a 12' rod, you are starting to get something really different, but it would take a strong arm/wrist to use it single-handed. He is a bass angler, and not a steelheader. He may need to throw flies that are more like spinning lures in weight than traditional trout and salmon flies.

A 7/8 line is the bare minimum when you go deep and heavy for smallies, and I would prefer an 8/9 line. The 12'4" rod for 8/9 line is an ideal smallie two-handed rod, and if you already have a 9.5' 7/8 rod you intend to use, it's the next step up in power and length. If I were using an 11' switch rod, I would leave my 9'6" single rod at home, as well as the 12'4" two-hander. But when fishing a big Popper & Dropper rig, it's like throwing a wine bottle cork with a short piece of line and sinker hanging below it. The 12+' rod for 8/9 line is going to blow away the switch rod for handling that weight. I typically throw 10 wt. bass bug line on mine, to control my flies. Put 10 wt. bass bug line with a popper & dropper on your switch rod and tell me your rod and wrist is having a good day. Double hookups are common in bass fishing with a popper & dropper, which is why they are used. I went to two-handers in bass fishing so I could up my line weight and get control of the heavy flies.

First you pick the weight of bass fly line you need. When you do that, few people will have the strength to cast anything longer than 9' to 9.6" with one hand. I know there are those who fish for bass with 4/5 wt. line. I like what they do, as it will leave more big bass for me. 6/7 wt. line is quite light in bass fishing, and 8/9 line is better for all around use. The lightest rod I ever use for bass fishing is rated for 6/7 line, but the 7/8 rods get far more use and even they are too weak at times. 8/9/10 wt. lines probably mean you are out of "able to cast well with one hand" category with rods over 9'6" long, and for many people even 7 wt. is too much. A 6 wt. switch rod probably can't set a hook in a bass mouth well, and a guy with arthritis problems is never going to use an 8 wt. switch rod any way but double-handed. If going strictly double-handed in use, moving up to the longer foregripped conventional double-handled rod will probably cast more comfortably for distance.

I once spent 4 days on a super clear limestone stream in Missouri to catch a 13-inch smallie as my biggest bass. I was using a 9' for 7/8 line. A longer casting two-handed rod would have been great, and my present 12'4" for 8/9 two-hander MIGHT have been rod enough to reach the bass before they spooked. I mean those bass had telescopic vision, and the water was literally gin clear. You would have had trouble with spinning gear and a Kastmaster spoon to reach them before they spooked. Kingfishers could obviously see them just fine, and the bass spooked at anything that moved including birds. Something over 12' long is also better for clearing streamside brush. When going for max distance, the grip separation on a switch rod is less than conventional two-handers, which reduces leverage.
 
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"Be aware that the 967 LST does NOT have a rear handle, only a 1" cork extension butt. You can switch between Spey casting and conventional styles, but a rear grip would have to be added to make it two-handed."

then its not a switch rod period.
switches are intended for two hands. your 9.5' my 9.5's are not. you can spey cast a 7.5 footer single hander also. just because its "over 9.5' " does not make it a switch rod.

you have smallmouth in montana?

"The 12'4" rod for 8/9 line is an ideal smallie two-handed rod" - wow :whoa: . american rated (non european) 8/9 double handers are used here for kings.

if your using a 8/9 double hander for smallmouths...... . thats fine. most consider a 12'4" 8/9 spey rod bulit for BC size winter steelhead, atlantic salmon or great lakes kings. "ideal smallie two-handed rod"..........as my .2cents says about 99.9% would disagree with you. the guys above noteing the lighter switches and/or smaller speys have it about right for two handers imo and i live along the shores of lake erie (native-prime smallie range great lakes) where the smallmouth are considerably larger.
 

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I'm loving my Beulah 6/7 switch. Still getting a handle on it for longer casting & spey casts (cause I'm soo noob) but you can't beat it for accuracy in smaller rivers. I find myself using the bottom handle for casting in tight spots with trees overhanging, it just gives that bit more accuracy.

The Beulah is great, the elixar line is awesome, but I haven't tried others out, but why would u need to :D
 

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FWIW, there are quite a few smallmouth and largemouth bass in eastern Montana. Study the anglers guide when you pick up your license. The Musselshell River is full of them, downstream of Lavina. Same goes for the Yellowstone downstream of Billings. Also, pike, walleye, sauger, sunfish, catfish and carp. Ever hear of Ft. Peck Reservoir? Please, will most of you tourist anglers continue to come to Montana to fish for trout. There are not as many public access spots along warmwater streams anyway, so it's more of a local thing with permission from ranchers and farmers. But, if you fish near bridges that cross streams there usually isn't any problem. The best access will need a jeep, horse, motorcycle, 4WD pickup, ATV or hiking. Any stream with beaver ponds along it is usually a fishing stream of some sort.

Unlike most states where you have to buy a trout stamp to fish for trout, in Montana you have to buy a warmwater fish stamp to fish in certain stocked reservoirs. Usually not a requirement for free flowing streams with self sustaining warmwater species. Tourists will be fishing the reserviors because they have public access with boat ramps listed in your fishing guide. Locals will be on the streams because they know where to go and have permission from land owners. I think the locals like it that way.

Look at bass rod series, and you will see that some of them are rated for 10 wt. line. One of the best was the old LL Bean IM6 bass rods designed by Dave Whitlock that started at 6/7 wt. and went up to 9/10 wt.. They were actually Loomis IM6 rods with slight cosmetic changes. I have three of those, and they were all excellent for their time.....and still are. They always get snatched up on eBay when they show up.

8/9 wt. rods are ideal for throwing big bass bugs. You size your line weight for the size of the fly, not the size of the fish. 6/7 wt. bass rods were for those who also fished for sunfish and used little sunfish poppers. When I set my hooks, the fish often come flying out of the water, and I have been hit by flying sunfish that took my bass bait.

Be aware that daytime temperatures on eastern Montana streams can exceed 100 degrees in the summer. It's a semi-arid climate with cactus, yucca plants and sagebrush. It ain't trout fishing, and you might be 30 miles from the nearest hardtop road and more miles than that to the nearest medical help. My dog got rattlesnake bit in the Missouri Breaks, and it was 4 hours to get him to the vet. Lived for most of my life in Arkansas with poison snakes all around, and a dog never got bitten. Took less than 5 minutes for the dog to get bitten in the Breaks. My sister's dog got snakebitten. Dogs are commonly on snakebite vaccinations around here. Horses, cattle and dogs are bitten all the time by prairie rattlers, and the local vets are experts at treating snakebites. Ruts a foot deep are common in roads in the Breaks, and if it rains while you are back there.....you might be staying a few days with the rattlers if your transportation can't handle clay mud. That is why you don't hear about warmwater fishing in Montana.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
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Hav'nt checked into my thread replys for some time and glad to see the good feedback and interesting comments. Seeing other recommendations for a river smallie switch rod ranging from the 5 to 8 wt range, thought I should include some info and suggestions I've dug up in my research. One flyshop that specializes in guiding river smallie fishers said all their guides use switch rods - for some applications -(Some mid-river flats not as useful---??)and 7 & 8 wts. were best for casting the heaviest of flies, Sage Z Axis 8110 or 7110 being most popular. Since some replys on this thread indicated satisfactory results with 5/6 rods I have opted to error on the lite side and have ordered a TFO Deer Creek 11ft for 6 wt and a TFO Deer Creek 126 for 5/6 figuring the lighter rods will be easier on my torn r. cuff and arth. hand. There were interesting comments to a similar thread on another forum that indicated a problem with large diameter spey lines in smallie river current affecting the fight of small and average size smallies. Not sure if everyone agrees on that but it sure sounds plausible. I'm use to fishing big rods: 8 wt for smallies and 10 wt. for Pike and Lake Trout in far N Sask-(In fighting those big Lake trout at 30 to 97 ft depts vertically from a fighting perspective an 11 or 12 would have been better....and at a shorter length.....another story) and shooting 80# compounds & 70# recurves have done in my rotor cuff and wrist-thumb....I don't want to leave this good ole earth until I've thoroughly worn out every part of my body.....getting there fast....shut up Mataura, you're digressing.......Good Nite Bob York.....wherever you are......Thanks for you're input fellas........Mataura
 

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Rotator cuffs are another dimension in the rod selection

I have a Z7110 and mainly use it for roll casts with a Skagit or Rio Outbound or a 9-10 one hand Rio Steelhead line for close steelies.

However, I would not want to cast it all day for smallies with my rotator cuff tears and bicep head tear.

Also, our small mouth bass are too small for my Z7110.

In reality any fish 4# or under is too small for that rod.

My Meiser 5/6 10'6" Switch is the right size rod and probably most 5/6 Switch rods would be fine.

I'm still looking for the Alpha Line for this rod. I hope to find one at the upcoming SpeyoRama.

Now the Rio Skagit 350 and Outbound 10WF work. I just keep pulling the head of the Outbound past the rod tip until it works. The Skagit 350 and the 10' Rio Spey Versi leaders in floating and intermediate sinking work with both lines. I have problems when my leaders exceed the rod length on any switch rod. So I use the shorter leaders.

Hav'nt checked into my thread replys for some time and glad to see the good feedback and interesting comments. Seeing other recommendations for a river smallie switch rod ranging from the 5 to 8 wt range, thought I should include some info and suggestions I've dug up in my research. One flyshop that specializes in guiding river smallie fishers said all their guides use switch rods - for some applications -(Some mid-river flats not as useful---??)and 7 & 8 wts. were best for casting the heaviest of flies, Sage Z Axis 8110 or 7110 being most popular. Since some replys on this thread indicated satisfactory results with 5/6 rods I have opted to error on the lite side and have ordered a TFO Deer Creek 11ft for 6 wt and a TFO Deer Creek 126 for 5/6 figuring the lighter rods will be easier on my torn r. cuff and arth. hand. There were interesting comments to a similar thread on another forum that indicated a problem with large diameter spey lines in smallie river current affecting the fight of small and average size smallies. Not sure if everyone agrees on that but it sure sounds plausible. I'm use to fishing big rods: 8 wt for smallies and 10 wt. for Pike and Lake Trout in far N Sask-(In fighting those big Lake trout at 30 to 97 ft depts vertically from a fighting perspective an 11 or 12 would have been better....and at a shorter length.....another story) and shooting 80# compounds & 70# recurves have done in my rotor cuff and wrist-thumb....I don't want to leave this good ole earth until I've thoroughly worn out every part of my body.....getting there fast....shut up Mataura, you're digressing.......Good Nite Bob York.....wherever you are......Thanks for you're input fellas........Mataura
 

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Having put some serious time into throwing the 11' 6wt Deer Creek switch, I can honestly say that it can throw some heavy flies, tips to T-14 and generally feels good even fighting 1-lb hickory shad. I was lucky enough to pick up a ~3-lb largemouth while shad fishing a couple weeks ago, and that was a great fight. I have had shoulder problems for years and my body thanks me every time I go out with the switch rod, which I've been using more as a two-hander than anything else.

I'd guess that the Deer Creek 5/6 spey will give much the same satisfaction as my own switch rod WRT to bass fishing (river smallies in particular)...which I plan on doing a good deal of once the ghetto tarpon wind down.

Marty
 
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