Dipping Your Toes Into Spey

Over the past two decades, the US two-handed fly fishing market has grown and changed significantly.  Today, sales of shorter 10’6’’ to 12’ rods easily outnumber the longer traditional spey rods, and these versatile shorter “switch” length rods are being used in many non-conventional spey markets. Within the fly fishing industry, a sudden popularity in rods longer than traditional products caused problems for shop owners and anglers attempting to match a fly line with a switch rod for an angler making the transition.  Often an angler purchasing their first switch rod intends to be able to fish a wide variety of styles, and expects a single line to do it all.  Experienced spey/switch anglers know that matching the line to the rod AND the application helps the rod work with you and not against you.

I recently spent a day fishing trout size switch equipment on the Bitterroot River in Montana with guide John Herzer.  Although the spring runoff hadn’t fully hit the river yet, the main Bitterroot was pushing plenty of water.  We chose 11’ 5 weight Switch rods loaded with Cortland’s 5wt Compact Switch line.  The Compact Switch has a short head that carries plenty of energy to the looped tip, allowing the angler to bounce between different sink rate tips.

With the 11’ 5wt switch rod and a simple water load, the Compact Switch line shot streamers all the way across the river.  Quartering our casts downstream behind a short Type VI sinking polyleader to keep the fly near the fish helped swing up some trout.  A 3’’ olive streamer did most of the damage, including a fat Cutt-bow that crushed John’s streamer late in the afternoon.