Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ECHO SR 3wt 10'6' Switch Rod Review

I am not a two hand fly rod expert. I am still learning and I am thoroughly enjoy the process. Plus, I have not tested all available 3wt switch rods and lines.  The purpose of this post is not to endorse a specific brand. The goals of this post are to simply share a few thoughts about my experiences with a light weight switch rod that I have been using for two seasons; and, provoke your thoughts and curiosity.

If you had to pick one tool, to do multiple jobs, which one?

Specific to New England waters, if you had to pick one fly rod that could do it all, either single hand or two hand, which one would it be?  Before you make your decision, think about which fly rod can:

  • efficiently cast floating and sinking lines?  
  • effectively present streamers, dry-flies, wet-flies, and nymphs?  
  • cast with either one or two hands?
  • offer balance, power, leverage, and is highly tip sensitive?
  • be used on lakes, ponds, rivers, and small streams that require delicate presentations?
  • be used for high-stick/tight-line nymph fishing?
  • roll cast line from Manchester to Boston?
  • mend line at short and long distances?
  • make casting much easier in high wind conditions?

Here's my answer: I am now, almost exclusively using a 10'6" 3wt two hand switch rod.  Why? It's simple; it does all the things mentioned above and has more versatility than a single hand rod.  In fact, you might hear me say that this is the best 'tool' that I have ever fished with.  But, it's more than a tool; in the right hands, it's a fly-casting-fishing machine that allows you to fish all conditions, techniques and tactics.  For example:

  • You want to roll-cast 30-60 feet, but you have tree's behind you...DONE! 
  • You want to double spey, snap-T or use other two handed casting techniques... DONE!
  • You want to cast a #16 Adams, with one hand, without disturbing the environment...DONE!
  • You want to efficiently cast sink-tips to fish in various depths...DONE!
  • You want to effectively cast light or heavy nymph rigs...DONE!

Two hand TFO Deer Creek Switch 11ft 5wt on the Rapid River.  This is a very good rod for Patagonia (wind-deep water), but depending on your fishing needs, it might be too much for New England waters = it's a bit heavy and clumsy when used as a single hand rod.

Why I Fish with 3wt Two Hand?

For the past three seasons, in Patagonia, I have been using a TFO Deer Creek 11ft/5wt two hand switch rod. One day, I began to wonder how it would fish New England waters.  So, I brought the rod home and began to fish waters in New Hampshire and Maine.  The rod was very effective, but in smaller rivers/streams, I felt that it was too much rod (FYI, I fish the White Mountains in NH, Pittsburg, Rangeley, and seacoast NH). Upon this discovery, I began searching the world for a two hand 3wt or 4wt; a rod that was light/sensitive for single hand use, yet powerful for two hand style casts.  Unfortunately, at the time, a 3wt or 4wt two hand rod did not exist. Boy was I depressed! Fortunately for me, my melancholy did not last long. ECHO introduce a 10'6" 3wt and I bought it instantly, without even trying it. The rest is history, and I have been VERY happy using this rod for the past two New England fishing seasons.

10'6" Two Handed Switch Rod.  With lighter two hand rods, in most New England fishing conditions, you don't have to use the traditional head and running line system.  If you don't use a head and running line system, you might be able to use a reel/line that you already have.  For example: I already had a new/unused TFO NXT 4-6 reel; I simply added a Rio 4wt nymph line to this reel because I already had the equipment.  It sounds unorthodox, but the balance between the rod-reel-line, allows me to use both single and two hand casting techniques (this is exactly what I wanted).  If you are a beginner and if you wanted to add a 'true' switch line, I would first call the rod manufacturer and speak to a product specialist. Ask him/her what is the grain window for the rod and what lines are recommended.  Then I would call the line manufacturer and speak to their fly line expert (seriously, call them, this is what they get paid to do).  From my personal experience, with lighter switch rods (3wt/4wt) you may find the currently available switch rod lines to be too heavy for your rod.  Also, I would caution the angler about using bigger/heavier reels and higher grain lines = it may take away from the single hand casting-- touchy-feel sensation/abilities.  For example, with my set-up I can perform a variety of casting techniques ranging from a single hand dry-fly type cast, and I can double spey, using either one or two hands... I could not do this with bigger-heavier reel and line combinations.  Note: I have yet to use sink-tips with my 3wt switch, but I believe the Rio nymph line that I am currently using, will be able to turn them over.  If my nymph line can't turn over a sink-tip, I can always perform an over-head two hand cast.  If you elect to perform an over-head two hand cast, be sure to slow down your casting stroke; i.e., allow the rod and line to do the work for you and patiently find the sweet spot of your stroke.     
Caught using a high-stick, tight-line technique, with my 10'6" 3wt switch rod.

In general, two handed rods are not designed for, and are generally too heavy for high-stick, tight line nymph fishing.  More specifically, the combination of a two handed rod, with an over-sized reel to accommodate a traditional head/running line system, may physically prevent you from high-stick, tight-line nymph fish (it's just too heavy for the average human being and the tip might be too soft for quick strikes, that are critical while employing tight-line techniques).  However, I feel most anglers, with a light reel and line combination, could high-stick/tight-line nymph fish with a 3wt two handed switch rod --again, two handed rods are not designed to do this, but with my 10'6" 3wt, I do it all the time.

Final Word

I have been using my 3wt switch rod every where.  I have been catching trout, land locked salmon, bass, chub, suckers, perch, sunnies, etc.  Overall, I find it to be an extremely versatile rod.  In fact, in New England, it has become my #1 go-to rod. If you find yourself casting with two hands, be prepared to feel muscles in your back that you did not know existed (even with a light 3wt, it can be a good work-out).

Are you interested?  I know how hard it is to buy something you can't try/test (fish with).  If you're in the area and want to try it out, give me a shout.