Sunday, July 26, 2015

Euro Nymph Rods: Two Hand Switch vs. Single Hand Nymph

A few weeks ago, I created a post about my experiences with the ECHO SR 3wt 10'6' two hand switch rod. You can read this post at  The purpose of this post is to focus on my most recent experience using my two hand rod as a single hand nymph rod.

I spent the last 6 days nymph fishing with my ECHO SR 10'6" 3wt two hand switch rod.  I used both a tandem tight-line nymph rig (non-indicator--mono line only) and my trusted tandem tango nymph rig (adjustable bobber rig). As I used the rod and the nymph rigs, mentally and physically, I was constantly comparing my two hand set-up to my past experiences using a single hand euro nymph rod.  Overall, if you are looking for a rod that can do it all, the two hand rod might be the best option for you.  However, if you truly want to tight-line nymph fish, with only monofilament line, a single hand euro style nymph rod, is your best option. Why?

The Question No One is Asking

Can you use a light weight two hand switch rod as a single hand euro nymph rod?  The majority of anglers, industry folk, fly shops and competition pro's, would say no.  But, has anyone tried it?  This angler has tried it on more than one occasion and here's what I would say, "in the right hands, yes; but it depends on the length and weight of the two hand switch rod." For example, I would only recommend using a light weight 3wt/4wt two hand switch rod (4wt/5wt or heavier, and rods longer than 10 1/2 feet are too heavy, flimsy, and lack critical features for successful tight-line nymph fishing).  The features that makes euro single hand nymph rods the very best tool for the job are:

  • Throughout the industry, the blanks, from the handle to about 2 feet from the tip, are designed to be stiff.  A general rule = euro nymph rods are designed to be about 80% stiff and 20% soft, in the tip area.
  • The stiffness, offers the angler greater leverage (lifting power to fight fish).  More importantly, the stiffness provides the ability to set the hook as fast as possible (drive the hook point into the fish's lips, by lifting fast!). 
  • Longer-Stiffer rods provide better casting control (especially with a flop cast).
  • The last +/- 2 feet of a standard length 10 feet euro nymph rod (the tip area) is soft, not stiff. Having a soft tip gives the angler a more sensitive feel, which allows the angler to feel his/her nymphs on the bottom of the river (we call this direct contact -- ticking on the bottom).  A soft tip also prevents tippet breaks -- absorbs the shock from vicious strikes and powerful hook sets (fast lifting action by angler). 
  • Can be used as a dry fly rod (e.g. one reel, set-up with a tight-line system, and a spare spool with a dry fly line.)
  • Favors both non-indicator tight-line nymph rig and traditional indicator/bobber nymph rig fishing. However...
  • Very difficult to flop cast non-indicator tight-line nymph rig at distance or in wind. 
  • Very Light.

If you use a two handed switch rod (e.g. ECHO SR 10'6" 3wt or other) to tight-line nymph, here's what you can expect:

  • With specific lines, switch rods are powerful 'casting' tools; not lifting, quick-powerful hook setting tools.  
  • Overall, they are not as stiff as single hand euro nymph rods (entirely different tapers, designed to cast heads and running line; not lift).  The manufacturer's of two handed rods may say the casting action of the rod is medium-fast, but this does not mean that the rod is stiff (with single hand rods, stiff rods are usually fast action... not so in the two hand switch rod world).  If you were to put my ECHO SR in your hand,  wiggle it a bit, you would say the rod feels like a a medium flex or full flex rod.  
  • Typically, they are very soft in the tip, and the blank may flex well past the mid-point.  
  • Especially when you are using a tandem tight-line nymph rig, you will miss a lot of strikes. Why? From the rod tip through the mid-point, it's soft and very flexible. Translation = in the water, with direct contact on the bottom, you will feel the strike, but due to the flex of a two hand rod, you do not have the same quick, powerful lifting action... the ability to rapidly set the hook, or drive the hook point into the fish's lip.  Bottom line, even if you are lightening fast, you will miss a great deal of strikes -- we call this bouncing or dropping fish.  
  • Great versatility, but not a true euro style nymph fishing rod.  Excellent tool for long distance casting of indicator/bobber nymph rigs, especially in the wind; in my opinion, better than a single hand nymph rod (I should know because I spend half the year in windy Patagonia).

Can be used as a euro style tight-line nymph rod, but has some drawbacks. On a positive note, the long rod handle allows me to lock my forearm against the handle = this allows me to use a lighter reel, and allows me to keep my arm at a 45 degree angle.  As I set the hook, this grip style also helps with lifting power because I am using large back muscles to lift (set the hook).  Again, not a true euro style nymph set-up/rod, but it can work and helps me with neck/shoulder issues often related to high-stick nymph fishing with single hand rods. 

Final Word

I'll let the photos do the talking.  Thanks for reading and hope to see you on the river.


No matter the style of the rod, in my opinion, longer rods are better for nymph fishing (and better for your body).  You can see how I lock the rod handle under my forearm, and during the day, no matter the situation, this is about as high as my arm goes = almost no fatigue.
16" Land Lock Salmon caught while using a tandem tight-line non-indicator nymph rig; caught on my 10"6" 3wt switch rod. Many times, with these big powerful fish, they hit the fly so hard, an aggressive hook set is not needed. I admit that I miss a lot of strikes due to the soft flex of this rod, but I catch enough to keep me happy.
18" wild Brook Trout caught with my 10'6" 3wt switch rod.  Each day, while I was nymph fishing, I probably caught a total of two dozen small Brook Trout and LLS (8"-10"); and I missed at least that much or more.  I recall a few major strikes that were from larger fish that I missed = I was too slow and the flex of the rod was too soft to quickly set the hook.
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.  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.