Feb 20, 2014

Interview with George Cook - 2/1/2014 - Spey updates

Gearing up by the fire!

On a cold winters evening I sat and made a phone call to George Cook to catch up and see what the latest news is in the fly fishing industry. For those who don't know George, he is the northwest representative for more than 20 + years with Farbank products which includes Sage, Redington and Rio. George spends much of his time in the outdoors either either swinging two hand rods for Steelhead, Salmon and Trout or hunting the great beyond for big game. I like to pick George's brain for current industry news and catch up on some of the latest trends and then pass that on to you. George eats, sleeps and breathes fishing, in particular two hand spey fishing and when it comes to current news he is my "go to" for information. A lot of new two-hand gear has come from Sage, Redington and Rio over the past year and whether you're new to spey fishing or have been two hand casting through the evolution there is always a new better arrow for your quiver.

First lets update on Switch rods. This is an area that seems to be growing really fast for many reasons. We have some really great rods out today and the lines are coming along to match  them better than ever. One of the things that George and I discussed was what really is a switch rod today and what are they being used for?

So while we worked through today's switch rods and lengths we came up with what we think is a pretty good table of lengths of switch rods that really work well for different techniques.

Switch Table

10'6" to 11'3" - Single hand spey, nymph/indicator, overhead casting and some spey casting
11'3" to 11'6" - All purpose switch...name your game with these lengths
11'6" to 12' - In this length you're looking at today's baby spey rods. Line up the skagit short or scandi lines and go for it!

Lets start from the top with the Sage Method Series Switch rods. Although we call these switch rods we decided they really are today's baby spey rods. Why? Well its simple, are you really going to single hand cast a 11'9" two hand rod? and I'll quote George here "you'll be on your way to Tommy John Surgery". Remember why we started two hand casting? To alleviate the pain of sink tips and flies tied with whole chickens and rabbits is part of the answer to this question.
2013 IFTD Las Vegas - George Cook

The Sage Method Switch rods all come in at 11'9" from sizes 6 thru 9 weight and I quote George "These rods are shocking how far they can cast." 

The Method 9119-4 might be the one to get a little more in-depth with. Not many entries in this "King" class of baby spey rods but they are destined to catch on. Think about this for a minute; a baby spey capable of Alaska King Salmon, big BC steelhead, big winter steelhead and maybe even a power stick for beach casters and or even big striper fishing. No longer is this class of fishing ruled by the 14' and 15' long rod.

Read Charlie's review of the Sage Method 9119-4

Moving on into the Sage One Switch Rod series of rods we find a middle of the road rod class with a 11'6" length starting with a sweeeet little One 4116 weight and ending at a  8116 steelhead weapon. These rods are super light perfect multi-use weapons no matter if you are single hand overhead casting, single spey, nymph/indicator or all out two hand spey casting, the Sage One switch rods are ready to play. George considers the One 7116, "trout to steelhead, the 30.06  of switch rods".

Personally I have been trout fishing the One 4116. I have put down all other rods to fish this rod and I really can't think of anything I can't do with it. I have spent most my time streamer fishing it but the level of confidence is so great that I am not concerned at all if I need to switch my tip to floating and cast a dry overhead, especially with the Rio Scandi short head or set up a nymph indicator rig. The Rio Switch Chucker line lets me two hand cast some pretty good size streamers and you always have the option of lining it with an all out Skagit Max short head and really throw the meat.

Bobo!
George has also found love with the Sage ONE 4116-4 Switch rod having landed his single biggest Alaska rainbow measuring at 33.5"x 17" on the Naknek River. His line choice was the 325gr Skagit Max short and he was fishing a sculpin pattern.

Since we're talking about switch rods lets examine some line possibilities:
The first point to mention just to go ahead and get it out of the way...if your looking for a one line to do it all, STOP LOOKING! It does not exist nor will it ever exist. So in the game of switch rods you need to determine what it is you want to accomplish in order to choose a proper line for you. This might mean you'll need more than one line to do several things with your switch rod.

The New Rio Switch Chucker - By far one of the most popular new lines to hit the market and we are still figuring out what it can do for us. While it can't do everything it is probably the best line available that can do many things pretty well. The Switch Chucker is a short powerful head with an integrated complete running line attached, (no need for a separate shooting line and no loop between head and shooting line). You can go right to a leader or choose a variety of tips for different applications. The short powerful head performs skagit style casting and turns over quite easily. An angler could go from indicator/nymph fishing to spey casting streamers with just changing out the tip. The handling section behind the head makes gripping the line easy during a cast and also gives you some body to help mend the line on the water. The line is a great line to learn spey casting due to its easy casting design. I must repeat myself now, There is NOT one line to do it all but the Switch Chucker comes about as close as we'll ever get. Another note for this line. No reason to over-line it. Buy the line weight that matches your rod.

Rio Skagit Max Short - A serious skagit head for the serious sinking tip and big fly work. Big flies and big heavy tips require mass to move them and turn them over. This game is accomplished best by the skagit short head. From 17' to 20' depending on size these short powerful heads are built on the low stretch ConnectCore Technology and are also offered in a i-Short (intermediate sink) series. MOW tips work great on these heads. If your plans with your switch rod are to spey cast large streamers or steelhead leeches than this Skagit head is what you want.

Rio Scandi Short VersiTip - This could be the best casting line I have ever thrown on a switch rod. Besides performing tight looped spey cast it also overhand casts extremely well and roll casts great! But there is a limitation and that is fly size. Stay within reason and this may be the only line you need. The VersiTip comes with four tips; Floating, Intermediate, Type 3 sink and Type 6 sink. What it doesn't do well is big flies, big sink tips and indicator rigs.

Rio Switch Line - This is the ideal line for those who use a switch rod from a boat to nymph/indicator fish. It has a powerful head that easily turns over indicator rigs. Also has a long back taper which gives you exceptional mending control. Line can be overhead cast or spey cast but I don't recommend this line to learn to spey cast with. The Rio Switch Chucker would be a better line to learn to spey cast with and still be able to cast a nymph/indicator rig.

Rio Outbound Coldwater Fly Line - If you plan on overhead casting a switch rod for fishing such as beach casting, surf casting or maybe big lake shoreline casting or even casting from a float tube the Rio Outbound series is hard to beat. They have a 37.5' head that can really load a rod well and have a great taper that turns over flies with ease. Now here's the catch, Outbounds are rated for single hand rods so to properly load a switch rod you must size up at least one full line size. One nice feature of the Outbound lines is you can find the grain weight of the line in the listing on our website. This can really help with getting your switch rod in the range you need.

George's Panther Cat "Shadow"
Lets talk Redington Dually spey and switch rods...
When I first saw the Redington Dually at the 2013 IFTD show in Las Vegas at first glance it was quickly noticed that this was a great looking rod with its cork insert reel seat and deep burgundy matte finish. But good looking doesn't make it a great casting rod. Well the new rod has been given its time on the water by many professionals and the results are in. "Crazy Good" in the words of George Cook.


Consider this for an "absolute splendid tool for 12 month use in the Northwest for steelhead". 
Redington Dually
One line setup for the Redington Dually 7130 that absolutely impressed George is a Rio Scandi head in 480gr. I quote George here with "Absolutely simply wicked" and "be prepared to be shocked". This could be the absolute best pairing in 7 weight history and would be a perfect choice for a first time buyer, backup outfit, your kid, your wife, your significant other or whoever you drag into the boat with you for their first spey expedition - simply can't go wrong".


While our conversation continued on with many other topics it's time to conclude this one for now. We'll bring you more info on different subjects in the near future.

Gorge Fly Shop 
Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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