6 Best Switch Rods For Steelhead

The The G. Loomis NRX+ Switch Rod is one of the best switch rods for steelhead

If you like to swing flies and nymph fish, switch rods for steelhead might be right for you. As a guide, I have used many switch rods. In this article, I discuss the best switch rods for steelhead, the pros and cons of switch rods, as well as proper sizing.

Switch rods for steelhead are rods that are made to allow anglers to switch from swinging flies for steelhead to nymphing for steelhead with the same rod. Switch rods are not as big and heavy as a Spey rod, and they are not as light as a nymphing rod, they are in between both.

Switch rods can be used on any steelhead river, but switch rods for steelhead also come in multiple sizes usually from 6 weight to 8 weights. It makes sense to get the right size for the type of rivers that you fish.

The Right Size Switch Rods For Steelhead

West Coast / Large Rivers: For large wide and open rivers, or for large West Coast steelhead, an 8-weight and a longer rod is recommended.

Great Lakes / Smaller Rivers: For most average sized rivers found around the Great Lakes region, a smaller 6-weight to 7-weight switch rod is ideal.

Pros And Cons Of Switch Rods For Steelhead

Many guides and anglers love their switch rods but before you buy a Switch rod, consider these things.

As a guide, I have been able to use many different brands and sizes over the years, and I still believe that having a specific rod for nymphing, and a specific rod for Spey fishing is the better choice.

My reason for this is that although Spey casting a switch rod is fun, the switch rods I have tried don’t seem to do the job as well as a true Spey rod. Switch rods are just too light for heavy sink tips and big flies, especially on big rivers. They can be great for small to mid-sized rivers.

I also find that Switch rods are too heavy and bulky for nymphing. Sure they can mend a ton of line, and they cast indicators a mile, and the extra length of the 11+ foot switch rod is nice for line control, but I just find them too heavy for nymphing all day.

However, if you only want one rod to do the job of both Nymphing and Spey fishing, then the Switch rod is the best rod for the job.

With that being said, if you think you might be the kind of angler that wants a different rod for each method, then check out Best Spey Rods For Steelhead and Best Nymphing Rods For Steelhead.

And, If you don’t have a suitable fly reel for your switch rod yet or spey rod, be sure you get the right reel by reading our page 5 Best Switch Rod Reels: What Guides Use And Recommend or Best Fly Reels For Steelhead.

Spey, Nymph, or Both?

This is something else you should consider when shopping Switch rods for steelhead.

If you primarily want to Spey fish, I would suggest you go with a heavier rod that will help you cast heavy lines, heavy sink tips, and big flies. And since you are going to be Spey fishing, check out our series on Spey Fishing where multiple river guides share their advice, tips, and tactics on Spey Fishing.

If you primarily want to nymph fish and are using a switch or single-hand fly lines, I prefer lighter 6 and 7-weight Spey rods as they don’t feel so heavy and bulky but will still have the power to turn over indicators and lots of weights.

If you are a nymphing angler, check out our series on Nymph Fishing For Steelhead where multiple river guides share their advice, tips, and tactics on Nymph Fishing, including Euro Nymphing for steelhead, which can be done with switch rods.

The 6 Best Switch Rods For Steelhead

There are many switch rods suitable for steelhead fishing, but these are the 5 best steelhead rods that we have experience with and recommend.

Redington Claymore Switch Rod

The Redington Redington Claymore Switch Rod is one of the best switch rods for steelhead.

The 11 foot 6 weight 6 and 7-weight are great options for small to mid-sized rivers under 60 feet around the great lakes region and the 8 weight 11’6 is a good west coast rod.

One thing with this rod is it is ideal for casting heavy sink tips and big intruder-style flies.

It’s also great for casting large indicators and weights a long way and then being able to mend lots of line.

This rod also comes in Spey rods, so when ordering, be sure you are getting the switch rod, and not the Spey rod.

Redington Dually II Switch Rod: $299 -$330

Whether you fish for Great Lakes steelhead or West coast steelhead, the Redington Dually II Switch Rod is one of the best switch rods for steelhead.

The 11 foot 6 weight or the 11’6″ seven-weight are both great options for small to mid-sized rivers under 60 feet.

The 11’6″ 8-weight is better for mid-sized to larger rivers up to 100 feet wide and for bigger west coast steelhead.

This rod also comes in Spey rods, so when ordering, be sure you are getting the switch rod, and not the Spey rod.

Temple Fork Outfitters Axiom II Switch Fly Rod

The multi-award winning 11-foot 6-weight Temple Fork Outfitters Axiom II Switch rod is one of the best switch rods for steelhead when fishing small to mid-sized rivers.

This is a great choice for Great lakes steelhead or when fishing out of a boat.

St. Croix Imperial Switch Fly Rod

The 11 Foot 7-weight St. Croix Imperial Switch Fly Rod was the first switch rod that I tried and guided with.

It cast heavy Skagit lines, leaders, and bulky flies well.

It was also and good rod for my clients to learn on, and doubled as a long nymphing rod.

For these reasons and the fact it’s about $350.00, the St.Croix Imperial Switch rod is one of the best switch rods for steelhead for guys just getting into switch rods.

G. Loomis NRX+ Switch Rod

The G. Loomis NRX+ Switch Rod is the best switch rod that I have used so far.

It is super lightweight, very sensitive, and casts Skagit lines, heavy sink tips, and big flies easily.

But with this type of performance, you will pay a premium. But if you want the best switch rod for steelhead, this is it.

This Switch rod comes in 11-foot, 6, 7, and 8-weight sizes.

Sage Sonic Two-Handed Switch Fly Rod

The 11’6″ eight-weight Sage Sonic Two-Handed Fly Rod is one of the nicest and best-casting switch rods for steelhead.

Being an 8-weight, this is a good rod for mid to large-sized rivers and for big steelhead.

This is a rod suitable for any angler, but with its high price tag, it’s mainly used by more experienced anglers.

Best Switch Rod For The Money

The Redington Dually II Switch Rod is the best switch rod for the money coming in at around $300.00 and being suitable for beginner to advanced anglers. Check it out!

More To Come

As new rods become available, and when I or our contributing guides have a chance to test new rods, we will update this page and let you know.

We will also be updating this page soon to cover these topics.

  • Best Switch Rod For Beginners
  • Best Switch Rod For Big Rivers
  • Best Switch Rod For Small to Mid-Sized Rivers
  • Best Economy Switch Rod
  • Best Mid-Range Switch Rod
  • Best High-End Switch Rod

Best Switch Rods For Steelhead Q&A

I hope you enjoyed this article on the Best Switch Rods For Steelhead. If you have any questions, comments, tips, or a favorite rod that you would like to share, let us know in the comments section below.

Tight Lines

Graham and The Trout And Steelhead Team

Author

  • Graham - River Guide / Instructor

    I am a full-time river fishing guide with over 20 years of guiding experience and I run one of the top river guide services with a team of great river guides. I have guided about 3000 anglers and this website is a compilation of the tips and methods that I teach my clients and other guides. Check the About Us page in the bottom menu for more about me and our river guide contributors.

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