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Kyle Shea’s Trout Swinging Rig

Posted on May 23 2015

Kyle and a swung-up trout. Photo: Grant Turner.
Kyle and a swung-up trout. Photo: Grant Turner.

Today we’re back with another edition of our ‘Expert Rig‘ series of posts, where we highlight all the details (right down to the knot) on how the experts rig up.

As a guide at Alaska West, Kyle Shea gets to fish for big leopard rainbows during his down time. His method of choice? Swinging flies with a two handed rod. Here’s his rig of choice.

The Summary

  • Sage METHOD 6119-4 Switch Rod
  • Hatch 7 Plus Finatic Reel – Large Arbor
  • Airflo Skagit Switch – 450 Grain

The Detail

  • 20 pound dacron backing, preferably orange, attached to the spool with an arbor knot.
  • Backing attached to 150 feet of Airflo Miracle Braid shooting line via a loop to loop connection. Loops are made from a bimini twist in the line end of the backing and a blind loop in the Miracle Braid.
  • 450 grain Skagit Switch attached to Miracle Braid by loop to loop connections. A blind loop is used for the Miracle Braid here as well.
  • T-7 Airflo FLO Tip sink tip, attached to skagit head by factory loops.
  • Non-slip mono loop tied in 4 feet of 12 pound Maxima Ultragreen and attached to sink tip by a loop to loop connection.
  • Secret sauce depending on the week attached to leader using a non-slip mono loop.

The Commentary

  • “I absolutely love the METHOD 6119-4 switch. It’s my go-to when swinging up big trout on the Kanektok, but I’ve fished it for winter steelhead as well. It’s cannon of a rod and although it might only be a six weight, I’ve never felt undergunned throwing heavy flies or sink tips.”
  • “At 11 feet 9 inches, I really dig the length of the METHOD 6119-4. I feel like it’s more of a mini-spey than a true ‘switch’ rod, which is how I tend to think about switch rods anyhow. Longer rods mean better line control throughout the swing, and that’s a good thing.”
  • “When swinging for trout, I think it’s important to be able to manipulate the fly throughout the drift. Resident trout, unlike salmon and steelhead, are aggressive predators that are constantly searching for a meal. That’s why I like a rod with a stiff enough tip that I can provide action to the fly with a twitch of the hand. Many modern switch rods have soft tips that often times make it difficult to provide action to the fly. Even a big movement of a soft rod tip causes very little movement to the fly. But, being a stiffer rod, I feel like I am able to fish my fly more effectively with the METHOD.”
  • “I really like the Finatic series of reels. I actually use the same 7 Plus for bonefish in the Bahamas. That’s why I prefer to fill it with orange backing and use stouter saltwater knots like the bimini twist. Not because it’s necessary for trout, but because it’s what I prefer when fishing for bonefish. That way, when it’s time to head south, I can switch out my running line with a bonefish taper and I’m good to go.”
  • “Airflo’s Miracle Braid has been my favorite running line for quite some time. It shoots well, has virtually no stretch or memory, and it floats. What’s not to like? Plus it sounds super cool shooting out the rod guides!”
  • “I just started fishing the new FLO Tip sink tips from Airflo and I’ve found I really like them. I tend to use a more active approach when swinging flies for trout, than your standard ‘downstream and across presentation.’ In other words, I tend to change up the weight of the fly or technique before switching tips, and the ten foot T-7 FLO Tip (2.5 intermediate, 7.5 T-7) seems to be a pretty versatile tip for the lower gradient of our river.”

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