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Michael White’s Trout Switch Rig

Posted on March 06 2012

Side Channel in Alaska
Cover all of it! Photo: Cameron Miller

Michael White is one heck of an angler and he’s our buddy too.  Here’s the rig that he uses to chase Alaskan rainbow trout his favorite way – with two hands!

There’s a heck of a lot of information in this one – read on.

The Summary

  • G.Loomis Roaring River GLX 11′ 5 weight switch rod
  • Ross CLA #4 reel, limited edition in Camo!
  • Custom built 19′ Airflo Skagit Compact head at 293 grains. “I took the original 340 Compact and cut 3 feet off the back.”

The Detail

  • 20 pound dacron backing attached to the spool with an arbor knot
  • 30 pound Berkeley Big Cat mono for running line, attached to the backing with an Albright knot
  • Large double surgeon’s loop tied in the front of the running line, attached to the back end of the custom 19′ Skagit Compact head with a loop to loop connection

When Mousing

  • 10 foot Rio Light MOW Tip floating tip
  • 3 feet of 20 pound Maxima Ultragreen for a butt section, connected to the tip with a loop to loop connection and a double surgeon’s loop
  • 3 feet of 15 pound Maxima attached to the butt section with a blood knot.  “The heavier leader turns over the big fly well, and it helps a lot when I need to rescue Mini Hankey from a root wad or the far bank.  I keep it short because the ‘bows at Alaska West are not leader shy.”
  • Hickman’s Mini Hankey tied on with a non-slip mono loop – “to give him a little extra action when he’s swimming”

When Fishing Sinktips

  • Rio Light MOW Tip, 5 foot floating, 5 feet sinking.  “I fish the 5×5 a lot because it hangs really well into the root wads and the buckets.”
  • 2 feet of 15 pound Maxima Ultragreen for a butt section, attached to the tip with a loop to loop connection and a double surgeon’s loop
  • 3 feet of 10 pound Maxima, attached to the butt section with a blood knot.  “I fish 10 pound just to give the streamer a little more action. Also, when I snag up down deep I want to be able to break the fly off without losing all my gear.”
  • Black Silvey’s Tandem Tube in black, with an Owner SSW #4.  Here’s how to rig it.

The Commentary

“Switch rods are just great tools at Alaska West because so much of the trout fishing is on the swing – mice, sculpins and leeches are all really effective and fish great on a light tw0-hander.”

“I never overhead cast this rig. I pretty much treat it like a short spey rod.”

“Fishing the switch rod is great for fishing the main river, but it’s also lethal in the side channels because you can literally hit the far bank and cover every pocket that you want.”

“When you’re fishing the mouse, you want to pop that far bank right at 90 degrees. Then once the fly starts to swing, lift the rod tip and move the rod back and forth to impart a swimming motion to the mouse.”

“I normally use 40 pound Berkeley Big Cat on my spey rigs, but when I play small ball for trout I use 30 pound. I like the suppleness and it just doesn’t feel as thick.”

“Over the years I’ve built up a massive set of custom tips for my trout spey rigs, but since the MOW Tips came out I’m mostly just using the MOW Light set.”

More Expert Trout Rigs

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