Posted on June 29 2011
Last year at IFTD we told you about Sage’s new line of TCX switch rods. We’ve finally gotten enough time in fishing one that we feel competent to write up a review. The past few weeks we fished the 8119-4 TCX a whole bunch at Alaska West, and guess what – we’re in love.
About the TCX Switch Series
We’ve told you in past that, being from the Pacific Northwest, we tend to consider most switch rods to be ‘little spey rods’. We swing flies a lot, and we fish Skagit-style heads a lot, so we basically never overhead cast our switch rods. If you like switch rods for, say, overhead casting on the beach, this review is not for you.
This series is made up of 4 rods – all 11’9″ long, from line weights 5 to 8. At that length, our opinion is that these rods are going to get spey cast most of the time regardless. Overhead casting a rod just under 12 feet long would be a little…uhh…let’s say ‘clunky’.
We spent almost all of our time fishing the 8119-4 TCX with an Airflo Skagit Switch 510, and we feel like this is a match made in heaven. How would it cast with a Rio Skagit Flight or Outbound? Don’t know – haven’t tried it. You should maybe consider this to be a review of the “8119-4/Skagit Switch 510 Combo”. Most of our casts were made with 10 feet of T-14.
Wow. First off, it’s unbelievably light in hand. Shorter length + current graphite technology = you hardly even feel it in your hand. It’s really easy to cast this setup all day long without a hint of fatigue.
The short length of the rod combined with the short length of the head (20 feet) means that you need to be really easy on the sweep. If you try to throw too much power into your D-loop, you’re going to pull your anchor every time. But that’s the beauty of it – it takes very little effort to load up this setup.
And once it’s loaded…prepare for blast-off. Give a good pull with your bottom hand and watch your line launch! For such a small light rod, its power is really surprising. Casts in the 75 foot range were easy. Strong casters will have no problem fishing at distances beyond that, in the few instances where that’s necessary.
That’s basically how we cast this setup – an easy sweep followed by a good strong pull with the bottom hand. It’s a super fun rod to cast.
We also really liked casting this setup in the wind. Short rods keep your cast closer to the water’s surface, and that’s a great way to cut the wind. Sometimes it’s wise to resist the temptation to reach for your long, powerful rod when the wind kicks up – a few feet of extra height on your D-loop can be a pretty big disadvantage when it’s breezy.
Short rods are better for fighting fish, but this is not a rod for the big boys. One guide hooked an adult king at Alaska West and said “it felt like a little kid’s rod”. We landed chums and jack kings on it without a problem. Our resident spey jedi thought that it had surprising fish-fighting power given its light weight, and figured fish in the teens pound-wise would be a good upper limit.
What are some perfect applications for this rod? Summer steelhead come to mind, as do big Alaskan rainbows and winter steelhead in places where you’re unlikely to hook a 20-pounder.
Yep, we love it. We passed this around a bit at Alaska West, and our guide staff wouldn’t let us take it home. The 8119-4 TCX paired with a Skagit Switch 510 is a setup that will bring a smile to the face of anybody looking for a shorter spey setup for medium-sized fish.
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