Sage TCX Switch Rod Review

June 29, 2011

in Alaska West, BC West, Gear

Sage 8119-4 TCX

Loved it.

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’.

Rod/Line Disclaimer

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.

Casting Performance

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.

Fighting Fish

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.

Conclusion

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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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Herb Ladenheim February 9, 2012 at 4:46 am

Hi,
Always enjoy your site – even though I do not use anchor-point casts to fish in my fisheries.i.e, snook and tarpon on FL beaches, or stripers from Cape Cod beaches. I use two-handed rods from 11′ – 12′ often and wonder what your writer meant by the following statement in the Feb.9th issue reviewing Sage TCX switch rods? – “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’.”

Regards,
Herb

andrew February 12, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Hi Herb, thanks very much for reading our stuff and for leaving your comments!

I’m the guilty party who wrote the review, and I’ll be the first to admit that I have no experience whatsoever fishing two-handers on the beach – I’ve never done it. My comment about overhead casting a 11’9″ rod being clunky is based mostly on time spent chasing salmon, trout and steelhead in rivers. I would love to hear your thoughts on the application of these rods to the beaches!

Andrew

Paul April 1, 2012 at 11:00 am

Thanks for another great post guys. I have a 7136 zaxis that I enjoy with skagit heads and sink tips for winter fish. However, I’m looking at switch options for summer scandi work on the Deschutes and Klickitat, and am drawn to this tcx series or the new One switch series that I hear great rumors about. Which of this series would you think is the best summer partner for my zaxis?

Tom Larimer April 5, 2012 at 8:26 am

Paul-
Andrew asked if I could field your question regarding switch rods. Without knowing the rod models in the ONE series, I can only speak for the TCX 11’9 rods here… Andrew has let me cast his on occasion and I can honestly say when you couple them with an Airflo Rage Compact they blow every other switch rod out of the water for dry line work. The Rage was designed on the Deschutes and Klickitat -it’s great for tight casting conditions and windy rivers. We’ve also put an Airflo Switch Compact with a sink-tip on those sticks and it’s pure magic.
I’m not a huge fan of 11′ rods… You have to stay so compact in your casting stroke it doesn’t feel natural. The 11’9 length is just long enough to give you a true Spey feel -yet short enough to retain all of the qualities of switch rods.
That said, know that the TCX is a considerably faster rod than what you’re casting. You may want to consider coming to the Sandy River Spey Clave in May and give them a test ride. -I’ve heard the ONE’s might be unleashed on the world there -but that might be a rumor.

Ojibwehunter April 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm

hey I guide in MI an am thinkin about switching over to Loop products, I mainly use switch rods or shorter speys for all my fishing Just wondering if U guys ever use Loop Spey or switch rods? I’m wondering if you guys have any experience with the opti switch 6-8wts & tried out the new Loop cross 1 12ft 7wt Spey? I just bought the 6wt opti switch for throwing big may flies at giant MI brownies during the may fly hatch, I bought a Scandi compact head for top water apps. Any advise or knowledge or experience with these rods would be greatly appreciated.

Neil West April 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Thanks for the review of the TCX 11′ 9″ 8 wt baby Spey. What a great rod and thanks to your review I bought the Airflo Skagit Switch 510 to use with the rod on the lower Rio Grande in Argentina. What a great combination and chucked out 15′ 8ips tips with big leeches no problem. Biggest sea trout 20lb, and it handled these big aggressive fish with no problem. Salmon in Scotland using the AFS 7/8 from Rio and a 10′ polyleader is also a great combination.
Can’t wait to use it again next year in Argentina and will try the rage and the intermediate skagit in Scotland this Autumn. Great rod and great reviews
Thanks

andrew April 29, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Thanks for the good words, Neil! Great to hear you’re liking the rod – still at the top of my ‘sweetheart’ list.

PJ October 9, 2013 at 8:21 am

Thanks very much for this review! Took the plunge and bought an 8wt TCX!
Was hoping you could suggest a couple moderately priced reels that would mate well with this rod?
Thanks!
PJ

Neil October 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Having used this rod for 3 years now any salmon sized reel between 8 and 7 ounces balances very nicely. I use the nautilus Spey 10/11 which is great but also the Lamson Velocity or Guru is very nice. There are some great sage reels which fit the bill but have not used them.
Salmon sized reels are important as you need backing running line and potentially a thick bodied skagit.
Hope that helps
Neil

andrew October 10, 2013 at 8:25 pm

PJ,

What Neil said! Thanks, Neil…

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