Try a Mono Running Line on Your Switch Rod

Mono Running Lines on Switch Rods-1
Two great tastes that taste great together.

If you’ve read many of the posts about spey fishing on our blog, you know that a lot of Deneki-folk prefer mono running lines on our two-handed rods.

There’s a lot of personal preference in running line choice for sure.  Mono running lines have some drawbacks  – notably a bit of a learning curve in handling the mono, and sometimes some slippage when dealing with big fish in cold, wet weather (although you can help a lot with slippage by trying some rubber tape on your cork).

We love the benefits though – amazing drag-free shootability (sorry, spell checker), very little drag in the water and for many, a very low price.

Mono Running Lines on Lightweight Two Handers

A recent outing in the Cascades with some 5 and 6 weight two handers reminded us how much mono running lines can impact the feel of a little-guy spey rod.  Casting mono running lines and PVC running lines side by side on light rods was a real eye opener.

At low grain weights, the extra drag of a PVC running line is really noticeable – much more so than with a bigger rig.  A 720 grain Skagit head launching through the air would drag hemp rope through your guides without a problem.  When you drop down to 320 grains…man, can you feel that head…slowing…down…with…PVC…behind…

With a mono running line, your 4 to 6 weight double-hander might just feel like a totally different beast – light, lively, smooth, fun!  You also don’t have to worry much about the big-fish slippage issue on your 5 weight, right?

Mono Running Line Options

Way back in the day we ran a full running line roundup and we won’t duplicate that here.  We’ll just give you two of the more popular choices.

Give it a go!

More on Spey Rigging


  1. Jeff says

    I use 40# Berkley Big Game mono for a running line on an Airflo 510 gr scandi and would never go back to a traditional running line. I could hardly believe the difference when I made the switch. Longer tangle free casts and much easier to handle & manage. The little strip of rubber tape takes care of any line slippage, but also requires a little different technique when stripping line.

  2. Klint says

    How do you decide what size/lb to use? While I was fishing I had a reel malfunction and borrowed Ben’s rig which was using the Big Game solar green,,,,definitely cool looking!…and worked great, without a hiccup….. Even for kings it seems something as durable as berkley big game a 25lb would be enough, but I defer to the experts….any thoughts?

  3. Jeff says

    I really don’t think that the strength of the line is a factor. For me it is more in the “feel” and the way it handles. I tried 30#, 40#, and 50# and settled on the 40#. The 30# was to light to the touch and the 50# felt a bit too stiff. The 40# works good for me. You may like a different feel and there is sure nothing at all wrong with either of our choices. :-)

  4. says

    I took this exact advice from Andrew a while back, but was nervous after spooling as the TBG wouldn’t stop coiling up. He then told me it would get better with a little manual stretching and after the line got wet. Better was an understatement – best rigging advice I think I have ever received.

    Additionally, I was instructed to put very small non-slip mono loops on the ends, for attachment to heads. ‘Very small’ necessitates three turns, and needle nose pliers on the tag end cranking down super hard on that knot. Works like a charm too.

  5. Jeff says

    I have found that if I haven’t fished for a while that I need to run the mono out nearly to the end and give it a really good stretch. If I fish frequently the line gets enough stretch through use to take care of the spooling. The moral is to fish OFTEN !! :-)

  6. andrew says

    Klint, I agree with Jeff – I use 40 lb on all my rigs.

    I know some guys – including Ed – like using 30 lb on lighter rigs, especially for trout. I just feel like I’m used to handling 40 lb on everything so I stick with it – on the lighter rigs I’ll take A+ shooting vs. A++ shooting, knowing that I’m comfortable with it and it’s 25% stronger in the unlikely event that something really hits the fan.

  7. Klint says

    Andrew,I’m on board….I would like your opinion though, since you salt water fish so often….I am not a big fan of connecting braid to mono via albright knots…..Hawkeye mentioned that he just took the mono all the way down to spindle and skipped the spectra braid backing altogether, which makes sense to me because its taking out a point of failure, but it 40lb mono takes a lot space on the spool….but you re right, sometimes the stuff hits the fan,,,and I dont want to lose the fish of a lifetime because I under geared…and more skill fighting big fish most days trumps line capacity….your thoughts would be appreciated. K

  8. andrew says

    Klint, I’m also not a big fan of Albright knots. I never use them. That could partly be because I’m terrible at tying them…but I guess that’s another story.

    I’m not that smart on braid either, because I’ve always been a dacron guy! I’ve just never felt the need to use braid. I’ve used 30 lb dacron on anadromous and saltwater rigs and 20 pound for trout. On spey rigs, true, dacron takes up more space than braid, but – mono takes up so much less than conventional running line that the dacron + mono combination has always given me more than enough capacity. I use a bimini in the front of the backing and loop it to a non-slip mono loop in the back of the running line.

    Notice that I’m sort of talking about dacron in the past tense – that’s because every reel that I’m spooling up from here on out will have that new Hatch Backing on it. It takes a bimini beautifully and if you’re concerned about the small diameter you can always double over the loop.

  9. Jed says

    Jason Hartwick of and Keith Kaneko of turned me onto this stuff.

    I use 25# on the little 4weight, 30 on the 5wt, and 35# on the 6wt speys. I find that the lighter the head the lighter the Trilene Solar Green Big Game should be….

    This stuff is cheap, doesn’t coil, is very durable, and shoots great. The BEST running line out there!!!!!!

  10. Evan says

    I switched from running line to slickshooter and will never go back to traditional running line. Not to mention 9.99 for slick shooter is the catz meow

  11. Rick B. says

    Is putting “Backing” on real required, when using Berkley Trilene 40lb. Big Game mono???

  12. Kyle Shea says

    Hey Rick,

    Great question! Personally, I prefer to use backing as it allows more line to be spooled up since backing typically has a thinner diameter than mono, especially some of the more advanced materials like gel-spun backing. Also, backing has the advantage of virtually no memory which is great since the backing tends to be stored tightly on the reel for long periods of time. Backing also has far less stretch than monofilament which is advantages when trying to put the heat on a fish that’s a couple hundred yards out!

    Thanks for the question Rick! Have fun out there!


  1. […] This and this and this  came together to allow me to use a skagit line all winter….not something I usually do in the spring summer and fall either.  I considered myself a scandi guy and I was quite proud.  I even swung further up the long belly line in the winter concluding that if I didn’t have to strip line, the guides wouldn’t get iced up.  I found myself hooking more iceburgs that way than fish.  The longer belly also lost control of the fly more often resulting in a faster swing.  It took some fishless days over the past couple of years to come to these realizations and cut through all the pride.  I mean aren’t skagit lines for deep swings and large flies….things that just aren’t reality in the Salmon River.  Low clear flows and spooky fish seem to scream long-belly/scandi/small flies.  Not so much, as I was to find out.  Using mono running lines and a scagit head on my 12 1/2 foot 6 weight allowed me to cut my “guide-clearing” session in about a third, AND using a shorter skagit head afforded me GREATER control of my fly.  I could now pull ALL the mono OFF the water and WALK the skagit head down and across with a high rod tip.  I still tended to gravitate toward the smaller flies for success but could gain great depth this way with extremely light tips, a 2.6ips Rio Versaleader and keep my presentation delicate. […]

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