Big Y Olympia Switch Rod
New for winter 2020, Big Y has introduced a new switch rod to the lineup just in time for winter steelhead season in the Northwest. Aptly named, the Olympia switch rods cast and fish as crisp as the snowy Olympic Mountains that feed our favorite steelhead streams like the Hoh, Bogachiel, Queets and Sol Duc.
This is our first rod from Korea, and we are really stoked to see it. Lightweight, strong and powerful, the Olympia has a snappy, medium/fast action with a little flex in the middle section and stiff tip. This combination allows for powerful two-handed casts that don't need a lot of pushing to get across the river.
There are two models of the Olympia. The 11' 8wt is a perfect winter steelhead stick for the Northwest. It can handle the biggest intruder and the heaviest sink tips without stressing the rod or feeling clunky. It has a little more flex in the middle than the 7wt, but still right in that mama-bear action that we love to cast.
The 10'6" 7wt is a really interesting stick. It feels just as comfortable nymphing as it does swinging. Most switch rods are 11' or longer. The 10'6" length makes it a really intriguing option. Not only can you use a heavy trout-style line to nymph out of a drift boat, you can put on a spey/switch head and swing a big intruder. The stiffer bottom end goes a little further up the blank on the 7wt and it doesn't have quite as much flex in the middle. This doesn't make it cast any worse with a short switch/spey head, but it does help it cast a more "traditional" nymphing line, and it does that really well.
The Big Y Olympia has a clean look to it. This rod includes nice cork, an anodized aluminum, uplocking, double-ring reel seat and and chrome-plated guides. This rod is made at the same factory as the big boys on the block, and it will compete with them any time.
The 11' 8wt has a wide range of lines that work on it, but our favorite is an OPST Commando head in a 400-425 grain range. If you have been around the spey world for a while, you might know that most rods do well with OPST lines that are 50-100 grains lighter than an equivalent RIO Skagit Max Short. I don't know why, they just are.
The 8wt cast well with a RIO Skagit Max Short in 500 grains, but it did well =/- 50 grains. The Skagit Max Short 450 was light, but still more than acceptable, and the Skagit Max Short 550 did slow the rod down quite a bit, but that should be helpful for beginners.
The 8wt does not do as well nymphing as the 7wt does. It has a bit more flex in the middle than is preferable for nymphing. That being said, there are tons of other rods with similar actions that anglers nymph with. A #7/8 RIO Switch line is the best option that we have for that.
The 10'6 7wt did well with an OPST Commando head in a 325, as well as a RIO Skagit Max Short 475, with the same being said about =/- 50 grains on the Skagit Max Short.
For nymphing, there are two lines that are really sing on this rod. The RIO Switch Line #6/7 and the RIO Xtreme Indicator in a #8 were money.
The 7wt balanced well with a 7/8 Big Y General Reel, and the 8wt balanced well with the 9/10. The 7/8 General Reel is 6.5 oz. and the 9/10 is 7.0 oz. without backing. With backing, the 7/8 is 8.2 oz. and the 9/10 is 9.5 oz. Any similarly sized reel should work just fine.
When paired together, the Olympia and the General make a great combination. At $429.90, you save about $115 over purchasing the components separately.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call, email or live chat. We are here to help.