It is possible that there is no longer running experiment in the world of fly fishing than that of switch rods. At some point, trout and other smaller-game anglers realized that many of the benefits experienced by fishermen chasing steelhead and salmon fishermen with spey rods would come in handy on their trout streams as well. And so, switch rods were born. But, ever since their introduction, most switch rods have been trying to be many things at once -- a spey caster, a nymphing rig, an overhead caster -- instead of just being a two-handed rod for smaller fish on smaller water. Unfortunately, trying to do too much has been the thorn in the sides of our switch rods, rendering most of them compromises at best and clumsy and ineffective at worst.
The good news, as noted above, is that a few manufacturers are moving away from the compromised approach. Progressive rod makers like R.L. Winston, Mystic and ECHO are building two-handed trout rods that don't care about overhead casting and line makers like Airflo are building lines designed solely for two-handed casting in order to get the best performance out of those rods. It might not be long before the moniker "switch" leaves our fly fishing vocabulary entirely (R.L. Winston has already ditched "switch" in favor of "micro-spey" for their trout-weight two handers). As these forward thinking companies focus intently, if not solely, on two-handed casting even in the "trout weights", the quality of the tools available to the two-handed trout fisherman is on the upswing. Airflo's newest fly line, their Streamer Switch, may prove to be the finest two-handed trout line made to date.
The Airflo Streamer Switch is the brainchild of line designer and spey-casting freakshow Tom Larimer, who has also designed many of Airflo's most successful skagit lines. The Streamer Switch is a skagit-style line built from the ground up with the two-handed trout fisherman in mind. Discuss the line's development with Tom and he'll note specific goals, primary among them building an integrated line (no separate running line and head and thus loop-to-loop connection that would rattle through the guides on virtually all short presentations, which trout fisherman regularly need to make) and constructing the line with a head heavy enough to toss burly rigs in tight quarters but still allow for relatively delicate presentations.
The Streamer Switch has been in development for more than two years, during which Tom and Airflo have tinkered with mass and tapers, cutting and welding prototype after prototype along the way -- and fishing them, a lot -- before arriving at the final design.
Larimer describes the Streamer Switch's taper as "slightly less aggressive than the Airflo Skagit Switch," but still having "plenty of gas in the tank to throw heavy flies and sink tips while landing on the water with a bit more finesse." And while the Streamer Switch is most certainly designed as a subsurface fishing line, it's also well suited to duty on top in places like mouse country." Just toss on a floating polyleader and 4' of tippet and it hucks [mice]. I had a blast fishing it in Alaska last summer."
Last summer, we had the privilege of hitting the water with Tom and some of his early prototypes of the Streamer Switch and the upcoming Switch Floating line and were impressed by their ease of casting and their true two-handed feel. Considering the continued refinements their designs have seen over almost the year that has passed since, there's good reason to be excited about the Streamer Switch.
For more information on the Airflo Streamer Switch, visit www.AirfloUSA.com and make sure to check out the video below and let Tom outdo us at explaining the Airflo Streamer Switch.