Sunday, February 5, 2012

Swing, Swing, Swing

When I was fifteen years old, I was a musician, well more like a guitar player.  Me and the band would run through the fields in town pretending to be the Beetles.  The drummer's father, a music buff from the 1940's himself,  wanted to take us to see the great Gean Krupa in New York City, playing at the Metropole Cafe. I was very excited for this opportunity and can still see Gene up on the high stage playing his immortal Swing, Swing, Swing.

Today  getting fish on the swing, swing, swing is of great importance for me.  I am in my sixth year using a five weight switch rod and use it for all medium to large river trout situations including nymphing.  This is the third year doing the same with an eight weight Switch for Steelhead.  There are so many advantages to this style of fishing that not using these tools is down right foolish.  If you are stuck on your nine foot single hand rod, please consider a switch.  Line control is one value and by itself enough reason for me.  The one major thing to consider is that the tip be soft.  Properly named by my angling partner, Leo, a "Swimph Rod".  You need the happy medium between swinging a faster action and having a softer tip to handle the quick changing reaction when playing a big fish on light tippet when nymphing.  Especially Steelhead......

Six years ago, and for that matter one year ago, there were no lines available for what I was attempting to do.  One Rod, One reel, One line that converts to both swinging and nymphing.  Most people think of a switch rod as one that will cast single or double handed, but that is not how they got their name.  One day master rod builder Bob Meiser and West Coast friends Bob Quigley and Paul Miller were fishing together for Steelhead.   Bob had a new short rod he wanted to try out.  As the day went on the three were changing out lines and each having a go at the new short two hander and they said "Let's Switch" enough times to each other no name the new concept a Switch Rod.  

I started out taking heavier than standard requirement weight forward lines and cutting off all but fourteen feet of the head and attaching that to thin shooting lines.  This line was able to handle indicators and weights for nymphing or poly leaders for swinging without the inertia issues that occur when using standard lines..  Having a braided or mono loop at the front made the quick change possible.  Then I started to take short belly Spey lines, bought on sale, cutting back the head until I have fifteen to eighteen feet of belly and then an integrated shooting line.  People would look at me funny and just nod politely.

Today you can purchase a number of very short head lines.  The one I really like is the Royal Wulff Ambush.  These lines are the same idea as the lines I built and are now the norm for switch rods.  I still use the ones I build.  Not because they are better but because they are mine.  Maybe some time one of the rod companies would be interested in building the first Swmiph.

Yesterday, was another great winter scene in New England.  I went to the river knowing that even though the water temperature is very cold the fish were taking when the fly was moving.  I had prepared for the day by building some larger size streamers and leech flies.  It has been the olive color that has been the hot ticket.

Same rod, Same reel, Same line with an easy choice between bottom bounce nymphing and swinging with sink tips and poly leaders or just removing the indicator.  Today, the only reason to have a single had rod in your hands is when fishing the dry fly.  For that I can think of no better tool.


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