Words & images by Helge Dahlen, Guideline Ambassador Norway.
The first time i tried a switch rod was 10 years ago. Back then i felt that this was a funny thing to fish and cast with as it was something different then what i was used to with my traditional rods. But when it came to the practical fishing i always ended up choosing either a singlehanded rod or a double handed rod. I never saw that a setup with a switch rod could have any strong advantages over one of those in any situation on the trips i went on. I always ended up with asking myself the question why should i use the switch rods? Two years ago this completely changed! Now the switch rods have become a natural number one choice for me in a lot of different situations, even sometimes early in the season in the big Norwegian rivers. So what happened?
SWITCH LINE WEIGHTS
Earlier the switch fly-rods had a recommended line weight similar to single hand rods, and an old Guideline LXi in 11,6ft #7/8 had a preferred line-weigh of around 20-23 gram. This made it feel more like a fun toy in my point of view, and never a preferred choice as both the singlehanded and double handed rods where always better in every situation. When the Guideline Elevation rods where developed, Leif Stävmo also took the opportunity to change the recommended head weight of the switch rods and moving them more towards double hand rods in the line weighting. The result of that is that they can handle bigger and heavier flies and also the casting distance increased a lot compared to earlier models. This rod was the game changer for me and the first switchrod i started using alot in the early season fishing. Obviously they are heavier and not as comfortable to use when single hand casting, but as petite double handed rods they have become excellent. And the advantages are so much more than the back-draws.
CHANGE IN WEIGHT RATING
Below a comparison of the new Elevation SW and older LPXe SW
Elevation SW #6/7 24-26g / 385-420 grains
LPXe SW #6/7 17-19g / 260-290 grains
Elevation SW #7/8 27-30g / 416-465 grains
LPXe SW #7/8 19-21g / 290-325 grains
Elevation SW #8/9 31-34g / 480-525 grains
LPXe SW #8/9 21-24g / 325-370 grains
THE MODERN SWITCH ROD
The switch rods of today can now handle heavier flies like 8-10 cm tubeflies without problems and are also comfortable with heavy sinking lines. In tight quarters with for example overhanging trees where you will struggle casting with 14-16 ft rods you will actually get better casting and longer casts done when using a switch rod at 11,3-11,9 feet that you can cast normal with . As they are so petite they are, they will not wear you out as much as the heavier rods will do when fishing hour after hour, and when you are well into a weeks trip of june fishing details like these counts in my book. It makes it easier to put in more amount of hours, and every experienced angler knows that when it comes to june fishing it is a matter of getting the time in the river. And another important thing is that the sinklines made for them are amasing to both cast and fish with aswell. The 3d+ compact in Int/s4/s6 and s2/s5/s7 can launch a 10 cm sunray far out in the rivers and get it down to the deepts needed to fool the chromers we dream about all winter long to take your fly.
WHAT TO CHOOSE
The advice of choosing a switch rod in tight positions goes for the whole season. When the rivers get to their are normal summer conditions changing between low water and spates there are a lot of advantages with the modern switch rods. The contact you have with the leader and the fly with these small rods that you effortless casts makes the prettiest presentations, and this gives you a lot better control. In my own fishing in the summertime i fish alot of places where i hike alot and i have to travel light, but still be abel to cover all situations. Here the swithrods are perfect. In the summer of 22 my most fished rod was the 11,7 ft #7/8 LPX Chrome armed with the Compact 4D multitip and a few tips in my pocket and a couple of the heavier sinking 3d+ compacts in my backpack i felt i was ready for all the pools that a 2-3 km beat had to offer. Specially when fishing medium siced rivers like Driva, Surna, Orkla and Lakselva with long beats. When the spate is up in the smaller rivers i also chose the switch now ause of the flexibilliy i offers in every situation.
SWITCH & HITCH
I have earlier written about the advantages with riffling hitch in summer conditions (link https://guideline.blog/2017/08/31/riffling-hitch-the-ace-up-the-sleeve) And when using the hitch in medium and large rivers the switch rods is my definite first choice. The casting lengths is an obvious advantage against the singlehanded rods, but you also gain more control and variety on the mending and the «high sticking» methods with the extra couple of feet in rod length. Here i often use the the 4d compact multitip float and a 9-10ft leader cause its most practical with the flexibillity of the multitip head. Always my first choice when going over a pool. And if it doesnt work then it doesnt take many seconds to completly change the tactic with switching to a heavier sinktip and for example allys shrimp. Fished deep and fast. If i plan for nightfishing after seatrout though my prefered choice of line is the 3d+ compact float. Nothing can overcome the delicate presentations of this full floating head, and i change my tactics only with changing the flies.