All our preparation, consideration and decisions regarding our gear come to the test at the moment we begin our first cast. The gear has to perform at the level we demand ... as we expect it to ... as we know it will. That's what this section is all about. Performance and expectation! The products ... rods, reels, lines and the rest of the angler's arsenal ... featured in these articles are evaluated by our staff of anglers. These anglers come from every level of the sport ... novice to expert. Each has a different perspective, and experience level from which they view and evaluate "quality and performance" in the products reviewed. This is good ... it provides you with definite information from the eyes of real anglers fishing their streams, increasing their knowledge and taking this opportunity to share it with you.
AIRFLO SWITCH COMBO
What you get.
Airflo Switch 11ft #8 4 piece rod, Airflo Switch 7/9 Reel. Airflo Forty Plus #9 floating and Airflo Forty Plus 7 inch per second sinking line. Rod sock and rod case.
$499 NZ. $1NZ = roughly $0.71US.
The rod is supplied in a smart black case with a carry strap and a black rod sock.
The rod is Gloss black with black bindings and silver highlights on the first eye binding. The binding is a little uneven but you have to look close to see it. The first 2 eyes are double foot, ceramic lined; stripping eyes and the remainder are single foot eyes that look to be of fairly good quality.
The cork handles are trimmed with rubberized cork; the cork is not great quality and has a few scuffs and holes. The bottom handle is four inches long and the top is nine and three quarter inches long, the total length being 17 and one half inches. It fits my grip very well. There is a hook keeper just above the top grip.
An anodized reel seat with double up-locking rings means this rod is useable in the salt water with some care. The ring that fits over the reel seat is uniformly round in cross section so when it is pushed up over the reel seat it does not sit squarely, which is a minor fault but one that will annoy some people. A recess where the reel foot sits would of course look better, but all in all it’s a good looking rod for the money.
The reel matches the rod perfectly and is Black with the same Airflo logo on the side. It comes with 5, yes 5, cartridges and seems to be smooth running and bullet proof.
The rod at when assembled seems a little bit "wobbly,” and not as crisp as some of my other rods, but once you start casting this feeling disappears uickly. The conditions for my first casting session could not have been worse. I was at the Kawhia harbor on the wild, west coast of the North Island and it was blowing a good 20 knots with gusts to 30 knots and just to make it as hard as possible the wind was blowing straight into my right shoulder. As a right hander this meant a good chance of an unexpected body piercing! I put a 9ft leader of straight mono on the end of the forty plus and tied on a small clouser.
At first I have to admit to ducking instinctively on every forward cast but as I got used to the rods action and speed I found that even in these conditions I could safely switch cast the head and shoot 3 to 4 rod lengths of running line. The wind made it very difficult to try out many types of Spey casting but I did manage a few single Spey and snap T casts of about the same distance. The Forty Plus line is very impressive and the head to running line join is obvious due to the black mark and the change from thick green head to thin yellow running line. This makes having just the right amount of line outside the tip very easy even for a rank beginner. The ridge running line is slick and shoots well.
Having had a bit of a play with the spey styles I now tried some overhead casting, at first, single hand double haul style and the line fairly flew out with a good tight loop and lots of distance, but I do not think I could keep this style up for any length of time, it is very tiring on the arm. This is a long rod and it takes some stopping.
I soon changed to 2 handed overhead casting and things started going a bit pear shaped for me, the loop was now open and the power gone, I could hardly manage to shoot more than 1 or 2 rod lengths of line, clearly time for a think about what I am doing wrong. I figured that if the rod performs well one handed and spey casting then the problem is not with the rod, it is with the idiot waving the rod! I changed the leader to a tapered sinking polyleader and started again and this time I concentrated on the timing and remembering an article I had read I began to rock between my front and back foot as I cast and tried to keep my top hand motion to a minimum while pushing and pulling with the bottom hand. As I improved my timing the combo of Rod and line really seemed to hit a sweet spot and I found I could shoot more running line than I could comfortably handle without getting in a tangle. Not every cast or even every other cast, but enough to let me know that when I do get it right this set up will shoot a long line with a tight loop and turn over a fairly heavy fly as required. I can hardly wait to try it out on the Tongariro River with an indicator for upstream nymphing and with a fast sinking polyleader for downstream wet fly.
This set up may not be one of the top line rods that feature in so many glossy magazines and it does have a few cosmetic issues, but for the money this is a bargain. I cannot compare it to a Buela or a Sage Switch rod as I have not cast either but the quality seems good and the entire outfit cost way less than most Switch rods that come without a reel and lines.
I can see this combination becoming my go to gear for the bigger rivers in NZ and for my occasional forays into casting off the beach. .
Switch rods seem to be a fast growing part of fly fishing and I can now see why. This style of fishing is just so versatile, with one set up and a few poly leaders I now have a system that will Spey cast, overhead cast, Czech nymph, indicator nymph, wet line and Salt water fly and all for less than $500NZ! If you want a spare rod or are interested in getting into the Switch style of fishing and do not want to break the bank giving it a go then this set up could be the one for you.
All the best.