Back in September we told you about Airflo’s new Skagit Switch Heads – a potential solution to the “nobody makes a modern spey line for my switch rod” problem. Since the early version of the head that we got our hands on at IFTD, Airflo has gone through a couple more iterations. Last month we fished the production version, and we love it.
We won’t re-hash everything that we’ve written in the past about the need for this line. Very briefly, we consider ‘modern’ Skagit spey lines to have a real front taper to produce reasonable turnover, and it’s only now that we’ve got lines like this in lengths that match most switch rods.
Airflo did more than just take their Skagit Compact taper and squash down, though. It turns out that the taper on a typical switch rod is significantly different from the taper on a typical spey rod – the nature of the action is different. This has a big implication on how switch heads should be designed, and Airflo has taken this into account in the design of the Skagit Switch. To be honest, we don’t quite understand all the details here, but Tom Larimer (Airflo line design guy, guide, our buddy) has a much bigger brain than we do, and he wrote up all the gory details on his blog – click here for the nitty-gritty.
How It Casts and Fishes
What We Liked
- It loads up deep and easy. Even more so than with the Skagit Compact, it’s really easy to bend your rod with this head. Less effort is good.
- Small D-loops still work. If you don’t have room to fire a big D-loop behind your shoulder, not a problem – your cast might not be a laser beam, but a small or sub-par D-loop still results in a really easy cast at most reasonable fishing distances. This is the ‘big deal’ about the Skagit Switch, and the main reason you should try one.
- It works on short spey rods too. Our test rod was 12′ long – not really a switch rod. Some anglers are using this head on rods up to 13’6″ and reporting good things. Your spey rod works better with less back-cast room now – cool!
- Like Airflo’s other spey lines, it’s made of polyurethane. Our experience to date is that PU heads are pretty much indestructible, good for the life of the angler. Seriously, we haven’t worn one out yet.
What We Didn’t Like
- It’s not great for really long casts. No one line can do it all. This head is designed for short rods and tight quarters, and casts tend to fall apart a bit much past 80 feet.
Love it. Our switch rods work great now, without the need for craft projects. It doesn’t work great in mega-distance situations…but most of the time you probably shouldn’t be casting 100 feet anyhow. For day-in day-out fishing situations, with normal fishing distances and a variety of amounts of backcast room, Airflo nailed it.