Friday, August 24, 2012
Switch Fly Rods for Fall Striped Bass Fishing
Here we go! It’s time to be thinking about the fall run of striped bass when they feed heavily to fatten for the long migration south to the Carolina coasts. The daily, surface feeding patterns are predictable and can last for hours. This is the time to put in long hours of fishing and do it daily. It’s a long winter when they are gone.
Feed will include young of the year herring, maybe pogies, mackerel, pollock, crabs and this year, maybe squid which have been very thick along Maine’s coast during 2012.
I acquired a new tool to help with the casting of large flies and long casts with poppers, my favorite way to fish for fall stripers. There’s nothing more pleasing in the fishing world as a vicious, surface strike on a popper. At least for me.
My new tool is a four piece, two handed Diamondback Swinger Switch rod in an eight weight configuration and 11.5 feet long. The new rod is rated for optimal loading at 425 to 525 grains which makes it a long range tool.
These rods are a little different than traditional two handed rods often referred to as Spey rods. Switch rods are designed to load quickly with specially designed switch fly lines that are heavily loaded in the front end of the fly line. Switch rods also can usually be cast using just one hand if the situation dictates.
With ease, one can cast over 100 feet with a shooting head or deliver a popper on a long leader. The outfit weighs almost nothing, but has a tip that delivers ample energy when loaded and fights very well on larger fish.
The fighting quality of the rod impressed me most. Usually, longer rods don’t fight as well as shorter ones. But, this rod is a fighter!
You do need a large capacity fly reel as the front end of the line is quite thick. I us Cortland’s Precision XC IV large arbor fly reels as they are light, wide in construction, have a strong drag system with plenty of room for a lot of line and backing.
My first striped bass of 2012 was caught while fishing Cape Cod this past May. It was a Moses moment. The sea parted as a very large fish took my custom popper. I was using the new rod. The fish was 38 inches long and it only took a couple of minutes to beat it to the boat for a fast release.
I don’t like fighting fish with light weight gear for the fun and challenge of it. I’ve known people who find great satisfaction using five weight or even lighter fly rods to fight striped bass. Yes, it takes great skill to do so, but the length of the fight stresses the fish to exhaustion and likely death after being released.
Another advantage the Switch rod has over the traditional Spey or Skagit rods is what I call the quick draw castability.
Spey and Skagit double hand rods are not the greatest tools for quick delivery casts to moving fish, say for false albacore. You need to present a fly quickly. Spey rods take a couple of movements to load for a presentation. A Switch rod is designed to make a fly presentation faster than the other two handers.
Since that first Switch rod fish last May, I have caught many fish in the upper thirty inch range to 45 inches. The Diamondback Swinger handled them all without stress. I’m most impressed and pleased to have a better tool to use while pursuing larger fish at long ranges.
My targeted species happens to be striped bass, so that’s the size fish I gear up for. Switch rods are available in shorter lengths and lighter lines designations down to 4 weights for trout fishermen and others preferring lighter rods.
Switch rod aren’t for everyone, but I certainly love them.