Monday, April 16, 2012

A Few Thoughts On Glass Switch Rods

(For several weeks Bill Ingersoll of Tin Man's Trek, Shane Gray of Graywolf Rods, and I have had an ongoing email conversation going about Bill's experience with the ten foot Yellow Glass Series fly rod that was built on a blank designed by James Green.  He's been using this fly rod in pursuit of smallmouth and steelhead, and he sent a few photos and thoughts this past weekend which I thought would be interesting to share.)

With the rebirth of short and lightweight fiberglass fly rods, are glass switch rods the new dawn for glass?

Has graphite went to the dogs in it's decades old quest for lighter and lighter with the trade off of stiffer, higher modulus, and the "ultra fast recovery" pitch?  Are two handers purchasing shorter and shorter rods?  Many entering two handed game because of "switch" rods on the market?  Less fatigue when casting?  More and more neat little spey shooting heads on the market each year?  Seeking sweeter rods with soul for two handed trout, smallmouth bass, shad, other species angling?

The switch rod is definitely a fit for glass in particular.  Ever seen a first generation graphite rod of moderate taper that was not a good roll caster?  Modern, latest ultra high modulus graphite feels a bit like a pool cue when it comes to roll casting these days.  In layman's terms a spey cast is just a roll cast with a change of direction and once you learn to use two hands properly the rod weight is literally cut in half.  In fact if I made as many casts yesterday for as many hours with an eight foot four weight graphite, floating line, and size 16 Adams I would have been more fatigued than I was fishing the ten foot Yellow Glass Series Graywolf Rods six weight fiberglass rod for lake run steelhead and chunky smallmouth with a ten foot type 6 sink tip and size 3 purple marabou wet sock fly.

Does fiberglass have better qualities fighting fish?  This switch rod was purchased for large river, large trout and smallmouth bass.  It's single hand rated and labeled a 5/6 weight on the rod and the tube is labeled a 5/6/7 weight.  Fiberglass may have a wider grain window than graphite and over head it casts a six weight forward floating line best for me.

Frankly,  I am a bit surprised with this glass rod's power once you learn how to use it.  I fished glass decades ago but it's been a long time.  Weird in that it is way bendier yet has this deep dampening like power that when applied properly just kind of puts larger fish to sleep.  It does not have that ultra fast recover, spring steel jolt upside your head, jerk back and fourth fighting fish that high modulus graphite does.  What good is the rods butt diameter and power if your stiff graphite stick won't even load or bend to it?

I am not even close to being a "Glass Geek".  In fact I love low modulus graphite and moderate action tapers for river fishing.  I just like a good fly fishing rod with some soul and feel to it.  I appreciate nice workmanship and craftsmanship which seems to be disappearing in the paint it black, make it stiff, raise the price, factory graphite rod market these days.

I am lucky.   I own one of the few,  lightweight, short, glass switch rods in North America via builder Graywolf Rods and I am loving it.  I suspect more to come in the future from 9'6" to 10'6" in light trout to heavy king salmon in these short switch rods.  Another door or window left open by the graphite high modulus marketing crew.   Short switch rods that are just ultra fun and addicting to fish.  This may be ideal for fiberglass, low modulus early type graphite and bamboo.  Only time will tell.


FlyGabeRiverrat said...

I've been really thinking about a switch rod like burning up youtube drooling think a glass one would be sweet

Cameron Mortenson said...

Gabe...there are several options out there for a glass switch. Send me an email and we can discuss them.

Eric Feldkamp said...

Researching switch rods for bass and gar late at night (yikes) and came across this and was glad to see Gabe and Cameron, two awesome fishy fly fishing friend in conversation. Love the fly fishing community and excited to explore the two handed option for bass on our swelling waters.

Cameron Mortenson said...

Eric...HA... Stellar, eh? Which two hander are you looking at? The ECHO Glass Switch in six weight might be a great choice.