Tag: switch rods

Top Ten Things I Learned At Alaska West

Chum salmon making the switch

When in doubt, carry the sixer, because the goblins are there. (click)

10) Casting a weighted fly with a 600 grain shooting head attached to 15 feet of T-14, eight straight hours a day, requires patience, determination, and a whole lot of Ibuprofen. Or whiskey, but read on.

9) Spey guides are like PGA club pros. Each has an opinion on your stroke and/or swing, and most of those tips are [supposedly] very useful. The challenge is putting them all together at once. And/or not punching the [golf] “pro” in the nuts. Not that I would do such a thing.

8) If you hook a monster, barely blushing King Salmon two hours into the first day, fight it to within a foot of the net only to have your tippet pop, you will not get another grab for at least 72 hours. So bring your switch rod to overcome the impending irritation – sex-crazed chum salmon are a hoot on a 6-weight. Then again, what isn’t when sex-crazed?

7) Kanektok River rainbows are often referred to as the Piranha of Alaska. They consume so much protein (in the form of dead salmon flesh and eggs) that their body mass accumulates faster than their skeletal system can handle. Hence, they have smallish tails (at least as compared to CO or WY trouts). Their sheer muscle more than makes up for it, and hooking one often requires beaching the boat and fighting them from the gravel bar. The gravel bar also serves as a great place to hit the flask.

6) If you stand waist deep in tidewater for six consecutive hours while rain sheets across your back powered by 40 mph gusts, three things will happen: first, you will hit yourself in the back of the head with a fly at least once every fifteen minutes; next, you will want to pee in your waders so as not to lose your spot; and lastly, you will desperately want a hot shower when you return to camp. Thankfully, that last bit was and is an option at Alaska West.

5) If you think fishing for King Salmon using a short spey rod attached to a click/pawl reel makes you some kind of sporting hero, I have a bridge overlooking one of the New York boroughs I’d like to show you. And some bruised and battered knuckles to sell you too.

4) If you drop your fly in the water and before you can get the shooting head off the tip a chum salmon hauls off all berserk-like with said fly in its mouth, you will catch a chum salmon on every successive cast for the rest of the day. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will definitely break the monotony.

bear prints alaska

Not my roommate, but close (click)

3) Mosquito nets are the best invention created since before the light bulb. And seeing as it never gets dark in Alaska during the summer, light bulbs are relatively useless. Hence, it stands to reason that mosquito nets are the best invention ever. At least in Alaska, in summer.

2) If you have a tendency to share your Scotch with the otherwise total strangers staying at camp with you, make sure to order an extra bottle. Make that two extra bottles.

And the number one thing I learned at Alaska West…

1) There are bears in Alaska, but it is unnecessary to automatically spray them down with repellant. Particularly if said grizzly is your bunkmate tentmate*, growling at 3am. Bring “magic nasal elixer” (Afrin) for such bears, and bring yourself some earplugs.

MG signing off (because he learned a lotta stuffs, but will probably make the same mistakes next time anyway)

Making the Switch: A Game Changer Indeed

Kirk Deeter, what sayeth you on this switch rod bit?

Do yourself a favor. If you have the chance to try a switch rod at your local fly shop, or maybe on a casting pond at one of the upcoming sports expos this winter, do it. Be patient. It’s a completely different game than what most of you are used to. But it can open new horizons that actually last all year long.

It’s a game changer, mostly because you are going to feel like a dork the first hour out on water no wider than the rod is long. Then you throw your first decent shot, and mend with ease line that stretches as far out as most can cast one-handed.

That is, after you figure out which shooting head works best on whatever rod you choose. The links at this post will definitely help that cause.

MG signing off (because Deeter is right, much as he knows I hate to admit it)

Bent Rod

I hope Snyder keeps up with his new found camera fetish. That way I get the whole river to myself.

MG signing off (to round the next bend)

New toy immediately reveals it’s a very useful (and versatile) tool

– Cease to resist an opponent or an unwelcome demand; surrender.
Synonyms: surrender, give in, yield, submit, succumb

It has been described as evolution, but like most things preached in repetition the more I heard it the more aggressive I became with rejection efforts. At its core it is part of the genre of steelhead and salmon fishing, and at first (and second, and third) blush the idea of downsizing the product for alternative applications seemed like nothing more than marketing flight of fancy.

Finally, sick and tired of the bunk, I undertook the battle to shut the kook-aid drinkers up once and for all. The wallet was opened…

Two-handed tools

The Scott T3h 1106/4 with an Abel Switch reel

To handicap my effort, I used this preconceived blatant waste of my hard-earned dollars to indicator nymph a crowded, didymo-laden tailwater, the source of which had turned over and bled the flow St. Patrick’s Day green. The narrow passage, the thick brush, and the overhanging tree limbs would be my friends. Then, several unexpected things happened…

I chucked heavy rigs ridiculously long distances with next to zero effort. I changed direction mid-cast, with nary a single snag from behind. The rig never once tangled. Finally, I caught fish, albeit few, and yet walked back to the truck with a smile on my face usually reserved for trophy days.

Swinging fat streamers with sinking tips is a foregone conclusion, and while I don’t envision these spey/switch tactics being ultimately useful in pure sight-fishing situations, I do excogitate toting this rig for virtually every other.

Hence, I admit defeat. To those I fought, please accept my sincerest apologies.

MG signing off (because if you can’t beat ’em, just pick up a two-handed fly rod)