Saturday, March 23, 2013

The New Switch Rod

Recently, I acquired a new Switch rod that I hope to use for smallmouth and Atlantic Salmon on the White River here in central Indiana.  English Jonny won't acknowledge that the rod exists, nor, in fact, that any such rod exists.  In the UK (see below), long rods are known as two-handed rods and not as "Spey" rods.  I won't go into the history of the etymology of "Spey" rods and "Spey" casts, but Jonny's frustration with Americans in entirely understandable.

However, his problem with the "Switch" rod, while also understandable, derives from a misconception about the origins of the term "Switch" rod.  The majority of anglers assume the name comes from the fact that a Switch rod can be cast with either one hand or two (because it's long enough to handle two-handed casts, but not as long as a traditional two-handed, i.e. "Spey" rod, with which single-handed casts are essentially impossible.)

As it turns out, the real history behind the origin of the "Switch" rod is more fascinating than the myth.  You can't make this shit up.  The rod gets its name from the River Switch, which finds its headwaters in St. Louis, the capital of Scotland.  The River Switch forms with its partner, the River Spey, that region known as the Fertile Croissant, sometimes also referred to as "the cradle of civilization" because of the pastries.

Anglers from New York were the first to pioneer the salmon and striper fishing of the Croissant but, in the early days, were forced to fish either the Spey or the Switch.  Eventually, the rods became longer such that anglers could fish both rivers from the same position using a number of different "change of direction" casts.  "Spey" rods were necessarily longer not because the casts to the River Spey needed to be longer than casts to the River Switch, but simply because the prevailing "Winds of Atherton" were so strong as to require the increased casting power.

A short video* from my practice session.  I chose the music to honor the Cajuns who paved the way for all the Scottish fishermen who followed.


  1. That sounds about right to me. EJ refuses to believe that greased line fishing came about when A.H.E. Wood wiped his hands clean (on his silk fly lines) after eating a dozen clamcakes from Aunt Carrie's. The smell of chopped quahogs and peanut oil is what attracted all those salmon, not Wood's Blue Charm. I think EJ's waistcoat is on a little too tight!

  2. Sweet map. Looks like there has been some continental drift since I made my walk down here, now I'll have to start again at Tierra del Fuego and head North so I can check out these rivers in Scotland; thanks for the excuse! You gotta let me know where I can download that music too, sweet...