R.B. Meiser Highlander Switch Rods

We originated the switch rod concept. We have been building and designing these fly rods for anglers since the mid 1970s.

Our philosophy on Switch Rods

The term "Switch Rod" originated in our shop. It is a coined phrase that has now become commonly accepted within the two handed community.

All fly rods fall into two families:  They are either single handed fly rods, or they are two handed fly rods <> Switch rods are not a family of fly rods separate from single and two handed fly rods.

Two handed fly rods offer the caster a two handed grip assembly. This configuration will allow the use of the upper hand and the additional assistance of the lower hand <> Single handed fly rods do not.

In Short: Switch rods are short length two handed fly rods that allow the caster an optional use as a single handed fly rod if desired, or if advantageous to do so.

We have always specifically designed our switch rod blanks with engineered grain windows benchmarked from two handed fly line systems... Because in essence: They are short two handed fly rods.  All of the line numbers scheduled on our switch rods are based on (and will be compatible with) two handed line systems.

About the R.B Meiser Switch Rod Series

But first a few comments on good Scotch Whiskey

The very premise behind the development of the switch rod series was to meet the needs and request made to me by a diverse cross section of serious fly fishers. I am fortunate in that I am able to custom design fly rods for anglers that may open their fly fishing season in the Yukon, mid-season in the Gaspe, and end it in the Seychelles. I also feel that I am just as fortunate to meet the fly rod requirements of anglers who may never feel the need to leave their own comfortable home waters such as I enjoy here in Southern Oregon. The one common truth that I have found within this brotherhood, whether they be far-flung adventurers, or home water week-enders is that they all share an equal and universal passion for their sport. As a fly fisher my self for over 40 years, and a rod builder/designer for over 20, I appreciate and thoroughly enjoy being asked to be so deeply involved in their chosen sport. It is this intimate involvement that has led me to the development of the switch rod series.

An interesting story comes to mind that exemplifies this involvement.

Time frame: Summer 1997

Phillip is a friend and certified fly fishing junky. His Trout fishing history is long; his stories are extensive and indeed very colorful. His Salmon and Steelheading experience is equally interesting, has spanned many years but has centered on only one river: The Dean; and he has fished the same stretch of water for over 15 years.

At that time, the only delivery system presented to his Dean River Salmon and Steelhead was a single hand double hauled, down and dirty heavy grained sinking shooting head line system. And to the bemusement of many of his fellow anglers (several of which were then two handed anglers) defiantly and tenaciously spent several weeks each season muscling these heavy and awkward lines over holding fish with his single hand rods. Nevertheless he was an exceptional angler; his presentations had always been effective: Thus his success ratio of fish to the beach had historically been very good.

Phillip is a surgeon with an incredibly intense work schedule, allowing only quality time on the water. Because of this scenario, he truly enjoys the advantage of the exceptional opportunities offered by the Dean’s superb anadromous fishery. His request to me as a rod builder was to design a rod that would effectively deliver his preferred shooting head line systems over these chosen waters. The primary objective being: To offer an alternative to the physical burden of fishing his full sink shooting heads utilizing single hand double haul deliveries.

At the time of his request, the off the shelf alternatives were limited to the longer two handed rod utilizing classic double tapers, or short belly Spey line systems with interchangeable tips. This was a time frame before the introduction of Skagit shooting head line systems, and although Scandinavian shooting heads were available, they had not yet gained their present popularity. The lines of choice preferred by most anglers at the time were the recently introduced Rio Windcutter Spey lines.

Phillip tried a few longer rods, and although he felt that they proved to be effective delivery tools, and presented the fly well; he again personally felt awkward with the rods length and overall weight for his preferred style of fishing. Our solution to this particular application was to build him a couple of light weight short two handed rods grain windowed from 400 to 600 grains. These rods would allow various deliveries as effectively as the longer two handed rod, yet be much shorter and lighter in hand then the status quo two hander … Leaving the option open for single handed deliveries if desired. We matched the rods to a set of imported Guideline shooting heads for Phillip, and with these rod/line marriages he was allowed a variety of delivery options determined by need throughout his angling day.

Phillip’s comment to me upon his return from the Dean after fishing the switchers that season was: Bob; after 8 to 10 hours of continuous daily casting, plus fighting and releasing a total of 30 heavy fish, Scotch was consumed at the end of the day for the sole purpose of celebrating the event rather then to just kill the pain in my arms and shoulders. You have truly helped me celebrate the proper consumption of good Scotch Whiskey!

If not in the exact words, this has been a typical comment made to me by many of my clients concerning the switch rod concept over the past 15 years … I could not be more complimented.

Phillip was one of our pioneer anglers in the use and development of our present day switch rods and line marriages for them. More then a decade later, he does still prefer them over the longer two handed rods … And I do still pity the angler that is unfortunately put in the position to follow him through a run; especially if it’s me!

Our Past History with Switch Rods … And Our Future Goals

Our first short two handed rods were built primarily for personal use, and for a few out-of-the box adventurous anglers as far back as the mid 1970s. We first offered them for purchase to our anglers in the mid 1980s.

The most requested application for our short two handed fly rods in the early days of their development were targeted for two handed overhead deliveries. Requests for these tools came primarily from those anglers that wished to eliminate the physical burden of the single hand double haul, and especially by those anglers requiring repetitive long distance deliveries typical of search casting for large game fish from a shallow walled craft or the beach, jetties and rocks. (We again offer a version of these same 909 rods today (click here)

As we had always suggested … Anglers over the years did slowly begin to accept the fact that the short two handed rod could also be used very effectively as change-of-direction two handed anchor point Spey tools. A delivery technique that would effectively eliminate the need for the back cast. The successful application of the switch rod in this mode came about primarily due to the relatively recent introduction of readily available off-the-shelf two handed shooting head line systems that would efficiently multi-task the short two handed fly rod.

Today’s anglers do now realize the incredible diverse potentials of the short two handed fly rod, and will use them for a broad spectrum of fly fishing applications utilizing equally diverse delivery techniques … Just as they were originally intended over 30 years ago.

Our original intent of the switch rod concept was always based on the very premise that a correctly designed short two handed fly rod when married to a balanced line system would not only allow this diversity … But would excel at it.

Today nearly all major fly rod manufacturers now have similar tools within their inventory of fly rods, and we at R. B. Meiser Fly Rods are proud of the fact that our original concept has now gained universal acceptance within the two handed fly rod community.

We will continue to lead the way in the development of both well designed short two handed fly rod blanks, and correctly balanced line systems for them that will maximize the overall potentials of these incredibly diverse tools.

More Information:  

Conversion Rods
Recommended Line Systems