Airflo Switch Pro Fly Reel Review

Switchimage

We’re proud to announce that the Airflo Switch Pro fly reel has gained ‘Tackle Testers Choice’ by Trout Fisherman magazine! This is where the latest fishing gear is put through it’s paces by T&S’s independent tester Robbie Winram who has been fortunate enough to have tested 1000’s of items of tackle over his 30 year fly-fishing career.

This amazing new fishing reel from Airflo is the complete redesign of the ever popular Airflo Switch Superlite reel. Launched as the Switch Pro, it’s machined from barstock allow and comes in two different sizes. A 7/9 version will easily take 7wt or 8wt fly lines with over 120 yards of 20lb backing, and the 4/6 that will take a 5wt or 6 wt line with the same amount of backing.

Style  and Substance

The Switch Pro fly reel is an incredibly stylish reel. It has a ‘spoked wheel’ design reel cage featuring a black anodised finish with anodised silver alloy highlights that sets the reel off really well. The face plate has been given the same finish and has been heavily ventilated with a series of drilled holes.

There’s a good sized handle with a matching counterbalance weight on the opposite side for a lovely smooth wind. On the rear of the reel is a large scalloped drag knob that is very easy to turn in precise increments and this brings into play a very smooth disc drag.

Each reel comes with four extra spools plus one on the reel and these are made from clear impact-plastic and are a simple push-fit onto the face plate over the rubber 0-ring. There’s only one way to push them on, matching two raised lugs on the spool with the holes on the face plate. When the spool is removed the sealed drag unit is revealed.

Technical Spec

Airflo Switch Pro 7/9

Prices £129.99 | Weight 7.2oz | Spare Spool £7.99 | Width 31mm | Dia 96mm

Airflo Switch Pro 4/6

Prices £119.99 | Weight  6.6oz | Spare Spool £7.99 | Width 27mm | Dia 84mm

Airflo Swith Pro Fly Reel

Airflo Super-Dri Elite WF5F – Customer Review

Super Dri Elite Fly Line

Airflo Super-Dri Elite

With many Super-Dri fly lines back in stock, anglers all around the country are spooling up their fly fishing reels and trying out these new floating lines. Lindsay Cargill has put both the Xceed and the Elite through their paces. See here for Lindsay’s previous Xceed fly line review.

Lindsay recently purchased a WF5 Super-Dri Elite from the range, here’s what he has to say about our go to trout line.

First Impressions

Out of the box I loved the colour of this line, a pale Olive – easy to see on the water but still had that element of stealth. The ‘hauling zone’ is a yellow colour with the running line back to Olive, all very visible and I find it useful for knowing where the head is in relation to the rod tip as well as for judging distance. Like the Xceed, thin welded loops provide practicality without bulk. The line has no noticeable memory that I can detect.

Performance

Unusually for me my first outing with this line saw me fishing upstream nymphs instead of my usual dry fly due to unfavourable conditions. The line cast beautifully on my Helios 2 905 Tip Flex and the weighted nymphs turned over with ease. The high floatability of the line at the tip meant I could see takes and lift straight in to fish lying in 3 to 4 feet of water. However, fishing a single dry fly, my preferred method, this line is the best line I have used, enabling me to get consistently tight loops and good line control in the air and mending on the water. You can lay back, push it and it responds. I absolutely love it.

Verdict

This will be my ‘go to’ line in 2014 and I can envisage me fishing with it 90% of the time in either a #4 and #5 depending on conditions. At the introductory price I paid it was cheaper than some so called budget ‘good value’ lines which in my experience don’t even come close to matching the Airflo Elite in either quality or features, not to mention floatability. Don’t believe the hype ? That’s your choice, but also your loss!

Airflo V-Lite – Anglers Review

Towards the end of 2011, my good friend Mike Green and I were contemplating where we would travel during 2012 for our annual destination trip, and without me listing half the contents of “Where to fly fish before you die”, it was agreed we would try the East Cape of Baja California Sur, to hopefully land a Roosterfish off the beach on a fly. I’ve always admired this majestic fish, it’s sleek lines and the distinctive dorsal comb, and a picture for the photo gallery would be great.

During the early part of 2012 I booked our guide, our accommodation and the flights to get us there. (It ended up being a two and a half day journey thanks to the greed of British Airways who had in fact over booked the flight, meaning we actually lost a full day of our trip)

Once you’ve got a trip booked, it’s amazing how quickly your attention turns to your gear. Even a very basic list from the guide confirming rod weights, fly lines and the obligatory “decent reel” makes you start to build an armoury in your mind. I own a couple of fly fishing reels with the now common sealed drag, so I was most interested to read that during the spring, Airflo were poised to release a new reel with their first fully sealed drag.

After an exchange of e-mails with my contact at Airflo I had purchased the new Airflo V-Lite reel and it was on its way.

As a bit of a self confessed tackle junkie, I’d already admired the prototype in burnt orange, having seen some great pictures of it alongside a wild brownie and the mere idea of this in a 12 weight in black and silver had me considering the backing I thought might suit it. As luck would have it, I had 250 yards of red 60lb gel spun which actually fell short on the spool of where I expected given the claimed 200 yards of 30lb dacron.

After picking the reel up for the first time you notice instantly that the reel is far lighter than anything else in the sealed drag class or indeed any other class for that matter. Its frame has a matt black finish with aluminium exposed silver spokes. Upon further inspection you notice the distinctive drag casing in a deep red colour which houses a smooth and positive drag. The overall width of the reel is moderately wider than conventional reels, but it needs to be as the claimed backing capacity I feel would fall slightly short of that required for a twelve weight line. The reel has a v groove spool as with the older Airlite model and on the first few revolutions of backing you wonder if the line is laying correctly. Even when the reel was full of backing and a wf11 intermediate line went on, I was still surprised how light the reel was.

For the first day’s fishing, and a chance to try out the V-Lite, I swapped over to a Di7 equivalent and we were encouraged to take a boat offshore to find one of the huge shoals of football sized Tuna. This worked for a number of reasons. I for one, had never caught a Tuna on the fly although I’ve long been assured they’re great fun on a fly rod, it was a golden opportunity to get into the backing on the V-Lite!!

We were told the run out to the Tuna ground was about 40 minutes. Let me set the scene for you. On the Baja peninsular, the most economical boat fishing is in a panga. This is a 24 foot centre console with a 150 Yamaha outboard. Its a fibre glass body with lots of movement and most of them look like they’re 30 years old. The ride isn’t comfortable and on this particular journey we were 12 hours away from a storm which turned into a twister the next day. After an hour we still hadn’t arrived and the rough ride left us with not a stitch of dry clothing on either of us, Mike and I looked at each each dripping wet and just shook our heads before the glum faces turned into two grown men giggling like little girls. By the time 90 minutes had passed we eventually found the tuna. They were smashing bait on the surface flying in all direction, leaping out of the water and generally creating a foam like surface on swells of dark blue water. The captain confirmed there was a mixture of yellow fin and skipjack. Mike and I selected some blue and white 5 inch deceiver patterns, cast our flies into the school and stripped like mad men. Before either of us had even reached the head of the fly line the line was torn out of our fingers and in the blink of an eye the V-Lite lit up as yard after yard of backing flew out of the rod tip at lightening speed. For those of you who’ve caught Tuna on the fly you’ll understand what I’m referring to, If you haven’t then imagine tying your line to anything moving away from you at 50 mph and this will give you an idea.

The V-Lite impressed me immediately. There was no start up inertia and the textured drag knob was very easily adjustable which proved important playing hard fighting fast moving Tuna. The reel felt smooth and balanced as the backing left the spool and the whizz of the drag gave a sound to assure confidence in it.

Once the Tuna had taken nearly 100 yards of backing I was ready to see how the V-Lite retrieved line. Again, the lightness of the reel meant I could crank the handle with speed and before I knew it the line was back onto the spool. After a short 7-8 minute fight, Mike was first to land his fish, a fit and impressive 12lb yellow fin. I took a minute or too longer claiming I had a good one on and as it came to the boat I was surprised to see it was smaller, about 8lb’s.The captain confirmed that pound for pound, the Skipjack is one of the hardest fighting fish, and that was what I’d landed. Mike and I went on to land another dozen or more Tuna and really gave the V-Lite a good workout.

The next day we dedicated our attention to the prize quarry we had travelled all the way to Baja for. The process is relatively simple. The Roosterfish patrol the water just behind the wash where they are waiting to ambush the baitfish that sit close to the shore. The Rooster fish fly into the shallow water at high speed, eat and then disappear, not very sporting really. Our requirement to get a shot at hooking one of these fish was to ride an ATV on the beach, spot the fish, jump off the bike, run ahead of the fish (which I’ve confirmed swims pretty quickly) and make a perfect cast infront of it and start stripping. Mike said you only have to have 3 things to catch a Roosterfish, 1. Eagle eyes, 2. To  be a terrific caster and 3. To be able to run as fast as Linford Christie.Sound easy? Yeah, you guessed it isn’t. After getting a few shots on day one we left the beach fishless vowing we’d be back the next day with renewed enthusiasm.

Mike spotted a fish early on during day 2 on the beach and after sprinting up the shore line, which is great for anyone who hasn’t sprinted since you were at school, he made a cast, stripped and hooked into his first Roosterfish. Again, the V-Lite had it’s drag tested, this time on land and a now more powerful fish to test the drag with greater pressure. Mike said straight away how good the reel felt under pressure. Mike doesn’t mess about playing fish and has been known to boat a tarpon over 150lbs in less than 20 minutes on a fly rod. After it’s first run, Mike had the fish close to the shore and was ready to bring it in on the next wave. He was keen to use the V-Lite for the rest of the trip, a testament to how good it felt, and how it played fish on the drag.

I have to be honest in my findings and say that the V-Lite isn’t perfect. Against some of my other 10/12 weight reels, the V-Lite has the smallest diameter. I did attempt to load a floating line on the reel and as I approached the end of the running line the line was starting to touch the frame. I would guess that if you wanted to use a floating line you may only get 150 yards of backing onto the reel which is perfectly adequate in the UK, but you need that much as a minimum just for bonefishing with an 8 weight. The other thing I noticed about the V-Lite is the quality of the anodized finish. It looks more like a light powder coating and after a day on the boat the reel had sustained a few scratches in only a couple of hours, something I dont have on reels 3-4 years old.That said, reels are there to be used so if you don’t mind a few scratches then it’s not a big problem.

In summary, and given the cost of the reel, which I have to add is less than half the price of the next sealed drag on the market, the V-Lite is indeed a great reel. It doesn’t have the finish of some of its competitors and it’s slightly smaller but if you wanted the perfect bonefish reel at a great price that will balance a 9 weight rod, then the V-Lite could be your perfect partner.

Features – 8

Value for Money – 10

Performance – 10

Build Quality – 9

Finish – 7

Functionality – 8

To view more information on the V-Lite take a look > Airflo V-lite  reel : From £99.99

Review and post written by Ryan O’Dwyer.