This rod sits at a sort of crossroads. It’s as short as I would want to cast double-handed, and as long as I might want to cast and fish single-handed. As a wee double-hander this is a crisp, nimble rod, handy in confined spaces, be that small streams or under high banks or overhanging bushes.

Even in situations which would challenge a longer rod (and a rod fitted with a longer headed line) the XL50 Switch can still punch a long line. Then drop the lower grip, catch the line and start hauling single-handedly and this can fire out long casts.

Mick Bell, the bloke behind Bloke, provided me with a Bloke Switch line (42ft head, 38g head-weight, 105ft long) which matches this rod very well. I’d say the weight of that line is balanced towards Spey and roll casting; a lighter line might suit overhead more (and anchored casts a little less). I’d also say, if the figures are correct, that is a rather heavy 8/9 line – it does feel heavy.

I may argue with myself about the rating of this rod and the rating of the Bloke line, but I can certainly think of when and why I would fish this – which is more than I can say for a few Switch rods. It’s nicely made. The grip is more double-handed than I expected, and I liked the sizes (decent quality cork, too). The reel seat looks small (short) but it accepted large, modern reels, reels I use salmon fishing. (No, this seat will not take an antique salmon reel with a huge foot.)

The mass in the Bloke 8/9 Switch line means it can handle sink-tips or stout leaders for hefty flies. Casting double-handed is easier, overhead is a little quicker, and I can cast further. Using either set of casting techniques I feel in control of the rod and line. They feel like they are working for me.

Depending on the leader (and tip) I feel confident casting big and or heavy flies with this outfit, e.g. metal tube flies, big pike flies. I’d say this is aimed at salmon and sea trout fly fishing on smaller rivers. The action is mostly at the tip of the blank so the butt has the power, the stiffness, to put a lot of pressure on a fish if needed. I know a couple of these rods made their way to pike fishers.

The XL50 Switch rod feels good and handles well. Matched with the Bloke 8/9 line, the outfit casts easily (even novices should have a fair chance of throwing a good line with this), and this outfit has some convincing fishing applications.

Bloke XL50
Switch 11ft 3in 8/9
Sections: 4
Weight: 142.4g
Rings: Two lined butt rings, single leg snakes
Handle: DH full-wells
Cork quality: High
Reel seat: Carbon insert
Blank: Metallic blue
Thread: Black
Build quality: High
Rod bag: Canvas
Rod tube: Nylon covered
Price: £398

Bloke 8/9 Switch line
Price: £32