This Christmas my little brother was spoiled by his in-laws who gifted him a 7wt 11’ Loomis & Franklin switch rod. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it a week before Christmas he purchased an 7wt 11’7”Echo Swing setup from Home Waters Fly Shop in Eugene, OR. So I figured hey no better way to test the Echo Swing than to put it head to head with this slightly older Loomis & Franklin Im7? (this is the only thing I could find that resembled a model name – it’s actually the type of graphite that the Loomis & Franklin is composed of). So when my brother came to visit me for New Years we took them out to the Feather in Ororville, CA on opening day.
DISCLAIMER: This isn’t really the most legitimate rod review ever as we used 2 different Skagit heads. On the Loomis & Franklin we used an OPST 450gr Commando Head with a Rio Grip Shooter, and on the Echo Swing we used a 450gr Rio Skagit Max Short with Rio Slick Shooter.
First impressions of the Loomis & Franklin:
I was amazed by how light this rod was. It weighed practically nothing. I also liked the longer and much narrower grip of the Loomis & Franklin than that of the echo swings. In addition I appreciated the little fly holder the rod has, I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one who appreciates those things but when a rod has one I’m a fan. I also appreciated the slotted rod tube the Loomis & Franklin came in.
First Impressions of the Echo Swing:
I loved that the Echo Swing had a downward locking reel seat. This seems to be a component on higher end switch and spey rods and I appreciated that Echo decided to throw this on their Swing. The grip felt comfortable in the hands, but my lord is that grip fat! I feel like they could have shaved off half an inch in diameter and it’d still be just as comfortable. I also really appreciated how light weight the Swing is, often times lower end switch and spey rods can be quite heavy but this is not so with the Swing. I did not appreciate that the rod had no fly holder thing. I also absolutely hated the garbage rod sock it came with. Why would you do this Echo? It looks absolutely terrible! It looks like it came from an old repurposed blue tarp! Unless it really is from a repurposed tarp then good for you for recycling and I take back everything I said.
On the water with the Loomis & Franklin:
I loved the action of the Loomis & Franklin it was much faster than I expected and I personally love switch rods with a fast action. I also loved the shorter size! Although it’s about half a foot shorter than most of the other 7wt rods being produced today the compact size was really nice, it had no problem picking up the line and sink tip, and it felt like there was no loss in power or casting distance due to the shorter length because this thing throws absolute laser beams across the river! I honestly have no complaints on how it performed on the water other than 1. The end guides near the tip of the rod are fairly small especially for accommodating bulky Skagit heads. I would be cautious on going above the 450gr weight, as the line could potentially be too fat for the guides. However, I think the 450gr head is perfect for this rod, and there is no need to go above it.
On the water with the Echo Swing:
The action on the Echo Swing was MUCH slower than I had anticipated and coming from the fast action of the Loomis & Franklin it took some adjusting. However, once I adapted to the slower action I learned to really appreciate the Echo Swing. You can really feel the rod load when going through your spey casts, which is something I feel is unique to this rod as it is often difficult to feel the rod load in other switch and spey rods. In addition I feel a mistake for many beginning spey casters is they go much too fast and as a result they get casts that end in a pile of line. The Swing allows you to slow down and really feel the rod bend into a nice fluid motion cast that results in more successful casts which potentially leads to more hook-ups. Although this rod is slower action it still packs a punch and can easily toss heavy sink tips and Skagit heads wherever you want them to go.
(The Echo Swing Chucks!)
I was really impressed with both these rods. Both are affordable the Echo Swing is only $249.99 and the Loomis & Franklin switch rods I found were about £92 which is around $124 USD. If given the choice between these two rods I would grab for the Loomis & Franklin purely based off the faster action of the rod. However, it would be a hesitant grab, as I have no idea what the warranty policy is for a Loomis & Franklin (Im7?). Where as Echo has one of the most rock solid warranties in the biz! Not to mention the Swing performed great on the water! I really think if you happened to purchase either of these rods you will not be disappointed with their performance or aesthetics, and they will definitely catch fish!