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Two handed overhead fly rods

3575 Views 17 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  don1
I’ve been fly fishing in saltwater (stripers, Blues, sea trout, etc.), for well over 45 years with single handle rods from 7 to 10 weight. Presently, I decided to try 2 handed overhead rods to achieve more distance only when needed. I just bought the new 11 foot, 8 weight, Deer Creek TFO 2 handed rod. (Mfg Recommendations - 400-600 gr. or 7-10 weight lines)
Three Questions-
a) Suggest a manufacturer’s line for maximum casting distance in 3’ deep flats, (light winds), an Intermediate line.
b) Suggest another manufacturer’s line for fly fishing from a jetty into 25’ of water depth, (light winds), a medium sinking line.
c) Finally, suggest a line for fishing the heavy surf, (moderate winds), probably medium sink line.
I assume that fly lines would either be heads with looped running lines, integrated line heads, or Weight Forward lines.
A tough question, but would really appreciate recommendations from experienced 2 handed overhead anglers. Much thanks!
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Hi Don, you and I have been waving fly rods about the same length of time so take my advice as you will. First expect NO REAL GAIN in distance with an 11'er ( I hate to have to be the one to say this to ya). I have been swinging 2handers in the salt since the early 90's when the number of saltwater TH fly rodders nationally were less than 5 that we were aware of. Don, you will be able to dbl haul your 9'ers just as far with maybe a bit less effort on the TH'er. The real 2handed advantage on line speed starts around 13' and gets better and better the longer you go in rod length. On the salt longer, faster, and high line weights is the way to go! There is no reason to fish light fly lines when using a 2hander in the salt for our fish; they aren't line shy where we fish.

As far as line suggestions to cover the 3 situations I would suggest a shooting head system with Airflo 35' heads and Airflo 30lb shooting lines in either intermediate or floating.

When using your rod shorten up your casting stroke, push and pull with both hands while your arms follow a normal casting stroke, and focus on a very abrupt stop at both backcast and forward cast. This will get your line speed.

Don, you may want to ask Bill Micheline in you club for help as well as I know he has been at it for awhile. Bill and I have oddly never met over the years but from talking with him on forums I am sure he is knowledgable at surf fishing 2handers. If you see an older guy waving really long 2handers in your waters down there say hello for it will most likely be me especially at night. You'll hear the line hissing before you'll see me ;)

Hope I was of some help but line selection is pretty much like SH head systems. Full length lines I opt for Airflo +40 Beach lines.
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Don, I am truthfully very glad your are happy with your selection but, respectfully, as an engineer think of this; as a casting tool (which is why we go to 2handed rods: for more line speed or further the distance) which generates greater tip speed a 11' rod or a 16' rod when moving your casting hands exactly the same distance and speed through a casting stroke? Tip speed directly relates to line speed and perceived physical effort is essentially the same when supported by two hands. Like comparing using a putter and a 1 iron off the tee except the 16' rod has a 5' length advantage over the 11'er. To verify conclusions try this too, tape your 11'er to a broom handle and cast it and let me know what you experience by adding this length to the system.

I know, and have talked to, both the owner of TFO and Jay Horton who initially helped guide TFO, thru their Pro Staff program, in developing their line of two handed rods. This Jay also had some input with T&T's 12x12 so one can see his trend is towards short TH rods as does Bob Meiser (considered the father of switch rods) on the West Coast (also has TFO input). I am fully aware of their take on this as well as our two most well known flycasting east coast "pros" located in MD and PA (the one MD "pro" once promoted rods no shorter than 14' until he was compromised and the PA "pro" took years to finally state their advantages and bad mouthed them frequently in public till finally deciding how great they are then promoted them to the point of even teaching others to cast them for cash when he had only a month of experience with them himself). You have an active club member with more time with a 2handed rod on Atlantic Coastal waters than 4 of these "pro's" put together, I am sure of, maybe all 5. To me experience carries far more weight than titles when I need an answer to a question. As an engineer, when you were stumped didn't you go out and inquire with those who had to work with it everyday for answers? They may not have the your expertise to design it but they know what works and what would make it better, most of the time. I know in my profession, before I retired, I went to the floor when I needed answers then I would recruit our engineers to give them what they needed to make it better or fix the problem.

Bill Micheline (who is who I was referring to above and over the years I have grown to respect) is very active in your club, ask him to let you cast his 15' Sage TCR and bring your TFO too to compare effort to results between the two rods. The results are predictable and inevitable; one just can't beat the laws of physics. Bill can be of great assistance to you and he enjoys helping.

I fish your waters with a 12x12 at times in the back or at IRI (I have both a 1212 T&T and a 1208 T&T (retired due to it was the setup my youngest daughter used before her being a victim in a murder suicide last January: she was everything to me and a great 2handed fly angler whom I miss greatly) and they are fun and keep my 2handed timing fresh but aren't what I call true 2handed casting tools) ( fact is, they are no better casting tools than my 9' 1handed rods with a good dbl haul) but out front or anywhere conditions warrant greater line speed it's a 15' or 16'er with a 45' 12wt shooting head which I can cast all night, cover far more water, and be less affected by size of forage or weather conditions with no more physical effort than the 12'ers and less than my 1handed rods. There are times I would of loved to of had a 20'er for 14wt line.

Please post what you think after this side by side comparison of short vs long 2hander's, if you do it. I will be glad to assist you or anyone else for that matter who has 2handed questions, Don (though I don't swing by here on this site as much as some others). I assist for the love of the sport and in the spirit of helping other anglers to enjoy 2handed fishing to the fullest; not for title, profit, or praise. ;) I call them as I have experienced them to shorten others learning curves and speed up their satisfaction and enjoyment with 2handed fly fishing the salt, regardless of industry trends.

One last word of advice: with 2handers ALWAYS electrical tape your ferrule's together ... you will be the first one to regret it when you don't! 2hander's generate tremendous pressures on the rod and it's ferrule's and will loosen ferrules and break rods in a blink of an eye!
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Funny you should mention a physical issue as currently I am typing with my right hand in a cast after a thumb joint replacement at the wrist which wasn't the direct result of casting fly rods since the early 60's with my thumb on top but it sure didn't help. :yes:

An 11'er will give your shoulder a break casting a full line because you can keep your casting elbow closer to your body during the cast and your weak hand can assist the casting motion as well so that it isn't all up to one arm alone. As stated, I do own some short 2handed rods as well and concur that they will fit your criteria but line speed will be on par with with 1handed 9'ers.

Sorry I strayed from the topic of lines but I have seen far too many buy switch rods only to be disappointed with their performance and ultimately bad mouth 2handed fly angling when in fact they never really owned a 2handed rod of a length that shows 2handed fly angling's true advantages in the area of line speed and line control in the salt. Guess I was too quick on the "beware of short rod" trigger in this case. When I see 2handed rods and rods under 13' discussed at the same time my "red alert" goes off as I have seen expectation problems too many times. You seem to already be aware of switch rods limitations and strong points.

BillM might not admit it but Atlantic Coast 2handed SW fly rodding has traveled a long slow path of development since the very early 1990's. We are a small devoted group of anglers that all know each other and are aware of each of our time with these rods in hand and out on our Coastal waters. All of us have had to battle to get this form of angling recognized in main stream fly angling which is why the "pro" reference with 2handed equipment sits poorly (they were the one's responsible for suppressing this sport is the public's eyes more than anything else for so many years). There have been many times we have done battle even with each other as well but, we knew that our differences were earned with time on the water and there was a respect between the devotee's. I will state the experience level of BillM is as I said, compared to the "pro's". Jay Horton was one the early devotee's so is about the only player out there who has logged considerable time on the water with 2handers on the Atlantic Coast and may be the kicker in this case with BillM. I am not sure how much fishing Jay has been doing the past 3 years with 2handers as he has been busy with several other matters and we haven't talked much. The first elite fly angler to speak positively to the angling community on 2handed rods in the salt was Lefty in 2004-5 then others slowly followed suit over the next year so this shows how new it is to the "pro's". Listen to BillM, he's been at it longer than any of the elite's, and give his recommendations a serious try and you will be in great shape with these sticks!

Enjoy the ride Don and I hope your shoulder pain improves (it's no fun aging but the alternative is worse)! I'll go back to sleep on this topic now. :yawn:
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