Survey: One-Handed or Two? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Survey: One-Handed or Two?

Topher Browne
04-29-2003, 08:45 AM
I do most of my salmon fishing on a two-handed rod. I'd say I'm on a two-hander about 70% of the time: usually a Thomas & Thomas 1409-3 or a Sage 8126-3 (sign me up for a CND 14.5 footer as soon as it's available).

I use a Sage 9' for #8 wt.--my only single-handed rod--when fishing dry flies or wets in low water. The single-hander is still far more popular on the rivers I fish in Eastern Canada (although the two-hander is running a close second on some rivers during the very early or very late seasons in high water).

As the members of the Flyfishing Forum are a discriminating group, I began to wonder:

1) What percentage of the time do you fish a single-handed rod vs. a two-hander?

2) What lengths, line weights, and brand names do you prefer?

04-29-2003, 09:17 AM
In Russia, I've used a double hander 90% of the time. Mostly Burkheimer 1398, also Scott 1509.

In New Brunswick, same double handers 30% of the time. Single handed more appropriate for the water I fish.

On the Gaspé, single hander probably 70% of time, double handers the rest when water is appropriate.

North Umpqua, double hander probably 80% of the time. Same rods as above, but also use Burkheimer 1338.

I'm really partial to the SA XLT. 7/8 for the 1338, 8/9 for the 1398, 9/10 for the 1509. I also use Windcutters when absolutely necessary and will shortly begin experimenting with a shooting head (underhand) for a few select spots in Russia (plus I like learning new things.)

Absolute favorite single hander is the old 2pc Sage RPL 10' for 8. Line is Wulff triangle taper, both floating and sink tip. I can't imagine a better, smoother, more satisfying combination. Can fish all day without tiring. Combo just seems automatic. Sage discontinued the rod many years ago. The 3 piece rods don't compare. I was so paranoid something might happen to mine that I bought a second one used.

04-29-2003, 12:39 PM
I fish 2-handed 2/3 of the time. Of that, mostly a Sage 8150-4 (DT9F floating, WC 8/9/10 for tips), or for low small water a "green" 7136-4 (Triangle taper 8/9). I have Sage 9140-3 in the closet, purchased on the cheap, casts like a cannon ... but I honestly don't enjoy playing our smallish Oregon fish off the tip of this rod. I like a deep bend. still, I'm holding onto it for the BC trip that will "eventually" happen :)

The remaining 1/3 of the time I'm on brushy creeks with a T&T 10' #7 (DT7F and DT8F).

I use the 2-handers as often as possible because .... they're fun! I'm new to them (3 yrs) and decidedly in the "honeymoon" phase. I enjoy the novelty and learning they provide -- though not to diminish their practicality, especially when fishing tips for long hours.

Willie Gunn
04-29-2003, 12:55 PM
Double handed 99% of the time, the only time I use a ingle handed rod is when fishing the Brora in mid summer. The weather is usualy hot and sunny, but being fairly far north there are long evenings in fact some nights it seems never realy to get dark.

Single flies or a team of two?


04-29-2003, 03:13 PM
I'd say about 60/40 double/single, though I enjoy 2-handed more than single. I first bought a spey rod about 5 years ago, after tearing my rotator cuff, and I found I could at least keep salmon fishing with a two-hander, though not a pretty sight! Since then, my shoulder has pretty much healed, but have come to really enjoy the two-handers, and have decided to make a concerted effort to learn efficient technique. It sure feels good when I stumble into a perfect boomer single spey, but it's pretty rare. I've gone through a succession of rods, trying to find two or three 'keepers'.

Present sticks are Sage 9140-4 (my first spey rod), Winston 15' #10LT, Loop Yellow 13'2" 9/10, Hardy Salar 12'6" #9 (haven't gotten a chance to try this one yet), and a newly acquired T&T 1307 blank to be built shortly.

Favorite Single handers: Sage 890-3 SP, and an 896-2 SP

June: Newfoundland, Bay St. George, Robinsons, Crabbes, Middle Barachois: Smaller rivers, 2-handed only about 30%

July: Nova Scotia, Margaree R., 2-handed 60% or so, depending on water. Newfoundland, Portland Creek, Torrent R, River of Ponds, etc. : 2- handed 60%, then Labrador, Pinware R., 2-handed 80% (ahh can't wait!)

October (last week), Margaree, Middle, Baddeck, Cheticamp R.s: 2-handed 80% or more.

With the exception of the Margaree, I'm usually the only varmint around with a 2-handed stick, and get a lot of funny reactions from the locals, usually good-humored. It's always fun to hand it off to someone and let'm give it a whirl!


04-30-2003, 11:56 AM
For me, it mostly depends on the size of river. For anywhere that requires consistent casts of, say, 60' or so I would choose a double hander. Although I can cast these distances with a single hander, I find it much less effort with the larger rod, which avoids the need to strip line, and a longer rod also has big advantages in terms of line control.

But much of my fishing these days is on small spate rivers rather than the 'classic' medium & large rivers. On these little rivers pools more than 30' wide are uncommon, and many are no more than 15' across, so most of the time there is no need to cast more than about 30-40'. Clearly for situations like this a double handed rod is overkill, and can actually be a disadvantage. I still prefer a longer single handed rod though (typically 10' 7wt) for the line control it gives. You rarely need anything more than a floating or possibly intermediate line, and smallish flies, so that's not a reason to need a big rod either. These rivers also tend to hold small fish, predominantly grilse, and they give a better account of themselves on a light rod.

I can't say I have a preference between single and double-handers - I love them both for different reasons. Big water 'combative' fishing, possibly involving deep wading, and banging out long casts with a big rod has its attractions (and these rivers are probably more productive), but I love the subtlety of a day on a small stream, travelling light, probably walking several miles, and fishing 'pocket' water with what amounts to little more than heavy trout tackle. But to me they are almost like different disciplines, and funnily enough I can't think of many places I've fished where I've faced a real dilemma over which rod to choose; generally the river and the conditions seem to make the decision for me.

It's perhaps worth mentioning a couple of 'minor tactics' which break the general rules. 'Backing up' is one such, which requires quite a bit of line to be retrieved during the swing - I find it easier to false cast and shoot this line with a single-hander (I suppose a short-head spey line on a d/h rod might do the job - I don't own one though). 'Dibbling' is another technique that can be effective in low water conditions. It works best with not much more than one rod length of line outside the tip ring, and a long rod may be useful, even on medium-small waters in low-water conditions. to gain extra water coverage. But these are not classic, mainstream methods.

05-01-2003, 10:32 PM
Bonsoir Topher,
Not too long ago, I remember people coming in the Zec office to tell me there is a guy in Zone 10 York fishing with a "gigantic rod!". It's very long and he's even holding it with both wonder he's hiding in Zone 10!!":confused:
Then one day, I was fishing Zone 2 York ( Spring RocK Pool) and right above me at Tent Pool was a guy casting in MY! SPRING ROCK POOL!!!!! Hello???????? Is this an electric rod or whatttt!!????????
I cross the river and walked up to Tent POOL and said, "SHOW ME THAT ROD!" .....Hmmm?? Not heavy, interesting reel and line, Can I try??? Show me how to cast with it!!!
It works!!
This was I'd say 6 or 7 years ago...A few anglers would be seen fishing with spey rods and they were the ( talk of town!!).
We are now seeing many more spey casters here on the Gaspé Rivers...
I think many people, like me before, figured it's not for them because, they aren't tall enough(??!!) . They have enough problems fishing in high waters... why fish with a big intimidating rod and double the trouble. Not only will the fly get stuck in the trees..that big rod will hit the trees on the back cast!!!!
Once they take time to sit on the shore, LIKE I DID(instead of casting, casting and casting trying to reach those fish on the opposite side.....maybe once on 10 cast reach the fish.):mad:
and watch a spey caster....... okay!!!!! It's a different techinque, no back cast needed.....(no tree climbing....yes!!)
Double or single.........I understand now what's happening here.......I'M JEALOUS!!!!!! :devil:
All this to say.......... now there are spey schools, casting demonstrations at fly shows, excellent books and "excellent" instructors........ and we are seeing more and more of those "giant" rods here in Gaspé!!

By the way, Monsieur Browne, why have you never shown me your Spey flies????? :mad:

are these yours????:devil:

05-02-2003, 12:26 AM
For steelhead and Pacific Salmon 99% or better of my fishing is done with a 2-hander simply because it is more efficient to cast 50 and more feet with a 2-hander and it provides far more line control than the single-hand rod. Not to mention the ability to cast to where the fish are when there is nearly no backcast room. My favorite rods for this are a 16 ft 11 weight fast action rod in winter, and a 13 ft 8/9 fast action rod in summer. The other 1% of the time, I use an 11 ft 8/9 fast action single-hand rod and I am nearly always simply single-hand spey casting with it. This rod is used on small streams that have virtually no backcast room that have good runs of steelhead or coho.

For trout and bass, I use only single-hand rods. 7 1/2 ft 4 weight on small streams or 9 ft 4 weight with small flies on medium and large rivers; 10 ft 6 weight for general trout fishing on large or medium sizw rivers and most lakes; and 10 ft. eweight or the 11 ft 8/9 weight for bass and large trout streamer fishing.

However, since I spend 90% of my time fishing for steelhead, I rarely use my single-hand rods anymore.

05-02-2003, 07:28 AM
Yes, it does depend on where you live, what you fish for, and how big the water is that you fish.

As for me, here in the land of Lake Ontario tribs, I fish for about 6 months for stream trout, and about 6 months for the "trib" runs of salmon, browns and steelies.

So my fishing is divided commensurate to the time devoted to each. Most of the tribs I fish don't require a "cannon", but my 11 1/2 footer is perfect for my needs, so I use that 2-hander for them.

But for stream trout, anything over a one-hander would be "overkill".

I think we all use a modicum of common sense when we approach our fishing, and tend to use the right rod for the job. (Of course, there are some of us who tend to be hard-headed, but that is a small exception.)

If I really NEEDED a longer rod, or a cannon, I would get one. The same goes for shorter rods.


05-02-2003, 07:46 AM
For GLs salmon and steelhead - 90% of the time use two hander

Everything else trout, smallmouths, carp, fly fishing will use single handers

I noticed on this weeks steelhead trip though when I pulled out the single handers for a little while, I continual tried to grip them with two hands !!

So I guess I am becoming more a two hand guy.

PM Out

Topher Browne
05-02-2003, 07:57 AM
Lady Amherst,

Yes, that is my rod and my box of flies: please return immediately!


I agree: most have the good sense to fish the appropriate rod. I am sometimes guilty, however, of leaving that good sense packed up with the rod tubes in the car. I often fish a two-hander purely for the intoxicating rhythm of the cast.

For me, the downfall of the two-handed rod is fishing a dead-drift dry fly (i.e. free-floating/non-waking). I like to position myself slightly below and about 30 feet from a visible salmon. A single-handed rod is more accurate at that distance and more stealthy.

If I can, I rig up two rods: a 9' for #8 wt. with a dry fly and a 12.5'-14' two-hander with a wet fly. I have yet to find one set-up that performs under all conditions with equanimity, but then I have never been shy about adding another rod to the quiver!

05-02-2003, 08:39 AM
Topher, I agree completely with the use of single handed rod for the dead-drift dries on Gaspé rivers. It's much more precise, subtle and stealthy. I wouldn't dream of using a two hander.

05-06-2003, 01:14 PM
I go with the "depends on the situation" school but its been a few years since I used a double handed rod in fresh water.

I would probably go with a double hander purely for the fun of it unless the size of the stream forced me to go with a single or accuracy is at a premium as Topher points out.

A lot gets written about the prodigious distances which are possible with a double handed rod but that's only part of the equation. Being able to present a fly, under control, at distance, and effectively cover a greater area of water (and fish) is where the advantage really lies (IMHO).

05-06-2003, 01:57 PM
Does any body use a two hander with dry files ?

Seems not practical now that I am thinking about it.

Can't see false casting the two hander to dry and redirect the cast of the dry fly like we do with a single hander.

PM Out

05-06-2003, 05:43 PM
That's another of the reasons for my little 11 foot 3 inch rod - I can overhead cast easily with it if I have to, and mending line is a dream! And, it is light enough to be sporting with smaller fish!


Topher Browne
05-06-2003, 07:29 PM
I wonder if that 10 and 1/2' Meiser Two-Handed Rod that I saw on the rotating banner on the SpeyClave would make a nice dead-drift dry fly rod for those of us who must have two hands on a rod?

05-06-2003, 08:06 PM
The new sage 5120-4 12 foot 5 weight should be a great dry fly spey rod for trout and small steelhead and salmon. Small I guess is under 6 pounds to me. That rod should be able to handle those size fish. I cast it both ways at the Michigan Clave last week, and it was sweet.

It will be in my arsenal some day soon.

Let me know when another one comes up on ebay or the ultra light spey black market or something like that. You know what I mean.



PM Out

05-06-2003, 08:22 PM
That's more like it! With your son "going in the corps", that's one less mouth to feed, and one less kid to buy clothes for, give spending money to, buy clothes for, etc. Hell, you could probably afford one for each hand!:hehe: :hehe:

Semper Fidelis!


05-06-2003, 08:49 PM
that 12 5w is a POS for fish of any size. Not enough umph to fight steel or salmon properly. How you can only target 5-6# fish is beyond me, since they decide when they want to bite. Mr. Big is always out there, imagine a 20# hunk of steel on that thing. It will be another fish story of how I lost it all due to under gunning.

That 11' something Meisner rod sounds like the ticket if memory serves it comes in an 8 and 9w. That will stick any thing that swims our GL waters.

05-06-2003, 10:50 PM

I will bring mine for late June. It is the 10'6" Switch 7/8, a little light for my liking considering where it will be used.

Don't say I did'nt warn you,


05-07-2003, 06:58 AM
Yeah, mjyp is right about 5-weights on tribs (unless you are going to keep the fish you catch)! Anything BIG and you can land 'em, but you worry 'em to death.

But it would be a great rod for trout, bass, etc. Fun to cast, and you can learn how to do dry flies on the spey. Hey, some of those Michigan streams are BIG.


Topher Browne
05-07-2003, 09:56 AM
Thanks Guys,

Based on the "I'm in Love" thread, I will have to give that Sage 5120-4 a test drive. I flexed it at the shows, but that just ain't the same as giving it a real swing over something that might just pull back.


Look forward to fishing the Meiser 10'6" for #7/8. I've also heard nice things about the 10'6" for a #8/9. The last of the single-handed rod collection is in danger.......

Pont Couvert, Alice, Adams, Matalik, Heppel..........can't wait!

05-08-2003, 10:19 PM

I use my 2-handers with dry flies for steelhead quite often. I have not had to false cast to "dry the fly" as people have been taught to do with a single-hand trout rod. It is not necessary to use anything other than standard spey casts to properly fish a dry fly with a 2-hander. Since we are picking up a fly and casting it with considerable energy when spey casting, the cast itself removes the excess water from the fly without false casting. I have also used dry flies spey cast with a single-hand rod and have not had problems with water-logged flies.

05-09-2003, 06:20 AM
To define it right, the only time you have to dry out a fly when fishing is when they are covered with fish slime. (Washing in water after catching a fish, and judicious patting with an "amadou" pad helps, too!)


05-11-2003, 03:16 AM
I would have to say that I am in the 99% class as far as time with the Speyrod and the rest of time with single it is Bamboo.

Have been playing with several switch proto-types and the verdict is still out on those.
Have cast a Meiser 10'6" for #7/8 and was very impressed.

As for Hal and 5120 Sage I think that that is just a dream of his.

The 5120 would make it for half ponders but would skeptical of chasing anything large with it.
Would like to try one for the Yellowstone and hoppers that Hemingway wind really can cause you to reach for a Spey rod.


05-25-2003, 07:24 PM
Well, so far I have a couple of rods but I am just startiing out (2yrs.) I have an older Sage 7136-4 and a new 8150-4. The 8wt has much more authority with a Windcutter 7/8/9, but the 7wt casts like a dream with a Wulff 7/8 DT. The distinction is so different that I would say the 7wt is a trout rod and the 8wt is a true salmon rod. I wish we had more salmon activity here on the East coast - short of Canada there isn't much salmon activity except for a brief run in New England

I love the fluid motion of the long rods although I am still in a steep learning mode - we are trying to figure out some way to fish the salt effectively with a two hander.

Topher Browne
05-25-2003, 09:12 PM

My limited experience with two-handed rods in the salt makes me lean toward faster, 'Euro-style' rods in the 12'-14' lengths. The set-up gives a considerable distance advantage over the standard 9' x 9 wt. striper/bluefish rod. I overhead cast with shooting heads--no spey casting from the beach.

I fish two-handed in the surf, but still prefer a 9' rod from a boat: distance is not a concern from a boat (boats move, beaches don't--at least not very quickly!), and I still have not figured out a good way to land a fish in a boat by myself with a two-hander.

Thomas & Thomas, located in the Bay State, makes a 12' x 12 wt. two-hander for the striper/bluefish market; it's a cannon and a superb rod. I'd rate the rod closer to a #10/11 wt., and not a true #12 wt.

Rumor has it that Massachusett's own Juro Mukai of CND rods is currently developing a two-hander for the surf. Juro guides full-time for stripers; keep an eye peeled for this new offering.

05-26-2003, 04:59 AM

Juro is cooking up something in the two handed salt class. Leave it to Juro to somehow bridge the PNW traditions and the outer reaches of Monomoy Island on Cape Cod. I have these visions of Juro talking to Haig-Brown in the swirling mists of BC getting input on the perfect tool for the beach.......