Two-handed casting 1-2-3 [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Two-handed casting 1-2-3

06-14-2004, 11:19 AM
I am putting together a training sequence called 'three steps to a full line' for two-handed casters. My intent with this is to demystify casting the Atlantis, and it's free for owners. By full line I mean 115ft casts from foot to fly minus wiggles, or a 105ft tarpon intermediate line with a 10ft leader. (We can play around with much longer distances with shooting heads and running lines as well)

As this gets completed and I try to figure out when to get together, I thought I would post a few notes:

Step one: Getting to two hands from one

This part will talk about the changes you will encounter from an ingrained single handed casting style to a two-handed overhead casting style.

line is held by rod hands, there is no line hand
line is slipped through fingers in rod grip to lengthen false casts
no double haul, just a lower pull
stroke is easier to throw off track because of the pulling of the bottom hand and longer rod
rod is prone to dip (butt trunking) during backcast because of kickout of butt to power backcast
straight tracking is critical to good cast
more abrupt stroke and higher stop to shoot
both shooting heads and whole lines
setup techniques - sideslip, shooting roll, snake, circle
stroke-tracking improvement exercises are important

At end of part I - comfortable setting up, lifting and stroke making smooth minimum effort casts with clean loop shape, angle and loop elevation. Distance unimportant, only loops that track well and are formed correctly.

Part II: Adding acceleration

Making sure all of part I is working, work on applying a smooth acceleration to a hard stop at the proper point in the stroke, and shooting running line. This should result in consistent, clean 85 foot casts from both shoulders, either left-up or cross-handed. The motion should be effortless and the results consistent.

from proper stop on backcast, make a final stroke that accelerates just a little more than false casts
shoot running line and finish with rod angle correct
focus on 'alley' where the loop needs to travel

Outcome: get a working cast without any exertion, just a little bit of acceleration added.

Part III: Extending the stroke length, adding more acceleration to maximize the cast.

Part III should put the backing knot into the guides with little more than a drift at the end of the backcast to lengthen the stroke and a touch more acceleration. The angle of the rod must not be dipped down, "no trunking" during the backward drift. The drift allows the backcast to travel backward in the stroke, giving the angler a longer potential stroke length to leverage in the path of acceleration.
alignment of the loop (angle of aim)
elevation of the loop
acceleration method (leading before the snap/stop), smooth leading acceleration to a powerful snap
attention to shape of loop
shooting of running line
ease of execution

I think the single factor that makes casting the Atlantis easier for the practitioner is learning to relax and let the rod do the work, which is how it was designed to be cast. This simple three-step method makes the caster feel out the simple basics - stroke, acceleration and shooting techniques. Give them a try and I hope we can get together with the long rods soon.


The most common problems people I see people have with their recently acquired two-handers include:

Excessive overhang - Too much of the running line is put out and a big hinge is introduced into the casting stroke. I am prone to go for too much overhand on occasion, so am very familiar with the problems it introduces.

Rod path - a longer rod with a power plant at the butt often gets yanked out of a straight path of travel, which is even more important for two-handed casting than for single handed casting since there is no double haul to overdrive the stroke out of trouble.

Line slipping thru hands - Single handed casting uses a 'free' hand to hold the line, two-handed casting can not. A three finger grip (under the middle finger, against the ring and index either side) dramatically improves the holding and slipping power of the hand against the line.

Application of power in the casting stroke - acceleration is not smooth or gradual leading to the speed/stop. Essentially trying too hard instead of letting the rod do the work.

Familiarizing with setting up between casts - Short heads, long heads, etc. Longer heads require a little more technique to roll out to aerialize but hold their loop over greater distances. Short lines are expedient and effective in carrying big flies out there. The angler needs to choose the weapon for what they plan to do.


The top ferrule should be taped. It's far enough away so that it doesn't get checked and if it comes loose and you try to cast 600 grains it's not going to survive the shock. Please tape the top ferrule of any two-handed rod as the spey afficionados out west and in Europe all do.

06-15-2004, 12:58 PM

I'm in for any and all training sessions.

After more practice outings my 2-handed casting is getting worse. I'm about ready to put the Atlantis on ebay.

There are many questions/problems too numerous to mention here. I think the biggest difficulty for non-spey casters is the use of the lower(left) hand. The fingers on that hand must release and regrip line as well as move the rod. Unless you play the saxaphone this is hard to do.

Please keep me updated on on training dates.


06-15-2004, 03:01 PM
Juro- my shooting heads and running line should be arriving at my office any day now, so I should be all rigged up for this weekend, providing the weather cooperates. Definitely want to concentrate on casting and presentation (both with Atlantis and 9wt single hander); catching fish would be a pleasant icing on the cake. I'll bring both my Sage and Orvis 9 wt rods (the Orvis is a stiffer tip-flex for speed, the Sage has a fuller flex), and we can discuss which (if not both) to bring out with us in addition to the Atlantis. As for taping, I'll pick up a roll of that new "clear" duct tape I've seen on TV ads- should be just the thing!
See ya Saturday...

06-15-2004, 03:31 PM
To followup on my "5 day perspective post", it has now been about 15 outings with the Atlantis. Your bullets are well taken, especially "taping the last ferrule". The rod generates alot of speed and that tip needs to be taped. As a novice 2 hander, I did not know that.
Also, I am really pleased with the feel of the 12 wt Wulff Triangle taper clear intermediate. It not the bermuda triangle line. Wulff was able to locate me a couple of these from a distributor in England. They may have more, if others need them. They performed quite well in the cool Atlantic waters.

06-15-2004, 03:50 PM
Dennis -

Glad to hear you got home safely. Those clear cold water 12wt intermediates sound like a very nice match. I will contact Doug Cumming over at Wulff to get my hands on some.

Also, the Airflo 12wt clear intermediate full lines are very nice although it would be nice to have a visual mark at the junction of the head and the running line. They are easy to find as they are not discontinued. I have a feeling that the Wulff 30ft head is the nicer match, being shorter yet very well behaved when in the air.

Had another talk with Tim Rajeff and am really hot to try the striper 2-hander lines. One is a clear head with blue intermediate low-stretch running line, the other is a fast sinking DI-9 with color change, both in the Atlantis preferred grain range and 30 ft easy roll head lengths with 120ft of running line. These tapers are essentially designed to deal with high line speeds so that the loop form stays pretty even when slicing wind or waves.

I am also playing more with the Rio Scandinavian heads, after watching Simon Gawesworth rocket the line into the next time zone I was enlightened that I am just scratching on the surface of what good technique can give back to me over time, with practice.

Per my earlier post - please do like the spey dudes do and tape at least the top ferrule. It's far enough away so that you don't check it often enough, so the best approach is to tape as if you were spey casting.

Here is a search link to the topic from the Speypages Discussion Area (taping ferrules). (

06-15-2004, 04:14 PM
Originally posted by DickIvers

There are many questions/problems too numerous to mention here. I think the biggest difficulty for non-spey casters is the use of the lower(left) hand. The fingers on that hand must release and regrip line as well as move the rod. Unless you play the saxaphone this is hard to do.

Dick -

Try this:

Forget bottom hand line handling for now, let's use the top hand instead. Raise the middle finger, put the line under, then close. This puts the line against three fingers. Everything else goes into the basket.

To slip a little line, ease the middle finger. To stop, grip. To shoot, flip the bone.

Let's rewind...

I. Use only the head of the line. Pick it up, lay it down. Make everything smooth and straight. Easy.

II. Then go to a false cast sequence. Pick it up, false cast a few times, watching for the loop to track straight from back to front with bare minimum power. If you went any slower, the loop would fall to the ground. Make sure the elbow of the top hand/arm is bending on the way back, and the rod does not dip down backward when you kick the rod butt out. The rod tip tracks in a slightly convex path within the same plane, out to the side slightly so the loop passes by you like a sidecar on a motorcycle, but not on the ground of course.

OK, now we'll cast. Do II again, keep things smooth and straight. On a good feeling forward cast, accelerate a little faster and pop the bent elbow straight forward while pulling the bottom of the rod inward. Keep everything in a straight line. That should give you an effortless 85-90ft.

To go beyond that point, we add (a) drift to extend the stroke and (b) a little slip of line to extend the line not to mention more acceleration and a harder stop. We'll save that for next time.

Where do you live / work?

06-15-2004, 11:17 PM

Live: Newton
Work: Yuck..bad word...retired

06-15-2004, 11:32 PM

I had trouble holding the line with the middle finger as Juro describes. Whether I misunderstood or just poor technique the line always ended up sliding under finger at the joint. I have had better success with the index and middle finger pinching the line against the cork.

I too had alot of timing problems due to years of single hander only casting techniques. I found that I had slow down alittle and to start reversing direction alittle sooner due to the lag in response from the rod's additional length. Or to say it another way the line had already straightened and unloaded the rod somewhat before I would stop and reverse direction. Watch you loop, line end and timing.

I like Juro's suggestion of using the lower hand in this manner. push out from center of body out with lower, then bring into center. I like my other hand high on the grip at about shoulder height pushing out and forward.

I found the Wulff line to be the most forgiving to cast with the Atlantis so far with my limited experience. I also spent alot of time just working out the best technique with the head always at the same location each time to establish a datum or place of reference. Later you can work on slipping more line into the backcast as you technique and timing is refined.

Hope this help give another perspective on improving your two handed casting technique.

06-15-2004, 11:55 PM
Good point Greg,

I should've said "choose a secure line holding method that works for you, I use the middle finger grip".

The ability to hold the line with the rod hand is an important step for those deeply ingrained in holding the line with the other hand while single hand casting. I meant only to suggest a method, there are many to choose from. The important thing is that the line does not slip during the power stroke, whatever method you adopt. The ability to slip line out to optimal casting length is also important. The way you grip it specifically is not.


06-15-2004, 11:58 PM
Originally posted by DickIvers

Live: Newton
Work: Yuck..bad word...retired

I will contact another neighbor of yours who recently bought the Surf-tamer whom I owe a lesson and arrange a primer session.

07-15-2004, 08:53 PM
I think you should approach a line making company and together with CND make a short video for sale that shows all of this. There's no substitute for SEEING it! As an Atlantis owner I'd be willing to pony up a few bucks to be able to get the most out of the surf tamer. :cool:

07-16-2004, 01:15 AM
...Juro you could take a few slo-mo vids and post them here or on the speypages.

Moose, I don't have an Atlantis but I will be putting some overhead casting video up on the speypages very soon...unless of course Juro beats me to it :lildevl:

07-16-2004, 06:19 AM
I typed a long reply here last night but checked for new messages and lost all the typing, my own fault. Anyway the crux of it was that working with any good distance casting video, like George Roberts video, would be a very good study toward getting the most out of the Atlantis. Most of the concepts are the same:

loading and unloading the rod
smooth acceleration along a very straight path
hard stop at the correct position
extending the length of the casting stroke for more distance
fault correction, etc

There are differences - line management, double hauling, and dealing with wind using a backhanded cast is very effective with a two-hander where pretty lame with a single. But the foundations are the same.

Anyway I have bribed my daughter to take some video for me early next week. It's gonna cost me!

Also, I am giving a two-handed seminar at Rod Builder's Workshop and will make sure that we get some footage.

07-16-2004, 07:06 AM

What is the date/details for the two-handed seminar at Rod Builders Workshop?

07-16-2004, 07:19 AM
Hi Brendan,

Smitty called and we are working out dates that will work best for all. I will propose a couple of dates today and let him pick. This one is being picked up by Smitty so there is no charge to attend except a small organizing fee that pays for lunch (included) $20-25. It will be held in Kingston near the shop, you should call him for the other details. We will set the date today. There will also be a Spey casting class through them as well which is a paid class to be held on water. The two-handed class will be held on grass.

That is your schedule this weekend? I need to be back up north after the Big Brother Day so I hope to hook up with you and Dick Ivers sometime. Are you guys busy on Sunday afternoon / evening? Might have a third Atlantis owner coming as well. I would like to go through some new material with you to gather feedback.

Drop me a line if you can do something on Sunday, Dick that goes for you as well.

07-16-2004, 06:47 PM

I am good for Sunday.


07-16-2004, 08:04 PM
Great! Sunday it is.

Please PM me with your phone contact info Dick - already have Brendans. I would prefer to meet in the morning since my better half has me tied up in the afternoon.

I would like to meet around Concord if that's OK with you guys. We can firm up a time based on both of your availability. 90 minutes to 2 hours should be more than enough for the first session. Depending on how things go we will have follow-ups until you guys are hitting peak form and distance.

I met with another Atlantis owner today for a tune-up and hit a 155 foot cast with him as a witness today. Details: I could only one time out of several tries, although 130-140 was pretty consistent, strong tailwind, :tongue: 45 ft 650 grain shooting head with slickshooter 50# running line (115 ft) and a 10 ft leader to the backing knot. The setup totals 170 ft but due to loss of loop form after 140ft I am deducting 15 feet from total distance.

The head is only practical for fishing up to 120-125 feet in real life because of the problems with having too much running line in the stripping basket. Given a better basket... who knows.

Most importantly several key concepts were communicated that will improve his experience and abilities with the Atlantis. I look forward to the follow-up session to see if he is able to retain the adjustments, which require practice but have big returns on investment.


1) Introduced a smooth backcasting method that uses less power but more efficient energy transfer, not to mention a smooth and turbulence free shape to draw against for the start of the forward stroke.

2) Talked about the importance of straight rod path in two-handed casting, and tricks for tracking the rod tip via tracking of the hands. Also talked about vee-grip and stroke alignment, cleaning up hooking strokes and the wall trick. We used the freshly laid chalk lines on the soccer field as reference lines for line and rod tracking.

3) Stressed correction of power application - not enough of pre-load was occurring at the start of the stroke. The rod crept forward without a bend and the last part of the stroke had to produce all the energy in the speed-up and stop without the benefit of an early load to pull forth into it.

4) Talked about progressing thru three steps: (1) a low energy, high efficiency "clean" cast; then (2) smoothly increasing acceleration while staying clean; then (3) using an extended stroke with with increased acceleration.

Because the student was also a spey caster, he did not have much problem with line handling and his stroke was usually high and hard enough to propel a good loop well over 100' consistently. Even with the power application all at the end he rarely tailed because he was careful to apply the power below the tracking path of the line.

Two-handed overhead casting is first and foremost about a clean stroke, then it's about taking advantage of the power inherent in an IM8 11ft two-handed thunder stick to do more with said stroke. You can't use power to correct casting problems, but you can add a little bit of power to a clean stroke and get a lot in return.

Looking forward to meeting you guys on Sunday!

07-19-2004, 12:34 PM
Great meeting up with you guys again.

The Airflo 35 ft type III head on the polyshoot Dick had felt light yet shot very well, in fact it was best to use a light touch to get the most out of that setup. The best way to maximize that shooting head's distance was to:

1) ensure a clean straight path of the rod tip throughout the stroke
2) load and unload the rod smoothly with acceleration, don't over power it
3) use the underhand pull a little more to keep it snappy (not too much)
4) stop the rod high and let the line fly further

The rod could handle a little more grains than that head but it was plenty to load it and the head shot well with very little effort at all provided the stroke was straight and the timing / angle good on the hard stop.

One note: starting too early forward from a backcast (creep) will take away from that initial load on the rod that gets accelerated forward... that start-up inertia is very important for maximizing the load in the rod coming forward thru the increasing acceleration of the stroke leading up to the stop. Get a strong enough backcast to straighten the line, but start loading against the backcast with your forward stroke before the leader jumps out straight but not while a length of flyline would still need to be straightened before the rod loads on the forward cast.

Alignment of the casting stroke is absolutely critical with two-handers. Use the hand on wall exercise I showed you to help teach your hand to track true, and don't forget to coordinate your bottom hand as well as the top. Things should improve dramatically as it does not take much power to get over 100' cast consistently with a clean stroke. Effort is minimal when the loop passes through a small imaginary cylinder in the air.

Practice both sides, and take time to perfect the backcast.

The SA Intermediate 12wt line Brendan had was a pleasure to cast and shot to the backing knot without much trouble. With 30ft of line it did not really load the surf-tamer but the nice thing was you could continue to aerilialize more line and get a smooth and full load into the rod before shooting the rest. Very nice feel to it.

This more-line casting style lends itself well to nicely tapered longer belly lines and feels quite natural. However shorter compact heads in various densities are sometimes better for throwing big flies, fishing fast deep rips, etc - especially when the fly is stripped in to the leader butt in order to fish it effectively. Both should be learned and practiced.

With two-handed rods the ideal loading and unloading of the energy would occur between 10:30 and 1:30 as opposed to opening down to the horizontal on the forward stroke. If the loading and release of the energy is on the forward half with almost a horizontal rod stop, the line goes forward with a larger "nose" (open forward loop). This larger shape is less wind resistant and does not allow for casting of shorter head lines which require an efficient shooting technique. Where almost any line can be cast effectively with a two-handed high stroke from 10:30-1:30 on the dial, the forward nose will only work well when enough line can be aerialized during the false casting build-up.

Because of the proper loading of the rod, the line was shooting out to the backing in this case, but again the shooting head would not have fared well and a headwind would kill that cast in it's tracks.

I would recommend to all two-handed overhead casters:

- Practice a 'perfect baby loop' with minimal energy and build up power slowly
- practice the Scandinavian underhand stroke to identify with your bottom hand
- practice a stroke that loads (low speed) well back of 12:00 and speeds up
to stop crisply at 10:30

A suggestion I would make is try to stay put where the rod stop on the backcast and start applying the load back there. Acclerate the rod over midnight and stop it sharply at 10:30-10am on the virtual clock to let the loop carry forth on a straight arrow path at a higher column in the air. Although coming forward and punching the loop ahead near the horizontal works with longer headed lines, the higher stroke will work with all lines (weight forward, shooting heads, spey taper lines, etc.) It will also ensure maximum distance shooting running line and lead to tight loop development.

I enjoyed and learned a lot in the exercise, especially that I need to work on a way to describe the circle-spey backcast to non-spey casters ;)

My biggest take-away was that the basics are the most important part of casting two-handers, the rest is just acceleration and extending stroke. Get the basics and good casts just 'happen'.


Any Atlantis owners who would like to join in on these refinement workshops please let me know.

BTW - glad you guys liked the 9/10wt all-arounder. :smokin:

07-19-2004, 01:57 PM
Hi Juro,
When I come up in August if you me to bring pro digital camera to photograph hand positions and line control just let me know.

fish we must

07-20-2004, 08:29 AM
good idea! I should have my video camera back by then too.

Doc Duprey
07-20-2004, 08:46 AM

Any Atlantis owners who would like to join in on these refinement workshops please let me know.


I for one would be VERY interested in such a workshop...I need to get ready for the fall migration and blitz city here in New Jersey!

Just let me/us know when and where.

Best regards,


07-20-2004, 09:25 AM
Doc -

Andrew Moy of Tightlines Flyfishing and I have been discussing a Sandy Hook Clave during the fall migration. Might as well hit Montauk while there too. I have a number of events stacking up in September but if October is not too late it would work for me as a way to say good bye to the stripers until 2005. Sobering thought, eh? Thank goodness for Fly Shows!

We will definitely put on a two-hander clinic then. Also some big fly discussion and surf fishing technique demonstrations should be part of the agenda.

Anyone who would be interested in a Grand Finale Clave please reply. Sandy Hook / Montauk Grand Slam Finale Clave, early October most likely.

Doc Duprey
07-20-2004, 11:16 AM
Just as a small tidbit of info...

October ROCKS here in Jersey. Things can get really good with lots of fish and lots of action on the come on down!

Seriously, if there is anything I can do to help you and Drew get things set up for a Grand Finale Clave, just say the word.

Best regards,


07-20-2004, 12:38 PM
Would love to do a Jorsey Clave on Doc' s Turf. Would need to know well in advance for part-time job purposes. FishHaw :D