Two-Handed Season Wrap Up [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Two-Handed Season Wrap Up

12-03-2004, 12:04 PM
Ok, so there's been a lot of interesting talk here over the last year about two-handers on the beach, but the majority of the talk has been about casting them -- the right stroke, the right lines, how to hold the line with the upper hand, etc. What about actually fishing the things? What was your actual fishing experience this year? People like Juro, Jay Horton and some others obviously have lots of general experience with these things, but for those, like me, who are new to two-handers, how did you make out in actual fishing? I'll start, but I really want to hear what others have to say, good and bad.

I got a relatively inexpensive 12 foot two-hander (brand not important) at the end of the summer, just before my last week on the Cape around Labor Day. I fished it on some bayside flats on the Cape, and since then from a boat and the beach in Montauk, and recently a handful of times in the surf at Sandy Hook NJ. All told, I've probably caught 30 or so bass, a smattering of blues and one albie on the thing. Here's what I've observed.

1) I'm sold on these things, especially in the surf, but also on the beach. Distance is a plus, no doubt, but not because I really need to (or even can effectively) handle a super long line in the surf. Rather, to be able to flip out decently long casts (let's say 70 feet +) with little false casting is sometimes more valuable than being able to rock out the monster casts everyone is talking about. Plus, how often are casting conditions on the beach like they are in the parking lot? Sometimes, wind makes a 30 foot cast a chore with a big fly, so getting reasonable casting distance in real fishing situations with less effort is great. That said, hitting breaking fish at distances you couldn't make with a 9 footer can be useful. And, it's not like I'm not trying hero casts (usually unsucessfully!!) all the time!!! Much practice to do ....

2) Shooting heads are great, but they have their limitations too. In the surf at Sandy Hook -- I was fishing some crazy windy days -- shooting line proved to be a little harder to control than regular fly line, both in the basket and in the water. On the CC flats (in my case, Chapin Beach) I used a 12 wt full floater very happily. The two handed cast let me get more distance and a longer retrieve, but I also still had control to mend, pick up to get a breaking fish in another direction, and so on. And yes, I liked the two-hander on the flats and estuaries for generally covering water (didn't sight fish with it, though). That lighter Atlantis looks like just the ticket.

3) Landing fish, even in waist deep water, was not the big deal people suggested. Just hold the rod a little higher up the grip and you're good to go. Juro may be right that 11 feet is the ideal compromise, but 12 was ok too. And on the beach, beaching fish was the same as with a one-hander. Of course, I was catching smallish fish, so I don't know what a 20 lber would be like.

4) Similarly, boat fishing was no problem. At one point in Montauk, three of us were using two handers from the same boat with no problems. In fact, when zinging out that 450-500 fast sinking head, it was kinda nice having that lethal snake a little farther away from my head, and I could hit some fish I couldn't with the one-hander. And landing a fat albie with one was no tougher than anything else I'm used to.

5) One nagging difficulting is not being able to retrieve as close to you as you'd like. A couple of times on the Cape, I had fish boiling 20 feet in front of me, and the two hander was a little awkward in terms of line management. Same deal with fish right in the wash in the surf -- a 25 cast would be more effective and yet the shooting head I was using was 35 feet and I needed most of it out of the guides to load the rod. Still, I muddled through and could do better with more experience.

6) Tossing big flies with lines in the 500 grain range is way easier. Now, I won't say that some of my monstrous bucktail deceivers were still pretty rough to cast, but certainly better than my 9 x 9. A long flatwing is easy to cast with that many grains. Poppers too -- try throwing a big banger even 70 feet with a nine weight and any kind of wind.

7) There is a real learning curve to casting these things, and I had my good days, where I thought I'd never bother a striper again with a single-hander, but I also had my bad ones, where I spent more time trying to untangle shooting line from my waders than presenting a fly. I've never tried a 15 foot rod -- maybe you get outrageous distance without even trying -- but at the practical shorter lengths, the increased distance isn't instantaneous, and it's really easy, for me anyway, to screw up a lot of casts. But when you get that right "flick" -- the best description I've heard for the little pop that send the cast on its way -- it feels really good.

7) Most important, for me, they're really, really FUN. Having cast a one-hander for a long time, it's nice to have a whole new thing to try out, to mess up, and, one hopes, to master. I don't know if I caught any fish that I wouldn't have otherwise -- well there were a few strikes way out there at the end of my cast -- but I sure had fun doing it and will continue to do so as I get better.

So... with a significant birthday in February, I have my sites on some Atlantisssss and such stuff.

What was your experience -- not in hitting the magic 120 or whatever, but in really using these things on the water?


Dble Haul
12-03-2004, 02:05 PM
I agree with everything that you've listed, save the boat fishing because I haven't used my two-hander in that situation yet.

It was quite satisfying to gradually improve my casting, and I certainly agree with your assertion that beach/surf fishing is nothing like lawn casting. My biggest frustration was twisting and tangling in the running line, so much so that I've gone almost entirely to a two-handed retrieve to help prevent this problem. I don't mind the two-handed retrieve, but there are certain circumstances where I'd like to do long single-handed strips.

I look forward to spring fishing for stripers with big ol' herring patterns on the Atlantis. Should be fun. :)

12-04-2004, 11:09 AM
I went out with Juro in early Oct--right in the middle of the remnants of hurricane Jeanne. First time on the two-handers, and the weather wasn't helping (wind from the right, and I'm right handed!). I learned to cast these things on my off-shoulder.

With that said, within a couple of hours, I was hitting 90'. And when I switched from the Atlantis to the lighter All-arounder, woo-hoo! I can't wait to get my own.

In summary: Fun, short learning curve (though I need more practice), less fatigue, relatively easy line management, minimal false casting, no dbl-hauling....

And I managed two schoolies at the end of the day, by the Chatham Light.