Just Curious [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Just Curious

04-16-2006, 06:41 PM
Has anybody out there ever tried using a spey rod for tarpon? I know the dangers of casting from a boat etc etc-which I would be fishing from. Headed down to Florida in July and thought it might be worth a few yucks to try.

Thanks, Mike

04-16-2006, 07:56 PM
There was an article on 2 handed long rods (10-14 feet) to reach tarpon that are a long ways off in the water - was in something like Saltwater Flyfishing or Flyfishing in Saltwaters but they only mentioned smaller tarpon. I think with anything above 60-70 lb. you'd be severly disadvantaged with the leverage.

04-16-2006, 08:42 PM
I think an 11ft 11/12wt rod would be great for the task. The length of the rod from the front grip to the tip is about the same as a 9 footer grip to tip. Except you can put the butt on the hip and give it juice, no need to put a hand on the blank with the right handle length.

Casting either side of the body is easy with two hands doing the work. Wind is usually a factor in saltwater.

Distance goes to the two-hander.

I would say the shore angler would fare better but then again boat anglers do not fish alone for tarpon very often and the other person helps them regardless of whether they are fishing with a single hander, spin rod for that matter. So there is no disadvantage to having an 11ft 11/12wt on a boat under the most common circumstances.

People fight tarpon with two hands anyway. I say there is no disadvantage unless the rod is too long, or designed for Spey casting, or both. Otherwise I say a single hand rod is not as suited to the task, hence the extra fighting grip on the blank.

BTW - did the article mention a 10ft two-hander? What was the make and model I would be curious about that.

04-16-2006, 08:59 PM
I have never fished for tarpon but I would have a couple questions regarding the two hander.

Can you have too much line out on the cast? My thinking here is that everything I have read stipulates that one of the toughest parts is getting a good solid hook set. I'm think the 100-120ft of line you get out with the two hander would increase stretch and reduce your ability to penetrate the rock hard mouth of a tarpon.

Is there really a need to have the two handed casting advantage? I would also think that fishing from a poling skiff the guide can set you up for a traditional cast and will actually wait for the fish to come within range to get that solid 80ft or less cast.


04-16-2006, 09:08 PM
It would have to be a short two hander but maybe it could provide an advantage...

The new airflo lines have a non stretch running line so the stretch factor is not there.

An 80' cast is easy as pie with a two hander without any hauling necessary. I know very few guys who can cast 80' with a single hander without hauling (I cannot). So if speed of presentation is of any help the two hander will get you that.

That being said you gotta be decent with a two hander. Have been around a few who were NOT comfortable with a 2 hander and it was not good for all aboard....


04-16-2006, 10:02 PM
It's not for everybody thats for sure. But neither is flyfishing.

However if the practitioner is capable with the tool I feel there are advantages. Getting capable takes time and practice as with the single hander, which most have invested hundreds of hours into. A fraction of that dedication would begin to reveal things, although few have invested in it and some can't rationalize the benefits. I would attest that these advantages are there for the taking for those who reach for it.

In the right hands the angler with the tool will get more shots, and more shots means more hookups. Most experts will say let the fish turn with the fly and strip set, so the rod angle is pointing at the fish and thus there is no difference between an expert single hand caster and a moderately capable two-handed caster in terms of the hook setting challenge.

My experience with tarpon is not whether the hook can be buried by force, but whether your hook can find a suture between bone plates or not, usually not. In fact I would argue that the lighter initial tension would help steer the hook into the corner of the mouth under the mandible as often as it would not.

In my recent experiences on small tarpon I rarely had more than 60 feet out of the guides - sometimes 40 feet. I could set the hook as solid as a freight train especially since the fish hit so hard they'd put any striper, blue, albie to shame. I planted the hook with vigor, but once the fish got airborne the only way to hold them was if the hook was in a soft spot, period. This is pretty consistent with all of the tarpon angling information I have ever heard of or experienced.

Once the fight is engaged, it's clear that a single hand rod is not adequate hence the second fighting grip. It's effectively a two-hand fighting rod as is.

Landing the fish by oneself is not done very often, so the shorter two-handers are probably not going to introduce problems at the boat. I suppose if fishing by oneself they might consider a shorter single hander but their chances of landing a big tarpon by oneself are pretty slim.

I certainly can't say, this is a matter of conjecture verses conjecture and opinion against opinion - but it's certainly an interesting discussion and I think the biggest barrier to exploration of it's potential is that most single handed casters just don't tend to take any additional steps to master something new as they have from spin gear to fly gear intially. I can understand that, however I also insist that there are new doors opened by it and we've only scratched the surface of it's potential in saltwater.


04-16-2006, 10:48 PM
Why would you want to use the spey rod over a single handed rod? Just for longer casting distance?

I've never been tarpon fishing but I've watched a ton of it on TV. Yeah, call me the armchair fisherman, but I don't see how a spey rod is going to help you from what I've seen. If you want better leverage, you don't need the extra cork grip on the rod. I've seen plenty of tarpon fishermen just grap the ferrule tself without any problems. In fact, that seems to be the norm more than the exception. If you just want to try it for a change of pace, have a blast! :)

04-16-2006, 10:56 PM
No one said they wanted to use a "spey rod" over a single hander; but the question was inquiring about the use of twohanded overhead casting rods (vs. Spey casting) for tarpon.

As I said in the post, there are four elements at the top of the list when it comes to tarpon -

a) casting
b) hook setting
c) fighting
d) landing / releasing

Casting goes in favor of the two-hander in capable hands. Hook setting is a wash, the rod pointed at the fish two feet is not going to make a difference on a strip set, or one foot as formula1 mentioned 10ft twohanders (?). Fighting is a wash - as you stated people use two hands on their single hander. I do hope they are not grabbing ferrules though! Landing a big fish is not much different as long as the fish is big enough to require help from another person on the boat or shore. If fishing for big tarpon by oneself, then the advantage goes to the shorter rod although not by the margin you might think if you are thinking the conversation is about rods typically used for Spey casting. Not so, the rods used for overhead casting in salt are fast action shorter rods made to allow the caster to handle much heavier lines with ease (e.g. up to 600 grain lines that you can cast comfortably all day).

Hope that is clearer.

04-16-2006, 11:04 PM
All good input. So another question--it certainly helps to have the right tool for the job but the shortest rod I have is an 8136. If I were to try that rod I'm a little concerned about if it'll be enough wood for a 50lb tarpon. I do have the old 9140-3
(Mr. Pow Pow) that I think would have enough in the butt for a 50lb fish. I do have a couple of 15ft'ers--9 and 10wt-- but I would think swinging a meat stick around a skiff like that might get a little ugly--albeit the boat I'll be on is a 22 Pathfinder with a spotting tower and bow casting platform--they'll be just 2 of us on it--maybe one when if it goes badly--har dee har har. And lastly--I assume the only cast I'll be able to do is overhead? I was thinking I might be able to modify a poke but standing on a platform I'm not sure.

Thanks, Mike

04-16-2006, 11:48 PM
So you ARE scheming to Spey! My mistake.

I have to agree with Teflon on this one :lildevl:

04-17-2006, 06:04 AM
Interesting tread..

Tommorrow morning we leave to hopefully end up somewhere in the BVI, main target is bonefish but the flyboxes are filled to the max with tarpon flies.
I'm bringing a fairly short double handed rod, 12.4 FT from an unknown brand, i've casted the rod over here and tried to find a suitable line wich can be used in the warm waters (in the past in tried a regular line wich transformed to some sort overcooked spaghetty., so i never came to casting a 2 hander in tropical conditions..).
(I even filled a bucket with some sand, trying how the rod would stand up to the task of moving the bucket around on the grass, funny what people comment you standing on grass, drilling a bucket...:D )

The reason why i take this rod with me is not the advantage of being able to cast longer but to be able to fight the tarpon more adequate...after seeing some video's i thought that even my #10 rod (one hander) wasn't suitable to fight bigger fish...i believe that this short two handed rod has some more potential for fighting bigger fish..
For the record, we do a DIY trip, so we'll be casting mostly form the beach/flats and/or docks, no boats involved..

So...i'll see what happens....

A pre report is found here; http://www.flyfishingandmore.com/tropical_preparation.html

04-19-2006, 10:05 PM
Hi guys,

The ''close to 40lb Tarpon I just mentioned in my last fishing report was caught with a pflueger 10wt 9' 2 piece rod, 10 wt floating line, using an old Redington reel....:cool:

Just for you to meditate...


Jean Marc

04-20-2006, 12:23 AM
Jean Marc

My first tarpon came on a slightly more expensive reel. I think I paid $100. :D

I remember it did get quite hot during those initial insane runs but in the end all was well:smokin:


04-20-2006, 06:35 AM
Hi Adrian,

We are on the same line here.:hihi: It is so much fun, catching them with medium size gear, needs more skill and sensations are not the same.:smokin:

I've been trying 12wt equipment before, but unless I am SURE to meet really big fish, I found it too heavy and the feeling wasn't the same.

Tight lines.;)

Jean Marc

04-20-2006, 07:31 AM
I think that tha main disadvantage of two handed rods and tarpon (from a boat) is speed. Even a praticed and skilled angler would not be as quick (and accurate) with a two hander as with a single hander. Tarpon are moving and quick adjustments need to be made as the angler tracks the fish. This is the most important aspect of tapron fishing: tracking the fish, and placing the fly in the right spot. I don't see a two hander helping out with this.
I thought these same things about fishing for bones with a two hander. Juro proved to me that it could be done, but I think that he would tell you that a two hander gained him little on the bone fish flats.

When landing the fish on a boat, even a six inch longer rod would be a disadvantage.

04-20-2006, 08:20 AM
I would beg to differ respectfully in that if the rod was of the proper design and the caster had learned how to manage the differences between single and double (which few have when it comes to flats) then there are as many advantages across the spectrum as there are disadvantages on the flats. It's up to the angler to apply them, or live without and rationalize it as most do.

To generalize, clear days with highly visible fish goes to the double, dim days with the fish hitting the legs goes to the single.

I have been with guys from whom I could hook and spook virtually every pod that came into sight by reaching them before the others could dream of casting. I stopped of course but not until I made a point about it :lildevl:

I would take on any single handed flats angler of equal skill up until the end of the migration on Monomoy and most likely would outhook him/her with a two-hander in the 11ft 9/10wt configuration. I would certainly beat them hands down in the surf but that's another story. But this is a striper situation.

Most bonefish are not big enough to warrant the use of my lightest two-hander, although there is a Loomis 7wt 11ft I want to check out. All in all bonefishing doesn't really require distance, just guile and accuracy. I neither felt disadvantaged nor advantaged in Exuma. That monster double digit fish would have buckled a 7wt though.

Side note: Bill and Jim could tell you about a snake rolled bone in Acklins where the right two-hander would have been the cats ass!

For tarpon, especially from shore, I feel the advantages are even stronger than for stripers. I hit speedsters at distance with a two-hander with one backcast, no falsecast on Monomoy and see no reason why tarpon would be any different. In fact in the morning the tarpon I have seen are slow moving and rolling and only a small percentage are within easy reach. Enlarging the radius is only going to increase your odds as I see it.

And the "fighting grip" is nothing but an elongated two-hand handle.

I hope this does not come across the wrong way, but I am of the opinion that most views are coming from inexperienced 2hnd anglers who have not really invested the time to find out what the virtues are but think they have it figured out, or try a Spey action 14 footer and think they have done the time where clearly they have not.

I liken it to the spin guy who is hesitant to explore flyfishing because it is as difficult as it is simple, and requires an investment for which it's hard to envision the reward until done.

Make no mistake there are definite advantages, and also disadvantages. It's a different tool for a different set of circumstances many of which the angler does not understand at the start of the journey.


04-20-2006, 10:49 AM
Juro, with all due respect, I think you are not understanding the difference in fighting a fish with a 11 ft rod, for instance, versus a 9 ft rod. Although you feel that putting a forgrip on a 9 ft rod is similar to a 2 hand rod, it's not, it's for increased leverage and doesn't make it a 2 handed rod. It's simply a matter of leverage. We place our hands up the blank to effectively decrease the lever arm of the rod - when you use a true 2 handed rod you are effectively increasing the lever arm that the fish has on you. With any rod, when fighting a fish, you have a fulcrum which is typically the rod butt. With a 9 ft rod, assuming no bend (just to make it easier) by moving your hand up the rod you might decrease the lever advantage the fish has on you to perhaps a 7 ft. lever. Use a 11 ft rod, and despite putting your hand further up, unless you find a way to anchor the rod to your body further up the rod, at best you have a 9 ft lever - big advantage to the fish. It's one of the reasons why big game conventional rods made a quantum leap forward in fish fighting ability when someone found out that by shortening them to 5-1/2 ft they could fight a fish far more effectively. Also why most 14 wt and up rods are 8 or 8-1/2 ft and not 9 ft.

04-20-2006, 11:13 AM
Salient points, however very limited in scope to fishing for giants from a bow IMHO. How far and often can the average Angler cast said 8ft 14wt? I have a rod that I could put 12 hour days casting 120 to 145 ft with a Rio outbound bob stop without breaking a sweat from shore or boat. Fighting them is one piece of the pie but I certainly don't find the two feet to be the end of the world especially when the butt is planted on the hip which changes leverage completely vs the 8ft two grip in the hands.

I am using a striper rod to compare with your tarpon rod example, a more realistic comparison would be like made with the bluewater Atlantis that I spec'ed that never got built.

04-20-2006, 12:05 PM
Juro, niether of us have tried to fish for tarpon from a boat with a two handed rod, so conjecture is comming from both sides. I am willing to bet that if you spent a week fishing for tarpon on a boat, you wouldn't even bring it on the boat after the first couple of days.
Distance is near the bottom of the list of priorities when tarpon fishing from a boat. More important is tracking the fish and controlling the line in the air. The fish are moving (faster than bones) and the boat is moving. You usually only get one shot. A two handed rod is at a disadvantage because the "line hand" is also on the rod. The two handed rod is not going to make subtle adjustments in direction as easily because of the increased swing weight. No one would pick a longer two handed rod for improved accuracy in any situation. When fishing for tarpon, accuracy is THE most important aspect. Juro, I know that you are very accurate with the two hander, but if your life depended on hitting a 2' moving ring at 50', you would reach for the single hander.
The two handed rod will be more tiresome to hold all day (waiting for fish). This is not a small issue. Fatigue leads to blown shots.
As for fish fighting, the two hander will have no advantage and when it comees time to leader the fish, the angler will be standing another foot further away from the capt. (on a 16' skiff, that is not a small inconvience). Even a nine footer can get bent precariously while leadering a fish. Short rods are mostly an advantage when pumping up fish that have sounded. A tarpon fight is more of a horizontal battle, so your pumps are to the side. If there was any advantage fighting fish with a longer rod, conventional anglers would use longer rods. You never see conventional tackle over 7' on boats. For big fish on stand up gear, rods are closer to 5.5' than 7'.
I suspect that a better than average flycaster could cast an eight foot rod almost as far as a nine footer (which is far enough to catch tarpon). A better than average flycaster would have a hell of a time managing the line with a two hander. I suspect that they wouldn't even be able to get off a shot (in time).

Juro, there are many VERY experienced tarpon anglers out there that would take any opportunity to increase their odds fly fishing for tarpon. There is a reason no one (maybe one guy?) fishes for tarpon from a boat with a two handed rod. The negatives out weigh the possitives. Come on Juro, you are not the only guy that has given this alot of thought.

04-20-2006, 12:28 PM
Juro, Eddie has very good points. Although I can't profess to the distances you achieve with a 2 handed rod, the issue is also that at longer distances you can't set a hook very well into a tarpon which has mouth frequently compared to the hardness of concrete - way too much line stretch. Even planting the rod on your hip is not going to help that much with leverage - you can only reach up so far on the rod before you get to a part that cannot take the stress of being a fulcrum where you hand is grabbing. 2 handed rods simply are not meant to be grabbed so far up and be able to fight a fish without breaking. Graphite is not very tolerant of bending and the problem with a long rod is you will in effect be high sticking it if you reach up enough to make the leverage similar to a 9 ft rod, or in order to bend the rod enough to get leverage, you will surpass the critical radius and compression that the graphite (carbon) fibers can withstand before the rod explodes (bending a rod in effect reduces the lever arm the fish exerts on you).

Eddie is right, if a 2h rod was truly an advantage, top tarpon anglers would be using it by now. An 8 ft rod is not very difficult to cast, and the distances needed are achievable with an 8, 8-1/2 or 9 ft rod. I have never had to, nor wanted to, cast to a tarpon greater than 90 ft away. The issue is that typically you have to be pretty accurate - I strive to hit a target the size of a frisbee at 60-80 feet - I don't think I could do that at 120 ft and it is very important in heavily pressured waters like the Keys to be accurate.

04-20-2006, 02:13 PM

This is a very good discussion indeed, and I already acknowledged that within the scope of tarpon fishing from a boat with someone motoring you around to get shots at fast moving fish your points are quite salient. No need to expound upon that aspect as if it is the only aspect of tarpon fishing!

However I ask once again if these are the only criteria? It would seem so based on the responses.

I really don't think "the top tarpon anglers" have explored this to any degree of worth, do you really think so? I think top tarpon anglers get their famous arses shuttled around by a dedicated driver while on the bow of an expensive boat too. In fact the more famous, the more carte blanche and hence the more valid the beliefs in that way of thinking.

Is anyone fishing the migration from shore for bantam weight tarpon (thanks Eric)? Not according to those I speak with who (1) are fulltime owners or directors of flyfishing companies or (2) Florida guides or (3) otherwise live in FL year-round. So does anyone really know what the application is? To paraphrase your insinuations, way more experienced and knowledgeable than you (or I).

I have fished the Keys half a dozen times and have had tarpon spray pilchards within reach of me while wading Bahia Honda and did not even cast with my 8wt and gotcha. I think I would have taken the rest of the day to target them if I had the right stuff. It's subjective as to what that stuff might be, but certainly for me it would not be a "boat rod".

There could be an element of chicken and egg here - using a 14wt 8 foot boat rod, who wants to cast all day or fish from shore? Hey let's get on a boat and chase them. Better yet find a driver so we can stand on the bow and take shots. Hence the ideal rod is... which came first the approach or the gear? I say the approach drives the gear. Another example of the approach driving the gear is the 16ft Spey action rod, or the single hand salmon rod for upriver dry work (bombers) - two very effective rods in the same river depending on approach.

To say that you can't Spey on the Gaspe' is like saying you can't upriver dry. Of course you can!

All I am saying, and I don't think I could be more clear, is that within the confines of conventional thinking all of those points are completely valid and don't need further reinforcement. I pride myself in unconventional thinking and whether it means anything in the high social circles or not I could give a flying er... fish. :)

Don't follow, lead. Wrong paths may be taken, but that's how you know when you are on a good one. Who cares what the experts say, become one in your own way.

Everybody said the same thing about two-handers in striper country a decade ago when I was cutting blanks. Turns out there are some applications afterall! Not a cure-all or a ubiquitous rod choice, but who ever said it had to be one or the other, it could be both at the right times and in the right situations. There are plenty of times when a single hand rod is useless in striper country.

So let's debate but please - don't run it down the rathole with the designated driver and standing on the bow stuff! Please consider that there are as many dimensions to tarpon fishing as any other pursuit. Why some of us even find it a blast to fish lagoons on our feet!

04-20-2006, 03:42 PM
I'm totally in favor of out of the box thinking. After all, it was only a couple of seasons ago folks thought I was 'nuts' fishing the surf (or anywhere in the salt for that matter) with a floating line. Most probably still do but that's their loss. :lildevl: The fish I target (and catch) couldn't give a **** what the fling-it-and-strip-it-as-fast-as-you-can brigade thinks.

Now to the point in question, the double hander for Tarpon. I believe that there are definitely scenarios where the advantages of extra length and associated line control outweigh the dissadvantages. One case in point would be the Yucatan in summer when Tarpon are patroling the surf-line. Any situation where extra distance is a factor in getting a spooky fish to take would be another. How about the rapidly emerging "salt pond" scenarios we've been reading about right here on this board? Surely there will be days when those fish are finning just far enough beyond your very best single-handed shot to make for frustration? I persaonnaly wouldn't take one on a boat with me - but that's just me.:smile:

As far as fighting fish is concerned the point is moot because, as experienced fly fishermen, we all know that to subdue a big fish quickly with minimum stress, we don't use our fly rods to fight fish -- do we?!!!:tsk_tsk: I could go on about 14wt rods but I'll just say they are still crap tools for fighting big fish compared to 20lb stand-up gear.

04-20-2006, 05:04 PM
There are certainly a time and place for a 2 hander. Adrian definitely has a point there and for smaller tarpon I'd say that's very valid.

I will disagree with Adrian about fighting a fish with the rod. I certainly do and if you watch any of the top tarpon or bluewater flyfisherman like Andy Mill, Billy Pate, Tom Evans, Stu Apte, etc, they all use the rod to fight the fish. Are they as good as conventional gear? Ask Dan Blanton sometime, he's recounted times when he's outfought fish against guys with conventional gear while using a fly rod. Maybe you fight big fish like tarpon without really using the rod, if so you are a better flyfisherman than me. Even guys like Andy Mill who are superb at fighting tarpon say that when they lower the rod too much they lose that cushioning effect - certainly you can just point the rod at the fish and pull back and it can work if you have gunfighter reflexes 100% of the time (and being an top athlete from another lifetime I have pretty good reflexes but I would not depend on them for the entire length of a fight to save the tippet while putting max pressure on a big fish) but what happens at boatside? Pretty hard to point the rod at the fish with a 9 ft rod and control it near the bow - you'd have to hold your hands up in the air if with the rod almost straight up if you don't use your rod to fight the fish, no? I know when I'm putting max pressure on a fish that if I don't use the rod as a cushion I have a much higher chance of breaking the tippet to a surging fish. I pick my rods for this type of fishing based first on their lifting power then on casting - I most definitely use the rod as a fighting tool :) .

A flyrod, although disadvantaged by leverage, makes up for it by the fact that with it's length, it can help the smart fisherman keep pressure on the fish more consistently. The other disdvantage it has is that the flyline has significant drag compared to conventional gear. Most of the big catches on convetional light tackle gear are gimmick catches as well - most use the boat to fight the fish so it's difficult to compare them that way. On the flats it's been shown that the fly rod is just as effective a tool for fighting big tarpon as conventional gear - most guys down there on conventional gear use 30-40 lb test and take longer to land a tarpon than I do on 16 lb tippet and a fly rod.

04-20-2006, 06:26 PM
Juro, I bring up fishing for tarpon out of a boat because that is the game that 90% of tarpon anglers play. Having said that, anglers fish to migrating tarpon from the beach (and jetties) on the gulf coast from Texas to Florida. You could go do it right now. No need to travel to another country. This is nothing new or up and coming. From the beach, reaching out to some tarpon with a two hander might be a good idea if distance is a problem.
As for your dissmisive attitude towards fishing on a boat with a guide, give me a break. Don't hate the playah, hate the game:smokin:

04-20-2006, 06:53 PM

I guess I'd better get my nobody arse down that migratory coastline and put my money where my mouth is. Of course while I am down there it sure would be a shame to fly back without having a ride on the bow of a nice skiff... you know just to see how the other side lives :lildevl:

04-20-2006, 07:46 PM
Hey Juro after I get setup down on the Gulf Coast, if you're ever in the area stop on by and we'll go out on my skiff. I'm not building my home in the Keys, but where I'll be building there are more flats than you can fish in a lifetime and I'm 7 miles from Boca Grande, a couple of hours from the Everglades. We'll see if you don't get addicted to sight fishing for tarpon, redfish, and snook :wink:

04-20-2006, 09:18 PM
I can't thank you enough for the invite and I will do everything I must to come down and join the hunt!

Thanks and I truly look forward to it.

04-21-2006, 08:58 PM
Juro, I'll look forward to it. 2007 will be the year if all works out well. If I really learn the home waters well you may get to try out a 2h rod on some tarpon - I'm willing to do a bit of experimenting with you ;-).