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Topher Browne 04-29-2003 08:45 AM

Survey: One-Handed or Two?
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?

wrke 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.

loco_alto 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

One question leads to another.
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?


macspey 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!


Gardener 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.

LadyAmherst 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:

flytyer 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.

BobK 05-02-2003 07:28 AM

And the "right" answer is.....
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.


pmflyfisher 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!

wrke 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.

Adrian 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).

pmflyfisher 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

BobK 05-06-2003 05:43 PM

Hey, Hal, think about this:
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!


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