RE:Offshore 2hander Specifications?
Wish I'd found this a bit sooner... Anyway, here's a few thoughts.
I think we need to separate casting from fish fighting. I've had a couple of good fish on a fly rod, and after the first 1/2 hr or so invariably like or wish for a foregrip. By that time you either have a belt on or your gut is really sore, and my right forearm is starting to cramp. Laying the forearm under the rod helps rest it, but hurts your pumping. I try to set muy reel drag to 1/3 tippet strength, i.e. 7 lbs with a 20 lb tippet. Then it's a question of how to maintain the full 7 lbs of pull throughout a fight. If you can do it without a foregrip, more power to you! I can't if I'm into a fish for more than 30 mins. At the same time, a foregrip doesn't seem to hurt my one-handed casting, at least not on a 12 wt.
So now casting. The standard form of teaser offshore fishing is productive, but in my view, very contrived form of fishing. Other than IGFA, just troll the flies next to the teasers and be done with it! The method's been engineered to work around the limitations of fly gear, ergo the 25' casts. I've 'fly-fished' with trolled teasers, but never caught a fish that way. It just doesn't do it for me.
I happen to occasionally work on offshore research ships. There you frequently drift for days on end in the deep ocean, and frequently all sorts of interesting fish happen by. Now if you see a billfish or dolphin cruising by the hull, a fly rod is a very natural and satisfying way of getting a lure in front of these fish. It is really a form of sight-casting and is to me very gratifying. (I know, there's an inevitable comparison with sight-casting to teased-up fish, but there is a large difference in my mind.)
Anyway, for these occasions, I will often set up a rigged, stripped-line, rod in the corner by the A-frame. If something shows up, I'm at the fantail waiting for it with a rod in hand. now in this situation, you desperately want both reach, and the ability to deliver the fly in as large a sector as possible, and here a two-handed rod might work very well. Recall, you have to have a heavy stick, just in case you do hook up, the flies are large, and just won't go out with a 10 wt, and you have a 25' steel tower 3' behind you. It's a very tough place to control a cast.
The other situation is casting to boiling tuna. I would argue again that reach and large sector are important, and the difference between 50' and 30 deg sector and 90' and 120 deg sector are significant. The rod is again a 12 wt or more, although I understand flies are smaller. I'm VERY excited by my new-found ability to wang out a 90' two-handed cast with my 15 wt and 600 gr head. I just wish I could control the thing and get better than 25% cast success rate.
One final question: why not cast all 12+ wt rods with two hands? Is there some design feature which makes them difficult to cast this way, i.e. how would you modify a standard 14-15 wt rod for two-handed casting.