Initial measurements, discussions, and ponderings of whether we would be maddening the graphite gods were made. In the end, strips of masking tape lay in positions that are no less stark than the dotted lines in a cosmetic surgeon's work, and much like the patient the anticipation and hope of a new frontier lay in these marks for guys like me.
In Smitty's matter of fact manner, he showed me an old, yellowed rod building magazine that was entitled "Resurgence of Two-handed Rods", describing the renewal of two-handed salmon fishing techniques in North America. He said "there's nothing new about this stuff", and if fact he is right - this stuff has been around for hundreds of years.
But nowhere was there a mention of 2 hands in the surf scene, in fact this magazine was published at a time when surf flyfishing by any means was about as new and unheard of as two-handed rods in the surf are today. Funny, though that 2-hand rods had been in wide use since the 18th century!
The discussion included not only the blank length, but the handle design. Interestingly, most of the two-handers shown in the magazine had reel seats located in higher positions than today's Spey rods and European Rods. The position of the reel is an important factor for surf flyfishing, if I was to cite a single problem with the ones I tested last season it would be that the reel is too far back for proper line handling with stripping baskets. The reel position was measured and (with Smitty's advice) located with more masking tape. The cork handle length will be extended for the prototype as well.
I don't expect everyone will be interested or excited by this work, but I do find it amusing that some make an effort to oppose or denounce our experimentation. Maybe we'll achieve nothing more than ruining perfectly good blanks, or maybe we'll accumulate and share significant findings about the potential of two-hands in the surf. Who knows, but we'll certainly find out in the weeks ahead.
Jay - you and all are welcome to join us at the Rod Builder's Workshop anytime we get together. We'll be throwing line on them the next get-together. I spoke with George Roberts on the phone via Smitty's introduction and it's great to hear that he'd like to test these rods. Needless to say we had a lot to talk about but we had to cut the conversation short to let Smitty lock up. He was going out pole-vaulting or something like that. I think I could've talked to this well-known casting instructor for hours!