If you're interested in Spey rods and two-handed overhead casting rods, ya gotta check out
<!--http--><a href="http://communities.msn.ca/InternationalSpeyCasting" target="_blank">Dana's way cool Spey casting site!</a><!--url-->
I made this post there in case it is of interest... much MUCH more on his great BB!
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Great thread.... Nice to recognize so many folks too. As a steelie Spey addict recently transplanted to the northeast's striper country, I am also doing some research in this area. Although the line control and Spey casting capabilities of the long rods are the ultimate on steelie (salmon) rivers, I couldn't get comfortable with my any of my several Spey rods in the pounding Cape Cod surf for a number of reasons and have acquired European two-handers. Sage still maintains that initial pioneering spirit despite their success, and have been gracious enough to help through this research.
As the season is getting underway, the testing is finally getting going after the long new england winter. Look for field reports on http://www.flyfishingforum.com over the next few months. The reason I like shorter two-handed rods for the application of striped bass and other atlantic coastal species is:
a) General retrieve mechanics are to hold the rod with one hand, and strip retrieve with the other leaving the rod stationary and directed low to the water and toward the fly. Although the casting is so much easier with 14-16 feet, the operative 'fishing' is not. The strip retrieve requires bringing the whole fly line into the guides because the fish follow right to the end of the retrieve. A softer 15 foot rod is less than ideal for this because it can be top heavy and awkward in the rod hand. Just think of starting your Spey cast without the operative line length out of the guides for every cast... OK you get it.
You do tuck the lower handle under the armpit, but a shorter rod is a much better strip retrieve / general fishing tool. I like 12 feet but would be happier if it were even shorter to be suitable for use on a ...
b) ... Boat. One of the great things about SWFF is the use of a boat. When fishing from a 16 ft skiff, I personally wouldn't use a rod that is as long as the boat - yet the two-handed advantage for huge lines and flies as well as fatigue free casting and fighting of large fish with a nice extension handle is something that would be very nice in a hard running offshore rip with foot long squid flies and 500 grain lines. Try that with one arm for a whole tide change!
c) Outer beaches often have a lot of flotsam and wind. Dealing with removal of 'mung' from flies is somewhat of a comedy when the wind is blowing and you are too far from the tip of the rod, cast after cast.
e) Landing the fish... it's just not the same as the ritual of bringing that hard-earned steelhead or salmon to the rivers edge. The surf is pounding with a wash that can suck a grown man into the current. Small fish (under 24") can be mixed in with a blitz of big fish (40") and the whole opportunity can be measured in minutes or even seconds. You want to be able to get at a fish quickly for removal at times, schoolie after schoolie with the sound of big cow bass busting the surface around. It's frustrating to have to mess around with too much fulcrum.
I could go on and on. My opinion, for what it's worth, is that folks think two-hands and automatically go 14 feet / Spey rod. My experiences in both domains urge me to defy that generalization, in fact they are worlds apart.
Don't get me wrong - I love to Spey fish as much as anybody on my homewaters in the pacific northwest... (just ask a lot of the guys I fish with on this BB) but if you ask me the two (surf, stream) are too often construed as the same thing. If anything, I hope the time I spend on this research project leads to a clearer understanding of the differences by the general surf fishing public out here in striper country. Better yet... a new rod design tuned into the realities of surf fishing!