Two-Handed Overhead Casting Rods - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 01-06-2003, 02:46 AM
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Two-Handed Overhead Casting Rods

Why the lack of shorter two-handed overhead casting rods ?

I started to get into fly fishing 3 years ago. I knew that I would feel most comfortable with two-handed rods for anything over 6 wt, particularly for salt. I ran across a small company in northern NY, East Branch Rods, whose owner Eric rolled his own blanks. I had him build 2 two-handed rods for me, a 10.5' 9 wt and an 11' 7 wt. The first was to be for salt and the second for steelheading.

The 10.5' 9 wt was decent and I used it with some success on Cape Cod. Unfortunately there was a fundamental design flaw in the blank, causing it to break 3 times in the same place over a year and a half. I gave up on it after the third break.

The 11' 7 wt actually handled 9 wt lines much better than it did 7 wt. It had decent butt strength: I caught a 30+ lb carp with it in the curents of the Niagara River whirlpool. I used it on Cape Cod on and off until early last year when I played a Stupid Human Trick on it. In general, it did not cast as well as the 10.5 footer and did not do well at short distances, requiring a fair amount of backcasting to work out enough line to load it.

East Branch Rods went out of business this year so there was no chance for any more experiments on that front.

This fall, after my last trip to the coast (I'm in Buffalo,NY), I bought a Daiwa Lochmor Z 10 ft 8 wt and a 4" removable extension handle. This rod handles a range of lines reasonably well. The heaviest I've tried is a 37 ft 10 wt type 5 shooting head with which I can achieve casts in the 90-95 ft range. I am a mediocre caster. The main problem with this particular rod, from my point of view, at this stage of my development, is that it is on the short side.

I also have a Sage 6126 spey rod which I am beginning to learn to cast. I have well-used spinning rods from a Former Life in the 9' to 11' range.

Based on these experiences and where I seem to be heading casting-wise, it seems to me that an ideal rod for fishing salt from shore would be as follows, with variants in parens:

Length: 11 ft (11 - 11.5 ft)
Line wt, real life actual wt forward: 10 (9 - 11 wt)
5" lower handle (4.5 - 6 inches)
Characteristics:
Fast tip, but not "extra fast". Progressive loading. Able to make short casts reasonably well. Reasonably well-balanced for stripping chores.
Price ideally below $600


Actually, it would be nice to see a range of 3-4 rods to allow for a range of capabilities, tastes, and uses, filling in the gap between one-handers and the long Euro rods.

Such rods seem like a no-brainer to me, especially with the increase in salt fly fishing and all of us aging baby boomers with increasing aches and pains. Several years ago I went to a fly fishing show and tried to talk about this with the first 3 factory reps I came across. One didn't want to discuss it, another pointed me to a spey rod, and the third said that there was not enough market for "short two-handers."

Looking around, there appear to be a few items available that have some promise. T&T has a 1208 and a 1212. GLoomis has a Trilogy 8/9 wt 11' and an 8/9 wt 11.5' GLX. Talon lists several 12 footers in their Carinton and Highlander series. A Bob Meiser in the NW sells 10.5 footers in several weights. I don't have any first-hand experience with any of these rods so my on-paper impression that none of them really fit what I'm looking for may be wrong and unfair.

A possible sleeper is a St. Croix UL, a 10.5' single-handed 9 wt: could it be built as a two-handed rod with the blank extended downward for a lower handle ? I talked to a St. Croix tech support guy about this. His concern was that the upper handle should not extend upward more than 2 inches above where it is now to avoid overstressing the ferrule above it. So suppose that the blank is extended downward 5 inches for a lower handle and the upper handle be kept to a length within 2 inches of the one that St. Croix uses ? The result may be a very usable rod, albeit a bit on the light side. I don't know this blank - my only St. Croix UL was a 6 wt - so I may be completely off on this. But I'm tempted to pursue it unless someone has found something better.

Thanks for listening. I would appreciate any and all input on this.
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Old 01-06-2003, 04:08 AM
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I hear ya!

Gatti does an 11ft 9wt blank but I know very little about them. I picked up a temple fork 12.5 8/9 at a show recently, just for the surf - I already own 13ft and 15ft spey rods. The 15 makes mincemeat of the foulest conditions but get a bit heavy after a while. The action on the 13 is sweet but lacks the punch I'm looking for in the surf. The TF blank has a nice middle-tip feel which should keep me happy in the white stuff.

Juro posted some design thoughts on ideal specs for a saltwater 2-hander a while back. Hopefully the upsurge of interest from the salwater community in 2-handers will get the manufacturers thinking beyond trad. European and Spey actions.
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Old 01-06-2003, 04:55 AM
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I forgot about Gatti ! One problem with Gatti would be having to ship broken rods back to Italy. But some of Bob Meiser's rods are built on custom-designed Gatti blanks.

Re the longer rods, such as those you mention, I'm not ready for 12-15 footers. But I am waiting on a Daiwa Lochmor X 12.5' 8 wt. I ordered it for spey fishing, but I may try overhead casting with it as well. WWho knows, I may decide I like it. But 12.5 feet is awful long when you do a lot of strip retrieves. And trying to land a striper on one when you're standing in 2-3 feet of water a quarter mile from shore could be a real chore.

But if I have one, I am going to try a big fat spey rod & spey casts on the Cape Cod Canal this year. with a big sinking head & bulky flies.

I looked at a few of Juri's old posts. It looks like he and I were thinking somewhat in parallel, tho he seems to favor heavier rods. I wish I knew about this board earlier.
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Old 01-06-2003, 04:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Greg Pavlov
...I'm not ready for 12-15 footers=

"I'm not ready for overhead casting 13-15 footers"
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Old 01-06-2003, 12:26 PM
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Greg, Juro has been talking about an 11' 11-weight since way back when.

FTR the T & T DH 1212-3 is not a 12-weight rod. It was actually designed to cast 30' 12-weight shooting heads. It is more like a 10 1/2-weight than a 12. It has exactly the kind of action you have described.

Shortly after the intro of the 1212, I inquired about possibly building a 10 1/2' rod for 9-weight lines. At the time, the idea was met with lukewarm response and did not go anywhere.

I was planning on having another run at that this Winter, when I stumbled across RB Meiser's website. He already has a good selection of two-handed rods in that size, plus some at 9'9".

I have not cast his rods yet, but after speaking with him on the phone, I would urge you to do the same. He is definitely speaking our language. He is also a very respected rod builder out West.

I have also tried repeatedly to get similar rods built that could retail under $ 400., but have gotten nowhere with this, but I will keep trying.

I have also inquired about building two-handers out of one-handed blanks and have been told that it would not work, and that the blank had to be specifically designed for two-handed casting. Maybe someone else will know why that is, but I don't know......
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Old 01-06-2003, 12:29 PM
2HandTheSalt 2HandTheSalt is offline
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Meant to mention, if you intend to head to the Cape again to sling the two-hander, let me know if you want to get together. I have DH 1212-3's and the DH 1208-3 that you can try out.
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Old 01-06-2003, 01:51 PM
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Sorry I haven't had time to do this thread justice in terms of a good reply, but I will do so tonight. Definitely agree with you - the lengths and actions that make for a good Spey cast are not the same as those for a good two-handed overhand cast. There are many practical issues having to do with where you are standing, what's happening around you, the size of the flies, management of running line, etc, etc.

Although I've also had lukewarm responses from rod builders in the past I think I've finally hit paydirt and I am working on a "requirements specification" for a rod builder. With some luck there will be a suitable rod for this application available in prodution very soon. If you are interested in participating in the evaluation of these rods let me know; although I can not reveal the rod designer at this point.

Looking forward to talking more about this soon,
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Old 01-06-2003, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Greg, Juro has been talking about an 11' 11-weight since way back when.
Yeah, I feel a bit like I've just run up to the church door to nail up my theses only to find Martin Luther's already hanging there...
Quote:
I have not cast [Bob Meiser's] rods yet, but after speaking with him on the phone, I would urge you to do the same.
I'll give him a call later this week. He clearly has vastly more experience casting fly rods than I do, so I'm sure that he has very good rationale for picking the 10.5 foot length. It seems on the short side to me, but that may be because I have a looser, sloppier overhead cast.
Quote:
I have also inquired about building two-handers out of one-handed blanks and have been told that it would not work, and that the blank had to be specifically designed for two-handed casting. ......
Two-handed casting will definitely put more stress on a blank and perhaps much of that stress is concentrated in an area of the blank somewhat different from normal. Having said that, I'm not sure whether the issue is one of stress as opposed to one of how well the blank performs. My standard two-handed "surf casting" spinning rod for a few years, for instance, was built on a Gloomis GL3 9 ft 10 wt fly blank. I had several other, albeit shorter, spinning rods modified - with longer lower handles - to cast with two hands. All of these rods cast well.
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Old 01-06-2003, 07:13 PM
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Quote:
Meant to mention, if you intend to head to the Cape again to sling the two-hander, let me know if you want to get together. I have DH 1212-3's and the DH 1208-3 that you can try out.
Does a bear [drink beer] in the woods ???? We will definitely be there the last week in May and I might get out there once before that, if I get lucky. Will make sure that I get in touch with you to see if we can get together.
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Old 01-06-2003, 07:16 PM
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Juro, I would love to get a chance to test-drive a two-hander: I've been waiting for one for a long time.
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Old 01-17-2003, 03:05 PM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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Just caught up to this thread.

I've used a 14' 9/10 wt. St. Croix twice on the surf, casting a WF-10-I clear striper line and found the job both easy casting and easy management of line in the surf.

I'm looking forward to trying the Lochmor X 9 wt. 11 wt. and the Blue 8/9 in the surf one of these days as I think all will do a good job. Daiwa supposedly designed the X model as a "dual use" rod, capable of spey and overhead casting. The 9 wt. will throw amazingly tiny loops and it is quite happy slinging a WF-10 or WF-11 overhead. Provided the wind isn't blowing too hard, I think the longer rods probably produce the most distance for the least effort, but it's amazing how much pressure a stiff wind can generate on a long blank. Something in the 10.5 to 12 range is probably a lot better when it's blowing hard.

I've read some very interesting things about the T&T 12X12 for very heavy tips - I'd like to try one, one day.
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Old 01-17-2003, 03:43 PM
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A friend of mine has modified all of his single handed salt water fly rods by adding a four to five inch fighting butts. He uses two hands to cast shooting heads from a kayak.

You might want to check out Cabelas two handed rods. Another friend of mine likes them so well he has two or three of them. I think he has them rigged up with windcutters and I've seen him overhead cast them on occassion.
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Old 01-19-2003, 02:14 AM
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Re various long rods for overhead casting in the surf


My problem with the longer rods like the Daiwas and Cabelas two-handers is handling them when you have to string line,
unhook a fish, untangle line around the rod, etc. I realize that I'm not very coordinated, so that may be the problem.

One example: I was in Pleasant Bay, at Minister's Point, down
at the end where there is that rip almost from shore out to the
first buoy. The tide had already dropped quite a bit, the water
was moving at a very nice clip, and I was just about halfway to the buoy. I was using an 11' 2-hander (East Branch) and had a 22-24 inch striper on. That's a pretty small striper, but I was having a heck of a time getting it in close enough to grab onto it, what with the fish moving around and the distance between me and the rod tip. I didn't want to grab the leader because I had a relatively light tippet and I didn't want to leave the striper with a clouser in its mouth. Getting back to shore was not a very good alternative. I finally put the rod down on the water and pulled the fish in hand-over-hand, knowing I could let the line slip if the fish tried to bolt, at the same time hoping that something weird wouldn't happen causing me to lose the rod & reel somewhere half-underwater behind me in the current. And this was with an 11-footer.

How do you folks deal with something like this ? If you're on shore it's much easier, you pull the fish up on the sand, with the waves to help you, and then you're in pretty good shape.

ALSO: how do you manage things towards the tip end of a long rod without laying your reel down on the sand ? For a while I would take the rod apart into two sections and then just keep both in the air. Now that I use reels with sealed drags, I'll let the reel rest on the sand and then rinse it in the surf before casting again....which doesn't work well where the surf is scouring up sand and it's in suspension in the water.

Writing this makes me wish it was May right now. I can't wait to get back to fish the salt again.
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Old 01-19-2003, 07:44 PM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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I don't know if I'd want to use a two hander while wading in Pleasant Bay as it would be a handful. I used my 14 footer in the surf but I was standing right on the water's edge not wading deep. FWIW, I had no trouble landing steelies with the 14' footer.
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Old 01-20-2003, 12:21 AM
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FWIW, I had no trouble landing steelies with the 14' footer


Rub it in, why doncha :-)

I could see not using a 2-hander in some situations. But I do know that after my three days' fishing on the Cape in the fall, during which I used a slightly overweight single-handed 8 wt, the right side of my body took about 6 weeks to recover, tho I did fish during that time. Some (much ?) of it may simply be bad technique.
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