TWO HANDED RODS ON THIS SIDE OF THE POND
I have played around off and on with two handed rods. There, it’s out of the closet.
True, a 14-16 foot rod with two cork grips isn’t suited to all angling situations. It is a LONG rod. In many situations, to get at its full potential, one has to have quite bit of room around one’s self, including behind you! Then again, it is awfully handy for out and across streamers on big water. With a shooting head, it can be a dandy surf rod too.
It is also one of the only ways a mere mortal (such as me) can get a fly out past 100 feet! I recently tried out a rod and the Head on the line was 65 feet long. With very little effort, the whole head was in the air and pulling 30 feet of running line out the guides - using a glorified roll cast!
I won’t call these rods Spey Rods, because in reality, The Spey is simply the river somewhere on the other side of the Pond where some of the 2 handed casting techniques were initiated. Actually, there are 3 general ways to load and fire a two handed rod: Classic (Spey), Scandinavian and Skagit. The differences are at first subtle. As one looks at the mechanics of each method, we can see the advantages and drawbacks of each.
Scandi technique is a more compact cast for close quarter situations. The Skagit is handy for sinking lines and tips used on Western Steelhead Rivers. There are some really fine books out there; drop me a line and I can let you know which ones I used to get initiated.
So after 30+ years of fly fishing, why would I need to start getting serious about 2 handed rods?
Well, for one, I’m getting lazy. On many of the runs on my home waters I like to setup a downstream streamer swing and just wander my way down the run. Secondly, since I changed day jobs, I am now visiting many regions of North Eastern Canada. Unfortunately, I have to travel light and cannot haul the canoe around. This means I’m often on foot on some truly big water. Lastly, I just like the challenge of trying something different!
What better way to get re-initiated to DH rods than to run down to Sherbrooke Quebec in mid-May to meet up with several Gents and Gals who really know their stuff?
Pascal Perrault dropped me a note in late February. He got the idea into his head to do a get-together to do some demos and instruction on DH rod casting. Well, he called some friends, borrowed a city park, called some more friends and Voilà, the 1st annual Quebec Spey Forum was born. Special thanks go out to the principal organizers: Pascal P, Bob McKenzie, Alain Fortin, Eric Mageau, Mario Viboux and the RPSM. (And a big thank you to the City of Sherbrooke)
Pascal was the instigator (oops, initiator) of the first annual forum. I met him last year at the Salmon Mentorship and I’m looking forward to fishing with him again this summer
May 15 and 16 2010, several local and not so local instructors came over, along with reps from many of the rod, reel and line makers, to Sherbrooke Quebec. Notably in the group doing demos and 1 to 1 instructions were:
Over two days, anglers could try rods, reels and lines and get hands on pointers from all of the instructors and Pro-Staff who were present. Saturday was mostly demos and pointers. Sunday was the follow-up including some fishing with local Guides thanks to the Sherbrooke fly fishing club (Regroupement des pêcheurs de Sherbrooke RPSM)
Mario V with some of the Gang from the Youth Center
Getting back to the merits of a DH rod, and as many found out during the weekend in Sherbrooke, casting a DH rod is really quite simple. If you can roll cast, you can cast a two handed rod. In essence, every two handed cast finishes with a roll cast. The difference being that you can quite easily roll cast 65 feet with such a rod. In reality, all the line manipulation and acrobatics one sees is just to get the line setup right in preparation to do a roll cast!
Also, line makers are making it easier and easier to fit the right line to a rod. The head section on lines is delimited often by a color code, so you know when you have the proper length of line out the guides to cast (why don’t makers do this with all lines???). Reel makers too are making reels which are easier to balance with a DH rod. Several even have pieces so you can ADD weight into the reel to better balance the reel to a rod.
Lastly, DH rod techniques aren’t limited to two handed rods. The Switch Cast can easily be done with a one handed rod. Further, you can use your stripping hand to better control the tension on the line to successfully complete the same types of casts one does with a DH rod.
After a bunch of soul searching and some serious studying of the rivers I fish and will be fishing, I decided on a switch rod. This way, I can have the best of both worlds.
My new baby!
A switch rod has 2 grips so two handed techniques can be used. It is also shorter and lighter than a classic DH rod, so one can single hand cast it. Mine is only 11 feet long, so it’s a mere 12 inches longer than my work horse salmon and trout rods. Because it is loaded with a spey line, I can still cast #4-6 streamers even though it is in essence a 5wt rod. On my last day coming out of Labrador, once I crossed back into Quebec, the rod did just fine Thank You on some of the small Brook Trout (well, 4-5lb trout).
If trying out a DH rod sounds interesting, I’m sure there are fly fishing clubs in your area which have a few anglers with two handed rods. If not, make your calendar for the middle of May next year!
A photo wrap up for the Forum (in French)
By David Quenneville