The Short Two-hander in the Salt

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The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby salar » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:02 pm

I have been fishing with short two-handed rods since the 1950's. They were particularly handy for summer salmon fishing with overgrown tree lined rivers - and no back-casting room. At short range, they can be fished effortlessly and accurately with one hand. Hence the fairly recent term 'Switch' rod.
Latterly, I find the short two-hander particularly convenient for saltwater fly fishing. Across the Atlantic the Switch rod is gaining huge acceptance among the saltwater fly anglers casting both overhead and underhand in the surf.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=S4US0ou ... Ug&index=1

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby patk » Thu Dec 11, 2014 9:49 am

I've always used single hand rods in the salt. For you what's the advantage of the switch rod? Over a long session would you find it less tiring? I find on longer sessions when wading after some hours I notice. I start splashing a bit behind me. Thanks for video can't look at it on phone but will look later.
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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby MAC » Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:41 pm

I have only just recently picked up a Switch Rod and used extensively on a recent trip to Alaska when swinging large heavy leech patterns for steelhead. I wasn't casting with any of the newer Scandi or Skagit styles, just a roll to straighten everything out and the a lift and punch and I was effortlessly casting 30 yards. I can't wait to try mine in the salt now.

For me they especially help with arm fatigue when throwing heavy lines or flies. I picked up a cheap Shakespeare switch rod just to get me going. Probably a little softer that I would normally like, but it loaded really well and once I got used to the action I found I could "feel" the line weight and load, really nicely. For those thinking of getting into Switch rods, just remember that at the moment the various companies rate them differently. Shakespeare use Spey ratings and some of the US manufactures use single handed ATFM ratings. Try get a gram or grain weight for the rod your interested in and go from there. A 7 weight Spey rod is approximately equal to a 10 weight single handed rod.

Can't wait to try in more in the salt next year.

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby salar » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:45 pm

Turning over big flies with heavy lines over a long distance is a lot easier on the wrist using a double-handed rod since the lower hand does most of the work of rotating the rod and generating line speed on the forward cast. Extremely long casts can be made with very little effort. On a day's fishing I might become slightly bored if nothing is happening - but wrist or arm fatigue from casting never happens with a light two-handed rod.

Getting the line weight correct is critical and - as Kevin alludes to above - is complicated by the fact that DH line weights are 3 full line weights heavier than a SH line. It is unfortunate that AFTMA when it revised its line ratings 10 years ago only managed to make them just as inadequate and confusing as they had been previously. The whole lot should have been dumped and replaced with casting weight ratings as is used with lure and spinning rods and which is well nigh foolproof when purchasing a rod with a particular purpose in mind.

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby Kgarr » Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:53 pm

I tried a two handed rod early last year at JimH's SWFF'er primer. I could not believe how easy it was to load the line and get such a distance, effortless. I'll definitely be looking into this for next season. Really like the look of the Beulah rods
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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby JimH » Fri Dec 12, 2014 5:47 pm

Great topic.

I recently aquired a DH Surf rod from Beulah (special birthday present). This is not a switch rod nor is it a spey casting rod, but no doubt you could do both with the rod to some degree. Its designed for overhead casting in the surf with short headed lines like Rio's OS or Beulahs own brand Serum - the rod I purchased was the #7/8 11'-0" version which I load with a 450 grain serum line.

Because of my SH experience I have to adapt my cast to be more bottom hand oriented and less top pushy - having said that and believe me I'm no expert I have over recent days developed a cast where I begin my backcast quite low and out to my right and bring the rod around overhead into a normal stop (it a bit of a bastardised belgian thing) but for me it works or at least a version of it.

I finish the line off with 12'0" tapered polyleaders and then 2'-0" of tippet (am playing with this) the flys I have casted range from 2 to 12 inches and no problem sending them where I want to (not all of the time mind)

The ability to cast far with big flies with little effort is definitely a plus - but for me the real change was where I felt much more control over lines and hence fly with the extra two feet especially when drifting in current - I had nice fish last week late in the day for Wexford. I loved the whole thing and cant wait for 2015

I have 'resisted' big rods with heavy lines and stayed entirely singlehanded but can I blind cast and double haul big flies for a number of days in a row without feeling it a little? I dont think so, however is an 11'-0" or 12'-0" rod with 450 or 500 grains a match for the fish we catch?

PS I did consider importing Beulah Surf Rods but felt that there was no possible chance of retiring with vast wealth based on the fact that there are possibly very few Saltwater DHander's in Ireland. A small number of madmen..... I did hear Mike Oliver of Stripers Online fame is in Ireland shortly perhaps we should do something...

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby salar » Sat Dec 13, 2014 3:24 pm

JimH wrote:Great topic.

I recently aquired a DH Surf rod from Beulah (special birthday present). This is not a switch rod nor is it a spey casting rod, but no doubt you could do both with the rod to some degree. Its designed for overhead casting in the surf with short headed lines like Rio's OS or Beulahs own brand Serum - the rod I purchased was the #7/8 11'-0" version which I load with a 450 grain serum line.

Because of my SH experience I have to adapt my cast to be more bottom hand oriented and less top pushy - having said that and believe me I'm no expert I have over recent days developed a cast where I begin my backcast quite low and out to my right and bring the rod around overhead into a normal stop (it a bit of a bastardised belgian thing) but for me it works or at least a version of it.

I finish the line off with 12'0" tapered polyleaders and then 2'-0" of tippet (am playing with this) the flys I have casted range from 2 to 12 inches and no problem sending them where I want to (not all of the time mind)

The ability to cast far with big flies with little effort is definitely a plus - but for me the real change was where I felt much more control over lines and hence fly with the extra two feet especially when drifting in current - I had nice fish last week late in the day for Wexford. I loved the whole thing and cant wait for 2015

I have 'resisted' big rods with heavy lines and stayed entirely singlehanded but can I blind cast and double haul big flies for a number of days in a row without feeling it a little? I dont think so, however is an 11'-0" or 12'-0" rod with 450 or 500 grains a match for the fish we catch?

PS I did consider importing Beulah Surf Rods but felt that there was no possible chance of retiring with vast wealth based on the fact that there are possibly very few Saltwater DHander's in Ireland. A small number of madmen..... I did hear Mike Oliver of Stripers Online fame is in Ireland shortly perhaps we should do something...



I also have an 11' #7/8 in the same series as my #8/9 and 450 grains (or around 29 grams) is about right for it. The #8/9 feels right underhand casting with a 35 gram (540 grain) line and a few grams lighter for overhead - I simply retrieve 3 or 4 feet of head inside the top ring when making an overhead cast.

Keeping the rod low on the back cast is good option with the upper hand at about shoulder height and which is then lifted to about ear height for the forward stroke. How much you rely on upper or lower hand for rotating the rod on the forward cast is a matter of personal preference. In Spey casting it can be upper of lower hand dominant or as some prefer around 50/50.

The extra couple of feet of rod length and line control is a big bonus of the two-hander and as saltwater casters have found, getting a line over the surf. If casting distance were all that was required for light salmon fishing it would be dominated by the so-called reservoir rod of 9' or so. However the longer rod gives you distance plus line control which is absolutely essential in presenting a salmon fly. In this regard, I have never quite understood the total dominance of the reservoir rod in still water trout fishing when you can achieve exactly the same thing with a light two-hander but with far less effort. On the other hand, if I wanted to present a size 18 dry-fly to a chalk stream trout, then logically a feather light #4 SH fly rod would perfectly fit the bill of delivering it with pinpoint accuracy and not ripple to disturb the surface.

My heads are cut 28' to which I connect tips of 10' or 15'. A 10' #8 tip weighs around 6 grams and is fine for turning over bass flies. A 15' #5 tip weighs around 5 grams an presents small flies to spooky mullet with the least amount of disturbance. The number of tip combinations that you can dream up makes these rods extremely versatile.

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby Spruce » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:51 am

Don't often post on here but this thread has prompted me to add my tuppence worth.
I have been using double handers in the salt now for a few years now. Used to salmon fish a fair bit so initially used my existing rods. Mainly 13' & 14' rods with #8/9 or #9/10 ratings. Obviously, full Spey profiled lines and "anchor" casts were not suitable so went for shooting head set ups. At that time switch rods had not really taken off in the U.K. so the choice of lines was limited compared to the vast selection available today. I started off with home made shooting heads but was never happy with them. Progressed to the Guide Line ready to go heads and running line and things were immeasurably better. Started to frequent the "Stripers Online" forum and noticed how the switch rods were becoming more popular. Invested in a Sage TCX 11'9" #8 blank and struble reel seat and had it custom made. After much trial and error settled on the # 10 Rio Outbound lines, not the short versions but the longer ones, around 37' I recall. This combination was another step up and I still use it today along with one or two other lines.
As others have said, a prominent bottom hand is a must for D/H O/H casting. I also reckon keeping both hands close to the body and more pronounced stops on both the back and forward casts are also beneficial.
Can I cast further than my single handers? No...but as far AND a Damn sight easier. As regards rod ratings it is hard for the manufacturers as some people use them for both Spey and overhead and you need a lot lighter line for O/H than for Spey/anchor casts. Thats why the rods have such wide grain windows. It really can be trial and error (and a lot of money) finding your "ideal" line. By the way, Mike Oliver would laugh at our set ups. He is no lover of switch rods and uses far more "substantial" gear. Great to see this discussed on here.

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby Spruce » Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:25 pm

As an aside to what has already been said...at what point do you throw down the fly rod and pick up the lure outfit?
I will try and give my own perspective on this. I first started fishing, seriously, for bass with fly fishing tackle. Single handed 9' #9 rods with the old AirFlo cold water 40+ lines. Managed to catch a few fish and instantly loved it. However, at that time I don't mind admitting I was a fly only "snob." What quickly became apparent was that I was getting blown off the water on too many occasions. That is when I decided to go down the two handed route. I, mistakenly, thought that longer rods carrying heavier lines would be the answer...wrong.
Yes, I could get a line out, in a fashion, but still woefully short of the feeding bass 99% of the time and struggling with a double hander in adverse conditions is at least as hard as a single handed rod. Also, around this time the current craze for lure fishing had just started to take hold. All of my fishing was being done on holiday in Ireland and I started to notice a lot more anglers on the scene with all the latest lure tackle. After a couple of more years struggling with my fly gear and witnessing some great catches by the lure anglers I bit the bullet and joined the "dark side."
Boy, had I been missing out! The modern lure tackle is at least as enjoyable to use as the fly gear and with the use of modern rods, braids and weightless soft plastics probably even more sensitive.
Now, while I admire people like Mike Oliver for pushing the boundaries of D/H O/H casting in the surf, the fact of the matter is personally I have no desire to use 15'+ rods capable of chucking upwards of 750 grains. Albeit for stripers in the states, which I know is a totally different game. I would still personally opt for a balanced lure outfit.
I have neglected my fly fishing for bass but next year I will take an outfit again to Ireland and hope for a warm, muggy, overcast night with a gentle breeze from over my right shoulder and hopefully some feeding bass in the estuary and surf. As Jim said, I too cannot wait for 2015!

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby JimH » Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:43 pm

Spruce - you make a lot of very good points above -

Research can be expensive - there's no doubt that without the experience or the access to experiment with various rods lines running lines leaders and the added range of complexity between AFTTA and AFTMA it can be costly and a LOT of trial and error

DH rods do not cast better/further if you cannot cast somewhat proficiently with a single hand rod - although OH casting is probably easier to learn than the DH

There is a gap in the market and you mentioned something above guy BIG rods with BIG lines are not going to do it for me on a fish that commonly run at less than 6lbs weight - BUT I wonder if

Someone could build me an 11'-0" or 11'-6" #8 DH that throws a #8 OVERHEAD only that is not a switch a spey or a mixture of both, but is mid to tip fast with power reserve in the butt - in other words I would like to cast overhead with a DH with gear matched to the size of the fly I cast and the fish I angle for in reasonable to tough conditions. I'm not interested in trying to anchor casts in surf or ripping skagits up and out

I would have the advantage of increased rod length for swinging.drifting flatwing flies, I'm taking some of the physicality out, and the gear is not 450 or 500 grains heavy and 14 feet long

As a guide and bass fisherman I've done the opposite/reverse of Spruce only because, and maybe (and this is not angling arrogance in any way) I can catch bass on lures anytime, whereas the method of fly fishing for bass has challenged me constantly over the past few years.

It has left me fishless on countless occasions but I have access to fish regularly at relatively easy distance, (both travel and cast) so it doesn't bother me (this years fly results were the best I've had in a long time, simply because i've stopped guiding)

I don't exclusively fish for bass with flies - but with the right DH made for me I dont think I might do anything else

Still a great subject - at the moment I'm casting a Rio Switch line overhead on the 11'-0" Beulah Surf Stick - the Rio has a 55' head (almost twenty yards) I'm already within range of fish, can mend to my hearts content, and even if I shoot a little line, 10 yards would bring me to nearly 90 feet easily - but it still feels BIG to me

Here’s a breakdown of suggested grain weights for switch rods by line ratings. These figures will vary from rod to rod and may also be affected by your casting style, but it’s a good guideline.

3wt. 200 to 275 grains

4wt. 250 to 325 grains

5wt. 300 to 375 grains

6wt. 350 to 425 grains

7wt. 400 to 500 grains

8wt. 450 to 550 grains

9wt. 500 to 600 grains

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby Spruce » Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:34 pm

Jim, the Rio switch line you mention seems to have an excessively long head.....for O/H casting. Surely this configuration must be for executing Spey/anchor casts as well as overhead? Not sure I would want to keep a 55' head in the air, especially in the surf and all that entails. What was wrong with the Serum line you mentioned earlier? Or Rio Outbounds? I always found the longer headed Rio Outbound preferable to the short. Less chance to "dump" as the longer head unrolls better and helps carry the cast further, if you get my drift. Although slightly harder to manipulate in stronger winds than the short. Therein lies the rub. Most things in life are a compromise, even more so in salt water fly fishing...and probably even more so with switch rods!
This follows on from my earlier comments about when do you drop the fly rod and turn to modern, light, balanced lure tackle?
I happen to agree with you that a rod between 11' and 12' rated #8 is ideal. Thats why I got such a model and just as importantly the accepted concensus is that the head of the fly line should be ×3 the length of the rod. So any line such as the Rio Outbounds, AirFlo Snipers, Guideline ready to go etc are not far off the mark.
I will say I find Guideline the best. They just seem more refined somehow. Indeed the finest fly line I have ever used in the salt is the Guideline Coastal slow intermediate. A full line on my single hander. I think you have experienced them yourself Jim, if I remember correctly and you too praised them.
Are the Beulah rod/Serum line and Rio switch line going to appear in the classifieds soon?
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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby JimH » Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:48 pm

Hi again S

I will be hanging on to the setup fro the moment guy, at least for a while! I took the Rio switch line out of the box as an experiment on saturday last and first loaded it in the park - couple of things I do agree with, the 'normal' outbound I prefer it to the short, the guideline lines are really good no doubt about that. The serum is a racehorse out of the stalls and behaves like a wild thing at times! Boy can it move.

When I cast the Rio switch I feel it's like a giant WF with a super rear taper, and I hope to get on the water with it this weekend for more trial and error.

Heres the rub - both lines cast well both cast differently and both will fish differently - its the floating drift control of the fly with mends that I'm after in one specific circumstance for bigger fish, the other is in surf fishing somewhat like the US scenario, but not strip retrieves and not general bass fishing.

I've believed for some time now that in certain circumstances bigger fish seem to eat flies more confidently than other methods including softies. This why I can't wait to attempt that better control in the places I know the fish live

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby Spruce » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:09 pm

Agree with you about flies being taken with more confidence. I reckon it is the ability of the fly to hang in the killing zone for prolonged periods that is key. Also, the fibres, feathers etc in the dressing are constantly moved by the water, even without retreiving. That's why a fly presented bombarda style is often such a killer but I'm sure you would regard that as "cheating." and you would be entitled to that view. As you say, it's the method of fly fishing, with all it's inbuilt difficulties that makes it just so satisfying when it works! Enjoying this thread immensely!
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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby salar » Tue Jan 13, 2015 12:11 am

I just recently acquired an Oracle Scandi 12' 9" #8 fly rod (€150). Whilst longer and certainly not in the class of "switch" it is an extemely light rod a 242 grams and with the weight distributed between both hands you could cast with it - even at my advanced age - until the cows come home.

Shakespeare make extremely good gear at a price that just anyone can afford. I was taken aback when I found that I could cast 90' plus left handed and into the next parish right handed with 48' x 38 gram shooting head. One of the big advantages of the two handed rod is that you can train yourself to fish left or right handed and place your fly in the required zone. I learned this the hard way in my teens when with the wind on the wrong side I embedded a 1/0 salmon fly in my nose. Where saltwater fishing is concerned the wind is invariably on the wrong side and being able to fish left or right handed is considerably easier with the two handed rod. For example a left handed spey cast with a clock wise snake roll is as almost easy as to execute as a right handed anti- clockwise snake roll. However casting left hand 'single handed' requires lots and lots of practice unless you happen to be ambidextrous.

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby Spruce » Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:53 pm

Very pertinent points re. left hand casting/wind direction.

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby ventry boy » Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:38 pm

The thought of casting DH from either shoulder has sold it to me. Been following this excellent thread and am going to take the plunge next season defo. Will also ease the tennis elbow which cost me a season a few years ago and continues to give me little reminders when trying to punch out into a headwind.
Cant wait !
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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby Spruce » Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:20 pm

Good luck ventry boy. Hope you manage to find a suitable set up without too much hassle.

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby JimH » Sun Jan 18, 2015 6:22 pm

Finally happy with this DH thing at this time. Purely from an overhead cast point of view this is what I have settled with and this seems to be loading the rod perfectly for me and casting efficiently with little effort very far combined with good presentation!

Beulah Opal surf #5/6 – I have loaded an Orvis reel with the following for distance

Rio gripshooter running line – 25lbs
Rio outbound short shooting heads – One intermediate and one S3 weighing in at 315 gr which is not too heavy at all really. This is the Rio Outbound classification for #8.

I am also casting with the Rio Striper 26ft Sink Tip line weighing in @350 gr

The other surf stick the Beulah surf #7/8 – with this I will keep it loaded with either the Rio Outbound #10F or the Serum intermediate 450.
Both set-ups carry big flies with ease.

Regarding casting and Im no expert here in relation to OH TH’s I’m keeping the principles of single hand similar to what I use in short double hand.
Slow accelerate to a stop nice slightly high loop off the back cast, drift and then forward with stop/ shoot and drift. Loops are tight and line speed is good with the bottom hand moving things nicely.

Opening and closing the loop has been done over much observation over grass over the last few weekends.

Sometimes it goes to pot, generally when it’s forced. I have also started a follow up after the forward stop with the upper hand held flat in a ‘push through’ it helps me feel I am ‘putting’ the line where I want it with the upper hand.

The overhang on the outbound short is interesting when it’s changed around, and shooting line into the backcast is defo a winner. Slipping a little line on two false casts produces incredible distance with little effort. Too much overhang and the whole thing collapses quickly. Even retrieving close to the head, one water load to a backcast and then forward shooting line sees the fly go over 100’-0” easily if required

Turning leaders of 12’-0” is generally very good and learning a lot here. Leaders are Poly across a range from hover to sink3.

The versatility is enormous and I’m very happy to have found and cast a DH with a reasonably light line at last – practicing every Saturday and Sunday for 40 minutes (grass and water) and a visit to Glenda to help/review and tighten it all up shortly.
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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby Spruce » Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:14 am

Jeez, where to start, Jim? So it looks like you have ditched the Rio Serum and switch lines then? Not really surprised that you have ended up with the 30' heads. I wouldn't have fancied chucking the longer aforementioned lines in the typical conditions found on the coast.
What I do find surprising is that a rod rated #5/6 rod needs a line rated at #8 or #9 or 315 grains +. Now, I know that the line(s) you have got are correct because that rating is recommended by Beulah themselves. But surely this is yet another example of misleading line ratings by a rod manufacturer.... Unless of course they are Spey line ratings. However, this is highly unlikely as the rod is made and advertised for double handed overhead casting in the surf.
Just shows what a minefield it can be for the inexperienced!
Also some very good points re casting with the two handers. In a nutshell, I found that holding the rod closer to my body and having a very dominant bottom hand allied to pronounced stops on both the backward and forward casts helped enormously. Keep your findings posted please Jim, great reading.

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Re: The Short Two-hander in the Salt

Postby salar » Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:06 pm

The Oracle Scandi range have a helpful line weight recommendation written on the rod. I'll give Sakespeare 10 out of 10 for that.

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