Two-Handed Fly Rods
Big rods for big water.
By Gibbs Milliken
Two-handed fly rods allow far-reaching casts on open waters like wide rivers, coastal channels and rolling surf.
Most fly rod companies are producing long two-handed rods and combining them with specialized lines on large capacity wide-frame reels. The longer fly rods pick up and keep greater amounts of line in the air with less effort. Traditionally called “Spey” casting, the technique maintains a relatively fixed line length of 65-100 feet allowing you to cover more water without false casting or lengthening line on each cast, thus reducing fatigue. Among the finest rods of this type is the 9/10 wt. G. Loomis Roaring River Dredger GLX matched with the Islander LX 4.0 reel. Casting this excellent light-in-the-hand combination with sinking-head, shooting-tip lines permits a wide range of presentations from delicate to assertive. ($850, Dredger GLX Rod # FR168910-4, G. Loomis, 800 456-6647, www.gloomis. com ) ($585, LX 4.0 Reel, Islander Reels, 800-475-7335, www.islander.com)
The latest entry into the long rod category is Cabela’s LST Spey rod, a 15-foot 10/11 wt. with a fast action tip and medium flex through the entire blank. It is well crafted and combines nicely with the distinctive Van Staal C-Vex reel featuring a completely water-sealed drag system. Built and hand-finished to the highest standards, this large, lightweight reel holds lots of backing, has quick-change push button spools and is available in several line sizes for either fresh or saltwater applications. ($215, LST Rod #1501011, Cabela’s, 800-237-4444, www.cabelas. com) ($680,C-Vex #11/12 Reel, Van Staal, 800-718-7335, www.vanstaal. com)
Bill Gammel of Baytown is a master fly caster and recommends using rods in the 12-foot length for saltwater fishing. He feels longer “Spey” rods tend to be too soft for making an effective overhead cast, lifting heavy sinking lines out of the surf, or avoiding abrasive rocks in strong currents along the channels. One choice is the TFO Lefty Kreh Signature TiCr rod, a 12-foot, 4-piece, 12 wt., which is outstanding in quality and equal to many rods valued at much higher prices. Combined with their TFO Terry Hayden #2 Large Arbor reel and Scientific Anglers Mastery Series sinking line, it will punch a large weighted fly through a coastal wind with greater ease than a single-handed rod. It works well in both surf and along jetties where you need extra strength in the butt section while maneuvering a big bull red to the net. ($299.95, Kreh TiCr Rod and $364.95, Hayden #2 Reel, Temple Fork Outfitters, 800-638.9052, www.tem pleforkflyrods.com ) ($68.95, Mastery Series Sinking Tarpon Taper Fly Line, 3M Scientific Anglers, 800-364-3577, www.scientificanglers. com)
Another form of two-handed fly rod is intended for the offshore enthusiast. These provide the power to deliver huge flies designed to attract and capture the most aggressive game fish. Rather than being long and thin, the rods are made in lengths of 8 or 9 feet with stocky butts, fighting gimbals, and full-framed line guides for lifting enormous marlin, tuna and sharks. The casts are most often simple rollouts of flies from the stern of fishing boats attracting predator fish with hook-free teasers and the bait-and-switch technique. One of the best rods made for this type fishing is the 8-foot Dennis Freeman Sage Custom Xi2 16 wt. using a generation-five graphite blank, Pacific Bay International components and special Cam Sigler rotating gimbal. Built by master rodmaker Dennis Freeman in San Antonio, it can and will bring to gaff the “biggest-and-baddest” fish in the sea. The matching reel is the finest and the largest in the Islander LX 4.8 Big Game series and easily holds a 16 wt. fly line plus 300 yards of Stren 80-pound SuperBraid backing. The drag system of this reel is exceptionally smooth and powerful. No such combination has ever been built to this level of strength and quality and still been classified by IGFA standards as a fly rod and reel. ($650, Dennis Freeman Sage Xi2 Rod, 16 wt., 8’, 4 pc, Rodmakers, (210) 479-3477, www.rod-makers.com) ($765, LX 4.8 Reel, Islander)