Two-handed rods becoming more popular among fly fishers

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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BOISE, Idaho Speys the way.

BOISE, Idaho Speys the way.

Tired of traditional one-handed fly-fishing in itself a difficult, delicate art some anglers are turning to Spey rods, rods so long they require two hands to cast. Others are trying the switch rod, a cross between a two-handed and single-handed rod.

Its just gone bonkers, said John Smeraglio of the Deschutes Canyon Fly Shop in Maupin, Ore., a short cast from the famed Deschutes River where he estimates 70 per cent of steelhead anglers now use two-handed rods. Theres certainly a huge variety of product out there. Its almost too much. Its getting confusing.

Typical fly rods are two to almost three metres long and require one hand to cast, using the weight of the line to propel a near weightless fly to a desired spot. The much longer two-handed rods, four to 4.5 metres, require two hands to cast. If used properly, an exquisite ballet of timing and movement will load and unload the extra-long rods to send a fly 30 metres or more across a river, far past what most anglers are capable of casting with a one-handed rod.

Two-handed rods are intended for big rivers and big fish. The extra length of the rods lets anglers mend the fly line once its in the water to make the fly work properly across the river, and the long casts allow anglers to cover more territory, therefore increasing the chances of turning a day of fishing into a day of catching.

The two-handed rod also allows anglers to keep the line in front of them during the cast, avoiding snagging trees and brush on the bank the original reason the Spey rod was invented more than a century ago on the Spey River in Scotland.

Paul Johnson of Sage, a Seattle company that makes fly rods, said Spey rods began trickling into the Northwest part of the United States from British Columbia some two decades ago, mostly as a novelty.

They slowly caught on, he said, and in the last five years there popularity has soared, leading to Spey claves where anglers gather for days on a river for expert instruction. Theyve become more popular on Northwest steelhead streams such as the Deschutes and northern Idahos Clearwater River. The rods are even being used by surf anglers on both the East and West coasts.

I think theyre being used for everything at this point, he said.

Organizations: Deschutes Canyon Fly Shop

Geographic location: BOISE, Idaho, Maupin, Deschutes River Spey River Scotland Seattle United States British Columbia Northern Idahos Clearwater River

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