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Mark Stangeland - NUFlyGuide
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Two Handed History

Posted by Mark Friday, March 16, 2012

I saw this recently and thought I would share it here. A fascinating history lesson.
From an interview with the late Jim Green, expert angler, champion caster, and rod designer for Fenwick, and his wife Carol, in the book "Steelhead Fly Fishing Nez Perce Country" by Dan Landeen:

Carol: "Actually, all of this two-handed business came about from me... I tried to teach my friend Joanne Strobel how to cast for three years off and on. She had a broken wrist and she wanted to steelhead fish. Well, you know if you get a 9-foot steelhead rod with a number 8 or 9 line that is capable of fishing the Thompson or any of the big rivers it requires a lot of strength and she just couldn't do it. After a while, I got tired of trying to teach her. She knew what she was supposed to do but just did not have the strength to do it. She was only 5' 1". Anyway, I got exasperated one day and said, 'Jimmy would you make her a two-handed rod?' At that time two-handed rods were just used in Europe, there was nothing here in the U.S.

"Well, Jimmy made this two-handed graphite rod just before we were going over to the Skagit to fish. I took the rod to Joanne and we went over to the park and she started trying out this rod and lord, she was casting immediately. She was easily casting 80-90 feet. Well, I'll be darned if Harry Lemire and some others didn't come along and they were watching Joanne and they can't believe what they are seeing.

"Pretty soon there was a whole line of people there watching and after about ten minutes Harry asked to try it. Before you knew it everyone was trying it out and Joanne never saw it for the rest of the day. All these men are out there trying it and that's basically how the big deal in two-handed rods started over there on the west side. That was the first graphite two-handed rod, the one he built for Joanne."

Jim: "I made those first graphite two-handed rods, at the same time I built Carol's graphite/boron rod in the 1970's. I had a group of fishing friends that would come over to my house and we would spend hours at my casting pond experimenting with my designs..., different lengths, weights, lines and lots of other things. Our group started using them and pretty soon a friend of a friend wanted one and so we started marketing them....I was preparing to go on a fly fishing trip to Florida with Lefty Kreh. Lefty and I are good friends and we would fish for tarpon with #12 long belly lines that are very heavy.

"On a whim one day... I put that heavy salt water line on a two-handed rod and could not believe how well it could cast. The problem all along was that I wasn't using heavy-enough lines. Since that time I have determined that 40-45-foot shooting heads are ideal and with a little flip you can easily cast a fly 70 feet. I don't normally cast over 100 feet with my two-handed rod but I have cast a line 150 feet in my back yard."

Carol: "I basically think a two-handed rod is for sixty and senile... A single-handed rod with a good caster is poetry in motion. With a two-handed rod anybody can swish it out there and get out there 80-90 feet with no knowledge at all, just a big swish."

Jim's initial exposure to two -handed rods was during the seven years when he fished at the Moisie Club, an exclusive Canadian salmon fishing club, as guest of John Olin, owner of Winchester Arms. "One year the Duke of Wellington came to fish with us. When he fished he had a tweed suit, tie and matching hat. One day the two of us were assigned to the same pool. He used a heavy 15-foot, two-handed bamboo rod. I had seen these in casting tournaments, but I had never seen anyone fish with one...The Duke kept telling me why the European two-handed rods were a lot better than the single rods that Americans used. He made fun of the Americans who were constantly having to double haul and false cast to get the distance they needed.

"He let me try it out and I caught some fish with it. Right away I could see how easy it was to mend the line and I liked the extra distance. I was designing rods for Fenwick at the time and after that trip I went home and started building the first fiberglass two-handed rods that I am aware of. I built them for the members of the Moisie Club and didn't market them for the general public. Some of those rods are still being fished at the club today."

1 Responses to Two Handed History

  1. Ken Campbell Says:
  2. Awesome!!!


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