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Your Guide to Choosing Which Double-Handed Fly Fishing Rod Is Best for You

Which Double Handed Fly Fishing Rod?

Choosing a Double-Handed Fly Rod

Before getting technical, let’s first start by looking at why a double-handed fly rod is necessary or preferable over a single-handed rod in certain fishing situations. When we think of double-handed rods, the first thing that comes to mind is Atlantic salmon fishing, the traditional domain of these tools. Increasingly though, a preference for double-handers has crept into steelhead fishing and even trout fishing with the advent of ‘trout spey’ rods and lines.

Double-handers come into their own when you need to lift longer lengths of line off the water, control and mend the line at distance as it swings through a stream, fish with large heavy flies and sinking tips, or to achieve distance when there is no backcasting space behind you. If you’re fishing on a typical UK salmon river, you’ll have to deal with at least one, if not all, of these situations.

Most double-handed rod ranges include models from 12’ through to 15’, though shorter ‘switch’ rods and longer rods are available. Rod and line technology has moved forward at a rapid rate in recent years and presently the trend is towards shorter lighter rods than would have been considered the ‘go-to’ in the past. A key reason for this is the huge improvements that have been made in fly line technology, with the advent of ‘short head’, ‘Scandi’ and ‘Skagit’ lines which load rods more quickly and require less physical effort to cast.

Which Double Handed Fly Rod Should I Choose

Which rod length should I choose?

Not so long ago, a 15’ rod was the default for most salmon rods sold in the UK. Today an increasingly high proportion of sales are taken by 13’ - 14’ models, as anglers realise that the longer rod will not provide any benefit in most (but not all!) situations.

The table below will give you a general idea of rod lengths and their applications:

Large rivers such as the Tay or Tweed at any time of year.
Medium-sized rivers, e.g Spey/Dee in high water conditions.


Typical summer conditions on medium-sized rivers such as the Wye/Spey/Dee.
Sea trout fishing on rivers such as the Rio Grande in Argentina. Russian Atlantic salmon rivers.
Steelhead fishing.

13’ - 14’

Small to medium rivers e.g Taw/Helmsdale/Thurso.
Low water conditions on larger rivers.
Grilse fishing.

12’ - 13’

Sea trout fishing, salmon fishing in small spate rivers, streamer fishing for trout.

11’ - 12’

Which rod action is right for me?

Shooting-head lines have become very popular with salmon fly fishers in recent times and fishing in the ‘Scandi’ style as many of us now do, works best with a more tip actioned double-handed rod.

If you fish using a more traditional style of casting with a longer belly ‘Spey’ line, you may get on better with a more ‘through-actioned’ rod that loads deeper into the blank as you make your cast.

The same is true if you use Skagit lines that are cast using sustained anchor casts like snap and circle ‘T’s.

Having said that, the boundaries between these two types of rod are becoming increasingly blurred and the ‘feel’ of a rod is very much down to personal preference.

Which rod action is right for me?

Where should I start?

Decide where you’re most likely to be using your rod and at which time of year. This will help you understand which lines and flies you’ll be using. From there you can begin to narrow the selection down by taking rod action into consideration.

If you need expert advice – that’s what we’re here for! Call our team or visit us in-store and we’ll help kit you out with the best tool for the job whether you’re fishing hear at home or abroad.

For more help and information on purchasing your new double-handed rod please contact Farlows on +44 (0) 207 484 1000