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Fighting fish: Two-handed, single handed and stiffer rods

Moderator: Paul Arden

johnnybg
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun May 05, 2019 9:03 am
Location: Denmark

Fighting fish: Two-handed, single handed and stiffer rods

Earlier this week two friends and I had a discussion when it comes to fighting fish (in this case Salmon in a Danish river).

After some rather big salmon was caught this week at 18.8 and 19.5 kg my friend told me that I wouldn’t stand a chance playing a salmon this size on neither my #9 nor #8 single handed rod (which I in many situations prefer over my two handed). Also, it was stated that I need a heavier class of that rod to apply more force on the fish.

To sum it up, I was told that’s I’d only be able to apply enough force on the fish with an 8-weight two-handed rod or heavier. I’ve heard this statement many times and to be honest I can’t tell if it’s a myth or not.
I didn’t disagree with my friends, but said that I didn’t understand the physics then and there might be factors I’m overlooking in this regard.

My points are:
If I lower my singled handed rod in a more horizontal position, so the angle between the rod and the line becomes wider, I believe I should be able to put a lot of force on the fish even with a single handed rod.

And then there is torque. I see the advantage in a two-handed rod where your hands are farther apart. This acts a good lever at the fisherman’s advantage much more than the single handed does.
However, if Torque = Distance * Force then the pulling force of the fish must feel a lot greater as torque at the cork handle the longer and stiffer the rod is.

Honestly, I don’t think anyone of us was able to argue for our different beliefs and I’m hoping some of you can shine a light on our discussion and what’s facts and what’s myths.

- Does the weight class mean anything when It comes to the force you can apply on a fish (I though the recommended weight class was only for casting heavier lines that carries heavier flies)?

- Can you apply more force one the fish with a two handed rod, than a lowered single handed rod?

- Does the rod length have anything to say when it comes to applying force on a fish?

Cheers
Johnny

Paul Arden
Posts: 14235
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:20 am
Location: Belum Rainforest
Contact:

Fighting fish: Two-handed, single handed and stiffer rods

Hi Johnny,

Hey a big welcome to the Board!!!

Ok this is a very good question. With a single handed rod of any weight I regularly apply upwards of 10KG force here in the jungle. However I take the rod out of the equation and point the rod directly at the fish. Here only by hand-lining I can apply this sort of force.

I did some experiments a few years ago and have repeated many times since. Using an electronic set of weighing scales I measured the force applied at various rod angles with an 8WT rod. With the rod at 90 degrees to the fish the force at the fly is approx less than 1KG!!! With a rod angle of 45 degrees what feels maximum force to me without risking a rod breakage the force is around 3-4KG at the fly. However by pointing the rod straight at the fish I can break the flyline if that’s what I want (which I don’t obviously!).

I was testing this with an SA sinking line and discovered that the core strength is only around 22lbs. I apply more stopping force that this regularly with my 8 and 10WT lines here in the jungle - these lines have a 35lb core minimum.

When it comes to rod stiffness for fighting fish this actually works against you. Sakari has done a lot of experiments with fibreglass butts to shorten the lever. We actually have a prototype HT12 with both graphite and glass butts for this reason (glass for Bluewater). Sakari has experiments where he is lifting a 10Kg bucket from his window with this tackle - rod angle greater than 90 degrees! - there is a thread on the Board here somewhere.

So my conclusions are-
1) rod angle reduces the amount of force you can apply to the fish. My jungle fighting technique is to point the rod at the fish. https://youtu.be/_cTm8pa51a4

2) the shorter the lever the easier it is to apply more force at the fly. So soft butts have “more lifting power” which is the exact opposite to what than some rod marketing departments would like us believe.

When it comes to playing a salmon the advantage of a long rod is you can keep more line clear of the water. For fighting Salmon I think the technique is to tire the fish by making it run. There is generally little force applied to the fish as the weighing scales reveal. In fact I would say that most anglers apply very little force to the fish, often only a few pounds, despite how it feels at the rod end.

The disadvantage of a long rod becomes really apparent when the fish is very close. Even with a 9ft rod I always hold the rod 1/3 the way up the blank to land the fish and protect the rod.

Lee Wulff caught many big salmon on single handed rods. I would have no issues at all playing such a fish. After all 100lb Tarpon are fished for using single handed rods.

Hope that helps!!!

Cheers, Paul
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

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Graeme H
Posts: 1966
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:54 pm
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Fighting fish: Two-handed, single handed and stiffer rods

johnnybg wrote: Honestly, I don’t think anyone of us was able to argue for our different beliefs and I’m hoping some of you can shine a light on our discussion and what’s facts and what’s myths.

- Does the weight class mean anything when It comes to the force you can apply on a fish (I though the recommended weight class was only for casting heavier lines that carries heavier flies)?

- Can you apply more force one the fish with a two handed rod, than a lowered single handed rod?

- Does the rod length have anything to say when it comes to applying force on a fish?

Cheers
Johnny
G'day Johnny,

Welcome to the forum.

Think the best way to settle this for you and your friend is a "fight to the death", where you run line between you and your friend (perhaps through a pulley anchored to the ground), with you holding your 8wt rod and he holding his 2 hander. You fight each other with your rods and see who can put the most hurt on the other.

It might cost one of you a rod if he is not aware of the limits of the rod, but you'll soon work out who has the most pull on the line. (My money is on you with a 9' SH rod by a mile, but if you were fighting me and my 8' 'glass rod, I'd back myself. )

Cheers,
Graeme
FFi CCI

Paul Arden
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:20 am
Location: Belum Rainforest
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Fighting fish: Two-handed, single handed and stiffer rods

I've never measured the force at fly end with a DHD. That would be interesting information at 45 and 90 degrees. Maybe someone here can measure this for us? I don't have a DHD here in Malaysia.

Thanks, Paul
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

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James9118
Posts: 1270
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:59 pm
Location: N.Wales

Fighting fish: Two-handed, single handed and stiffer rods

johnnybg wrote: However, if Torque = Distance * Force then the pulling force of the fish must feel a lot greater as torque at the cork handle the longer and stiffer the rod is.
A lot of people put effort in that makes it feel like they're applying a lot of pressure, but they forget that they're on the wrong end of a lever. So while they're gritting their teeth straining the actual pressure on the fish side of the lever is actually quite low.

Once you start 'flattening' out the rod becomes less and less of an issue, and in the extreme you can pull just as hard with a #2 cane river rod as you can with a #12 tarpon rod or any other double hander you care to mention.

James

James9118
Posts: 1270
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:59 pm
Location: N.Wales

Fighting fish: Two-handed, single handed and stiffer rods

This is Tracy playing a shark much larger than 20kg a couple of days ago. Here there is still plenty of rod angle to get the 'feeling' that you're fighting the fish with the rod, but low enough to actually be using a high (ish) drag setting to tire the fish.

Paul Arden
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:20 am
Location: Belum Rainforest
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Fighting fish: Two-handed, single handed and stiffer rods

Jungle fighting...
Attachments
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

Flycasting Definitions

James9118
Posts: 1270
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:59 pm
Location: N.Wales

Fighting fish: Two-handed, single handed and stiffer rods

The difference being that Tracy is 100yds into her backing when the photo was taken . If a fish must be stopped at all costs (snags etc) then the rod goes flat for a straight max pull. I still don't know how you avoid line burn though

Paul Arden
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:20 am
Location: Belum Rainforest
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Fighting fish: Two-handed, single handed and stiffer rods

You avoid line burn by not giving any and when you do let go completely! Curiously they tend not to run far without resistance.

That said, my fingers have scars

Cheers, Paul
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

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Paul Arden
Posts: 14235
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:20 am