Although it might not seem the most obvious place for it, two-handed fishing in Australia is growing in popularity for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that two-handed fly casting is unique and fun no matter which hemisphere you’re in. There are some environments here that mirror some of the best aspects of two-handed fishing worldwide and there are also some innovative uses of a two-hander that are being constantly adapted by Australian anglers to suit our interesting fishing environment.
Australia does not have many obvious places to swing a fly on two-hand gear, but it does have some excellent swinging water once you dig a little deeper. Like all countries we have dams, and those dams have tailwaters, and those tailwaters have trout. These tailwaters are relatively rare, but they provide an excellent opportunity to fish a two-hander. The Tumut River that I live on now is one of these tailwaters. A long trout-tailwater by Australian standards it boasts nearly 100km of year-round cold water and with an abundance of trout and trout food. I moved here 3 seasons ago, set up a drift boat and began guiding on the banks of this river and searching it in my free time with my 5wt 11ft Opti NXT switch rod. The Tumut is a perfect pocket size swinging river, home to energetic chubby rainbows and some absolutely perfect out-size browns that average out at about 3 pounds, with fish upwards of 5 and 6 pounds being a regular enough capture during our nine-month season.
These Australian tailwaters are always fishable with a two hander; whether it’s big streamers on Skagit heads or light nymphs on Scandi gear I can search effectively all season long. And in case you’re wondering about surface action rest assured that Australian trout respond well to skated caddis; or the occasional mouse pattern. Over the ensuing years I’ve explored a fair few Australian tailwaters they are all excellent fisheries, however its often the uniqueness that is most striking about these waters. You often have snow-capped mountains behind you as you set your anchor, and be shooting across to a sunny bank where kangaroos graze lazily, all in expectation of catching quality, large brown trout.
I recently started using my new 7X 4wt 11ft Switch rod on Australian trout waters and I can cast everything I want to with this perfectly sized trout rod. I particularly like the 7X as it is a true ‘switch rod’, the lightweight design allows it to be casted as a single hand rod with ease. This is especially relevant for an Australian tailwaters as they are generally smaller and there are many tight sections that suit Single-Hand-Spey casts or overhead single hand casts. I also use it extensively on Australian Alpine lakes to either cast Scandi-heads or weight-forward fly-lines, both floating and sinking. Again, being able to cast this rod either as a two hander or single hander comes in handy on Australian lakes; especially during a beetle fall or caddis hatch when I need to switch from searching with a full intermediate line to a floating line, targeting individual fish cruising in wind-lanes.
Australia is not only a fantastic place to find and excuse to fish two-handed rods, a two-handed rod opens up all kind of fishing options for anglers that are just being taken advantage of on a wide scale. Australian two-handed fishing continues to evolve as anglers continue to find two-handed solutions to all sorts of Australian fishing problems. For my part I’ll be throwing a two hander every chance I get down here, at anything I can.