Fly fishing with two handed fly rods at Pyramid Lake in Nevada is an advantage to the wade angler and that advantage is measured in increased casting distance. The striper guys on the East Coast have been using them for years, 2 handed casting, fly fishing in the surf, and slowly they are becoming more popular here in the high desert of Nevada. Switch and spey rods are great tools for the lake. Two handed rods lined with the proper fly line and a two handed overhand cast will give you a different approach than fishing with your standard single hand rod. They offer several advantages and some disadvantages compared to a single hand rod, but I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages most of the season at the lake. Let the two handed revolution commence.
Rods: Lets go over some two handed rod lengths first, and the advantages and disadvantages of using the two handers. Switch rods are typically 10-11.5 feet. Spey rods are typically 12- 15 feet. They both vary in weights from 2 weights up to 10 weights. A 6 weight switch rod is comparable to an 8 weight single handed rod. I like the shorter switch rods over the spey rods because a shorter rod has more lifting power (fish fighting power) and when retrieving flies it is less cumbersome/awkward, compared to that of a spey rod. You may be able to cast a tad farther with a spey, but a switch will get you just as far, and when the fish are in close on the beaches at Pyramid Lake, a long cast is not required. I like a 6 and 7 weight switch rod for the lake. A 5 will work, but when the wind or a big cutthroat comes by you’ll want a heavier rod. The advantage with casting a switch rod is that you are using two hands to cast not one, half the effort with a two handed overhand cast and less fatigue. You will be making a ton of casts on a normal day at the lake and if the wind is up, casting into the wind with two hands is a lot easier than one. The disadvantage of a switch is the way you have to hold your rod while retrieving flies. You will tuck the rod under your armpit and strip up on top of the cork, you are a little less connected to your flies and fly line than with a single hander. You will get used to it though and after awhile not be able to tell a difference.
Casts: You will want to make a two handed overhand cast. You can spey cast out at the lake, but most spey lines are not made for retrieving flies, they are made for swinging flies. You will be retrieving flies at Pyramid Lake right up to the tip top on your rod. Having heads and running lines with loops all over them will only get hung up in the rod guides. With the overhand cast you be using integrated lines with no loops. Since you will not be hauling line with your left hand or right hand, a stripping basket is a must.
Lines. I will make this easy for everyone. The best sinking lines for two handed overhand casting with a switch rod at Pyramid Lake are the Rio Outbound Shorts. You can use other manufactures lines, but these are the best. The floating outbound lines for indicator nymphing, or the floater no indicator technique are the bomb too. I use a 330 grain type 6 sinking outbound on both my 6 and 7 weight switches and a floater outbound for nymphing. If you want to use a standard floating line, upload 2- 3 times. Put a 9 weight floating line on a 6 weight switch rod.