Convertible fly rods might be making a comeback. At least I hope so. Multi-function, multi-piece fly rods were a popular idea some years back, meaning rod pieces that combined to make different lengths or matched different line weights with the addition of one or two extra rod sections instead of a whole new rod. I think the late and much lamented J. Kennedy Fisher rod company was the last one to make these.


So I was delighted to find that Temple Fork Rods has revived the idea. While surf and kayak fishing the Rhode Island coast last week, I tried a 9-foot, four piece single-handed 8-weight that converts to an 11’3″ two-handed version with the addition of two extra butt pieces. You’ll ask right away why I might want to do this, so here’s the reason.

When fishing from my boat or kayak or in sheltered backwaters, the regular 9-footer is plenty of rod. When casting on foot in the surf, however, I like the power of a fast-action two-hander for distance-casting large flies with heavy lines.

In the accompanying photo, I’m using the two-handed conversion while standing on an ocean-front ledge near Newport, Rhode Island. The line is one of the new 350-grain “Coastal Express” versions from Scientific Anglers, basically a short high-density sinking head with an intermediate running line.

As you can see, the rod loads very respectably with that much weight. And with the added rod length plus two-handed power, it was relatively easy to cast 80 to 100 feet with just one backcast. Unlike a single-handed rod in that situation, the two-hander was much less work and didn’t wear me out.

This combination isn’t cheap–even for Temple Fork, known for low- to mid-price rods. The regular TiCr X 9-foot, 8-weight is $249.95. Add the two-handed conversion kit (2 sections) for $149.95. But that’s still less money than two complete rods of comparable quality, and the convenience is just wonderful.