I do both. Depends on certain situations. If I am fishing from a boat which is most of the time fly fishing for kings in a river, then I use a single hander. Im in the middle of the river and have all the room I need to backcast.
If I am fishing from shore then I use a 10 weight two handed rod. Even If I have room to cast. I like the leverage a 2 handed rod can give you. You can usually get a king in from shore. I always have a boat nearby incase its a big one. Being in the boat allows you to bring a fish in so much quicker. If you hook a fish, drift with them and fight them that way. Sucks if your in a drift boat, because you cant get back upstream, but in a sled its fine.
Hope this helps
boat, 10wt. on the bank for BIG kings, 11wt single hander. the spey rod has way too much leverage working you to bother with when you are after BIG fishes. i am sure there must be exceptions...........
I fish for them with a 9' 10wt single hander and do OK in most situations although an extra 3' of rod would be a huge help. There are two main reasons I am strongly considering getting a Spey rod just for salmon:
1) The type of water Kings like to hang out in.
Most of the spots I like to fish for them have distinct current seams, lots of turbulence, and eddys that make line control difficult to say the least. Getting deep is critical with kings and since their takes are often gentle, you also have to maintain good contact with the fly, - not an easy thing to do. The length of a Spey rod should make mending and line control much MUCH easier.
2) Backcast room.
This gets back to the kind of water kings like, boily chutes, slots, transitional water at the heads of pools, etc... The best spots always seem to be at a sharp bend in the river or some other distinct feature in the river canyon that puts a high bank or tree right at your back.
I'm sure there are places where casting distance could give a Spey rod a big advantage, but I've found that line control is more important when fishing kings.
Interesting this question should come up here on the Washington Board. Same question going on "the complete fisher," a UK board (a good one I might add). The 'Brit's' like to come over and fish on Vancouver Island and one of the boards 'big kahoonas' recommends a single hander 12 wt.
Idea being you can put a LOT of pressure on a fish with a shorter 12 weight; far more than a 10 single or 2-hander. Several 'Americans' post to the board and we're in agreement that a 10 wt is plenty.
All that said, like others above I use both a single hander (9wt with Teeny sinking heads) and 2 handers (10 wts) here on the Rogue. One thing you want to be aware of with 2-handers is don't get carried away with an overly long rod. That rod length that gives you leverage ... also gives the fish more leverage back.
I made the serious mistake (once) of taking a 14' 10 wt spey to Florida to use on Tarpon. Yeah, I could throw a mile, but the guide was almost hysterical as that honking big fly whizzed by his head at 100 mph. The long rod gave me leverage but actually gave the fish more. It was nearly impossible to get the fish to the boat to release.
For king fishing its a matter of having room for a backcast for my 9 & 10 wts. I can do a reasonable spey cast with a one hander if I have to, so I can usually get by. The trick to king fishing is getting the fly down deep and in their face. I try to get the fly down just as if I was back bouncing eggs. Down and dirty so its usually a very short leader and a heavy head. Chuck and duck.
Sure you would do just fine with a 10 1/2' switch rod if you're set on having something more of a two-handed rod. I agree with the above statements though...it's more about where your placing your offering to the fish.
Some very good advice on this thread so far. One nuance that I can add is that if you like to fish the spey, then catching kings can be a lot of fun and very do-able on a 2-hander. For those folks sick of fishing all winter in the lower 48 for a few dozen grabs a season, you can do a trip to AK and hook as many Kings in a week. However, you will probably find that for pure fish-fighting ability, landing more fish per fish hooked, and greatest number of grabs, anchoring up and swinging an 11-wt single hander is the most effective way to catch kings. So to answer your question as truthfully as I can, if your definition of "better off" is you like to fish the 2-hander, then maybe yes. If your definition of "better off" is just catching fish, then maybe no. All I can say is go out and try both and decide for yourself. At the very least if you pick up a 15' 10 wt for Kings (and you probably don't want anything lighter than that) you'll have a good stick for big winter steelies, too.