Thumb on Top – basic
The simple grip is how you might hold a golf club or a cricket bat with ypur strong hand. Hold the cork with the palm to the side of the grip and the thumb on top. When casting the thumb stays on top and points in the direction of the cast.
Pros: This grip is simple and it makes it harder to over flex the wrist in the direction of the cast.
Cons: If the wrist is allowed to flex sideways, it can cause the back cast to be hooked behind the angler (poor tracking). This grip has less feel than the Thumb on Top index finger variation, especially on the back cast, and can sometimes lead to an overly tight grip.
Thumb on Top – Index finger variation.
This is my personal preference, it is a variation of the Thumb-on-top grip, with the index finger crooked and extended further up the grip. It is on the opposite side of the grip as the thumb and level or with it, or slightly higher up higher the grip. The rod should be held and controlled with the thumb and forefinger. The thumb should feel the pressure of the forward cast, and the index finger the pressure of the back cast. The remaining fingers should be loosely and passively curled around the grip.
Pros: This makes it harder to over flex the wrist, with the benefit of giving more feel, and lends itself to a softer grip.
Cons: If the wrist is allowed to flex sideways, it can cause the back cast to be hooked behind the angler (poor tracking).
Finger on Top
This grip is made with the palm and index finger top of the grip, with index finger extended in the direction of the rod tip. This grip is more often used by small stream and light rod enthusiasts.
Pros: it can aid accuracy, in that the finger can be pointed at the target on the presentation cast.
Cons: A downside of this grip is that it is very easy to over flex the wrist on the forward cast, and introduces too much or badly timed rotation. It also can put a lot of pressure on the index finger tendon, especially with heavier rods.
This grip is made with the palm almost on top of the rod, but slightly rotated towards the side, with the index finger crooked underneath the rod.
Pros: This grip also provides good feel between the index finger and the thumb. It also helps with a crisper rotation at the end of the forward and back cast as it is more natural to snap the wrist this way.
Cons: However it can be a problem for those who want to over use the wrist( over rotation) or use it at the wrong time (loss of tension mid cast).
3 Point grip
Attributed to Jason Borger, this is a variation of the V-grip. In this variation the Index finger is extended along the side of the grip, and the rod is held between thumb and middle finger. The remaining two fingers are curled lightly around the grip. This grip can feel strange to start, but advocates will tell you this soon passes.
Pros: This grip offers similar benefits to the V-grip, with the index finger providing stabilization, preventing unwanted sideways wrist flexion. It also provides good feel between the second finger and the thumb. It also helps with a crisper rotation at the end of the forward and back cast as it is more natural to snap the wrist this way.
Cons: This grip can be a problem for those who want to over use the wrist (over rotation) or use the wrist at the wrong time (loss of tension mid cast).
Some grips will have benefits over others, but the most important grip is one that is comfortable, relaxed and soft. A white knuckled tight grip will hinder your movement and line control, as well as being very tiring. Soft relaxed hands will help you feel the rod and thus control the loop’s form and shape. You only need to hold the rod with just enough force so that it does not slip from your hands. Try them out, you might find a new grip you prefer.
4 thoughts on “Five ways to hold a fly rod.”
Interesting article. I will consider these different grips when working with clients in the future.
Thanks Kyle, there are plenty more grips I am sure. These are some common ones.
Most important is a relaxed grip, second one is that the grip complements or balances the casting style.
You can use more than one depending on what rod weight and what type of fishing.
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That is very true. I often find myself moving between several different grips throughout the day depending on the rod, rig, and water I’m fishing. I probably use the thumb-on-top variations most and will often use the index finger variation when needing a more pinpoint cast. I did try the three-point grip on the water today and found it very awkward to cast. But that doesn’t mean I won’t experiment with it in the future!
I have only played with the 3 point grip. I found it awkward also.
People who like it appear to be people who are serious casters.
Not sure I know anyone who fishes with this grip.