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.Some thoughts on holding a fly rod

Lee Cummings

One fundamental of a good all round fly casting technique which is quite often overlooked by a newcomer to the sport is basically the correct way in which to actually hold a single handed fly rod. An incorrect grip fault can lie dormant and may not be highlighted and rectified until the angler sought out professional instruction. The correct grip of a fly rod will be one of the first pieces of advice that's covered when we move onto the actual casting process during a lesson. What instructors find in many cases is that once the client has been shown a correct grip, the number of faults that the client initially came with reduces greatly, as it is largely responsible for a multitude of subsequent casting errors.

There has been over the years, several trains of thought on "which grip is best", I'm quite sure it will always be a hot topic when casting instructors worldwide have a meeting of minds and when looking slightly deeper into the subject of whether one grip or another is more suited to a particular "style" will always remain open for debate. Either way the benefits to the client are enormous if the instructor can appreciate and demonstrate casting whilst using all the various grips.

Ok, let me move onto a piece of advice I have heard over the years by various non AAPGAI instructors....

"The rod should be held comfortably in your hand by laying the rod where it meets your fingers"

Lets look at this advice in slightly more detail, remembering that the client is paying to receive and take all advice literally.

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To hold it comfortably is one element of this advice I will subscribe to, however the above image is how I have personally perceived the given advice on how to hold the rod. The angle at which the rod was being held as this picture was taken is unimportant for now, the point here is to show what can happen if the rod is held across the base of the four fingers.

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The above image is the position the newcomer to the sport (who cannot decelerate the hand sufficiently to conclude the back cast) usually ends up in. The untrained muscle "memory" of which is required to "Stop" the rod is overcome and we know through experience that this position in efficient casting is not one of which we desire. We will generally see that when the wrist has "Broken" and the rod has gone too far back, the line will be sent low behind the caster, probably after an inefficient "Non Loop" had also been formed.

Lets now look briefly at a couple of other grips, the first being what Jason Borger termed the "V Grip". The rod is held with the wrist turned through 45 degrees to the right "for a right handed caster", and the palm is typically facing forwards. The name V grip comes from the thumb and forefinger base meeting on the top of the rod handle, in what can be perceived as the letter V.

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In preparation for beginning the back cast using the V Grip

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And the V grips final back cast position

Another grip I would like to show you is "Forefinger on top" or "Forefinger on Side"

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And its concluding back cast position

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One more final grip to consider is a more traditional "Thumb on Top" with the rod handle across the palm of the hand.

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And its concluding Back cast Position

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You may notice in all the above examples that the wrist is somewhat unable to rotate much further once the forearm was in an ideal vertical position, as the ergonomics of human wrists don't really facilitate a huge amount of backward rotational movement when the fingers are positioned in these ways.

Finally, the main observation that I would like you to consider is that in ALL the above grips, "with the exception of the example at the top", when the rod is held in any of these ways, if you upturn the palm so that you can open it in order to see where the rod is lying, you will probably find it laying like this.....

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And not across the base of the fingers.

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