When it comes to fly casting, probably one of the least thought about aspects is how we actually hold the rod itself. In this post I look at how “getting a grip” of the fly rod is an important factor when it comes to fly casting.
Fly anglers can spend hours on the bank fishing and then practicing their casting without even thinking about how they are gripping the rod and how this is affecting the cast they make. We all strive for that “perfect loop” and a nice presentation as our line floats to the water’s surface, so next time you pick up a fly rod please consider the following points.
When casting, try not to grip the rod handle too tightly. This can restrict the free flowing movement of the rest of the arm by tensing the muscles which can lead to a very painful arm ache at the end of a day’s fishing or even cause injury, remember using tense muscles is bad news. Adopt a lose grip but one that’s firm enough so you can still control the rod throughout the casting arc. It’s easy to spot someone who is gripping too hard when I am teaching as their knuckles usually turn white after about 10 minutes!
Hand position is another important factor. There are three main grips you can use. Firstly the thumb on top grip, my preferred grip and one I teach most of the time. As it says grip the rod with your thumb on top of the handle. The thumb then becomes a great training aid as it is in your eye line, so you just watch what your thumb is doing and the rod tip will be doing exactly the same, so in essence the rod becomes an extension of your thumb, far easier to see what your thumb is doing rather than the tip of your rod. With a fly cast the line will only travel in the direction of the rod so therefore the line will only travel in the direction your thumb is moving. Try it out, push your thumb towards the target on the forward cast and the line should simply follow your thumb.
The next grip is with the index finger on top of the handle. Most people find this grip uncomfortable if using it for any length of time, although it can be useful for short range casting when accuracy may be the key to fooling a fish, use the finger as an “aiming sight” in the same way you used your thumb in the previous grip. I use this grip occasionally when I am teaching people who suffer with excessive wrist break in the cast as this restricts the wrist break because of the position of the hand.
Lastly there is the “screwdriver” or “golf grip”. This is where you hold the rod with your index finger down one side of the handle and your thumb down the other. Although this grip may feel natural and comfortable I wouldn’t recommend it as the rod can move excessively in the hand thus making it hard to control the cast.