A common mistake that I see with many of my first timers is they fail to keep a consistent fly rod grip when they’re first learning how to cast a fly rod.
Without notice, they often shuffle their rod hand around on the cork, which ends up altering their grip slightly from one cast to the next. Probably the most common grip movement I see with my students is they reposition the thumb during the casting stroke. To be more specific, they slide their thumb off the top of the cork to the side of the cork, and it causes problems with casting form, makes it more difficult to abruptly stop the rod at the end of the back cast and forward cast, it seems to make it harder for anglers to feel the fly rod loading, and direct a cast to a designated target. I’m always quick to point out the thumb grip position error, but I’ve yet to come up with an explanation of why it comes up time and time again with my beginners. Perhaps it’s feels more comfortable to them, and maybe when I see the thumb sliding off to the side of the cork I should take it as a clue for me to suggest students to try a true v-grip or palm out fly rod grip instead. Regardless of why it happens or how I proceed with my instruction, the most important point that should be heard loud and clear to all newcomers, is good fly casting form and accurate fly presentation all starts with a fly rod grip that’s consistent from one cast to the next. I like to think of a proper fly rod grip as the foundation for fly casting. Once an angler has that, they then can focus their attention on developing good casting mechanics and form. At that point, they should feel comfortable experimenting with other fly rod grips like the index finger grip or the v-grip which can sometimes prove to be better grip choices for certain fly fishing situations on the water.
If you’re new to casting a fly rod, the next time you’re on the water and notice your fly casting isn’t up to par, try taking a close look at your fly rod grip because there’s a good chance it could be the root of the problem. Gripping a fly rod incorrectly can contribute to multiple casting flaws, encourage bad habits, which will limit skill growth.
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