Fly Rod Grip – Keep it Consistent

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Fly Rod Grip – Keep it Consistent. Photo Louis Cahill

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.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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4 thoughts on “Fly Rod Grip – Keep it Consistent

  1. I feel like golf pros teaching to hit a ball properly, instead of fine tuning your cast/swing they want you to cast like them. I can not have thumb on top of grip ( because of dislocstion),with practice you can achieve anything

  2. Fifty years ago I was told the grip is the same as one uses on a hammer, axe, meat clever, machete etc. They are all the same action, cocked wrist with a speed up and stop stroke.

    • Exactly, and like answering and hanging up the phone. This when I get blank stares from some as phone aren’t hung on walls anymore. Lol.

  3. The reason my right thumb drifted around the side of the cork is due to fact that in golf, this is the proper thumb position …in an ironic twist, many beginners in golf will put their thumb on top of the club group, and get the same lecture (in reverse) from their instructor that a beggining fly fisherman receives from his/her instructor!

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