Keep Your Hands on the Cork

9 comments / Posted on / by

Grabbing high up on the fly rod during the last part of the fight is a common rod handling mistake. Photo By: Louis Cahill

By Kent Klewein

Like so many others out there, I’ve broken my fair share of fly rods over the years.

I’ve slammed them in tailgates, stuck them in ceiling fans and I’ve squashed quite a few trying to get in and out of my cataraft to quickly. It took me awhile to figure it out, but I finally realized I was the problem, and I’ve since learned to slow down and not worry about being the first angler on the river all the time. It’s kinda funny how just slowing down a few steps and taking a couple extra minutes to get organized, keeps those negligible acts of snapping fly rods to a minimum.

One overlooked fly rod handling mistake I see all the time by fly anglers, is taking their hands off the cork during the final stages of the fight, and moving one hand high up on the butt section of the rod in the effort to get extra leverage to land the fish. You never want to do this, because when you do, you change the fulcrum point of the fly rod and eliminate the fly rods ability to use the strongest part of the rod, its butt section. This puts extra pressure on both the mid-section and tip-section of the fly rod, and greatly increases your chances of breaking the fly rod. Instead of sliding your hands up the rod in your effort to land a big fish at the boat, you should keep your hands on the cork at all times, and reach up as high as you can, while moving the rod in the direction of the net man.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline 
Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!

Follow Gink & Gasoline on Facebook:

9 thoughts on “Keep Your Hands on the Cork

  1. High sticking the rod up above your head has EXACTLY the same effect, loading the rod incorrectly and putting the pressure on something other than the portion of the rod designed to take the highest stresses. There’s a reason that saltwater guides get a queasy look when trout weenies start high sticking with real fish. The correct answer is to actually just beat the damn fish and use side pressure to guide the fish into the net. Stop trying to net them green and don’t baby them at the end.

  2. Holding a fly rod, up high, with your off-hand, will automatically cause breakage, is an urban legend. I should know because I have to do it with almost every fish, fresh and salt. You see I was a baseball catcher in to 50s and had broken fingers and hands to prove it. Now, and for the past 20 years or so, I just have arthritis. You just steady the rod up high, your not reefing on the fish, but you are taking the pressure off the cork hand that a fly rod imparts. Think of the physics for a minute…would you try and lift much of anything by holding the very bottom of a nine foot fulcrum. I didn’t think so. And, if you do try and horse in a fish by grabbing the rod half way up, you deserve to have it broken.

    • Thank you for dispelling this myth. A fly rod, like all fishing rods, is a third class (for the angler); the mechanical advantage it provides is not an increase in force (like a first class lever), but an increase in distance and speed. The longer the rod the faster the tip moves on a hook set and the tip moves a greater distance, providing more line pick up. If you area fish, the fly rod is a first class lever and as you pull against it, your pulling force is multiplied at the cork. By holding the rod gently above the cork during a fight, the angler no longer needs the advantage of a third class lever,instead they are reducing the mechanical advantage that the fish has. When executed properly it is a safe and effective fighting technique.

  3. This is one error I see all the time in videos…lotta folks reaching WAY past the cork…

    I keep waiting for that terrible sound….

    The other iconic fouls-up is the rod-and-reel-over-the-head-while-trying-to-land-the-fish fiasco.

    unlsees there’s shallow structure that’ll cut your line between you and the fish, keep your reel no higher than center-chest high….go sideways, not up.

  4. Happy to see all this good info! It is surprising to see so many guides in the videos grabbing the rod above the cork.-Or letting the clients do so.
    I guess when you pay big bucks for a rod, part of that price is the company replacing it when you snap it in two. Thanks for all the great articles at G & G.

  5. Pingback: Tippets: Drift Boats with Hillary Hutcheson, Keep Hands on the Cork - Pesca y Bits

  6. A far better way to exert more pressure on the fish, instead of taking the non-rod hand and placing it above the cork, place the web of that hand (between thumb and forefinger) BELOW the reel, but on TOP of the rod.
    Now while pulling with the rod hand and PUSHING with the non-rod hand, you have a second order lever, which is far more effective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...