Friday, March 28, 2014

Now I Finally Know Why I Grip A Fly Rod the Way I Do!

Over the years, I have been asked many times why I grip a fly rod the way I do! With their thumbs proudly thrust forward, other anglers have often told me that my grip may be great for accurate short casts, but was not good for much more than that. The intimation was I couldn't exert much power with my grip. In case you're wondering, I extend my index finger forward along the cork handle as opposed to my thumb. I've always felt that I was perhaps doing something wrong. I thought maybe my grip was, if not downright mamby-pamby, at least a bit ungainly! But it's the way I've always done it, so I've soldiered on with my index finger pointing the way.

In my own mind, I've always thought my grip was fine. I felt my grip offered the same power, but with less effort and fatigue than the thumb-on-top grip.  But when asked about it, I always felt like something of a pariah… that my grip on life was a bit tenuous, so I'd change then subject. You know, something like "how about them Bears".

I started casting a fly rod using this grip when I was still in grade school. The two times I dislocated my thumb wrestling in high school and college certainly didn't help me to change my ways. Then in my 20's, I repeatedly reinjured my thumb playing basketball and nearly ripped it off rock climbing so I now have a condition called Gamekeeper's Thumb (skiers get this condition too from pole plants).

The upshot of all this is, for some reason, I started with my index finger on top and never saw any reason to change. I've always found it to be a perfectly fine grip (and essential for me)… but I have a bit of an inferiority complex about it. I literally know of no one else who casts the way I do... until I read this article on the Sage Blog by Joe Mahler, an ambassador at Sage Rods!! 
Now I'm feeling much more normal! Thanks Joe!
Maybe if you're struggling with your cast you might want to read Joe Mahler's article. It might really help!


  1. Crack me up Scott! I cast with the "v" between my thumb and forefinger on top. My guide in Belize just plain rode my ass for not having thumb on top (amongst other things) now I also have a bit of an inferiority complex...had a blast arguing with him all day about it, but who knows, he may have been right as I didn't manage to land a permit...I'm going to check the Mahler article out....

  2. Bless you, You make me feel so… so… normal! We need to start a support group for non-conventional casters. Maybe there are more of us out there than we know! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. Maybe physical limitations lead us to find an easier way. I cut my pinky-finger when I was a teen and can only bend it at the first joint. My hand would fatigue when gripping with the thumb. When I did the Thumb v. Index article with Lefty Kreh for Fly Fisherman Magazine, I didn't expect the amount of strong opinions -in the form of e-mails and Facebook comments -that came my way. I expect we will stay in the minority of "Grippsters".Thanks for sharing the article and adding your story!

  4. I imagine so Joe! Thanks for taking the time to make this comment on my blog, I appreciate the effort. I really was pleased to see there were others out there like me. I have fished with literally thousands of other fly fishermen (as I'm sure you have) and I've seen nothing, but the conventional grip. I find it interesting you use it in your clinics! Thanks again and I'll definitely give clients looking for instruction your web address.