Get A Grip


You may have heard the saying before. Most of us probably don’t think much about the cork grip when fishing. Cork grips come in a variety of grades. Fluor grade Portuguese cork is the accepted top grade. After that it depends on whose brand of handle you use. Super, Grade A , B and C are some of the grades I have seen. The main things to look for are:
1.      Is the handle smooth with few pits and filled spots.
2.      Do filled spots appear to be securely glued so you won’t develop uncomfortable pits from use.
3.      Does the handle fit your hand comfortably? This is very important to your ability to cast and control the rod. A handle that is too small or too large will tire your hand over a day’s fishing.
4.      If purchasing from the web, what are the return and warranty policies of the website.
What is the big deal about the handle other than it should be smooth and comfortable to hold? Comfortable to hold is the operative phrase. When casting, most of us use the thumb on top, the V grip or the forefinger on top grip to hold and control the rod. The grip must fit the hand comfortably for the rod to become an extension of your arm. The better the grip fits your hand, the better you can apply power properly to the rod during your cast, the better you can control the vertical casting plane of the rod and the better you can hit the back and forward stops to form tight loops.
A grip that is too skinny or too fat for your hand will tire you out and lessen your control over the rod. The shape of the grip is also important. Today grips come in four shapes
1.      Cigar for weights 1 thru 3. These are similar to the half wells grips without so much flair at the back of the grip.
2.      Half Wells with a cutout for the top reel seat. These grips have a smaller front end a larger middle and flair at the back end. These grips are often found on rod weights 1 thru 6.
3.      Full Wells grip have a full front end to allow the thumb to apply power during the cast, a middle to fit the palm and a flared back end to rest the heel of the palm against. Generally found on rod weights 6 and up. And most often these will have a one or two inch fighting butt.
4.      The new Snub-Nosed Wells grip found on St. Croix Bank Robber rods in 6 and 7 weight and on Sage TXL-F small stream rods. (I have cast the Bank Robber 6 wt with the snub nosed grip and found it tiring. The seven wt with the full Wells was quite comfortable. I have not tried the seven wt with the snub-nosed Wells grip.

1 and 2 are half Wells Grips. 3 and 4 are full Wells grips with fighting butts.

Snub-nosed Wells grip on the Bank Robber Rod.
In 2009 I purchased a big brand 9ft 6wt rod. This rod has taken me over a year to learn to control properly. Mostly because the grip is 2/64ths to 3/64ths too large for my hand and tires my thumb out quickly on long casts necessary for the FFF certification test. While learning to use this rod, it would sometimes turn 30+ degrees during a cast because I could not hold the grip comfortably with the thumb on tip hold. The V grip was only slightly better. I know the size of the grip was the main issue because I have tried 2 other exact same brand and model rods with handles slightly smaller and experienced no loop or control problems.
So when you purchase your next rod, take some time to hold the rod. Feel the grip. Is it comfortable? Is it too small or too large or just right? Is the grip the right design for you? Look at the construction. Ask about the grade of cork used. Remember the cork grip is where the hand meets the rod. The average fly fisher makes some 200 casts in a day on stream. You want your day to be fun and not a struggle to control your fly rod.

Tight Lines,

Marshall, Editor
Everything you need for fly fishing
A Try Before You Buy Book


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