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FrankB2 12-02-2010 09:47 AM

Rod Grip: Thumb or Index Finger?
I've always used my index finger, but see so many writers say that you can only get power when using the thumb on top. What a fishing author says doesn't bother me too much, but I tried using my thumb a few days ago, and it was actually painful! I have no problems casting with my index finger on top, and can fish all day like that. Charles Ritz insisted that the thumb must be used on top of the grib to get distance, but also said that using the index finger provided greater accuracy on short casts. I was looking at a video of Lee Wulff fishing for salmon, and he uses his index finger on top:

Lee's wife Joan is also a big advocate of the thumb being on top, so I wonder if they ever debated the issue. Lee looks to have been more of the type of guy to just go fishing, however. ;)

kglissmeyer1 12-02-2010 09:52 AM

Re: Rod Grip: Thumb or Index Finger?
Since watching Gary Borger demonstrate the 3-point Grip (index finger on top) at an outdoor expo several years ago and watching him cast the entire 90-ft flyline in three strokes, I became a believer and have used it ever since. To me it is now second nature and any other grip feels wrong to me. I believe that whatever you are most comfortable and successful with is what you should use.


randyflycaster 12-02-2010 09:54 AM

Re: Rod Grip: Thumb or Index Finger?
Try slightly bending your thumb. You might also want to try a V-grip - putting your thumb and index finger on the sides of the handle.

FrankB2 12-02-2010 10:41 AM

Re: Rod Grip: Thumb or Index Finger?
I'll have to look up Borger's casting technique, Kelly. I've always thought Gary Borger was a class act. Randy, I don't have any problems casting the way I do. I was just wondering if anyone else doesn't use their thumb on top. You mentioned a V-grip, and I might do something like that sometimes. It really depends on the situation, but I know I make subtle changes in the way I hold the rod. Lee Wulff's index finger is fully extended, but I think mine might be wrapped around a bit. I'll have to look at my hand more carefully the next time I go fishing. If nothing else, it's a good excuse to get out on the water. :D

---------- Post added at 11:41 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:22 AM ----------

Here's a Gary Borger video I had saved, and he appears to be using a V-Grip (or the 3-Point Grip):

Is that the 3-point grip you, Kelly? It should be noted that Gary's grip is thumb on top without a rod in his hand (demo), but changes quickly once he's actually casting. Too much time on my hands today.... :D

fyshstykr 12-02-2010 10:50 AM

Re: Rod Grip: Thumb or Index Finger?
For myself it depends on what I'm fishing with. If I'm using a lighter rod and smaller flies (dries or nymphs) I cast with my index finger on top of the grip. For heavier rods, bigger flies, or even in windier conditions I find that I place my thumb on top more often.

My mentor always preached that the thumb needed to be on top, but I never was a very good Grasshopper.

Biggie 12-02-2010 10:52 AM

Re: Rod Grip: Thumb or Index Finger?
Stopping your rod at the appropriate points in the casting stroke is far more important than how you grip the rod. When I teach a new angler to cast I make it a point to have them keep their thumb on top of the grip so that they are less likely to break their wrist, which opens up their loop and kills the cast. Once you have the basic stopping points of the cast down I don't think it makes one bit of difference in your ability to cast further or have better accuracy. We learn to walk with one foot in front of the other, but eventually we all develop our own strut.

FrankB2 12-02-2010 10:56 AM

Re: Rod Grip: Thumb or Index Finger?
Good point about stopping the rod, Biggie!

Here a description and video of Borger's 3-Point Grip:
Fish, Flies & Water [blog] Three-Point Grip

One of the points of contact in the 3-point grip is the heel of the hand on the reelseat. I do that quite a bit, as I have large hands and small grips. When I don't have the heel of my hand on the reel seat, my fingers are on the blank. Funny thing is, I can't stand large grips....???

kglissmeyer1 12-02-2010 11:57 AM

Re: Rod Grip: Thumb or Index Finger?
The older videos of Borger show him regularly using a thumb-on-top grip, but the three point grip he now advocates (forefinger on top) is the one described by his son, Jason, in this Flyfisherman article: The Three-Point Grip | A problem-solving grip that can make you a better caster.| 1 The pictures with the article illustrate exactly how the grip is accomplished.

The three main grips out there seem to be the traditional thumb on top, the "v" grip with the thumb and forefinger on either side of the handle, and the three-point grip with the index finger on top. The three-point grip does assist in not allowing the wrist to 'break' during the backcast, thus leading to a better casting stroke - IMHO.

Most people I know use the thumb-on-top grip and are very successful with it. My son does not like the three-point grip and sticks with the thumb-on-top, so I guess its really a matter of personal preference. I feel I'm a better caster since learning the 3-point grip and I use it almost exclusively. When throwing large streamers with my 8-wt and double-hauling line to a distant target, which takes more arm and body movement than when using my 5-wt for trout, I usually switch to the thumb-on-top method to get the strength, control of the powerful stroke, and the power needed to make the longer casts.


FrankB2 12-02-2010 04:11 PM

Re: Rod Grip: Thumb or Index Finger?
I was able to get to the local lake at around 3:30 today, and after making a few casts took this photo:
That's a 5wt rod, and I found that I altered between that grip and one with the index finger more prominently on top.

*Thanks for that link, Kelly. I always enjoy reading Gary and Jason's writings.
P.S. Looking at my photo along with Jason's grip, it would seem that my middle finger is lined up with the thumb in the 3-point style, at least to me.

Ard 12-02-2010 05:11 PM

Re: Rod Grip: Thumb or Index Finger?
Hi Frank,

I have read the thread and have to confess that to be perfectly honest I have never paid much attention to how I hold a cork. As for how many strokes it takes to shoot out a whole line I never counted that either. Obviously I need to pay closer attention to what I'm doing out there. I'm sure the debate will continue.....................

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