Learn The Fly Fishing Basics and How to Fly Fish!

How to Hold a Fly Rod

There are certain things about fly fishing and learning how to fly fish that are simple yet make all the difference in the world. When you are just starting out and learning the fly fishing basics you’ll start out learning how to cast a fly rod. One of the most important and sometimes overlooked aspects of fly casting is how to hold a fly rod.


How to Hold or Grip a Fly Rod

How to hold a fly rod can affect your fly casting ability more than you would expect. A simple and slight change in how you grip your fly rod can help or hinder your presentation of the flies to those wary little trout. Along with that is that fact that some ways to hold a fly rod are just more comfortable to some than others. Being well-versed in the different ways to hold a fly rod can be very beneficial though in order to allow you to choose the proper grip for the casting and fishing method you are using. I personally feel that some are more suited than others to specific fishing and casting techniques. I’ll elaborate a bit more as we explore these. But first, what are the main ways you should know on how to hold a fly rod?

How to Hold a Fly Rod – The Golf Grip

The Golf grip is what I would consider the most basic of all ways to hold a fly rod. Think of this as if you were to pick up a baseball bat or golf club. You would take your hand and wrap your fingers around the handle with your thumb wrapping around the side and onto your other fingers. The Fly rod extends out the bottom and top inside the palm of your hand.

Golf Grip Side View - How to Hold a Fly Rod

This basic grip does work. However, I don’t recommend this particular grip because of the lack of control when using it. One of the key points in fly casting is to not let your wrist flop back and forth, which allows your rod tip to extend further than what you are intending. And a fundamental aspect of fly rod casting is that your line follows your rod tip. By using the golf grip, your wrist can have the tendency to flop around too much, allowing for less control of your cast than is ideal. The grip will work though and if it is what is most comfortable, then by all means use this. I’ll just urge you to try out a few of the other ways to hold a fly rod before finally settling on one.

How to Hold a Fly Rod – Thumb on Top Grip

The Thumb on Top grip is one of my favorites. When I was first learning how to fly fish I started out with this grip. I personally feel that this is one of the most comfortable grips that you can use to hold a fly rod.

Thumb on Top Grip Side View - How to Hold a Fly Rod

Basically you grip the fly rod as you would with the golf grip, and then place your thumb on top of the grip pointing down the length of the rod. So instead of being wrapped around, your thumb now lies on the top of the grip. This allows you more control of your wrist by using the pressure resistance from your thumb being on top. Add to that is the comfort factor of the basic golf grip with this and you have one of the best ways to hold a fly rod.

As I mentioned, this is one of my go-to ways to hold a fly rod and I especially like this grip when you need to cast those extended distances. To me you get an amazing amount of control and power with this grip.

How to Hold a Fly Rod – V-grip or 3-Point Grip

I’ve heard this one called a few different things. The V-Grip or 3 Point Grip is the most common term for it though and this is my preferred and favorite of all ways in which to hold a fly rod.

V Grip - How to Hold a Fly Rod

Aside from the thumb on top grip, this is my go-to grip for 90% of my fly fishing. Describing in words how to use this grip is tough, but I’ll try my best. Instead of wrapping your hand around the fly rod as with the previous two ways to hold your fly rod, this one you start by placing the bottom palm of your hand on the top of the fly rod. Then wrap your pinky, ring, and middle fingers around the bottom of the fly rod towards the their tips. Your forefinger will basically slightly rest on the top-side of the fly rod and your thumb with fall into position, wrapping around the side. What you will end up with is the V shape created by your thumb and forefinger lining up and pointing straight down along the fly rod to the butt of the rod. So if you have that V shape directly inline and pointing along the fly rod you’re golden with this grip.

V Grip Top View - How to Hold a Fly Rod

I’ll be the first to admit that it feels weird at first. You almost don’t feel like you’re hold the fly rod very securely at all. Trust me though, this grip works and provides superior control and accuracy when casting and fishing. It will take a bit to get used to and a bit to make sure you are holding the fly rod correctly though. Practice makes perfect. Be sure to check out the video along with this post to give you a better visual as to what I’m describing above.


How to Hold a Fly Rod – Forefinger on Top Grip

The Forefinger on Top grip is another useful grip for your fly rod, but also one that requires a lot more practice to become comfortable with. I have never been a huge fan of the Forefinger on Top Grip for holding a fly rod. It’s not that it isn’t a good way to hold a fly rod, but more so that I don’t feel I have control of the rod using this grip. However, it is considered to be one of the best ways to hold a fly rod for increased accuracy.

To use this grip, basically you will wrap your pinky, ring, and middle finger around the bottom of the fly rod, let your thumb extend along the side of the fly rod, and then place your forefinger directly on top of the fly rod pointing down the length of the rod itself. When first starting out, you may feel like you don’t have a lot of power with this grip. I still feel that way. However, it does allow you superb accuracy when casting to finicky fish and need to place your fly in very tight spaces. I do recommend trying this grip out when fishing small streams and where distance is not a huge factor.

How to Hold a Fly Rod – Video Resource

There you have the four main ways to learn how to hold a fly rod. I’ve probably made it abundantly clear which are my favorites, but I highly recommend trying and practicing with each of them. You will gravitate towards your favorite and most likely use that one the majority of the time, but it will pay off in the long run to have a few others up your sleeve when the situations arise. So go out there, practice away, and have some fun on the water.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below or drop me a line on the various social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+). I’d be happy to help with any questions.

About Clint Losee

Clint Losee is an avid fly angler of 30+ years, web developer, and Utah Landscape & Nature Photographer. You can connect with him on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Curious about some of the gear he uses? Check out the new Amazon store.