A sound grip is the foundation of a good casting stroke. All of the most popular ways to hold a fly rod are some variation of the thumb-on-top (TOT), index-on-top (IOT), or V-grip (VG) styles. I strongly favor and highly recommend the TOT version because it offers distinct advantages over the other two.
First of all, the wrist has significantly less range of motion during the casting stroke than with either the IOT or VG. Thus, the TOT grip is an easy and natural solution to a wristy casting stroke and allows for a quicker turnover as well. Secondly, it affords the kind of maximum leverage necessary to form highly efficient loops on both the back and forward casts and with less effort exerted in the process. Lastly, the TOT grip provides substantial support for casting heavy rods.
There’s more to establishing a correct TOT grip than simply placing the thumb on top of the cork handle. To grasp the rod properly, place the handle so that it extends from across the heel of the hand to the first knuckle of the index finger. Then lay the thumb on top so that it is 180 degree opposite the guides. To increase leverage for great backcasts, the index finger should be extended so that it is either even with or slightly in front of the tip of the thumb and hooked trigger-finger style around the handle. It is essential that the heel of the hand be placed along the side of the handle instead of on top. When held properly, the butt of the rod will be situated to the inside part of the forearm. The correct grip is very similar to the way most people hold a flashlight. The benefits of using a TOT grip will become increasingly apparent in future casting tips.
Work with this grip as you are on the water and stay tuned for the next installment of Performance Casting.