Do you know where your reel hand sits on your rod when you are fishing?
I must admit that I hadn’t thought much about this at all until the other day over in the US - do you know where your reel hand sits on your rod when you are fishing? Not casting, not fighting a fish, but simply fishing away. I had (wrongly) assumed that essentially all anglers held a lure rod/spinning reel combination as per the photo below - two fingers either side of the reel stem, and like this for both casting and retrieving lures etc. I fish like this when there is a spinning reel and I am lure fishing, but I only got to thinking about when I handed Matt a rod I had taken over to the US and said “nice rod, shame about the grip where your hand sits”............
To which Matt replies along the lines of “what’s the problem with it? It works great.” But how? If your hand sits like mine does around the stem of a spinning reel, then an annoying lack of grip where the rear of your hand sits when you’re fishing away kinda bugs me - as per the outstanding HTO lure rod I reviewed recently. Serious rod, but yes, that lack of grip for the rear of my reel hand to me is a mistake. But it’s only a pain if you hold your rod like I do, and whilst I did assume that most anglers do indeed wrap their hands around a spinning reel like this, I now wonder if in fact anglers like me are the odd ones out?
So I really watched Matt cast and then work his lures a few times, and whilst he probably doesn’t even realise he is doing it, in fact he casts with his hand in “my” position (two fingers either side of the reel stem), but then changes over to the grip you see below at the end of the cast - whole reel hand in front of the reel when working lures, with no fingers split around the reel stem. Which of course means that a lack of duplon or cork grip behind the reel where the back of my reel hand would sit matters not to an angler like Matt who holds his rod in this way. If the old and now discontinued 8’ Daiwa France Branzino was one of the best 8’ lure rods I have ever been lucky enough to fish with, then the grip behind the reel seat was to me just a perfectly crap design when your hands got wet.
But was I the one at fault for lure fishing the way I do, with my two fingers spread either side of the reel stem? If I had naturally held a lure rod/spinning reel combination the way an angler like Matt does then I would never have even noticed that crappy bit of plastic, because my whole hand would have been in front of the reel stem and therefore gripping onto a nice bit of duplon that doesn’t then become really annoying when it’s peeing with rain or you have wet hands from releasing fish etc. But I naturally hold a lure rod/spinning reel combination with that split-grip as such and as far as I can remember this is the way I have always done it.
Gripping a lure rod/spinning reel combination like this does throw up another issue that I have found on a few spinning reels. I was having a look on the rather large Shimano stand at the iCast show in Orlando the other day, and especially their new and rather smart looking Stradic FK spinning reel (check here, is this a US model?). I picked a few up to have a bit of a feel, and whilst they felt nice and light and smooth etc., the main thing that struck he was how short the reel stem was compared to most other spinning reels I have used, and therefore how uncomfortable a reel like this would be for me to lure fish with - with my split-grip, I find that the knuckle on my third finger rubs uncomfortably against the bend on a shorter reel stem. And no, my knuckles don’t drag on the ground when I walk, just in case you were wondering.
I had this problem when I was doing some work with Shimano UK and they sent me the (new at the time) Exage to have a play with, as per the photo above - seemed to be plenty of reel for the price, but I had to give up using it because I just could not fish remotely comfortably with that shorter than normal reel stem. I asked the question why was it shorter and possibly wider than say on the (comfortable) Sustain 4000FG, but basically never got an answer to it. I’d have been fine if my natural grip had my hand in the same position as Matt’s - fully above the reel stem/foot, but I don’t naturally grip like this. And in turn this would have stopped the lack of anything but a screw fitting behind the reel foot on the 9’ Graphiteleader Argento Nuovo in the photo above eventually bugging the hell out of me (give me duplon or cork or something!). But my hand naturally sits the way it sits I guess, and I wonder if any of you are conscious of where your own hand naturally sits when you are retrieving lures? I am going to try lure fishing a bit with my hand completely in front of the reel stem and see how I get on……….
And then of course you have special cases like my mate here who shall remain nameless but I am still pretty damn sure he nudged me head first into an electric fence a couple of years ago. This guy casts like I do, as in right handed/“normal”, but then as the lure flies out he changes hands with the rod to retrieve left handed, or cack-handed as I tend to call it. This bloke was convinced he did not change hands on the rod during the actual cast, until I showed him some casting sequences. It matters not of course because he casts a mile and hammers bass, indeed it’s only me taking a bit of the proverbial here, but upon examining a few photos of his hands on a fishing rod I now see that he in fact grips the rod as you see above. Help!