Bigger rod grips, please.
Kindly refer to photo above.
That’s a St. Croix fly rod.
Model: Avid (circa 2006).
It’s an 8-weight, and it’s one of my all-time favourite fly rods. I remember it being reasonably priced, at somewhere around the $300 mark.
I have two other (newer) 8-weight fly rods – both spectacular instruments for their respective price categories.
I use the Avid more than the newer, and in several ways, better rods: perfectly understandable considering the materials and process advances made over the last fifteen years.
Recently, I wondered what it is that keeps me hooked to that old Avid? The answer is the cork grip, which is larger in diameter (circumference) by a few millimeters than any other rod that I use. Overall, the rod is more comfortable to fish, and the kicker is that I cast better, although not necessarily farther, with it. I suspect that the rod was designed and built with a template that no longer exists. Hopefully, I’m wrong.
I’ll stop short of the absurd by stating that I wish all my rods had that same grip - it just wouldn’t make sense on a 2, 3 or 4-weight (…), but I will state that my lighter line rods would probably benefit from marginally larger diameter grips.
My hands might be a little larger than average (I’m 6’1” - certainly no giant), but I’m sure that they aren’t ‘off-the-chart’ large.
On a hunch, I tried an experiment and wrapped the grips of two of my smaller fly rods (a 3 and a 4-weight) with bicycle handlebar tape… the results were immediate and impressive. Increased comfort and improved, more controlled casting.
I’m aware that grip size, shape and geometry make up a large part of every rod’s architecture, but still wonder if it’s possible that cork grip diameters have been a little undersized all this time…
Larger grips objectively improve my casting, and I suspect they might do the same for other (adult) anglers - regardless of hand size.