You see a nibble at the end of your line as your bobber bounces up and down like a cork in the water. Watching it closely and intensely, you see the bobber get taken beneath the surface. Time to set the hook. How do you hold the rod once you have set the hook? What is the best practice? Let’s have a look at how you hold the rod because, believe it or not, it does matter and you could even lose your rod if not held correctly.
How should you hold the rod after you set the hook? After you have set the hook, you want to have your left hand at the front of the reel. This stabilizes the fishing pole so that you can crank it in more easily and the pole doesn’t splash into the water during your fight with the fish.
Why Hold the Rod This Way?
You have a couple of extraordinarily good reasons for why you would want to hold the rod in this way. Important to note, this talks about the conventional rod setup, rather than the spinning rod, but we’ll cover the other a bit later.
Before, I said left hand will go up front, but which hand you put up front will depend on your dominant hand. You want to put your left hand up front if you’re righthanded, and you want to put your right hand up front if you’re lefthanded. I’m actually lefthanded.
First, you want it like this because of how it will guide the line back to the reel more easily, and it ensures that the next time you go to cast, you don’t experience a bunch of problems with the reel. As you go to crank in your line from a fish, you want to guide your line onto the reel in an even fashion.
The second reason that you need your left hand at the front of the reel is because of how it puts you in greater control over the fishing rod. You don’t want the fish to have more control over the line than what you have because this could lead to you losing the rod to the water, or you could just lose the fish altogether.
Either way, you want to have a firm grip on the rod at all times.
Your other advantage comes from how you have less chances that you will miss a strike on your line when you hold it this way. You have your hands in a non-awkward position that makes it easy to respond to any strikes that come to the pole. After you have responded, you will have the highest chances of reeling the fish in.
What Happens When You Don’t Hold the Rod Correctly
The biggest problem that arises when you don’t hold the rod correctly comes from how the wrist of your right hand doesn’t have as much power behind it. When you go to crank on the reel, you need as much power behind your hands as possible to crank in the fish. Otherwise, it can feel like a struggle to bring the fish into the boat.
With your left hand at the front in the proper position, your muscles will pull from its most important resources like the shoulders, the biceps and the forearms. You don’t want to cut off these muscular resources with the improper holding of your pole. It feels awkward, and you will know it by the feeling.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
One of the mistakes I often see fishermen make is that they will have their thumb on the spool as they prepare for the fish. Don’t be this guy! You have one big problem with this error. When the fish does take your line, you have to maneuver your hand over the reel to put it into the right position. Meanwhile, the right hand has to enter a position where it can deal with the crank. No fun!
The other mistake that you see with beginners is how they will put their hand underneath the fishing pole. Don’t do this. Ever! You committed a cardinal sin in the fisherman’s handbook. If a powerful fish like a 43-inch northern or muskellunge comes along, they will jerk the pole right out of your hands, losing rod and reel to the water. Honestly, I’ve never met anyone who has had it happen, but I’ve met plenty of fishermen who have come close to doing it. Always keep a firm grip on the rod.
Set the Rod Parallel to Your Arm
As you start to fight a fish, you will want to have the rod parallel to your arm. With the rod positioned in this way, you will have greater control and stability over the rod. You can reel the fish in with greater ease.
The other thing that will stabilize the fishing pole is for you to have your pinky finger above the reel stem at the reel seat. You want your pinky in this position because of how it will put you in total control of the pole, and you have almost zero chances that the fish will jerk the rod out of your hands in this way. With greater traction over the pole, you will have a higher chance of cranking the fish in more easily, and it will feel better as you do it as well.
The Spinning Rod
A lot of this also depends on the rod that you have. We have covered the conventional rod, but let’s have a look at how to hold the spinning rod now. To hold the spinning rod, you have to look at a couple of different steps involved in the process. First, you have to look at the center of balance for the rod. Every rod differs.
You want to hold the rod from your index to your pinky. As the fish takes the bait, you can grip the rod in a fist position. The entire time you fish, you never have to change your position on the rod, except to grip the pole in a fist position when you crank in the fish. A lot of people prefer the spinning rod because of the ease of use. You don’t fumble around much.
Watch a Good Fisherman Set the Hook
If you want to learn how to properly hold the rod after you set the hook, watch how a good fisherman does it. Take your buddy along who knows the sport well or someone who has a good understanding of it. As they go to set the hook, you will see the proper form for it.
When the time comes to set the hook, the biggest thing that you will notice is how the fisherman’s arm is what sets the hook, rather than the wrist. The arm has more power, and it will have more leverage over the fish. You want to put yourself in the best position to bring in the fish. After you have the right position, it becomes as simple as fighting the fish and outmaneuvering him as he tries to keep from getting reeled in.
Practice Makes Perfect
Even some of the best fishermen might still get tripped up on this from time to time. In fact, when you don’t hold the rod correctly, you feel crowded at the pole. You will know when you don’t have your hand on the rod correctly because of how it feels more difficult to maneuver the rod. The correct positioning for holding the rod will keep your movements fluid.
Practice makes perfect, and even if you don’t get it right on the first try, keep doing it. Take along a friend who knows how to help. The one advantage of learning how to correctly hold the reel is that you can feel when you’re not holding it correctly. It just feels bad to the hands. That is why you want to learn proper form. It will feel better for you, but you will put yourself at an advantage over the fish.
Beginners: What to Beware Of
When you first start fishing, you may feel it natural to hold the pole in such a way where you have the index finger to the middle finger up to the reel stem, and you will put your ring finger and pinky finger on the other side of the stem. I advise against this practice, but I do know many who do it.
Why do I advise against it? Because looking at this from a biomechanical standpoint, you can’t grip the rod in a fistlike fashion once the fish grabs the bait at the other end. This will keep you from having the best grip over the fish to reel him in. You want to have the strongest and most natural grip over your rod.
Instead, have you index to your pinky finger to the front of the rod stem for the strongest grip.
Having the reel post between your fingers can cause unnecessary fatigue and even pain. You may have even possibly felt this before from that position. That’s why I warn beginners against this. As you go to cast, the reel will work on your hand, and you will feel it between your hands, causing pain after a while of fishing. You want to be able to be out on the water as long as possible with no pain.
You have two things that happen when you grip the rod this way. First, you will have a firmer grip, but the other important thing is that you will have a steadier grip as you go to set the hook, which means that you will have a lower chance of missing your delicious fish fillets.
This is what you can do to position yourself so that once the fish has taken your lure, you can reel him in more easily. In addition, holding the pole correctly ensures that you don’t miss the strike on your reel when the fish bites. One of the worst things that can happen to a fisherman is to be out on the water all day only to miss the only bite on your line that you had all day.