A Different Sort of Question, Maybe

Mike Etgen

Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here

It took a while, but I finally made a connection between a recurrent physical complaint and an activity.
For some time, I've had frequent stiffness and pain in the knuckle of my middle finger of my left hand. Sometimes the finger "locks" up when I clench my fist. It hurts like crazy to open it up!
Being as I'm a little older, I assumed for some time that this was something like arthritis - but why in only one joint?
Well, I went through a recent spell when I didn't get my rods out at all - we were packing to move, etc. I barely noticed at first that the pain more or less went away.
Then I got here and started practice casting my 8/9 weight rod in anticipation of saltwater fishing, and sure enough, the pain and stiffness came back. And it gets worse every time I fish.
Of my four rods, three have a full wells grip, and when I cast (I'm a lefty) the ball of that third knuckle falls directly on the "bump" in the grip, evidently creating undue pressure on that joint and the resulting pain and stiffness.
I've experimented with moving my grip hand closer to the butt of the rod but haven't put in enough time to see if it makes any difference. And when I'm fishing I'm concentrating on other aspects of the cast and my hand naturally goes to where habit takes it.
Has anyone else experienced anything like this, and if so, how did you overcome it?
Change the grips? Change the way you grip the rod? Give up fishing and give away your stuff?
I haven't even paid attention before, but do most factory rods come with the full wells grips?
I'd be interested in any similar experiences and information. I love fishing but it seems I pay for it now every time I go out.
One option I've considered is to concentrate fully on steelheading. ;) That particular rod is the only one rod with a different grip - a half wells.
Naaaahhhh...ain't gonna happen.
So, spill your collective wisdom. I'd love to hear anything relevant!

Mike :dunno


Active Member
I have numerous issues with joints, especially my shoulders. First of all if you look at the casting stroke, you don't need your middle finger. Chop it off! No, not really, but the "POP" is provided by your two bottom fingers and your thumb. Joan Wulff would say like opening a screen door. Try casting with your middle finger relaxed and off the grip. Plus you're halfway to flipping someone off if they low hole you :+


Active Member
I think you are on to the solution already. That lump in the center of a full wells handle has always seemed a little gnarly to me and never felt quite right. If the knuckle of the middle finger is centered over that hump then the other fingers have to squeeze down harder to create a balanced grip. The gentle taper of the half wells seems to treat the hand better over a hard days fishing. It is not impossible to change handles on a rod but it is a messy tedious job that usually entails rewrapping the butt section. You might just try wrapping up a rod and playing with the handle shape until you find something that feels right in your hand. Ive

Rob Blomquist

Formerly Tight Loops
Now, I have XL sized hands, and like Full Wells grips on all my rods, so that I don't have some dainty little handle to try to hang on to.

Maybe your handle is too big for your hand? There is one sure way to make it smaller...a file. I have read where custom rod builders often work with a guy like yourself to try to create a pain free grip for you. Maybe that's something to check out.

And for the XL hand on a dainty grip you could make your grip bigger and flat with some bicycle handlebar tape or adhesive tape, at least for testing.

And if you find something you like, a custom rod builder would be able to build you a new handle to your specs.


Mike Etgen

Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here

I have fairly average-sized hands, maybe even a little large for a smaller guy. I've noticed this discomfort after using a 4 wt, a 6 wt, and the 8/9 weight I mentioned earlier. Each is somewhat different; the 4 wt being the slightest in cross-section. They all bother me, the bigger one the most.
I had wondered about filing (or carefully sanding) the handles down. It seems like something you'd want to approach very carefully, since you can't put material back on and unless you could mount it in a lathe, you'd risk uneven material removal and "run-out."
I do like your suggestion of maybe modifying a handle with some tape - something that could be experimented with before being made permanent. I've especially wondered if building up that low spot between the middle and the upper end (at the butt) might be worth a try.
I also like Philster's explanation about the importance of the thumb and lower fingers as opposed to the middle.
So far I'm encouraged - this at least makes me feel it's not my imagination.
Probably a good example of looking at the operator first, then the equipment, huh?



Active Member
This may be odd and not work at all......it comes from playing sports...try taping your middle finger and index together(create a three finger hand plus thumb) tape them together above and below main knuckle joint...as to create one finger...try it and (2nd option) then try taping with fourth finger...so as to create one big middle finger...again above and below joint. See if either one of these methods helps or alleviates to some degree. Associating an injured/pained finger with a healthy one can help (but this is mainly for performance where fingers are crucial)......Also since you are talking about grip formation....I have seen (seldom) grips with finger cut-outs...you might want to see if this can be done for your middle finger

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