Three Point Grip Part I

This grip evolved out of Jason’s experiences with Lee’s grip. Fenwick came out with graphite rods in 1973, and as Director of the Fenwick Fly Fishing  Schools, I had access to “test” models. Several years after the first HMG models were introduced, they produced a 9-foot, 3-weight, which I immediately acquired for “testing.” I was in a strong wind on the Madison, heaving a huge Strip Leech with 30 wraps of 3-amp fuse wire under the body—it was my torture test for the rod, just to see what it really could do. After several hours of chucking the rather weighty imitation, my wrist got just a wee bit tired. “I think I’ll try Lee’s grip,” I thought, and switched over. Instantly I was aware that something unique had happened, but I couldn’t immediately say what. But that answer came very quickly when I stopped and worked through what was actually going on.

The revelation was stunning. With a Thumb on Top Grip, when my forearm was raised to the vertical, and my wrist was bent fully rearward, the rod would poke out behind parallel to the ground. That’s because the thumb is the opposable digit—it sticks out at right angles to the midline of the forearm when the wrist is bent fully back and the forearm is vertical. That, in fact, is the source of the “Don’t bend your wrist” mantra that is gently shouted at every beginning arm caster. The rod needs to stop at about 30 degrees behind the vertical on the backstroke, and so, with the Thumb on Top Grip, the movement of the wrist must be very closely monitored in order that it check the rod’s rearward movement at exactly the needed point. This is, without a doubt, the most difficult task for the beginning arm caster to learn.

But with the forefinger up on the side of the handle, the rod stops at about 30 degrees behind the vertical when the forearm is sticking straight up and the wrist is bent fully rearward. So, with the Three Point Grip, rather than trying to check the wrist in mid flex, the angler flips it back as far as it will go, and the rod stops about 30 degrees behind the vertical.

This occurs because the forefinger is not at right angles to the midline of the forearm, rather it only makes about a 20-degree angle with the midline of the forearm. The rod is not precisely aligned with the forefinger, however, but rather lies across the palm from the heel of the hand to the point of the index finger. This angle is at very near 30 degrees to midline of the forearm–exactly where the angler wants the rod to stop on the backstroke. With the Three Point Grip, the index finger becomes the pointing finger for the rod—where the finger points the rod points. Suddenly, manipulating the rod to learn new casts and mends becomes as easy as pointing.

With the Thumb On Top Grip, the rod points horizontally on the backcast when the wrist is bent fully back.

With the Three Point Grip the rod stops precisely where it should on the backcast when the wrist is bent fully back.

The Three Point Grip allows the fly caster to use the wrist fully during the casting stroke.

When the forearm is vertical and the wrist is bent fully rearward, the thumb is at right angles to the forearm..

When the forearm is vertical, and the wrist is bent fully back, the index finger is about 15 degrees to the rear of the centerline of the forearm (red line). With the iThree Point Grip, the rod lies about 25-30 degrees to the rear of the vertical (white line).


  1. Josh Lokan says:

    What a great lesson. It’s funny cause this technique is almost exactly the same as a technique I used in baseball. When bunting, I would point my index finger towards the barrel in a very similar way. This would allow me to control the bat better, was more natural, and I had greater accuracy. It also allowed me to react quickly while keeping me on balance. I believe it was primarily because it but the bat in my fingers rather than my palm. Consequently, it allowed me to control it independent of my wrist and forearm and with small movements rather than large. Something our coaches would encourage in technique.

    Terrific lesson Mr. Borger. God bless sir.

  2. Gary Borger says:

    Thanks for the kind email. I’m glad that you were so easily able to associate with the Three Point Grip. It certainly does give the faster more control, and that is the name of the game. Thanks again. GB