The fishing rod business is enormous and worth over 900 million USD by itself. Manufacturers compete for a piece of that pie by offering buyers plenty of options, like split grip vs full grip rod handles.
But is there a difference, or is it just marketing fluff?
Let’s find out.
What’s The Difference Between Split Grip and Full Grip Rod Handles?
First of all, let’s make sure we understand what these two terms actually mean. On a typical fishing rod, the part below where the reel is located is known as the handle. That’s where you’d place your hands to hold and maneuver the rod.
Traditionally, that handle would just consist of a single or ‘full grip’ handle.
Full grip handle rods have always been the norm regardless of the kind of fishing rod you’re using. Whether you’re buying a fly fishing, spinning, baitcasting rod or any other type, you would probably end up with a full grip handle rod.
Over the years, though, another type of handle grip has become increasingly common. Fishing rod manufacturers started to make more split grip rods, which have a part of the grip that’s ‘missing’. Instead of one continuous grip, there’s a gap (or a ‘split’) in the middle where rod’s material is exposed.
These days, some fishing enthusiasts will notice that full grip handle rods are much tougher to find, while split grip rods seem to be all over the place!
Fishing rods of the same quality usually cost the same, whether they’re full grip or split grip.
Even though split grip rods are more common these days, some of the more traditional fishing enthusiasts still swear by full grip rods. So, which one’s better?
To answer that question, let’s compare the pros and cons of both types.
Pros of Split Grip Rod Handles
The first thing you’ll notice about split grip rod handles is that they just look cooler (just my opinion of course!).
Depending on the exact design, split grip handles usually give the rod a more modern look, compared to conventional fishing rods. Some fishermen have gone as far as describing them as looking ‘techy’, even though there isn’t any tech involved.
Beyond looks, a split grip also makes the rod lighter since there’s less material being used. The grip’s weight is also distributed at two points, and that some say gives the rod more balance.
Since it’s light and balanced, split grip rod handles are therefore great for one-arm fishing. For instance, some enthusiasts prefer this kind of set up for fly fishing since it allows them to keep one hand on the rod and the other on the line.
Whether you’re using one arm or two, a split grip rod handle can also give you more accuracy. If you combine that grip with a baitcaster reel, for example, you could be much more precise in targeting where you’d like your lures to go.
Lastly, these kinds of handles are split by an exposed section of the rod’s blank. Having direct contact with the blank offers you much more control over the rod, especially when they’re fighting a fish and need all the control they can get.
Pros of Full Grip Rod Handles
Even though fishing rods have come a long way, many still prefer the traditional full grip rod handles. Despite split grips being more popular these days, full grip handles still have loads of value to offer.
Firstly, a full grip handle allows for much better two-handed use. You can position both your hands anywhere you want on the handle. Better yet, you can readjust your hand positions at any time.
That two-handed use is also why full grip handles work best on heavier rods. When you’re out in the open waters with a heavy rod, you’ll need all the grip and control that you can get. Only a full grip handle can offer you that.
As you might have guessed, bigger rods are also better when you’re using bigger lures to catch bigger fish.
Do you see a pattern here?
When you’re looking to do some heavy-duty fishing, full grip rod handles are the way to go!
At this point, it’s clear that both split grip and full grip rod handles have a lot of value to offer when it comes to fishing. Each of them possesses unique strengths that’ll benefit you greatly. Yet, both of those options still have their drawbacks.
Let’s see what they are.
Cons of Split Grip Rod Handles
Remember how I said that the split grip rod handles give off a lighter feel? Well, that’s not always a good thing. See, if the bottom of the rod feels too light, that means the whole rod is going to be top-heavy.
Using a top-heavy rod can end up feeling very weird to some people, especially at the moment of casting the lure. Being top-heavy makes it more challenging for you to control your casting distance and direction.
Furthermore, split grip rod handles could be a problem if you’re trying to catch larger fish. Remember: fighting a big fish will bend the rod, it’ll cause more drag, and your line will even bend and stretch. Throughout that whole ordeal, you need a rod that you can grip firmly with both hands.
Sure, if you were fighting a smaller fish, the sensitivity of a split grip rod handle will come in handy. Yet, when it comes to more massive fish, you’ll need a rod that’s more grounded, with a lower point of gravity.
Unfortunately, in a challenging situation like that, a split grip fishing rod can simply fall short.
Cons of Full Grip Rod Handles
Yet, even though the full grip rod handle has been around for much longer, it still has plenty of disadvantages over the split grip type.
The first con of a full grip rod handle is that it’s heavier than the split grip version. This might not seem like a big deal to many fishing enthusiasts at first. However, you should keep in mind that even on a single fishing trip, you’ll be casting that rod many, many times in total.
After a while, the added weight of a full grip rod handle will definitely tire out your arms. You don’t want to end a fishing trip prematurely just because of that!
Also, if you’re hiking into that hidden pond that no one knows about, you might want to do what you can to trim your gear weight.
Also, if you’re in a situation that requires more sensitivity and accuracy, a full grip rod handle isn’t the ideal solution. If you think about it, this kind of rod handle is somewhat of a ‘blunt instrument’ compared to the split grip rod handles.
How To Make Your Choice
Now, we arrive at the most critical part of this discussion. Which one do you choose, the split grip or full grip fishing rod handle? The truth of the matter is that there is no right or wrong answer to this.
Don’t worry, though! There are still ways to help yourself make an informed decision. Here are a few factors for you to consider when deciding which type of grip suits you best.
- Fishing Style
Firstly, consider your fishing style. Will you be doing regular bait fishing from a comfy chair by the side of the water? Or will you be doing something that’s a little bit more physically demanding, like fly-fishing or spinning? If you’re going to be using lots of energy, you might want something lighter like a split grip rod.
- Type of Fish You’re Catching
It’s also important to consider the kind of fish you intend on catching. Smaller, lighter fish that are more agile will require you to manoeuvre your rod more finely. A split grip fishing rod will help you greatly in those kinds of situations.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to catch something bigger and heavier, you’ll need a rod that you can grip with both hands and be a bit more forceful with. Only a full grip fishing rod works for that!
- Personal preference
Also, never forget that choosing fishing gear always comes down to your personal preference. Which option looks better to you? Which one feels more natural in your hands. You have to test out different options and gain experience to know if a split grip or full grip fishing rod feels better in your hands.
At the end of the day, you’re investing your hard-earned money into gear that you’ll use for your own leisure activities. Take advice from other fishing enthusiasts, but make your own well-informed choice.
- Borrow or Rent a Rod!
It’s hard to decide which type of grip you prefer without actually buying a new fishing rod. That can be a problem, especially if you decide you don’t like it after you’ve made the purchase. You don’t want to end up wasting your money!
So, here’s a tip: the next time you go fishing, borrow or rent a split grip or full grip fishing rod. That way, you can test it out for yourself and see which one you prefer.
Once you’ve figured out your preference, you can then invest in a brand new rod that you know you’ll love!