How To Hold A Centerpin Reel: 4 Ways That Work Well

This is how to hold a Centerpin reel

I have taught thousands of anglers how to fish with Centerpin reels, and the first thing I do in my Centerpin fishing classes and on guided trips is to teach them how to hold a Centerpin reel for maximum performance and comfort.

If you do not hold the reel properly, your casts, presentation, hooks sets, and your ability to fight big fish will be effected.

When holding a Centerpin reel, your hand is always on the reel and the rod at the same time. The key to holding a Centerpin reel is to hold it in a way that you have a good grip on the rod, but at the same time, you need to be able to cast the reel, stop the reel, control the speed of the reel, control the drag, and to be able to reel in.

These are the steps that I teach my clients and students.

Balancing Your Rod and Reel Is Important

Guide Andrew float fishing with flies using a centerpin.
Centerpin fishing is a very effective method for catching trout, steelhead, and salmon. The image is Head Gudie Andrew from Full Fishing Guide Service

Before I tell you the five best ways to hold a Centerpin reel, let me just first tell you it’s important to have your reel on your rod in the right spot.

If your rod is not balanced properly, you will need a grip that is too firm, and this will fatigue or hurt your wrists after a few hours of fishing.

If you use a rod with a built-in reel seat, you can only place the reel when they let you, but if you have a rod that has sliding rings on the handle, you can put the reel anywhere on the handle that you want.

If you choose to go with a rod with sliding rings, you need to know how to secure it and where to place it, which is why I recommend reading my page How To Put A Centerpin Reel On.

Putting the reel near or closer to the butt of the rod is not a good spot, but if you put the reel further up the rod handle, the more balanced the rod will be, and this is easier on your wrist and arm and your grip won’t need to be as strong.

Some anglers will disagree because they put their reel closer to the butt section, but all you need to do is look at the top-end spinning rods and baitcasting rods that pro anglers use, and you will see that they are all built with the reel seat near the top of the handle.

Those guys are professional anglers, and if the reel worked better near the butt, then that is where the companies would put the reel seat.

Even my big musky rods that I used for guiding all had the reel seat far up the rod handle for the purpose of more torque when fighting 40-pound fish, more comfort when fishing with massive lures, better hook sets, and for casting better. It’s obvious that the reel further up the rod handle is the better way to go.

If you put your centerpin reel in the right spot, you should be able to balance your rod with one finger. Yes, I said one finger, and I show my clients that I can easily do this on my rods when I teach them how to Centerpin fish.

The reason you want the reel closer to the top of the handle near the rod blank is that the tip of the rod is always heavier than the handle section, so the tip always wants to drop downwards.

When the tip is pulling down, the butt of the handle is pulling upwards, and if you are only holding onto the rod with nothing but your hand, your wrist will get fatigued faster.

The rod handle placed under the armpit
The rod handle placed under the armpit will allow the angler to balance the rod on one figure if he wants to. This position makes it easier to hold the rod with less wrist and forearm fatigue.

If you put the butt section under your forearm and elbow, or you put it under your armpit, the butt pushes up on the arm or armpit, and this allows you to balance the reel better.

It is so much better balanced that you can even balance the reel with one finger.

But you can’t do this if your reel is too close to the butt end of the handle.

Guys that have the reel too close to the butt section often press the small butt section into their hip, stomach, or chest to relieve the pressure on their wrists.

How To Hold A Centerpin Reel Properly

How to hold a centerpin reel and rod
This shows the four different ways to hold a Centerpin reel and rod.

There are four different ways to hold a Centerpin reel. I have seen guys use all four of these grips, and they all worked well. You may feel more comfortable with one grip over another simply due to your hand size.

How I hold my Centrpin Reel
This client of mine is holding his reel exactly how I hold my reel. For me, this is the most comfortable grip.

In this picture, you see one of my clients holding a blue Kingpin reel. This is my preferred grip and is one that works best for me for both comfort and performance.

I use my two middle fingers to control the rim of the spool for speed control, hook sets, and for the drag when fighting fish.

In the picture with the four different grips, I usually recommend and teach guys to hold a Centerpin reel with the first grip, the one on the left, because it gives them a solid grip on the rod and allows them to control the spool, and if that doesn’t feel good, I will have them try all four grips to see which one feels the most comfortable.

Whatever grip that you choose, just make sure that it works.

If you have the wrong grip and your hand is in the wrong place, you might not be able to control the speed of the spool or get a good hookset, or you won’t be able to use your hand as the drag.

Comfort And Grip

One of my clients fighting a steelhead with a Centerpin reel put on the rod in the right spot.
This is one of my clients fighting a steelhead with the Centerpin reel put on the rod in the right spot, which allows him to use the butt section and his armpit as leverage.

The first thing you need to consider is comfort and grip. You may be fighting some pretty big fish, so you need to have a comfortable grip that is still strong.

Your grip needs to be comfortable, but it also needs to be firm on the rod, and you need to be able to control the spool.

The Casting Grip

The next thing you need to consider is having a grip that will allow you to cast easily and effectively all day long. You should not need to change your grip for casting and for fishing. It should be the same grip the entire time.

The third thing to consider is having a grip that will allow you to control the speed of your reel when drifting your float down the river.

Loosen Your Grip

I find some anglers grip the reel like they are trying to crush it, and at the end of the day, their hands hurt. Sometimes, this is due to a poor grip that is not allowing them to hold the rod firmly enough.

The problem with this is that your hand will start to fatigue and hurt.

Loosen up your grip and get comfortable because sometimes you are on the water for a long time, and sometimes you will be fighting a lot of fish.

Fighting The Fish

Your hand is the drag, so make sure it’s in the right spot.

Lastly, you need a grip that can easily fight the fish with smooth and steady pressure on the reel and where you can still easily loosen and lighten that pressure when needed.

A good place to learn more is my page Centerpin Fishing For Beginners: 20 Steps From A Top Guide.

If you have a question, comment, or suggestion, let me and other readers know in the comment section below.

Tight Lines


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