If you're new to ice fishing or dusting off gear that hasn't been used in a while, one thing you'll notice when scanning photos and videos is that anglers today don't rely exclusively on a traditional overhand grip to hold a fishing rod. Instead, many hard-water enthusiasts prefer using a pencil grip for moderate to finesse jigging with ultralight to medium-powered rods. Unlike an overhand hold (think grabbing a briefcase handle), the rod is cradled in the hand like an oversized pencil (see photo to the right).
First Class Finesse Fishing
A pencil grip is well suited for imparting subtle moves to ice jigs and lures. Shakes, hops, jiggles, quivers and so on are precise and easy to do. In many instances I find this a better finesse jigging hold than an overhand grip. Try comparing the two and see if you notice a difference. Of course, a pencil grip doesn't replace an overhand hold entirely. The latter remains my go-to choice for aggressive jigging or when using heavy powered rods for big fish.
Balance and Sensitivity for Effective Jigging
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A pencil style grip also provides a comfortable, balanced hold, especially with lighter, shorter rods. I find this is particularly pronounced when sitting and jigging. Combo balance is important for efficient jigging. It also boosts sensitivity.
Get a Feel for Lure Vibrations
Another benefit of the pencil grip with a short handled rod is that the index or middle finger can be extended to touch the blank. Direct contact makes it easy to feel lure vibrations and light strikes. You really notice this boost in sensitivity when bare handed or wearing fingerless gloves.
A Flick of the Wrist & Quick Hook Set
Another virtue of the pencil grip is that it allows for a quick, efficient hook set. A flick of the wrist is often all it takes to bury the hook. Fighting fish with this hold is comfortable and natural.
If you haven't converted, try a pencil grip for finesse jigging this winter. The hold provides incredible control, precision and sensitivity — all of which are needed for fooling fish on the ice.