Soul is considered to be the principle of life, feeling, thought and action that is a distinct entity separate from your body. In a tenkara rod, soul is the quality and ability of a rod that allows the rod to seemingly cast itself and become an extension of an angler’s will, placing the fly where the angler wishes it to go without the angler having to think about the cast he is making. Soul turns a rod that has soul into a magical fishing tool.
The hand position most anglers use to cast and fish is at the very back of the grip, which causes the rod to be the longest, most tip heavy and poorly balanced that it can be, because most of the rod has to be supported by the angler’s wrist alone, with most of the rod out in front of the angler’s hand. Most T-rods have a double hump type of grip configuration, which is generally believed to give anglers the most hand grip options possible, which is incorrect in my view.
Please look at your casting hand from the side. Notice that it is the thinnest at the finger tips, thicker at the knuckles, and thickest at the thumb base and heel of the hand. Now, turn your palm up and notice the hollow area that lies between the inside of the knuckles and your wrist, which matches up very well with the grip humps when placed into that hollow. But which hump should you use where and when, the one in front or the back hump on the grip?
Put more soul in your rod by putting the front hump in the palm of your hand, with your index finger tip being placed on top of the rod blank in front of the grip, so that all the vibrations that come down the rod blank will be directly transmitted to your nervous system by direct contact. Cork is an insulator, as well as is foam. Wood grips are denser than cork or foam, but not as sensitive as graphite is. With this hand placement, the rod will become significantly less tip heavy. Also, on the forward cast, the back of the grip will make contact with the inside of your forearm, stopping the rod high enough for a fly first delivery of the fly every time, automatically. With your finger on the rod blank, your casting accuracy will also be improved because you will be able to feel the road load much better. And in fighting fish, the back of the grip resting on your forearm takes the pressure off of your wrist and allows you to bring in your catch much more quickly as your stronger elbow and shoulder muscles are put into play. The thickest part of your hand, the heel, should go right into the valley of the grip right between the two humps. So gripping your tenkara rod the way its grip was designed to be used will put a lot more soul into your T-rods…Karl.