Does anyone ever use pistol-grip casting rods anymore? Once in a while at the lake I’ll see an old-timer flicking a spinnerbait around with a 5’9″ pistol-grip–you know Hank Parker style. I remember when these rods were the craze among bass fishermen. Call me nutty, but I think pistol grips will always have a time and a place, namely in tight quarters when short casting around boat docks or scattered shallow wood. But those times and places are becoming fewer and fewer with the advent of lighter, longer rods with split-grip handles integrated into the blanks.
The short handles of pistol-grips might make casting easier and more accurate, but if you used to use them, you might recall that fighting a fish on one was tough on the wrist, and big bass could easily overpower the rod. The new breed of rods with the blanks running through the handles assist with leverage both behind the hand and in front of the hand. The configurations are essentially matching up the technology and biomechanics necessary to make fishing effectively a lot easier in terms of catching, and a lot easier on the angler physically. Although I still grab a pistol grip now and again, it’s hard to get away from the new stuff, and that’s because in my opinion, two hands are better than one when it comes to presentation and fish fighting. A long-handled split-grip rod allows me to use my left hand on the butt to aid in pendulum swinging a bait, and it also allows me to choke up higher on the rod above the reel for a more solid hook set.
Aside from new technology overtaking the old, there is another reason why I think pistol grips that were once the best things since sliced bread went away. Today, average bass anglers are simply better, spend more time on the water seriously fishing, and ultimately have higher expectations than they did 25 years ago. I think it’s fair to apply this even to the casual angler that gets out once every two weeks. With higher expectations on the water, we all expect more from our equipment. That’s not to suggest, however, that you should toss those old pistol grips, because technology also has a way of making the old new again. All it may take to revive the pistol-grip is someone respected in the fishing world putting up some big bass, or swearing lure X works better with a pistol. Suddenly they could be the best things you need that you already had.