Split Grip vs Full Grip Fishing Rods: Differences Explained

Split Grip vs Full Grip Rods Feature Image

Over the course of the last decade or more, split grip rods have become more and more popular among anglers. In this post, we will take a look at both split grip and full grip fishing rods and talk about their advantages and disadvantages.

What are Split Grip Rods?

These are rods where the grip is effectively split in two with a section of exposed blank between the two grip sections.

Why do some fishing rods have split grips?

Anglers get split grip rods for different reasons. Some anglers might think they look cool and base their decision on aesthetics.

Other anglers get them for the benefits a split grip rod can provide, while others simply stick with full grip fishing rods, or use both.

Differences between Split Grip Rods and Standard Grip Rods


Weight is one of the many reasons many might choose to use a split grips over a full grip rod.

While the weight savings are pretty light, it definitely makes a difference if you are fishing for 10 or 12 hours straight, and if you are fishing with large gear for species like musky, pike, or other large species, any reduction in weight can help reduce fatigue.


Casting accuracy is relatively unchanged when comparing split grip and full grip rods, so this is something that you don’t really have to worry about when choosing between the two types.


Sensitivity can be argued to be better with a split grip rod vs. a full grip fishing rod.

While the actual sensitivity is likely to be the same between the two, in reality, the angler typically does two things while fishing with a baitcasting rod. They either have the rod handle resting on their forearm or big rods for species like musky, potentially tucked up against their ribs.

Since split grips have the blank exposed where these rods contact your arm or ribs, the strike is felt directly through the blank itself and not cork or foam, thus giving the impression of extra sensitivity.

While the sensitivity isn’t really any greater than a comparable full grip rod, it feels greater.


As we noted in the introduction, many anglers like split grips because they have great aesthetics, and they are wrong, split grip rods look awesome and very different from the traditional fishing rod.

Split Grip Rod Pros and Cons

  • Due to having less weight on the rear section of the rod, the balance of a split grip rod can potentially be better, but this also depends on the overall rod and reel setup that is used.
  • The increased potential to detect bites as discussed earlier is another pro for a split grip rod, but full grip rods aren’t necessarily lacking in that department either.
  • For long and heavy split grip rods used for species like musky or pike where you cradle the rod against your ribs, you might find it uncomfortable for long periods of time. I will actually have a bruise that will last all musky season on my ribs from constantly fishing with one.
  • Full grip rods have more padding whether it be foam or cork, which can lessen this issue. Smaller rods and spinning rods don’t really have this con, so if you are a bass angler, or using a spinning rod, you will still get the pros of a split grip fishing rod.

Full Grip Rods Pros and Cons

  • The main pro to using a full grip rod is comfort, as mentioned above, split grip rod handles, in particular bait casting rods, can suffer a little in the comfort department.
  • Slightly reduced balance compared to split grip rods.
  • Slightly Heavier than split grips.

Which is Better: Split Grip or Full Grip?

It’s hard to say if one is better than the other, to be honest.

While there are benefits to a split grip fishing rod, those benefits are fairly small and not really a game-changer in fishing rod design when looking at the overall picture.

Choosing to use a split grip rod or a full grip rod boils down to personal preference and many simply base it on aesthetics. Many anglers who both types of rods, and continue to buy both types.

Fishing Rod Grip FAQs

Different types of material for rod grips

Full Grip Rods

The most common type of material used in the construction of rod grips is undoubtedly cork, but EVA foam is also commonly used on many fishing rods.
Cork is fairly water repellent and provides a decent holding surface for anglers, it’s also durable and can hold up for years.
EVA foam is much more absorbent and had a tendency to hold more water, but the comfort factor is hard to beat and is certainly better than a cork grip.
Some companies also use WINN grips on their rods, which is the same material used for tennis racket handles, this provides great grip and isn’t very absorbent.

Why do some fishing rods have cork handles?

Cork is a great material to use for a fishing rod grip due to its water repelling nature and decent level of comfort and grip.
If cork does absorb water it dries out fast, and it’s very durable and aesthetically pleasing.

How can you replace a fishing rod grip?

Replacing a grip on a fishing rod is possible, but if you are inexperienced in doing it you could damage the rod blank, thus ruining your entire rod.
To remove EVA grips it’s as simple as running a razor blade vertically up and down the rod handle and simply peeling it off by hand or prying it off with a screwdriver, but be sure not to cut into the rod blank itself with the razor.
After removing the cork or EVA grips from the blank, you can then do some light sanding to remove the raised areas where the epoxy is located, add new epoxy, and slide on a new handle.

Can you replace the cork on a rod?

Split Grip Rods

To remove the cork you can use a pair of channel lock pliers to pry the cork from the blank.
Be sure to only pry off the 1/3rd of the cork handle that is not over the blank to avoid damaging it. This is a fairly simple process and only takes 5 to 10 minutes at most.
Most mass-produced fishing rods use very little epoxy to secure the grips, thus it is fairly easy to remove them with these methods.

How do you protect cork rods with handles?

A good way to protect and extend the life of the cork handle on your fishing rod is to use a cork sealant.
Cork sealant can be applied with a chip brush and left to dry, this is similar to sealing the wood on a deck, and will repel water and prevent water absorption.
You can also wrap the grips with the WINN grip fishing rod material we mentioned earlier, though you still might want to add a sealant to the cork before doing so.

Final Thoughts on Full Grip vs Split Grip Fishing Rods

While there are slight advantages to using one style over the other, both of these fishing rods will work well, and the advantages and disadvantage are pretty small and in some cases irrelevant to performance.

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Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species. Shawn's fished extensively for pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth and panfish species. He's developing a passion for chasing trout on the fly rod.
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