Cork is the standard material for fly rod grips & for good reason. Cork is durable, light in weight, yet rigid enough to transmit rod forces from the hand to the rod shaft without too much loss of response. Likewise, cork allows the action of the rod to be transmitted to the angler’s hand, giving a “feel” of the rod & line in the water. Cork is comfortable on the hands & doesn’t feel nearly as cold as other materials would when it’s freezing outside. The same goes for when the temperatures are high; the cork will not absorb the heat as readily & won’t feel hot to the touch, even in intense sunlight. Other grip materials, like foam for instance, are usually too soft for fly rods. This results in the rod being less responsive to your hand. Generally, the softer the grip, the more unresponsive the feel of the rod becomes in your hand. Cork allows for responsiveness while being comfortable to the angler.
Through the years many different shapes of grips have appeared on fly rods. Many have been a passing phase in fly rod fashion. Today you see three shapes, or styles, of grips more than others. These are: