Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. more info
One common factor to consider when buying a new rod is whether you should choose a cork or foam handle, does it really make a difference? are there actually any key advantages of cork vs foam fishing rod handles?
The short answer is cork handles are superior to EVA foam handles. Foam handles are inexpensive and durable but they don’t offer the high level qualities that you get (and pay for) with a cork handle such as grip, lightweight, high sensitivity, hand warmth, and an appealing visual look.
If you are on a budget then a foam handle is a better option to consider, however if you have a decent budget available then it’s well worth paying the extra to get a foam handle rod.
Here is a detailed summary of each, where we outline the pros and cons to help you decide.
Cork Fishing Rod Handles
The first type of fishing rod handle we want to look at is the cork handle.
Cork is a very common and popular material for fishing rod handles to be made out of. For those of you who don’t know, cork is a material that is harvested from trees.
No, cork is not wood, but is in fact the phellem layer of bark tissue, the layer of material that can be found on the outside of tree bark. This comes from a specific type of tree, the oak cork tree.
Cork is a fairly tough material, although not super strong, and it is also very lightweight. Moreover, cork is buoyant and floats in water, as it is hydrophobic, which also means that it does not absorb water.
Cork fishing handles can come in one-piece or two-piece designs, depending on what your preferences are. Let’s move on and find out what the advantages and disadvantages of cork fishing rod handles are.
- Natural & Recyclable – One thing that stands out about cork handles is that cork is totally natural, plus it is reusable and recyclable. When it comes to fishing rod handle materials, it’s one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly ones out there.
- Lightweight – Another benefit that you get with cork fishing rod handles is that they are very lightweight. They barely weigh anything at all, which means that they add minimal weight to your rod, thus allowing you to fish for longer without fatiguing.
- Warmth – Something else that is worth mentioning about cork fishing rod handles is that they retain heat fairly well. This is a good thing because if you are fishing on a cold and windy day, your hands need every ounce of warmth that they can get. No, it’s not like holding a heater in your hands, but it is certainly better than nothing.
- High Sensitivity – The next benefit associated with cork fishing rod handles is that they are very sensitive. They do not dampen energy very well, if at all. This means that if a small fish nibbles on your hook, thanks to the super sensitive nature of corks, you should be able to feel it.
- Good Grip – Yet another benefit of cork fishing rod handles is that they aren’t very smooth. They can be a bit rough, which in this case is a good thing because they allow for good grip, so your hands don’t slip and so you don’t drop the rod.
- Hydrophobic – The other big benefit here is that cork fishing rod handles are hydrophobic, which means that they ward off water and do not get wet, plus they also float in the water, something useful in case you happen to drop your rod.
- The Look – Although definitely not a deciding factor, most people agree that cork handles do look quite nice.
- Hygiene Issues – One big drawback associated with cork fishing rod handles is that they easily get dirty and may also get moldy. They aren’t easy to clean, and due to their relatively rough texture, dirt, mold, and fungal spores can easily adhere to them.
- Cracking & Durability – Another issue that cork handles suffer from is that they just are not all that durable. Cork handle are prone to splintering, cracking, and just flat-out disintegrating into pieces, especially with heavy use in rough conditions.
- Smoothness – Some people may like how cork handles are a bit rough, due to the fact that they provide for good grip. However, some people prefer softer and smoother fishing rod handles.
- Cost – Although not always the case, another drawback associated with this type of fishing rod handle is the high cost. Some of these things can be very expensive.
EVA Foam Fishing Rod Handles
Ok, so now that we know what cork fishing rod handles are all about, let’s do the same for foam fishing rod handles.
Foam fishing rod handles are made out of a special type of foam known as EVA foam. EVA stands for ethyl-vinyl acetate, also known as “Poly”, which is the copolymer of ethylene and vinyl acetate.
To be clear EVA foam is actually a specific type of plastic foam. It’s not very expensive and it is quite versatile, which is why it is often used to make fishing rod handles.
- Inexpensive – One of the things that you may like about EVA foam fishing rod handles is that they aren’t very expensive. You can find much more affordable foam handles when compared to cork handles, something that might be important to you if you are constrained by a budget.
- Durable & Long-Lasting – There is also the fact that because EVA foam is a type of plastic, it is rather durable and resilient. It is not prone to ripping or cracking, at least not like cork is, and it usually does not degrade due to getting wet. Foam handles are both inexpensive and long-lasting.
- Soft & Smooth Grip – Many people also like EVA foam grips because they are comfortable to hold. Yes, just like cork, EVA foam is lightweight, so it won’t add much weight to your setup, plus that foam is very soft and smooth, which most find comfortable to hold.
- Relatively Easy to Clean – The other thing that you might like about foam fishing rod handles is that they are quite easy to clean. All you need to do is to wipe them down with a damp cloth. Plastic is non-absorbent, so dirt, mold, and other such things will not easily stick to it.
- Hydrophobic – Just like cork, EVA foam is hydrophobic, which means that it does not get wet or absorb water, plus it can float as well.
- Not Eco-Friendly – One of the big drawbacks here is that EVA foam is in no way eco-friendly. It’s plastic that goes through a chemical filled production process, it’s not really sustainable, and it never decomposes either.
- Grip is not Great – Another drawback with foam handles is that they don’t provide you with the best grip. They are soft and smooth, which means that they can get slippery, especially when wet, which puts you at risk of dropping your rod.
- Low Energy Transfer – One thing that is great about EVA foam is its ability to dampen vibrations, which is why it is used in many applications. That said, this is actually very bad for fishing. If your fishing rod handle doesn’t allow that energy and those vibrations to transfer to your hands, you won’t be able to feel when fish are nibbling on your hook.
- Not Much Heat Retention – The other drawback associated with EVA foam handles is that they don’t retain heat well, which can lead to some cold fingers.
Why is Cork Used on Fishing Rods?
Corks is used on fishing rods for a few main reasons including the fact that it excels at energy transfer, that it produces great grip due to its somewhat rough texture, and because it features decent heat retention as well.
Do Cork Fishing Rods Float?
Cork on its own will float, but fishing rods in general usually do not float. Yes, a cork handle might add a bit of buoyancy to the mix, but not enough to prevent a rod from sinking.
How do You Clean A Cork Fishing Rod?
There are a few ways to clean cork fishing rod handles. One way is to wipe them down with baby wipes.
You can also use a soft sponge with some soap and water. You can also try using an eraser to remove stains and dirt. Whatever you do, make sure that the cork doesn’t stay wet for too long.
- 10 great telescopic rods reviewed by us.
- 5 great frog rods, our picks.
- 5 best salmon rods for the money reviewed.
- top 10 saltwater spinning rods.
As you can see, both cork and EVA foam fishing rod handles have their advantages and drawbacks, and which one you choose is more a matter of personal preference than anything else. That said, in all reality, cork is the much better of the two.