Pinch or Thumbs When Flying FPV Drones?

There's always a battle between how to control an FPV drone radio transmitter - Pinch or Thumbs? Or maybe Hybrid mode? Let's explore our options!

Pinch or Thumbs When Flying FPV Drones?

An FPV drone pilot, like a drone pilot, will have to adopt a specific way of flying an FPV drone using the remote controller, either pinch, thumb, or hybrid. But Why? And Which is better to fly FPV? Pinch or Thumb?

Both pinch and thumb have pros and cons and are more like a personal choice on how you adapt to fly FPV drones. Either way, the thumb may be more comfortable for new FPV pilots with good access to the RC auxiliaries, whereas the pinch method can be more accurate when flying FPV.

I started flying FPV with thumbs on my controller. It was easier to adapt after having the Xbox controller skill in mind, but I experimented with them all. And now I fly only pinch, which I feel more comfortable doing.

There are a few more aspects, pros & cons, and why some people prefer to fly pinch, thumbs, or hybrid. And what is a hybrid? 

What are pinch and thumbs in FPV?

The pinch or thumbs, or maybe even hybrid, are methods to hold your radio control sticks when you fly your FPV drone.

It is a skill, an ability you will develop when you fly your FPV drones to be more comfortable and learn to fly more accurately with your remote controller.

Each method of flying FPV with pinch or thumbs can have significant advantages or disadvantages over the other technique. 

This type of skill how you develop will impact your overall ability to fly an FPV drone.

But with each method of handling the RC sticks, you will have different grip and interaction with the remote controller, and adjustments that can be made to your rate.

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But how can we know which method best controls your FPV rc stick inputs? 

We don’t. 

It is a natural ability you will have to experiment with when flying FPV to see which is more comfortable for you.

And it is best to fly a couple of hours in any simulator with either method to see which can be more comfortable for you.

But comfort is not all. For instance, I was all the way into flying thumb initially, but I didn’t have much dexterity and accuracy when flying my FPV drones, so I started experimenting with the pinch method.

After a while, I switched my entire rc stick control method to fly only pinch. You can do that at any time when flying FPV, but it is best to do it early so you can focus on training only one skill.

It is known that flying FPV with a small controller will benefit more from using the thumb to control the sticks, whereas having large controllers with tall sticks will benefit more from using the pinch method.

Flying FPV with the thumbs as a new beginner

DJI FPV Controller with thumbs

If you have flown standard drones before and want to get started into flying FPV, mostly sure you are used to flying thumbs. 

A standard drone is usually flown with the thumbs on the stick controls. It is conceived and standardized to be flown as such. 

As well, if you have played your Xbox or PlayStation a lot, you already have the experience of handling a controller sticks with your thumbs.

The skill is transferable, and this may come to your advantage.

But furthermore, you will have to discover for yourself if it’s your best approach to remain with the thumb controls or to experiment further.

I have seen FPV pilots who fly thumbs like masters. 

Check Out – 27 FPV Tips to Know Before Flying FPV Drones

Pros & Cons of flying thumbs

Large controller FPV with thumbs
FPV Flying Thumbs PROSFPV Flying Thumbs CONS
– Natural skill for xbox gamers
– Fast maneuvers, suitable for freestyle & racing
– Better when flying short sticks remote controllers.
– Also more natural when flying a lot of standard drones.
– It gets bad if you’re nervous while flying or have shaky hands.
– Not as accurately as pinching 

Flying FPV drones with thumbs controller sticks

What about flying FPV with the pinch method?

large FPV controller flying pinch

The index finger will have better sensitivity to micro-adjustments, hence making the pinch method a fantastic choice for flying smoothly and having better control over your FPV drone.

But learning to fly FPV with the pinch method is complex and comes unnaturally for any new pilots. 

If you are a standard drone pilot or Xbox gamer and you’ve been used for years to control joysticks with your thumbs, getting to fly FPV with a pinch may be very difficult.

That is why you need to see if you are able to adjust to the pinch method or if you should control your FPV drone with your thumbs.

Pros & cons of flying pinch

pros and cons flying pinch
FPV Flying Pinch PROSFPV Flying Pinch CONS
– Very precise flying compared to thumbs
– Adjusting better when flying long-stick remote controllers
– Always very precise at micro adjustments on the flight.
– It’s fantastic to fly cinematically with the pinch method.
– Better dexterity on the controls with the pinch.
– Much better to fly in cold weather than with thumbs (shivering)
– Can accidentally flip controls on the radio due to index finger position
– You may not have the support to hold the radio as well as with flying thumbs
– It is an entirely new skill, and you will need to put some hours in simulators to learn to fly pinch
– It is more difficult to trigger some controls on your RC when flying FPV with the pinch method

Flying FPV drones with pinch controller sticks

For instance, you can accidentally trigger unwanted controls with your index finger when flying pinch and as well, it would be more difficult to use other switches as you will have to use the middle finger to do it.

Triggering the switch by mistake when using pinch
Triggering the switch by mistake when using pinch

Can you fly FPV hybrid? How do you do that?

flying FPV drones hybrid mode

If you like vanilla and chocolate flavors on the same ice cream, then you may like to fly hybrid.

It is good to know that when you have the thumb on the top of your rc stick and the index finger on the side, you throttle up using the thumb and throttle down using the index finger.

Each action on the stick may exercise a different force on both the thumb and the index finger and not equally.

Pros & cons of flying hybrid

FPV Flying Hybrid Sticks PROSFPV Flying Hybrid Sticks CONS
– Maintain natural thumb skills (from gaming) and still fly accurately
– You can have a quick reaction to travel your thumb farther and maintain an accurate flight
– If your thumb slides when you exercise force with the index finger, you lose control of the sticks.
– It is unnatural to fly hybrid, and many FPV pilots will find it uncomfortable.

Flying FPV drones with hybrid controller sticks

What is the best way to fly your FPV drone? Pinch, thumbs, or hybrid?

Most drone pilots will recommend you to fly pinch, and for a good reason.

To fly your FPV drone using the pinch method on your rc controller would be the most accurate way to control the drone, always be on top of micro-adjustments, and it will allow you to advance with your FPV skills much quicker than with the thumb.

The reaction on flying pinch is also faster.

If you are not able to adjust yourself to flying pinch, remaining on the thumbs method is also a good option and is okay.

In fact, many extreme racing and freestyle pilots use only their thumbs when flying FPV drones.

But you will discover that only a few pilots are flying their FPV drone hybrid. 

  1. So, the best way to fly your FPV drone is to pinch.
  2. Then it is also an excellent way to fly with your thumb if you cannot adjust to pinch or are a natural Xbox gamer.
  3. The least common way to fly your FPV drone is hybrid (between pinch and thumbs)

Can you do both flying pinch and thumbs at the same time?

To fly accurately by pinching your rc sticks and suddenly switch to thumbs? 

It’s all possible, but beware that you will need to master both abilities, and this may come unnaturally as your brain will want to form into using only one.

And as well, when you are flying your drone, and your mind knows how to control it, either pinch or thumbs when you suddenly change it, you will need a second or two to readjust your brain inputs, hence the risk of becoming confused mid-flight.

How do you know which one is right for you? Pinch, thumbs, or hybrid?

When you dream and think about flying FPV, how is it the control in your mind? Are you controlling the rc sticks with the thumbs, pinching, or hybrid? 

This is how you notice how your brain tries to adapt to one type of control only naturally. 

When I was flying thumb at the beginning and started experimenting with pinching, my brain was constantly processing when I was thinking about flying FPV as I was holding the rc sticks with the pinch method.

That was my cue that my mind naturally tries to adjust to this type of control.

What else do we need to know when flying pinch, thumbs, or hybrid?

long stick dji fpv remote controller 2
  • When you have longer sticks on your remote controller, those are available to travel more but are naturally created for a smoother pinch.
  • Your rates may have to be configured differently with pinch/thumbs.
  • Always use long sticks if you want to have the best input to your RC as a pincher.
  •  When you use the pinch method on your RC stick and have a cheap controller, the pinch method will work smoother on the joystick because you act with two fingers instead of one.
  • Never try one or another when flying your FPV drone without prior experience or training in any simulator. It can be confusing, and you can quickly lose control of your FPV drone.

I found this video from the Rotor Riot to be an excellent guide and live example between flying an FPV drone, either pinch, thumbs, or hybrid, and I recommend you watch it.

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