Some thoughts and views

Bad rods

People like different kind of rods; after all we are individuals and like a rod that matches our temper.
But still there are rods that should be avoided, those that don’t follow the sound principles of construction.
On some you find a swaying tip; on others the mid-section is too weak. Both prevents a fluid distribution of power over and below where the weakness is located, and so indicates lack of bamboo on that very spot.

A swaying tip normally has its weakness some 40-50 cm from the tip-top and you get a feeling that the tip doesn’t keep up while casting, like the tip comes late when the cast should be finished.
Also, the tip doesn’t stop vibrating. You find it hard to accelerate the casting speed as well.

A weak mid-section behaves in the same way actually but the lack of balance is somewhat disguised; as it is located further down the rod it´s camouflaged by less severe cycling.
However, you will notice it when the rod exceeds a certain speed – then the cast dies. And such a rod is very particular about lines; it seldom takes more than one line-weight.

One may wonder why rods suffering from these faults have been produced? Can it be that a maker has tried to find something different? Something to enhance delicacy at a given distance for instance? By no means a recommendable way – a rod must always be constructed according to mechanical facts and achieved mathematically. The rod is an extension of your arm and why cripple yourself by using a limited tool?

How many guide rings? Carl Norge 2012 2 small

On some rods you see too few snake rings. Probably to bring down production-costs. Unfortunately this hampers the casting-abilities when the line is allowed to smear and cling to the blank, causing friction. 

An 8-foot rod should have 9 snake rings and 1 guide ring, a 7-footer one snake less, and so on.

But don’t that many rings interfere with the action?
Of course they do, since every guide + wrapping increases the stiffness of the rod. But these factors should be calculated for in the construction. Otherwise the rod will be stiffer than expected.
Sometimes you find the guide ring placed too high. I own a Hardy J.J.H. Triumph where the guide ring is 55 cm from the grip. This prevents the rod to shoot efficiently and is uncomfortable for the line-hand. The distance should be about 35 cm from the grip.

Why nickel silver ferrules?

The ideal would be a rod in one piece. But we need to have them in sections for the benefit of transportation.

The one-piece rod would be a wonder, but the reasons for a rod of two-three piece-design are too obvious to discuss.
But ease of transportation comes to a cost; every joint means added weight and a stiffening to the ferrule area and a few inches above and below it.
There is also a risk for a “stuck ferrule”, for it coming loose or that the unwieldy metal digs its way down into the bamboo.

To get around these problems people have experimented a lot, I guess. Ed Payne used celluloid transitions on the “Kosmic Rods” of the 1890-ies, several serrations have been tried, and so on…
”Splicing” was used centuries back and was ( is ) a fine way to avoid the problems by not using ferrules at all. Splicing is still a smart way for salmon rods who notoriously break at a metal ferrule, but for trout rods….?

The Life BloodWhat about non-metal ferrules? They have been tried. Arjon of Sweden used their Me. Pla- ferrules in the sixties and maybe they had something there…? Maybe a graphite ferrule would be an interesting choice? Surely, the stiffening would still be there but at a low weight.

These fellows who try other ways to circumvent the use of metal by using “bamboo-slices”for ferrules will find them easy to break unless a heavy winding is applied as support, a clumsy ferrule from the beginning getting even more clumsy.

So, nothing is gained really except for a few grams of weight.
No, I don´t think the nickel-silver ferrule will die as long as excellent bamboo rods are made, rather that it could be a benefit to an expensive graphite rod. For how long will fishermen accept these cheaply made“top-over” rods who can never achieve a perfect action?

What can be achieved from bamboo as a material?

Those who aren’t familiar with rod-making are often amazed to find what tight tolerances can be had from bamboo; a taper often calls for figures within CarlNorge2014 small1/100th of a millimeter. 

But to a rod-maker 1/10th mm is a very big figure which can alter the rod considerably. If this happens at some odd spot it may escape un- noticed, but if it appears all along the rod it can cause one full line-size, up or down, to be used. So there are strong reasons to keep the tolerances tight, some 2-3/100, +/- , no more, measured from the glued blank (not on the individual strip!).

In consequence you shouldn’t expect to find a “weak side” in a properly built bamboo rod. These you will find on graphite rods but not on a good bamboo, provided that it is perfectly straight. As you certainly know a bend will fall off easier on the concave side.

Carl i Baltak 2012Rod construction

I guess most rods in history have been developed from several prototypes, where ocurrent weaknesses have been gradually eliminated by “trial-and error”. I also guess that the increasing number of amateur-rod builders try their hands by several try-out rods – unless they don´t go the easy way and plagiarize some of the classic tapers found so frequently on the Web. This is a primitive form of construction,
I think; if you have mechanical and mathematical knowledge – and long experience – you should put it right from the beginning. If you cannot do that you can never become a true custom rod maker.


Custom rod construction goes in this way:

1.What features are most important for the particular rod (for example, ability to roll-cast, fighting the wind, make curve-casting easy, and so on)?.

2.Decide how the rod should bend (at optimal loading) to achieve those features.

3.Calculate the volume of bamboo needed and its distribution. Recalculate for every new impact added (from ferrules, guides, varnish, etc.).

4. Evaluate the taper achieved. Are they reasonable?

As you see, rod-construction is based on mechanicall laws, mathematics - and experience. You have to have both. Otherwise any engineer or computer-guy could be a would-be rod-constructer. They will get the figures, alright, but would the rod be useful?

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