One-piece rods are indeed worth pursuing. They always fish better than their 2-piece counterparts because that 1/4 ounce ferrule moment is removed from the middle of the rod. Hence you can build a substantially lighter rod for the same performance. They also eliminate the cost and bother of adding a ferrule set. Ferrules are at best a PITA.
I would dismiss all rods of shorter than say 6 1/2 feet. They all have to be clubs to do any real work.
For longer 1-piecers there are 2 downsides, transport and difficulty to make. I carpool to a lot of fishing trips and do not burden the pool driver with 1-piecers. But in many larger vehicles they are no problem.
To make useful 7 foot or longer 1-piecers there are 2 useful tricks. The first is to go nodeless. For this method there is virtually no length limit. The other scheme for node-lovers might be to build a staggered splice under the cork to get at least 3 inches of extension beyond your culm length. I've used both schemes and they work great. (Bill Fink)
Do you see the fiberglass or graphite wrapped ferrules as a close second? I wonder how you liked the quad that Tom and you had built. I think it seemed quite nice. Thanks for the insight below, I am excited to try some more long one piecers. (Bob Maulucci)
Yes, the quad that Tom and I made is just fine. I'm fishing it now between floods. But don't forget that it was Ted Barnhart who made the Universal ferrule on that Zimny-tapered rod. What I like most about that ferrule is that it will work on penta's, quads, and my new pet, trirods. Also it is lighter than metal ferrules so we have that design advantage. I guess I would rate it as second to 1-piecers based on that.
I know nothing about fiberglass ferrules. Is someone working on those? (Bill Fink)
What do you all do for heat treating? Do you have 8' long ovens? (Pete Van Schaack)
For noded 1-piecers of 7 feet I borrow Tom Smithwick and his neat 7 foot oven. I keep trying to persuade him to drill a hole in the end so I can cook longer rods. Somehow he doesn't buy this.
For nodeless, the best way to go, I use my wife Carmen's kitchen oven when she's asleep. Bob Powell recently redid our kitchen but dared not to replace the old oven because I have it calibrated for cane cooking. My kind wife puts up with all this nonsense. I'm just lucky, I guess. (Bill Fink)
Many rods have been heat treated in a long piece of black iron pipe.
An improvement on the design is to center a length of 3/4" copper pipe inside a length of 1" pipe, and shim between the two with bamboo wedges so that the inner pipe has an even surrounding air gap between the outer pipe. Stick a ventilated cork in both ends, and heat with a heat gun or propane torch (or heat source of your choosing). To monitor temperatures, stick a thermometer probe in the end holes.
The heat source heats the outer pipe, which heats the air, which then heats the inner pipe. Not only do you get a relatively even distribution of heat, but the airspace also acts as an insulator, so that once you get the inside up to temperature, it tends to stay that way.
To evenly heat the entire length it will be necessary to constantly and smoothly move the heat source along the length of the "retort", and I would recommend turning/rotating the apparatus with each pass to keep it heating as evenly as possible. (Chris Obuchowski)
I built a 7'3" one piece by planing the butt end first and then resetting my form and planing the tip ends with an overlap.
I flamed the inside and outside of the culm in lieu of heat treating, works fine. (Steve Trauthwein)
One piece rods are easy to make with short planing forms. What you do is allow an extra 6-7" on the tip sections and butt sections. then you make your splices and hide them under 2 adjacent guides. This works great on nodeless and 3 on 3 staggering. I've built 9' one piece rods for a few friends that fish the salt. (Hal Bacon)
There are a few other second-order downsides to no-ferrule rods. First you can't just buy rod cases anywhere. There is plenty of nice aluminum tubing available but the terminations are a problem. I shape plywood plugs for the far end and have come on a few plastic caps to fit the business end. And of course, unless Darryl is willing, you must sew your rod bag yourself. And there is a special technique needed to easily take rods out of and back into long cases. You had best keep the bag in the tube as far as possible and remove only the rod, else you may encounter a real mess in getting everything back into the tube. (Bill Fink)
We are having a rod made for a fund raiser; the maker wants to make a one piece rod. How do you think this will go over with everyone? Let me say I am not complaining at all he is donating a wonderful gift for someone. It is a 7'3" 3 weight one piece. Please let me know if this is a good idea or not. (Chris Kowalczyk)
I recently made a 6' one piece spinning rod & I won't do it again. You're constantly watching the tip. I've banged it into things several times & I know it's just a matter of time before I break it. (Ron Larsen)
Just cut it into 2 pieces and add the ferrules. I have one that is great but it is 2 pieces. (Gordon Koppin)
Just my own guess, but for a fund-raiser, I advise building the most popular size you can. If the idea is to maximize ticket sales, a one piecer probably isn't going to do the job. (Bill Harms)
I have only made one of the one piece rods and it was just OK, but it is a pain to transport and it is only 5'-11" long. It may, however, draw a lot of interest as it is certainly different. (Hal Manas)
The last 1 piece rod I made was a 71/2 foot for a 4 wt. The rod was great, but it was a real pain to make, I had to make a new dip tube, I ordered a special tube which came in bent in half! I had tried to talk this customer against this rod and his reasoning was that he had a cabin just a couple of miles from where he was going to fish it. So I got it done and about a month later he told me that it was a pain to transport it even that short of a distance! Now here's the punch line, he asked me if I would cut the rod in half and put a ferrule in it! My answer was that I would not cut that rod in half for any amount of money. As far as I know he still has the rod in 1 piece or maybe he had someone else cut it.
Second thought is that if this builder is willing to donate a rod.....you know what they say......."never look a gift horse in the mouth" maybe offer to buy a single set of ferrules and ask him if he would be willing to build a 1 tip 2 piece rod. (Joe Arguello)
I have built several one-piece rods and have also donated many rods for fund raisers over the past ten years. I like one-piece rods for my own use. I have them from 6 to 8 feet long, have never had trouble with breakage, and no ferrule problems! But, I would not recommend one for a fund raiser. The interest in them is too limited. I have found that the more I deviate from a 7 – 7 ½’ rod for #4 or #5, the lower they go for at auction. I would expect the same to be true of a one-piece compared to a two- or three-piece. (Bill Lamberson)
It's certainly unique. If the person doesn't have a truck, or suv with length of some sort, they won't be able to transport it to go fishing. I always build with transport in mind, though I've built some 5' one piece rods. I would think he could cut it and ferrule it for you, even if he's already got it tapered and glued. But that's just me. :) (Mike St. Clair)
A one-piece rod story:
About 20-odd years ago, I was over at Hoagy Carmichael's shopping for old tackle. I'd gone through a bunch of rods and reels, and bought some old fully dressed salmon flies, when my eye fell on a long rod sitting, apparently fully assembled, atop a tall bookcase. "What's the story on that rod?" I inquired, pointing. Hoagy's eye lit up, and his voice grew seductive. "Why that rod's a marvel," he explained. "It's a one-piece 8 1/2 footer. Not many makers have ever built one of those." Hoagy stroked his chin, and said, "You know, it's a little difficult to transport, and I've never actually used it. I'll tell you what, Dave. It's yours for $100."
I was dazzled by the idea of owning such a tour-de-force of rodmaking virtuosity, and astonished at Hoagy offering such a miraculous rod at such a giveaway price. Naturally I bought it, and carefully drove home (with a rod tip sticking out the rear window of my car). Some day I would find a way of getting a bag and tube for it, but in the meantime I carried it carefully into my house and placed it high atop a tall bookcase.
That rod sat there for 20 years, until we sold our house and moved. Then I carried it carefully to our vacation house, where I placed it safely atop a tall bookcase. That rod is a marvel, and it's in excellent condition, but I, too, have never actually used it. (David Zincavage)
You mean it is so awkward that you couldn't even get it out to the yard to lawn cast it? LOL (John Channer)
Stick it in a schedule 40 PVC tube with friction fit end caps; the tube may bend, but not as much as the rod would when fishing/casting.
Take that puppy out and fish it!!!! (Chris Obuchowski)
I agree with Chris, put it in PVC or ABS, strap it to the roof rack, and head for the water. sounds like the prefect float tube rod - what weight? (Tom Key)
I've made a number of one piece rods in the 7 ft range. I have a full size van so no problem. I can assure you that they fish better than their ferruled counterpart, plus no ferrule to make or buy, fit , come loose and have to account for in the design taper as a .25 oz weight in the middle of the rod. Ferrules are a PITA but necessary in carpools, I admit. (Bill Fink)
I am interested in building a short one piece rod. That being said I read that in order for the rod to be of any use, it would have to be a "club." I am assuming that this means it would have to be a fairly heavy rod.
My question is: Is this a true statement? Aren't there some good tapers for a small one piece, let's go with 5' to 5 1/2'? I fish some very small streams where the fish (Goldens and Brookies) aren't over 6-8". 10" being a monster. I won't be casting any more than 15', and that's if I get carried away. (Pete Emmel)
The Nunley 504A is what you are looking for. Probably the best brookie rod I have ever tried hand down. (Bob Nunley)
That statement is ridiculous. What's true is that our best tool is often a scoop shovel.
Several have suggested Bob's short rod. You might also check out the Smithwick "56er" in the Taper Archives. I've even made one short as 60" and it's a nice rod. (Darrol Groth)
After a discussion on this list several months ago, I worked out a PMQ version of Chris Bogart's Blue Ridge Banty, a 4' 9" 4wt rod. I built it in 2 pieces, but it was designed as a one piece. It is not a rod you'll want to use on big open water, but for short casts in tight cover, it's a sweet little rod. (Paul Gruver)
I have never made a one piece rod but my son would like a one piece rod for the small eastern streams. I am going to make a Hayashida 5042. My question is do you use the top half of the culm or the bottom? I at times think obviously the top but then again I can see reason for using the bottom as well. So what do you all use? (Gary Williams)
You need to consider the depth of power fibers. If the power fibers are deep enough in the top half of the culm for the butt of the rod, then you should be fine using it. (Bill Lamberson)
Either works fine. (Larry Tusoni)
I made my one piecers out of tops, mostly. I have used some bottom pieces. I found tops easier. Less nodes. (Timothy Troester)
Yes Gary's right there, if its a good culm it would be a shame to waste the butt section of the culm if you didn't have to. Probably best to split the culm in half, diameter wise. Then if the power fibers are not deep enough at the top you could take a section a little further down.
Probably a good taper for a one piece rod could be the Jim Payne Banty, 4' 4", it make a nice rod with a fairly stout tip and a fair amount of power for its size. (Nick Kingston)
Many years ago, I published the taper for my one piece 5 1/2 foot small stream rod. It was my first attempt at modifying a taper, and all I did was revise the tip of an Orvis Mitey Mite to make it more responsive, and stretch the length 6 inches. There were some squiggles in the middle of the rod that I did not address at the time. A couple years ago, I played around with the taper a little bit, and came up with a smoothed out version that's more in conformance with how I would go about these days. I finally built one, and am pleased with the result. Is it better than the original? Mostly, I think it proves what Al Balduski and Bob Norwood have said about localized variations not mattering all that much. It makes me feel better, however, so I hereby withdraw the original taper, and offer the following.
0 - .063
5 - .084
10 - .104
15 - .120
25 - .146
30 - .162
35 - .177
40 - .192
45 - .210
50 - .228
60 - .262
65 - .280
It remains a 4/5 weight rod. (Tom Smithwick)
I don't know Tom. I built that rod (it's likely to be the only 1 piece I ever build) and I can't feel any squiggles. I like fast bamboo rods and that little booger suits me just fine the way it is. (Will Price)
No fair Tom. You can't improve a taper as well known and loved as yours.
Seriously, thank you for sharing this taper and all the other goodies you have over the years. (Harry Boyd)
Mr Smithwicks taper for the one piece rod is just the best, seriously if you want a one piece small stream/brook rod this is hard to beat. (Paul Blakley)
Last year I made a one piece spinning rod. Here's the taper:
When I tried it out I thought it would make a much better fly rod. It's close to your taper and works quite well with a four weight. Now, I'll strip the spinning guides and reel seat off and redo it as a fly rod. (Ron Larsen )