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Rod Design - Construction Qualities

In an age where style seems to mean more than substance we seem to have lost sight of what rock solid construction is like. What would you consider the perfect combination of factors for durability in construction of a cane rod? Impregnation? Resorcinol glue? Pinned ferrules? In other words, without respect to cosmetics how would you build the ultimately durable bamboo flyrod?  (Bill Walters)

    Resorcinol glue, impregnated finish, 7 wt taper marked as a 4 wt, pinned ferrules, hypalon grip, aluminum seat, nylon thread with epoxy coating, ceramic insert stripper, TiC snakes and ceramic insert tip top. In other words, butt ugly (except for the snakes) and way too stiff for the designated line weight, but don't be surprised if a car door can break it anyway.  (John Channer)

      I'm with you on everything except for the TiC snakes John. As long as we're being ugly, but durable, let's use single foot SiC. Might as well go for the top of the line stuff.  (Martin-Darrell)

    My bass rod was  designed  for  ultimate  durability.   It  is  a one-piece, nodeless quad, glued with resorcinol, impregnated and has extra heavy-duty guides.  The rod is an 8' for #7 and has been used to catch many bass from 4 to 8 pounds as well as countless smaller bass and bluegill.  So far the only failure has been the tip top wearing through.  (Bill Lamberson)

    If Milward is right, don't flame and keep heat treating to a minimum.

    That’s probably the most controversial of all the "durability" ideas.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

      I just have to jump in on this one.  Durability is just like aesthetics as far as I am concerned.  If a fly rod is not a good fishing tool,  making it prettier or making last longer is immaterial.  (Ralph Moon)

        I don't disagree with what you say, but as the one who posted the question in the first place, it was intended as a way of bringing out discussion on what people do to make a quality product and one aspect of quality is durability. If you're selling a rod to a customer that uses a recognized taper and accepted construction techniques, what else are you doing as part of the construction that will assure the customer that he has wisely invested (no small sum of money to many of us) in a fishing tool that will last and hold up to the punishment he will dish out to it.  (Bill Walters)

    I've thought about the durability of rods a lot and to that end have attempted to fish them to dead. Plus I now have a Destructive Testing Department consisting of one guy. If he can't break it, it can't be broke. Durability is mixed up with what some of us would consider as "good taste" or aesthetics. The only way the durability question can be answered is to agree on just what furniture/finishes/glues the rod will use. Items like silk wraps Vs nylon, colored Vs non-colored glues, epoxy Vs non-epoxy on tip tops & ferrules, pinning Vs non-pinning, reel seat style and method of finish and so on.

    So, if we could agree on what was acceptable on a cane rod, perhaps the question will be answered. Till then we have to rely on the selling price of rods to demonstrate the customer's wants. Of course, this is not the best indicator of durability - just whether you're dead or not,  hyped the hell out of your rods or not, built enough that folks see them and want them, built good casting rods or not and so on. So I guess, the question will never be answered. The market place will determine what it likes and we will follow along.  (Don Anderson)


Not being an experienced user of either Hexrod or RodDNA, it prompts another question. What do you change in these programs if you are hollowing, fluting or going nodeless, if anything?

Maybe I should wait and ask this at CRR.  (Ralph Tuttle)

    I didn't see any other answers to your question, so I'll try.  I don't believe any of the rod design programs have provisions for hollow or fluted building.  Technically it would be possible to take this into account when calculating stress values, but you would have to know exactly the degree of hollowing, IE wall thickness at each point along the rod.  Its probably not practical to incorporate that...there are just too many ways builders are doing it.  Interesting idea though...

    As for nodeless construction.  Half of us believe rods are stiffer without nodes, the other half believe the opposite.  So nodes probably don't make much difference in stiffness or weight.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

      I agree Frank. I don't even know if it is doable from a practical  point of view. If you just use scalloping (Powell) for example you  would have to keep shifting from hollow beam theory, to solid beam,  back and forth, on the exact points. I'm sure it could be done, but what  a mess.

      I think if you like hollow building you will just have to accept the  fact that hollowing makes the rod a little stiffer, and a little  lighter (according to it's  practitioners)  and  use  basic  stress  values  to pre-evaluate the rod.  (Jerry Foster)


I am just interested, not trying to be argumentative, to know if anyone has cast any originals cut on pattern bars with the "same" taper cut on 5 inch stations? How did you feel they compare? Have you done the same with CNC milled rods?  In my limited experience, I couldn't discern much difference beyond what one would expect between a brand new rod made with new glues and a 50=100 year old rod.. Also, at least on my Morgan mill, the anvil height values at 1 inch points between stations do not lie on a straight line.. They are the shallow arcs that are formed by the bending of the anvil bar. I expect that adjustable forms do the same.  Yes, I do believe that the forms smooth out some of the bumps in the original tapers, but sanding down the blank to remove the glue before finishing does too. This is not to say that the mill  doesn't give you the advantage of speed, accuracy, flexibility and reproducibility. I wouldn't  do without it if my livelihood depended on rodmaking.  (Doug Easton)

    It is difficult for me to tell the difference between two rods of any kind. I think we already went through this with Mike and it lead Jimmy and others to the conclusion that If you can't tell the difference, why bother. So I will let that stand.

    As to the mechanics of MHM or Planing bars...Everyone to date has missed the thought I was trying to convey.

    But I will try again. I think rods made on either of these tools are wonderful. Good rod makers can good rods on any set of tools.

    Go to Frank’s great site and click on any rod doesn't matter (Retrieve Button) then click OK, then on Stress.

    Look at the changes of direction and where they take place. I bet no matter which rod you picked 95% of the jags fall on 5" intervals. This is NOT Frank's software, or Garrison's, or a planing bars fault.

    This is what happened when Garrisons book came out and everyone interested in rod making ran out and made or bought a set of planing forms.  Next everyone needed tapers to get started. These were rods measured by zealots like myself, who didn't know any better,  who started running around measuring rods on 5" centers. The software merely plots between those points. This is great for planing bars, you just set it to the output numbers,

    Now lean back and think about the truth of the taper...Do you really think that all the rods makers before Garrison, and after, made rods that really jumped around like this? Most of the rods we revere were made on mills with taper sticks that were pulled through the mill. If you get a chance to look at one you will see they were smooth. Most of the tapers were set on from 2.5-6" intervals. None that I have heard about were on 5". But then I'm not a historian.

    So first with our bars we couldn't reproduce the original taper anyway, and second we  really don't have the right values to do it.

    Do you see my issue?

    This makes my head hurt.

    Ask away.  (Jerry Foster)

      Since it has been brought up about setting milling machines @ 1" increments I was wondering has anyone ever measured one of the classic rods @ 1" intervals to see what the taper is & then compare this to 5 " increments to see if really affects the casting of the rod?  Do we really have to get down to this critical or anal measuring to turn out great casting rods?  I really do not think so.

      Also, no offense to anyone on the list but are most of you guys really good enough casters to really tell the difference?  Here again, I really do not think so. Now I know there are guys on here, like myself who are certified casting instructors for the FFF who may be able to tell the difference.  But then again maybe we cannot really tell if a rod was produced on 1" or 5" tapers.

      One other thing.  I really do not think that anyone has built an oven that will hold the tolerances that they claim +- 1 degree.  Not with the materials we use & also not with our knowledge of  oven construction.  I grew up with some guys whose family owns a heat treating company in South Bend Indiana & I have seen their operation & their heat treating ovens/kilns & the computers that ran them.  Our stuff is not that sophisticated.  I know the ovens I build & sell do not hold these tolerances but I do know that they work fine for what we need to accomplish for rod building.  This is not rocket science it is making fishing poles.  (Bret Reiter)

        OK Bret, Just for you.

        I believe in cane. I believe we can make any rod of any design we can think of. Why aren't we? Because one foot is stuck in the past. Not only with replicas but with tooling. I think planing bars are a trap for innovation...personal feeling...get pissed... We should be able to do something that the graphite guys cant do. ( Does anyone here really believe that Carbon Fibre guys yoke themselves with 5" intervals) We should be able to turn out a rod for each person. I'm talking about those who can't  cast  and  those  who  cast  well  and  every  person in between. Every one of us has a different stroke. A natural style. The rods that you LOVE are probably the ones that are most sympathetic to your natural stroke, not your adaptive one. So I have done my best to come up with something that would allow us to mechanically make that rod. We still lack the analytical tools to define what would fit with who... I have made quite a few rods just to get some obscene tapers in peoples hands. I am shocked sometimes when one of us drudges you speak of pick up one of the off the wall rods and some light goes on. It doesn't improve their style but suddenly they can throw tight loops with gentle landings and it makes them smile. I know that happens all the time with you pro's but it's harder with a novice.

        This is not bragging, but it was my intent when I started down this path. I can make an entirely new (new taper) rod in about 2 hours, URAC it and an hour later tape on some guides and put on on a dummy handle and go lawn cast it. I know enough to know when it is different enough and it can go in my test box. Or in the trash. That is if I don't have to prep some new strips.

        So we are one step closer to a Bamboo Design Saloon which the Tupperware guys cant do. I'll be not be around to see it, but if we want to get out of the rut someone has to do something.

        And you guys can go ahead scoff. A few thousands of an inch do matter.  (Jerry Foster)

          To answer this part of the the thread:

          I'm talking about those who can't cast and those who cast well and every person in-between. Every one of us has a different stroke. A natural style. The rods that you LOVE are probably the ones that are most sympathetic to your natural stroke, not your adaptive one.

          The first thing I usually do when I am trying to teach someone to cast is to lay out 3 different actions of rods.  Full flex, mid flex & tip flex rods.  I let the person cast all three & I do see which action best fits their casting stroke.  It is quite interesting when this is done because if you have someone who is, for lack of a better way to put it, a wimpy caster the full flex will fit them just fine.  And of course you have the other end of the spectrum where a guy has a powerful stroke & the tip flex will fit them.  What I was saying is most people cannot cast very well & they will not pick up on the slight differences of.  Maybe you have this ability & I wasn't questioning that.

          Pissed?  Nah, I never get pissed, OK maybe sometimes.  LOL.  But here is something else for you to ponder.  Most of us do not have the cash to make or buy a milling machine & we are just fine with a planing form or MHM or jack knife for making rods.  My rods cast just fine & I will lay them next to the guys who do the mills & I bet you they are no better casting rods.  I applaud you guys who have gone to the trouble & the initiative to go this one step further in your pursuit of the perfect rod.  (Bret Reiter)

        Bring yer calibrated thermometers down and set 'em inside my oven.  Betcha a dollar I can hold my oven temps +- 1 degree... ;-)  (Mark Wendt)

      Love this thread.  Been a long time since we have had so much rod related discussion and most of it has been extremely civil and informative thank you all.

      I have uploaded three graphs as pdf's of a rod that I mic'd at SRG 2 years ago.  A Walter Brunner Innes model.  One is of the original data points (3 flats averaged), one is cubic splined 5 inch increments and the other is of 1/4 inch splined increments.  For those that are interested take a look (here) and see if you think there would be a difference in the result of using 5 versus 1/4 inch.  Ignore the ferrule size data depiction.  Still working on that feature.

      Hope this goes through.  (Ralph Tuttle)

        It went through fine as far as it goes, but it would easier to compare if the 0.25" and the 5" graphs were superposed.  (Mike McGuire)

        Very interesting indeed.

        One question though.  Apparently the data point for the 55" station was missed on the 5" interval graph.  This distorts the graph quite a bit.  (Rick Hodges)

          Good catch,  I will look into the calculations to see why it wasn't plotted.

          What I found interesting was how the data points between 60 and 65 wouldn't be picked up at all by 5 inch centers.  One of the only tapers I've seen that actually have a negative increase in the butt section.  (Ralph Tuttle)

        They do indeed look a bit different.  You measured on 1/4" segments?  Oy...  No wonder I didn't see you the entire SRG!  (Mark Wendt)

    OK, I think I've found my second wind...sorry

    Now about 1 in centers....I decided for me, not for you, but for me, to take my rods to a higher level I needed to break the 5 in barrier. So 8 or 9 years ago I started beating on Jerry Wall to develop and CNC beveler.

    Here were the goals I was trying to reach..

    Control of the taper and any interval I chose. Why would I choose 5" and reproduce rods I could make on planing bars.

    But because of software availability right now 1" is as granular as it gets.

    And to make transitions and compounds anywhere I choose.

    And of course, control the dimensions. It takes about 1 min to make a strip to within .001 consistently. And about 2 hrs to prep it. LOL

    That makes it 5 times better than planing bars. Next was a way to generate the tapers and numbers. My Z can cut 120000 steps/in. So the mill will go to any number I tell it to. The hard part now is thinking about taper design. Which I won't go into now. But It's fun to try to think of new ways to trip up guys like Dave Roberts... The fool on the front of "Oregon Bamboo". And people are quick to point out to me, "this feels like an X" well, that may well be because those X guys built some damn nice tapers. But that is not my intention, My intention is to play with shapes. (this is not a plug) but if you want to read a little more of my BS, go here and read the design philosophy page and the my rods/test series.  (Jerry Foster)


 

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