American vs British cane rods

Damo

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Hi all,

I´ve got 3 cane rods, all made by British makers - 2 by Gary Marshall, 1 by Tim Harris. I find them excellent, they look great and fish beautifully. I couldn´t be happier.

I can´t help noticing that over the pond (e.g.on the Classic Rod Forum) there is very little mention of British cane rods, and when they are mentioned it is often with disdain. It seems that this attitude comes from casting antique rods and has very little to do with modern builders.

I haven´t cast any American built rods and wonder if these opinions are correct. Are American rods , both modern and antique, really better than their British counterparts? Or is it just a truism that many believe as they have not had the opportunity to cast modern British rods?

This is a great watch but makes no mention at all of British/ European makers - it seems that Americans believe that the art of making real cane rods began in the Catskills a hundred or so years ago:


Any opinions welcome...

Cheers,

Damian F
 

stevel

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It is probably very true that whilst the reels of early British reels are revered, the rods in general are not.
It's also probably true that most of the innovation came of out the US in the last half of the last century with the living "master" builders commanding large sums and long waiting lists.
There are contemporary UK/Euro/Asian builders who have good reputations which equal the US masters but in general collectors would prefer those by the US master builders for investment reasons.
I guess it depends on what you want out of a bamboo rod - do you want an implement to fish which is very well finished and based on a known classic taper? Then I think you couldn't really do wrong by having one built by a UK makers such as Gary Marshall. The finishing work I've seen by him has been exemplary, with the cost compared to even mediocre work by US makers, very cheap.
I was almost put off for life by work from very well known Euro and South American makers; Gary Marshall and later by a Japanese maker restored that trust in quality work by bamboo makers.
One thing for certain is, neither reputation nor price of a bamboo rod guarantees you anything. I've spoken to many people who've reached out to me in private to tell tales of poor work or non-delivery, from makers of very good names.
I currently fish rods by a contemporary Canadian maker. They are very capable and high performing fishing tools and also very beautiful, but they are not perfectly finished. Whilst in the past I would have rejected rods with imperfections, my take now is that the fishing aspects are more important - they are not solely for admiring and sitting on a wall. Conversely, I got rid of an expensive rod which was the most perfectly finished rod I've ever seen, because it didn't inspire performance wise.
 

Jason 70

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Damian,

I can't offer an opinion on who makes the best cane rods? I've only a handful one was made the others are old and bought secound hand and these are all coarse rods. Luke Bannister is currently knocking me up a fly rod though. What I can't grasp and never have been able too, is why say pay a couple of grand on a rod and just hang it up on display and never fish with it, each to there own I guess, but I struggle with the concept.

As for Chasing The Taper, I've got it on DVD and have watched it numerous times. The stand out character for me was Rick Robbins he came across as a really nice bloke, closely follwed by Bobby Taylor. A great film/documentary.
 

Uncas

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There are dozens of very good rod makers out there both in the USA and a few over here.
One such is Chris Lantzy Custom rodmaker.
A really nice chap to talk to.
 

BobP

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I have only cast one American cane rod which the owner proudly showed me and told me he had it specially made for his trip to the English chalkstreams. He insisted I try it and it was horrible. Chuck the line back and ten minutes later throw it forward. By the time a fly could be got on the water the fish would have died of old age.

The guy loved it, which is what counts I suppose.
 

stevel

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Damian,

I can't offer an opinion on who makes the best cane rods? I've only a handful one was made the others are old and bought secound hand and these are all coarse rods. Luke Bannister is currently knocking me up a fly rod though. What I can't grasp and never have been able too, is why say pay a couple of grand on a rod and just hang it up on display and never fish with it, each to there own I guess, but I struggle with the concept.

As for Chasing The Taper, I've got it on DVD and have watched it numerous times. The stand out character for me was Rick Robbins he came across as a really nice bloke, closely follwed by Bobby Taylor. A great film/documentary.
I'd read recently that RD Taylor lost his entire workshop including all the historical tools and vintage rods in a fire.
There was a crowdfunding page to try and raise money to get him back on his feet again, though the tools with decades of history were all lost.
 

Jason 70

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I'd read recently that RD Taylor lost his entire workshop including all the historical tools and vintage rods in a fire.
There was a crowdfunding page to try and raise money to get him back on his feet again, though the tools with decades of history were all lost.

Yes, Steve, the rod shop went up in flames December the 23rd last year.
 

Uncas

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I have only cast one American cane rod which the owner proudly showed me and told me he had it specially made for his trip to the English chalkstreams. He insisted I try it and it was horrible. Chuck the line back and ten minutes later throw it forward. By the time a fly could be got on the water the fish would have died of old age.

The guy loved it, which is what counts I suppose.

Well Bob,

It all depends on the taper and who makes the rod, I have a 7' x 5 line 2/2 one back cast and you can shoot 60 feet no problem, or just easily cast 30 feet of the tip in a lazy fashion.
 
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