Newbie to the cane: looking for guidance and advice

revo

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2011
Messages
355
Location
Tamworth, the Midlands
Hello

I need some help.

I'm a long-term fly fisherman with modern carbon rods but looking to get and use a vintage split cane rod. Starting out with a low budget and am after something small (6-8') for rivers.

Had on look on ebay and some of the dealers and think any of these makes would be OK

Walker

Farlows

Sharpes

Cummins

Allcock

Partridge

Walker

Milwards

May I ask if there's anything to look for (or look out for!) and also about storage (lying down flat, I think?)

Also, how does one work out the right line rating / weight for a particular rod? Is it the longer, the heavier? Or trial and error?

Finally, is there a UK-based forum for split cane rods and their users?

THANKS
 

Uncas

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Messages
221
Location
Yorkshire
Hello Revo,
Any of the above rods would be ideal to start off with.
What you need to look for is a rod that looks in reasonable condition that's fairly strait, if totally strait all the better.
Rods that are 6/7' feet long are usually 4/5 wt rods 7/8' feet are usually 5/6 wt usually DT.
All cane rods should be hung upright in there rod bags for storage.
Some rods have slight sets or bends in the top sections these can be made strait, but if it's only slight I would not worry to much.
 

revo

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2011
Messages
355
Location
Tamworth, the Midlands
Thanks Uncas. I’ve got my eye on one on eBay at the moment. Seems a lot of spinning rods are listed as fly though and condition can be hard to judge from the pics.

Is there a reason why some rods have bands of whipping all along their length while others only have them at the guides?

And what are those “spears” for that screw into the butt?

So much to learn!
 

splinters

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Messages
1,793
Location
Co. Armagh.
The intermediate wraps on rods date back to when the glues weren't up to the job. They were for reinforcement purposes to prevent delamination. They lingered on for a while after glues got good enough to not need reinforcing. The spears were for standing ones rod upright on the bank while one repaired to the shade of a handy willow for lunch and possibly a nap. By the way, don't let mucilin green anywhere near a bamboo rod, the silicon in it makes refinishing an old rod difficult. It is hard to remove from a rod's surface and causes fisheyes in new varnish. Your friendly local rodmaker will thank you for changing to mucilin red.
S.
 

Uncas

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Messages
221
Location
Yorkshire
Thanks Splinters! More to learn . . . .

Silk lines and gut leaders next . . .

And a priest and creel
Silk lines need regular conditioning, I would be inclined to start with a Cortland DT5 a very good line and covers most situations.
Alternatives are 406 lines from the USA.
Royal Wulff Bamboo special.
And Barrio lines from Scotland.
Any of these would do you well.
 

iainmortimer

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 5, 2014
Messages
3,024
Location
West Sussex
Sharpes Scottie is a good rod to get as they use impregnated cane meaning they stand the test of time and so being less prone to warping or just lack of strength make a good purchase when you can’t inspect before buying. They are also well in the budget range as far as cane goes with less than £100 getting a decent quality rod.
 

stevel

Well-known member
Joined
May 18, 2006
Messages
2,216
Location
London
On the Fishing Tackle Reviews section there's a post about an "unknown French maker" on ebay who refurbishes rods for resale. There were good recommendations by other members and you would then get a refurbished rod for not a lot of money (around about 100).
One of these may be a good start but may not be a good representation of what a good modern rod may feel like. The older tapers were solid and quite heavy and slow and there may be quite a difference and adjustment if all you've cast and fished with is fast graphite.
Stick with a rod which is short, less than 8 feet and probably a 4-5 weight.
There are also classic tackle dealers and also tackle auctions but there's more of a lottery with the auctions and you need to go along and see the condition of the rods.
There are no such things as bamboo meets as they do in the US where you can see and touch and try many rods before purchasing but finding someone to let you cast theirs before buying is a good idea. You may not like bamboo at all, and it will have been a idea which was appealing but didn't match the reality, costing you time and money.
You may also cast a lemon then go away without having really experienced the bamboos worth casting and owning.
As with silk, they are relatively speaking, quite expensive and take quite a bit of maintenance. I loved silk, spent a small fortune on top modern makes but in the end the maintenace made me go back to plastic. Interestingly, a co author of the well known Wolfram Schott silk line study, told me he eventually went back to plastic.
I'm tinkering with the idea of dipping my toes back into the silk line water with a local maker.
Enjoy the ride.
If you're anywhere near London drop me a line and we can go out and try my bamboos.
Cheers
Steve
 

revo

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2011
Messages
355
Location
Tamworth, the Midlands
Wow, thanks all. I was joking about silk: I'm a big fan of the Barrio lines, amazing value.

Steve: I might take you up on that offer. If you fancy coming up here for a day on the Dove I might be able to sort us out with a decent beat.
 

stevel

Well-known member
Joined
May 18, 2006
Messages
2,216
Location
London
Wow, thanks all. I was joking about silk: I'm a big fan of the Barrio lines, amazing value.

Steve: I might take you up on that offer. If you fancy coming up here for a day on the Dove I might be able to sort us out with a decent beat.
Thanks revo
If things calm down with the dreaded cv19 then ill be sure to make a trip up to let you try out my James Reid trout rods.
Alternatively if you come down this way I'll take you out to my club, Amwell Magna on the Lea in Herts, to cast the said bamboos on a mix of stocked browns and rainbows and a growing head of wildies.
Cheers
 

revo

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2011
Messages
355
Location
Tamworth, the Midlands
Thanks revo
If things calm down with the dreaded cv19 then ill be sure to make a trip up to let you try out my James Reid trout rods.
Alternatively if you come down this way I'll take you out to my club, Amwell Magna on the Lea in Herts, to cast the said bamboos on a mix of stocked browns and rainbows and a growing head of wildies.
Cheers
Oooh it's all gone a bit Tinder! Sounds great.
 

airsprite

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2009
Messages
586
Location
Birmingham
The intermediate wraps on rods date back to when the glues weren't up to the job. They were for reinforcement purposes to prevent delamination. They lingered on for a while after glues got good enough to not need reinforcing. The spears were for standing ones rod upright on the bank while one repaired to the shade of a handy willow for lunch and possibly a nap. By the way, don't let mucilin green anywhere near a bamboo rod, the silicon in it makes refinishing an old rod difficult. It is hard to remove from a rod's surface and causes fisheyes in new varnish. Your friendly local rodmaker will thank you for changing to mucilin red.
S.
Absolutely right about the Silicon.
I worked in the Jaguar paint shop for 30 years, Silicon in any form was banned.
We had outbreaks of craters in the paint finish from time to time, usually traced to some silicon contamination. Some times it was an o ring which had come in as a spray gun spare, which had been smeared with a tiny amount of Silicon.

Steve
 

revo

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2011
Messages
355
Location
Tamworth, the Midlands
×
Absolutely right about the Silicon.
I worked in the Jaguar paint shop for 30 years, Silicon in any form was banned.
We had outbreaks of craters in the paint finish from time to time, usually traced to some silicon contamination. Some times it was an o ring which had come in as a spray gun spare, which had been smeared with a tiny amount of Silicon.

Steve

Wow. I use airflo whizz lube, I’m assuming it’s silicone based.
 

stevel

Well-known member
Joined
May 18, 2006
Messages
2,216
Location
London
Absolutely right about the Silicon.
I worked in the Jaguar paint shop for 30 years, Silicon in any form was banned.
We had outbreaks of craters in the paint finish from time to time, usually traced to some silicon contamination. Some times it was an o ring which had come in as a spray gun spare, which had been smeared with a tiny amount of Silicon.

Steve
I once took delivery of a rod from an international, well known (but unscrupulous) maker who delivered a rod which was covered in fish eyes. He feined ignorance and said it "happened in transit". I subsequently lost all my (substantial) money on that piece of garbage.
I subsequently spent some time researching "fish-eyes" and found some forums on custom car detailing, both individuals and professional shops who had lots of experience in this. There were all sorts of procedures, products to avoid or minimise the risk of fish eyes including using special cleaning agents after each coat.
I would have thought it almost impossible to avoid contact with silicone (as per these car forums) as its in everything in the household and especially so in fishing.
 

three rivers

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
108
The first question(s) to ask yourself is/are do you want a cane fly rod because it is traditional (or because you like the aesthetic) - and if so are you willing to accept that it may not perform as well as a modern one? If so, any of the makes you list above will serve your needs, as will a number of others. The key choice here will come down to whatever comes along that looks like a rod you'd want to use, or own. However, if you want a cane rod that actually allows you to cast a line fairly efficiently and accurately, I'd stick to Sharpes Scottie brand, Farlows Impregnated rods made by Sharpes for Farlows, almost anything by Pezon Et Michel, Hardy rods made between 1955 and 1970, or Cliff Constable rods.

Stand-out models include:

Sharpes Scottie Eight-Eight, Eighty-Five and Eighty-Three - all staggered ferrule* impregnated rods which are pretty durable, effective tools that present no real disadvantage over a comparable glass or carbon rod, once you get used to them

Sharpes Wilson International - similar to the Eighty-Three above

Cliff Constable Wallop Brook series - ranging from 6'6" to 8'2", staggered ferrule* - very nice small stream rods distributed in the 1970s by Dermot Wilson

Pezon Et Michel Ritz Parabolic and Fario Club - 8'2" and 8'5" respectively, again staggered ferrule*

Farlows-branded versions of the P&M rods above, either built on P&M blanks or made for Farlows by Sharpes on impregnated blanks

Hardy Phantom - available in 8' #5 and 9' #6. Expensive, but very nice hollow-built** rods

Avoid any rod that has lost more than an inch off the top, unless you're not bothered about how well it casts. Get a good example of any of the above in your hands and you'll soon forget that it's cane, once you see how easy they are to cast.

*Staggered ferrule - top joint longer than butt joint, which moves the ferrule closer to the hand for improved balance and away from the middle of the rod. Charles Ritz pioneered the idea in the 1930's when he came up with the idea that rods have harmonic nodes when flexing, and the principle harmonic is at the mid-point. Whether he was right about that is another discussion, but the upshot of his experiments was to design some very fine fly rods, even by modern standards.

**Hollow-built - cane rods which have the inner apex of the triangular strips from which they are made planed off, to reduce weight and/or improve stiffness/weight ratio.
 

revo

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2011
Messages
355
Location
Tamworth, the Midlands
Thanks three rivers, that is REALLY helpful. Lots there that i didn't know.

Re the Sharpes Scottie Eight-Eight, Eighty-Five and Eighty-Three: surely that's not the length in inches? Or maybe it is (if so, minus the butt?)

Funnily enough after starting this thread this I got a message from a lovely older member of this forum who is retiring from fishing due to ill health. Would I be interested in his Sharpes Scottie Featherweight 7 & 1/2 ft rod, rated #5? Yes I would!

It arrived today. I know he fished with it so it should be in good condition and indeed it appears to be so. The date code on the butt is

1.7
103

I think that's 1971 (1) July (7) rod number 103. Is that right? Extra good if so as I was born in November 1971

Or possibly 1961? I think the 1970s ones had a dash between the year and month and this one has a dot or period (.) mark

Whatever, I love it. Only got a #4 line and I says it wants a #5 but maybe it will work with one weight lighter? (I've also got a #7 but that sounds daft.)

I gave up on ebay as it's so hard for a newbie like me to judge the condition and then there's the issue of action, weight etc that are impossible to assess without the rod in hand. Also, a lot of spinning rods listed as fly and many with shortened tips, etc.

I was watching this one and nearly went for it but decided against in the end.

 

iainmortimer

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 5, 2014
Messages
3,024
Location
West Sussex
You will love it. I have one of those and when you get used to slowing the action down compared to a modern carbon rod you will find casting to be effortless.
 

revo

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2011
Messages
355
Location
Tamworth, the Midlands
You will love it. I have one of those and when you get used to slowing the action down compared to a modern carbon rod you will find casting to be effortless.
Just been for a chuck in the field opposite. Very very impressed. Glad I didn't got for that 7' one on ebay now.

My old river rod was a carbon 8' / #4 and after several years being weakened from the dings and pings of bead-headed nymphs it finally snapped last week. (Not my fault! Wind and mid-cast change of direction to cover rising fish! It was only a cheap Shakespeare so no great loss.)

But this? This is lovely and already feels like an old friend.
 

three rivers

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
108
Eight-Eight was 8'8", Eighty-Five was 8'5" and Eighty-Three was 8'3". There was also a Seventy-Nine - you can work out the length - though that really is rare.

The rod you've got sounds ideal - you won't be disappointed with it. For a first cane fly rod you've hit the jackpot. Don't be too self-congratulatory though - I promise you there will now commence an endless quest for others, which can get quite expensive.

The date is indeed July 1971 - 103rd rod made that month. The 1961 numbering system was quite different and involved a four or five digit serial number. It's always nice to have a rod from your birth year as well; I have an Eighty-Eight from October 1972, making it two months younger than me. Try it with a number four line, but I suspect it might be happier with a five. A Cortland 444 peach floater will pair nicely with it, on a Hardy Featherweight reel.

I know what you mean about ebay - you really do need to know what to look for to avoid pitfalls, and even then you can get dishonest listings that hide all sorts of flaws. I have picked up a few rods on ebay, but most of my fly rods were obtained either through tackle fairs, junk shops, local ads or the Rod Box in Winchester, which specialises in second hand and vintage fly tackle - apart from those I built myself on Chapman blanks.
 

Latest posts

Top