Understanding Carbon Trout Rods

Tangled

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Understanding Rods

My Christmas present to the forum. Careful how you unwrap it.

This understanding is about modern, single-handed, carbon fly rods.
It’s very much ultracrepidarian, but maybe you can help me by responding in the thread below.

Introduction
At the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious, fly rods allow you to cast your line and fly where you want them to go. They also have two other functions; line control and hooking and playing a fish. Line control is about getting the line to do what you want it to do in the air and to control its drift once on the water. And of course, once you’ve tempted your trout, the rod gives you the necessary force to set the hook and the strength and responsiveness to play the fish. To do all this it needs stiffness and strength plus the flexibility to load and release efficiently during casting and be able to absorb shocks without breaking. It’s a lot to ask of something that’s often 9’ long but weighs less than a pack of cards.

Materials
Fly rods have been made of all sorts of material; traditionally split cane (bamboo), then fibreglass and now carbon (often, and wrongly, called graphite). All those materials are still in use, fibreglass is especially making a bit of a comeback and some like the image of the cane rod, creel and tweeds. A pipe is not obligatory. There are few tank aerials around these days though.

In the transition we’ve passed through boron and are moving towards graphene (which is atom-thick carbon). But the majority of our fly rods are now tubes made of carbon fibre, additives and resins.

The rod blank is a tapered hollow tube usually made in four sections to aid transport. It has no fittings and is by far the most important part of a fly rod. Everything else on a rod can be regarded as necessary but largely cosmetic – it’s the blank that casts the fly; with your help or hindrance.

All carbon rods are made from sheets of carbon fibre impregnated with resin, the resulting composite is called prepreg. The process of making carbon fibres and prepreg is a hi-tech business done in highly specialised plants. No rod builder makes their own prepreg, it’s all bought in, usually from the Far East – Korea, Japan or China. The quality of this prepreg material defines how good a rod can be made but doesn’t predict how well it will actually be made.

Prepregs are made of differing grade materials. You may have seen the acronym IM in some rod advertising as in IM8, IM6 etc. This stands for intermediate modulus. It’s intermediate because it’s between SM (standard modulus) and HM (high modulus). Rods will often be described as ‘high modulus’ in the marketing puff but don’t be over-impressed by it, most of the sciency sounding words used about rods in adverts is hype. And, of course, it’s not actually high modulus, it’s higher modulus – higher than something else that’s a bit lower.

Modulus is a measure of elasticity and its opposite, stiffness – the higher the modulus the stiffer the material. Don’t take away the impression that the higher the better. If that was true rods would use HM material not IM material. Rods need to be in balance - too stiff and they become pokers (and also increase in brittleness). Too elastic and they become Geoffrey Boycott’s sticks of rhubarb.

You may hear that an IM8 blank has a faster action than an IM6 blank. Well it might or might not, it depends how the rod builder actually made his blank and what he wanted to achieve with it.

Just to confuse further, the IM values are not standard, they vary between manufacturers; one guy’s IM6 is another’s IM7. The actual standard is an absolute measurement of tensile modulus, a measurement of how much it stretches when a force is applied. Europeans measure that in Newtons per square meter (Nm2) or GigaPascals (Gpa) and Americans in pounds and inches, Million Modulus (MSI) but you’ll never see anything as useful as that written on a rod.

You may see Ton (abbreviation of Tonne) eg 24Ton, or 24TC. IM6 is roughly the same as 24Ton. If your rod is in the IM6 or IM8 ball park, you’re starting in the right area, just don’t automatically think that 8 is better than 6. But rods are being made now with IM14 material and I see that even Maxcatch - a cheap Chinese rod maker, see later - are now advertising IM12, 40 and 46Ton very fast, 'professional' rods now.

So, back to carbon. Here’s a short video of how carbon fibre prepreg is made.


Resins are as important in prepreg material as the carbon fibre itself and are equally hi-tech. They often contain additives that help produce better rods. The term nano appeared in marketing rods some time ago. It refers to nano-scale (one billionth of a meter), microscopic silica spheres made by 3M and introduced into their resins.

Reddington is credited with the first production use of nano-particles in a rod but it wasn't commercially successful. Later, Hardy used the 3M nano-spheres in their patented Sintrix range of rods and claimed ‘up to’ 60% increase in strength and 30% decrease in weight and was generally regarded as a real step change in rod design and function.

Since then you’ll see the word ‘nano’ added with gay abandon to the labels of many rods; but exactly what that means for that rod, is often not at all clear.

Prepreg material has fibres that run longitudinally up the rod blank. This provides great strength under bending forces but is weak when crushed or twisted. To overcome this the rod needs reinforcing material interspaced between the carbon that go around it transversely and provide hoop strength. This material is called scrim and can be made of fibreglass or carbon fibre. Fibreglass is cheaper and is easier to work with but is heavier. Ultra-light premium rods will probably use carbon scrim – eg Orvis Helios 3.

This is a graphic of prepreg on a Maxcatch rod (note 25T & 30T usage) costing just £45 on Amazon, £20 from Maxcatch direct. Posh materials are not confined to posh rods, just sayin’.

Picture1.png


https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FSGNRF7/ref=twister_dp_update?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Graphene
Graphene has been grasped by rod builders as the next wonder material for rods and there seems to be good reason to think that it will be.

Graphene is one atom thick carbon.

Picture2.png

Graphene’s prime attribute for us of course is its strength, 200 times stronger than steel apparently (carbon fibre is only five times stronger). The current meme is that a net made of single atom graphene weighing the same as a cat’s whisker could support the cat. I wonder who came up with that and why?

Picture3.png


I think many of us imagined graphene rods to be made of graphene fibres like carbon fibres, but that’s a puzzling concept as, if you put a layer of graphene on top of another you get, well, carbon (assuming they bond), which sort of removes the point. Not only that but the longest string of graphene ever made is only a few feet and costs an unimaginable amount so it seems unlikely that it’ll be found in our rods for quite a while, if ever. Certainly, any breakthrough with graphene fibre material will come from the aerospace and motor industry first.

It’s more likely that its use in rods will only be as an additive into the resins like 3M’s nanospheres – but lighter and apparently better.

“The current commercial industry practise within the recreational composites market is to mix a small amount of graphene flakes, commonly called Nanopowder, into the resin that makes the carbon fibre epoxy impregnated material (prepeg) that fishing blanks are made from.” CTS Fishing

Rods claiming graphene use:
  • Snowbee Prestige G-XS (trout)
  • Century Stealth Graphene S50 (carp)
  • The Mackenzie FX1 (salmon)
  • Vision XO Graphene (trout)
There are dissenting voices though.

“CTS investigated graphene as an additive to our resin system some years ago. We found no evidence that adding graphene nanopowder to the epoxy resin improved any of the characteristics we were looking for in a material for fishing rods.

Conversely, we found evidence that adding more than 10% nanopowder to the epoxy matrix, increases its brittleness. In a fishing rod we rely on toughened epoxy resin systems to distribute impact shocks, protect the laminate and support the fiber in compression.

We concluded that adding a bit of graphene to our resins might be good for the marketing department and our ability to sell a higher priced product, but marginally detrimental to performance.”
CTS Fishing
https://ctsfishing.com/spotlight-on-materials-the-lowdown-on-graphene/

Certainly, so far it seems like the most outstanding difference from non-graphene rods is their staggering price. And the necessity to point out that the guy who discovered/invented it got the Nobel Prize for it in their marketing.

However, I suspect graphene is here to stay and its development will follow the usual pattern of expensive low volume production into low-cost, mass market applications. But I’ll be following my dad’s advice “never buy a Mark I of anything”.

This is a really interesting video of graphene production and its use in state-of-the-art bike frames.


Rod Building
If the quality and type of prepreg defines how good a rod can be, it’s the design of the blank and it’s manufacture from it that determines how good the final rod will be. You can easily make a bad rod from good prepreg. I could probably do it all day long.

Rods are made by wrapping the prepreg ‘cloth’ around a shaped mandrel. A mandrel is a tapered, solid, stainless steel rod that provides the form for the inside of the rod. These days there are usually four mandrels for a four-piece rod. The mandrel is the most important piece of the rod builder’s kit because it quite literally forms the blank. It’s generally designed in-house by computer, then farmed out to a precision machine engineering plant to manufacture.

The prepreg material is then cut into the correct pattern for the rod called a flag. This pattern is critical to the performance of the rod and can be quite complex in design. (Very cheap rods tend to have very simple designs.)

The flag is mechanically wrapped around the mandrel under pressure then the whole thing is wrapped tightly with tape to hold it all in place while it’s hung in large ovens and heated to fuse the resins and fibre. Once cured the blanks are cooled and are ready for turning into fly rods by the addition of paint, rings, whippings, handles and reel seats.

Rod blanks are not exactly round; where the last wrap of prepreg ends it forms a spline or spine. Just as no one can seem to decide which word is correct, no-one can decide whether it matters or not. If you can ever prove it either way, please let me know.

But a picture saves a thousand words and a video a million. Sage from 2020


All about Rods and Capitalism
The story above is probably the image all rod makers would like you to takeaway with you all the way to retail. Technology combining with small scale human craftsmanship, personal obsession, individual engineering genius and endeavour creating a unique product that can be patriotically badged with country of origin. And for a very few rods that’s pretty much what you can get. But that is no longer the predominant process.

In this globalised world, outsourcing of some or all of a brand’s rods is now the norm for most well-known names and seemingly homespun independent brands are often not what you would imagine they are.

For example, the Shakespeare, Greys and Hardy UK brands were bought by the US company Pure Fishing in 2013. Pure Fishing is itself a subsidiary of the Jarden Corporation which was bought by Newel Brands in 2016 and is now finally owned by Sycamore Partners (2020) – a US private equity company.

You may recognise some of the other fishing brands they own: Abu Garcia, All Star, Berkley, Chub, Fenwick, Hodgman, Johnson, JRC, Mitchell, Penn, Pflueger, Sebile, SpiderWire, Stren, and Ugly Stik.

Who are Sycamore? Well they’re a homely little rod outfitter, set up alongside a freestone river in Montana…no they’re not, they’re what we’d more usually call Wall Street asset strippers…

“Sycamore Partners is a private equity firm based in New York specializing in investments through a variety of private equity strategies, most notably leveraged buyouts, distressed buyouts, complex corporate carveouts and debt investments. The firm has more than $15 billion in capital under management.” Wikipedia

Sage Rods was acquired by Far Bank Enterprises in 2005. Far Bank also own Redington and Rio lines and Fly Water Travel, a travel fishing company.

Another corporate takeover story is G.Loomis. This iconic US company has been owned by the Japanese company Shimano since 1997. They took Gary Loomis’ company so far down what Gary thought was the wrong road and he objected so strongly that he left to form his own company again. (Shimano went on to sue him for trademark infringements). The G. Loomis Asquith rods were designed in the U.S. but the blanks were rolled in Japan and the rod finished in the U.S.
Gary’s podcast telling his story is a good listen.
http://www.itinerantangler.com/podcasts/podcast66.mp3

"Many of the best rods are built in one factory in Korea. Of these rods built in Korea, the Hardy rods are designed in England, the Douglas rods are designed here in the U.S., the Loop rods are designed in Sweden. The Orvis Clearwater rods are designed in Vermont and built in the orient. The TFO rods, the Taylor rods, the Mystic rod, and the Waterworks rods are all designed here in the U.S. and built in Asia." Yellowstone Angler

Echo fly rods are designed in the USA and built “offshore” (I believe Korea). Reddington rods are built in China “and other countries”. St. Croix also make their own but use Mexico for their cheaper rods. Both Orvis and Winston outsource their entry-level lines. Greys rods, and probably Shakespeare rods, are made in China.

Sage and Scott make all their own rods in the USA.

Whole rods are now routinely made in the far East under OEM licences and badged for the brand. Sometimes the rods are designed in the original countries and manufactured elsewhere but increasingly even major brands are simply buying new ranges ‘off the shelf’.

Because many of these premium brand rods are often made in the same factory, the Asian manufacturers are able to manufacture at scale with lower labour costs, bulk bought materials and can spread R&D across many product lines. Having volume allows investment in technology, machinery and quality control all of which reduces unit costs further. It is rumoured that the factory gate cost of even the most expensive, outsourced high-end rod is <$30.

At the other end of the scale, there are large Chinese fabricators that reverse engineer rods or build generic rods which are sold at fishing trade shows in China where the only differentiator is the logo they attach to the blank. Mega retailers like Aldi and Lidl sell these rods here quite regularly and they are surprisingly functional.

Here’s the test of an 8’ #5/6, 3 section, Paladin carbon composite rod, reel, line, leader, backing and flies for the silly price of £29.99.

If you fancy yourself as a fly rod own-brand, fill your boots
https://www.made-in-china.com/products-search/hot-china-products/Fly_Rod.html

China also sells direct to the end user at extremely low prices, cutting out all the intermediaries that take percentages that make the normal retail end price so high. One brand that is very popular here is Maxcatch, a brand owned by Qingdao Lei Chi Industrial & Trade Co, Ltd. They can deliver a perfectly competent rod to your door for <£20 and a very good one for £50.

They also supply rods to mainstream brandsthrough their OEM site listing amongst their partners Orvis, Snowbee, Fenwick, Guideline and TFO.

Where is all this going? Well it’s worth saying that just because a rod is built in Korea doesn’t make it a bad rod. In fact, the opposite; introducing scale into manufacture of hi-tech equipment is normally the way improvements in manufacture occur. We don’t make iPhones by hand one at a time. It’s really up to the brands to keep the high standards they need to support their prices.

In contrast to the Sage video earlier, this is a video of the more down-earth way that rods are made in South Korea for sale by the American company Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO).


But it does make you wonder a little about what those companies that have pretty much outsourced everything bring to the party apart from brand, marketing and distribution overhead. At the moment they can rightfully claim design expertise but unless they’re very careful, that too will go and be replaced simply by expert buyers and maybe eventually total disintermediation by the end-user.

In the end there are six categories of rod. Those rods:
  1. that have been designed, rolled and assembled by the company whose name is on the rod eg Sage
  2. that have a blank designed by the company whose name is on the rod, had its manufacture outsourced and then assembled the rod themselves eg some Hardy rods (still?) and some boutique custom rods
  3. that have a blank bought “off the shelf” by a knowledgeable buyer then been assembled by the company whose name is on the rod eg some boutique custom rod builders and, if rumours are correct, Hardy.
  4. that have a blank designed by the company whose name is on the rod but has then had its entire build outsourced. eg some Orvis rods, the Clearwater range?
  5. that have a blank bought “off the shelf” by a knowledgeable buyer and had its assembly outsourced eg Greys, Shakespeare
  6. that have been bought complete from a wholesaler for supermarket sale eg Lidl, Aldi

With a few exceptions, you’ll find that the scale of 1 to 6 above, also determines price, high to low.

In practice, you’ll find that some major brands have rods that fall into more than one category, the most common being companies that make their own premium-price rods but also sell an ‘entry-level’ line eg Orvis.

If it matters to you, ask your retailer or the manufacturer where your rod is built.

Can we fill this matrix?

Rod Name
Designed
Blank Made
Assembled
Bought
Sage X​
Sage USA​
Sage USA​
USA​
n/a​


A bit on Rod Weights
"Some say a rod has an optimum loading point and works best with that weight of line. I can’t see how that can be possible? Who decides on what the “optimum” line loading is? Which expert caster from the many good casters in the World, should be used as the benchmark for rating a rod's optimal loading? It is a daft notion isn't it?" David Norwich, rod builder.

You’ll see from David’s comments that fly rod weight can be more than a little controversial and you can get lost in weeks of bad tempered argument about it. I've got the T shirt.

Regardless of argument, rods are labelled by the manufacturer according to a particular weight of fly line that they think they are appropriate for. That weight of line is measured at 30' less the level tip and it's regardless of line taper. Please see the ‘Understanding Fly Lines’ thread for more information on fly lines.
https://www.flyfishing.co.uk/threads/understanding-fly-lines.617762/

Putting aside any controversy for the moment - we'll get into that in a minute - you may see at least three fly rod standards referred to:

The AFTM (Association of Fishing Tackle Manufacturers) System
The AFTMA (American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association)
The AFFTA (American Fly Fishers Trade Association)


They're all the same thing but AFTTA is the most recent. Here’s their chart:

Picture6.png


In the "Understanding Fly Lines" thread you'll find what weights are appropriate for what kind of fishing.

Rod Actions
You can think of rod action as moving from traditional to modern. The older split cane rods are usually very slow and whippy. That is, they bend throughout almost the length of the rod; from tip to a foot or so above the handle in a nice arc. Fibreglass rods too tend towards the slow, full-flex action, while modern carbon rods tend to be faster, bending most towards their tips. Some say these rods can be too fast for UK fishing as a lot of the modern American rods seem to be designed for casting tight loops a long way against a strong wind.

A slow rod flexes more and naturally creates a larger line loop which is associated with better presentation but less distance. In the right hands fast rods can create tight loops that propel a fly further. But fast rods are also harder for the less experienced caster as they provide less feedback (being able to feel the line load the rod) and require more precise timing.

For these reasons, most UK anglers go for the compromise of medium to tip action.

It's also worth mentioning that really slow, old fashioned-actioned carbon rods are rare these days. People wanting that kind of action in a rod are generally buying fibreglass or even bamboo.

Picture7.png


But like all things rod, the above is a very simple, maybe simplistic, way of understanding and describing rod action. In practice there is no standard at all for rod actions so rods can't be easily compared between manufacturers. Orvis attempted to introduce a standard but the industry wasn't interested. One difficulty is in definitions; people tend to blur words like 'power', 'stiffness', 'action', 'flex', 'speed', 'recovery' and 'frequency' and all are related and difficult to unscramble.

If you want to know more, this is a good summary

But there is an independent system that measures rod action called the Common Cents System (CCS, see later) it measures the degree of deflection of a rod under a load causing a deflection to a third of the rod length. The result is a measure of a rod's power (ERN) and its Action Angle (AA). The higher the AA number, the faster the rod. On serious casting sites you'll find it quoted alongside the rod's power rating (ERN). Unfortunately you won't find this on any rod or marketing material so one manufacturer's fast is another's medium/medium-fast. As a consequence, my Grey's rod is sold as fast but actually isn't.

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Of Springs, Levers and Loading
I'm told that not so long ago there was a big bust up on fly fishing forums about whether a rod was acting as a spring or a lever. The spring camp claiming that the weight of the line, being given force by the casting stroke, causes the rod to bend storing energy that's then liberated when the rod unloads at the end of the cast, propelling the line forward.

The lever camp saying no, the rod is providing mechanical advantage by extending the casting stroke.

Well it turns out that both sides are right, but the lever side is rightest. It's about 80:20 lever:spring for longer casts. The lever is technically a third class one - its fulcrum is at one end of the rod.

I only mention this because there's still soreness around and you will get picked up if you casually use the word "load" like you're priming a spring.

The 20% that is actually spring - ie stored energy - in the cast is very useful though, as it smooths out the cast and adds that 20% kick at the end of the stroke just when you need it. And if your rod didn't bend at all, playing a fish would be a far more difficult experience - we need that shock absorber effect to prevent line breaks.

If you use a bow-and-arrow cast, you would be correct in calling that a spring action. Just sayin'

If you want to go into it further, there's an excellent article here:



A little bit about Swing Weight
Swing weight is how 'heavy' a rod feels when it's in motion. If differs from the absolute deadweight, static measurement of a rod placed on scales.

In engineering terms it's its Moment of Inertia (MoI) as measured from an axis. In our world that means the effort we need to use to move the rod; the axis being the butt or the rod as we swing it. Rods of the same dead weight can feel heavier than others when swung - they need more effort for the same movement.

Because the swing weight works as a square of the distance from the butt, longer rods will feel heavier than shorter ones of the same dead weight.

And because of this square of distance calculation, rods of the same dead weight and same length will feel different when swung if their tips are heavier or lighter. The heavier tip rod will feel heavier when swung.

A heavier rod will always have a higher swing weight than a lighter rod.

Just get a light rod :)

For the technically minded

Rod Power
Things can get confused at this point as the two terms ‘action’ and ‘power’ seem to be used interchangeably when people are describing a rod. I’ve seen a ghillie push my rod into the ground to get a feel for how much it bent and where, and declared it ‘powerful’. I agreed because I could chuck quite a big lure with it, but now I think all he was doing was seeing its action – ie where it bent.

Power, when we're talking about rods, is actually a measure of stiffness, that is, how much the rod bends for a given weight, not where it bends for a given weight.

The image below demonstrates this. Up to a point, the stiffer a rod is, the more powerful we say it is. The AFTTA value given to the rod should tell us that, for example, a #7 weight rod is more powerful than a #5 weight rod but might have identical action ie bend in the same place.

1613067636239.png


Tim Rajeff of Echo rods' video providing a good explanation.
https://youtu.be/tHlJQUOm7wM

He's also pretty good at showing the relationship of a rod's power and its action. If you look carefully at the graph below (which is a comparison of his rods) you'll notice that you could draw a 45 degree line from the bottom left corner to the top right and it would be a pretty good fit with the data. Roughly then as rods get more powerful, they also get faster.

1627562744613.png


(Again, just to avoid messy accusations from pedants lovers of accuracy, rods do not possess power, there are no batteries in them, we have to provide the power. When speaking of rod power we're normally meaning its stiffness; technically its modulus of elasticity, Young's modulus or tensile modulus. Anyway, now you're warned.)

Which brings me to the Common Cents System (CCS). This is an idea born out of the frustration of the AFTTA system being entirely subjective.

“This was the question that Dr. William Hanneman asked himself some years ago as he pondered why no two 5-weight rods possessed the same amount of power. After all, just what makes a 5-weight rod a 5-weight rod? At what point does a 5-weight rod become a 6-weight rod? Contrary to popular belief, there is no standard nor system to quantify or measure rod power by objective means - that number you see on the side of your rod is a purely subjective rating.”
https://www.common-cents.info/CCS_basic_Layout_1.pdf

The CCS uses a number of simple techniques to objectively measure critical attributes of a rod - stiffness/power (ERN), action (AA) and frequency (CCF). Sadly (in my opinion), the rod making industry never formally adopted it, publicly at least. It is used a lot for custom and hobby rod building, many boutique rod builders and some major brands too. Echo and CTS used to publish their values but no longer. Gary Loomis in his new venture North Fork Composites business supports it.

This article by Steve Parton who was the guy behind the determination of Shakespeare's rod weighting for 20 years is well worth reading and demonstrates what an inexact process rod weight rating really is.


I've placed a long and detailed article on the CCS and rod building history in the post #2 below for those interested in the detail of it.



Rod Handles
There are several handle shapes but the three most popular are the Full and Half Wells and the cigar.

Picture8.png


You’ll find the Half Wells and cigars on smaller, lower weight rods and the Full Wells on heavier ones. The changeover usually occurs at around #7. No one knows why. Or do they?

Most fly rod handles are made of cork. It’s lightweight, waterproof, can be shaped easily and it’s traditional. It comes in grades, the one you’re looking for is AAA but in truth, it’s hard to find one that isn’t described as such from the major brands – even the cheap ones. (But you’ll still hear complaints about them.) The difference is in the fineness of the cork, you’re looking for no fillers that will inevitable fall out after a while.

On cheaper rods you can get foam EVA handles but they’re fairly rare. Personally, I think there’s an element of conforming to a traditional convention rather than utility here and some say that foam handles will eventually be adopted more universally. Surely if we can have space age technology in our rods we shouldn't be using 17th century technology in our handles?

The manifold handle is an attempt to think ergonomically about the task it does. It generally has to be retrofitted.
1610751232777.png


Rod Rings (Guides)

I'll randomly use "rings" and "guides" throughout this. Because I can.

Rod rings are of course a necessary part of all casting rods that use a reel. Their purpose is to guide the line smoothly through the rod and to distribute the load of the cast and fish along the rod's length.

The guides closest to the reel are the largest. The first ring - and often the second - is usually a full circle, cradle guide. It will be lined with a hard material - eg ceramic, aluminium oxide, tungsten carbide. Fuji rings are the most famous rings of this type.

1628507003744.png


The first guide is called the stripper guide, if there's a second it's actually called a tamer guide or transition ring but most of us would call it a smaller stripper ring.

After those two rings the two main types in use are snake rings...

1628507558529.png


... or traditional circular rings with two legs...

1628507636823.png


.... or single legs

1628507805361.png


Finally there's a tip ring
1628507924796.png


Single leg guides could be slightly lower in weight that double legs (including whippings) and snakes lower than cradles.

Two legs tend to stiffen a rod slightly - which is, of course, is either good or bad depending on the rod design.

There's no real consensus on what's best - cradles or snake, but there's a theory that because they're open, snake rings can cause 'line slap'. This is where the fly line hits the blank creating resistance. If true, Sage got it wrong as they use snakes on thier premium casting rods after the first two cradle guides.

All about Price
Oh, yes.

The “cost of rods” thread on this forum has over 2,800 posts on 141 pages. It’s a subject we all appear to be interested in from those prepared to spend many thousands of pounds on premium rod collections to those searching the Maxcatch site for cheap Chinese imports.

If someone asks for a recommendation for a 9’ #5 rod he’ll get as many different recommendations as replies and he’ll have no way of knowing which is best for what he can afford.

In the hope of finding some more objective way of establishing which was the ‘best’ rod for a particular price I started researching. And, of course, it’s not easy - in fact, it’s virtually impossible - to find objective answers. The only reviews I’ve been able to find that actually attempt to measure the claims made by manufacturers are those done annually by Yellowstone and Trident tackle shops in the USA.

They test and report on many aspects of a rod but there are two particular variables that are actually measurable, not just opinion or preference; they are performance, which is defined as casting accuracy at 25’, 45’ and 70’ targets and price ($). Using the results from 7 annual tests I graphed these (and other variables) to see if there was a relationship with price.

In all but one test I could find no statistical relationship between price and performance.

Here are all Yellowstone’s performance and price data for 2013 through to 2019 shootouts poured into one chart. 156 rods of differing weights. (I've adjusted for different scoring conventions used in different years.)

1591194609165.png


So what is it saying?

1. The Y axis (vertical) is performance. The X axis (horizontal) is price ($).

2. The R2 value is a measure of statistical correlation which is asking the question, 'is there a relationship between price and performance?' To be pretty confident of a relationship, statisticians need a value of about 0.4 or higher so, as it's only 0.18, all we can say is that if there is one, it’s weak.

3. If you look at some of the individual price and performance points you can see why.

- At a performance score of 70 you can buy a rod for $400 or $800
- For $1500 you can buy a rod that performs no better than one at $625 and only very marginally better than one costing $250
- The $800 price point is very popular for premium rods but half of them are performing at the same level as $200 rods.
- For pretty much every price point you can find a good performing rod and a much poorer performing rod.
- No rods perform terribly, and if you look at the spread - ignoring the outliers - all rods hang in a range between 75 and 90. While, again ignoring outliers, price spreads from around $175 to $900. ie, there are steep diminishing returns if you are attempting to buy performance – even if you manage to choose the right rod.
It’s also fair to say that, with a few exceptions, all these rods are good rods.

If you read the ‘cost of rods’ thread you’ll find hundreds of pages of heated argument about these graphs with many complaints about methodologies and integrity and competence of the testers (and the analyst). But the same conclusions are found in the Trident shootouts and there is also a distance casting test published on the Sexyloops site that comes to the same conclusion.
https://www.sexyloops.com/articles/8rod.shtml

When we get several different experiments by different experimenters giving the same answer we get a good indication that the conclusion is probably correct.

So, what does this mean? Well to put it simply if you knew nothing at all about rods you could not walk into a shop, buy the most expensive and expect it to be the best performing rod in there. (In fact, the most expensive rod is never the best performing rod, often because it is loaded with expensive cosmetics.) Some inexpensive rods perform very well and some expensive ones perform less well. You can't be sure that buying an expensive rod will get you a better performing rod.


Buyer beware.

You should also note that these tests never include really low-cost rods like Shakespeare, yet many Shakespeare rods can be very good fishing tools indeed. This is only because the two shops refuse to stock low cost rods. Similarly, when there are reviews in the Trout and Salmon magazines, low price rods are rarely included.

"I personally feel that rods in the £100 to £200 price range represent the best value for money in today's market. In fact I'm finding it almost impossible to justify the high prices of some rods." Our own Rob Edmunds, match angler, former Troutmasters Champion. Trout Fisherman, June.

A few years ago, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to fish for salmon in Russia (I’ve now repeated this once in a lifetime experience twice more :). I had a 24-year-old Argentinian guide for the week and caught my first salmon in the first hour. At the end of the day he took my £150 Greys GR50 trout rod and double-hauled the Barrio line to the backing, reverse cast it an equal length, snake rolled it around then whipped the fly back to himself catching it on the rod before handing it back to me. That 'cheap Hardy' as he called it could do a vast amount more than I'm still capable of doing with it. I decided then that there's absolutely no point me spending any more money on a rod without learning how to use the one I've got better first. So I find myself disagreeing with Yellowstone when they say this. But, of course, their job is to sell expensive rods…

"Some people might consider high priced rods status symbols. For others, seeing how a rod performs in an expert caster’s hands, convinces them it would make them great anglers as well, or at least take them to the next level. Surprisingly, this is often true. Great rods don’t make great casters, but there is no doubt that they will improve any angler’s casting skills and his ability to catch fish. Don’t fret about the price – you’ll find some ingenious way to sneak it into your collection of rods without the mrs. (or mr.) finding out." Yellowstone Angler.

Far, far more important than what label is on your rod, is that your line and rod are a matched pair. It’s really hard casting a line that doesn’t suit your rod. Put a £100 line on a £1,000 rod and unless they’re balanced you might as well be using Geoffrey’s rhubarb.

And let's not forget ability. An instructor told me that casting is 70% caster and 30% gear. I reckon it’s almost 100% caster until you can get to a level of competence where you’re able to squeeze the potential performance out of whatever stuff you have. If you’ve ever watched someone casting with a broom handle or even just their arm you begin to get a clue. Here’s Marina Gibson casting without a rod:


Ownership and the pleasure of nice things
As an ordinary caster and one who is allergic to spending unnecessary cash I need to address my bias a bit and point out that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying expensive stuff if that’s what floats your fly.

Nice things are nice to have and the one thing that actually does have strong correlation with price, is quality of build. Spending more gets you better fixtures and fittings. Having said that, none of the rods in the Yellowstone or Trident shootouts are poor quality so you pay a lot for small increases.

Even so, it’s nice to own and use quality stuff.

Classic rods
There are rods that were comprehensively the best in their time and built wonderful reputations, what are they, could we ever agree? Well probably not but a discussion here came up with this list from about 50 mentions, in order

Loomis GLX
Sage SLT
Sage RPL
Redington NTi
Hardy Zenith

Breaking Rods
Modern fly rods are very strong but also fragile – they can be broken very easily by hitting them with anything hard and/or sharp. Standing on a rod or trapping it in a car door or electric wing mirrors (yes, I did) will snap it instantly. Jam the tip into the ground while walking or stupidly poke it into a tree trying to retrieve a fly (yes, I did) will also accomplish the task with surprisingly little effort.

More surprisingly, hitting the rod with a weighted fly can also break your rod, not perhaps immediately, but when it’s next put under pressure such as when you play a fish. Any small nick in the blank can weaken it terminally.

Manufacturing defects can cause rod breakages but they are likely to occur when you first put pressure on your rod and you generally see them as a clean break. A break that leaves a large jagged area – a delamination break, a ‘delam’ – is generally evidence of an overloaded rod.

[…] these high-modulus, high-strain-rate, thin-walled rods are extremely strong and are highly unlikely ever to break under normal use. Almost all rods are damaged by other means – an angler accidentally stepping on them, hitting them against a hard surface while casting, or storing them where a toolbox or some other heavy object can slide into them. Then, with the damage done, the rod collapses while under the stress of fighting a fish. So while high-modulus, high-strain-rate rods are not brittle, they do require more care in storage and transport.“ G.Loomis Corp

It’s almost impossible to break a medium weight rod by just trying to lift a dead weight, it takes a lot of strength and courage to achieve it. But you can easily snap it in your hands by applying a small force over a short area. Here’s a great video of Tim Rajeff at Echo breaking rods to explain how and why they break.


Paper on rod break forms and causes.


Warranties
Pretty much all big brand manufacturers provide some sort of lifetime warranty system over and above the normal 12-month guarantee that retailers must provide.

But how can an object that is so fragile be guaranteed? Some anglers love these guarantees and others are deeply suspicious of them. Obviously, the cost of warranties have to be inbuilt into the price. What would the rod cost be without the warranties and why do we have no choice but to buy one?

If you cast your mind back to the price/cost of rods section you’ll see that the speculation is that rods actually cost very little and sections of rods are obviously a fraction of that. Are the manufacturers making a profit out of fulfilling their warranties? Still, if you’ve just spent £800 on a rod, I can see why you want insurance.

To find out what your warranty covers, for how long and for how much, you’ll have to read the small print. But as a guide here’s Yellowstone’s analysis of rod warranties just remember that this is for the USA buyer, UK may be different.

“Nearly all manufacturers now have some kind of limited “Lifetime warranty.” Well, the Orvis unconditional guarantee is only 25 years. However, nearly all manufacturers are charging a “handling fee” of $25-$100 to repair or replace your broken rod. In addition it will cost you $15 or more to ship your rod in for repair or have your local dealer do it for you.

The Loomis NRX LP gets a perfect score of 10 for their excellent Expeditor repair program which costs $100, but returns the angler a brand new rod, not a repaired one, in just a few days! The Expeditor policy on the IMX Pro is $85.00. This same Expeditor service applies to the Asquith but the fee is $275 for 2nd day air. Because of the cost, we downgraded the Asquith to 7 points. As part of the Expeditor policy, Loomis includes a FedEx call tag so that you don’t have to spend any money to send the broken rod back.
For broken rods that are not registered to the original owners, most companies are going to charge you $150 or more for repairs. Below the final results charts we give you the exact repair charges for each manufacturer.

Here is a recap of each manufacturer’s current policy, their latest fees and what we have experienced for repair time required. Remember that it will cost you an additional $15 or more to send your rod in unless you are using the G. Loomis Expeditor program.

Douglas – Lifetime warranty. $35 handling fee. Rods are repaired, not replaced unless broken. Usually takes 1-2 weeks.

Fenwick- Lifetime warranty. $25 handling fee. Broken sections are replaced. Sometimes the whole rod is replaced. If Fenwick determines that there was a defect, the rod will be repaired or replaced at no charge. Usually takes 2 weeks.

Hardy – Lifetime warranty to original owner. $75 handling fee. Rods are repaired or sections replaced. Shipping is from their US warehouse, usually takes 2 weeks.

G. Loomis – Lifetime warranty to original owner. If you feel your rod has broken because of a defect, you pay to send the rod to their warranty dept. and they examine it. If the rod is broken because of a defect, or while fishing, replacement is free. No handling fee. If broken from neglect or any other cause, you must use the Expeditor service. You call in and incur a credit card of $100 but you get a brand new rod in 3-4 days. The Expeditor service for the NRX or NRX LP rods is $100, while the IMX Pro rods are $85.00. The Expeditor service fee for the Asquith rods is $250.00 for ground or $275 for 2-day air. With your new rod they include a FedEx call tag so that it does not cost you anything to return your broken rod.

Loop – Lifetime warranty to original owner. $60 handling fee. Rods are repaired or sections replaced. Same day or next day shipping if they have the parts in stock, if not, usually takes 2 weeks.

Mystic – Lifetime warranty to original owner. $50 handing fee. Rods are replaced. Usually takes 1-2 weeks.

Orvis – 25 year warranty to original owner. $60 handling fee. Rod is repaired, or sections replaced. Usually takes 2-4 weeks.

Sage – Lifetime warranty to original owner. $25 handling fee on current rods. $75 on recent rods within 10 years, $125 on classic older rods. Rods are repaired, not replaced except for broken sections. Often takes 4-6 weeks.

Scott – Lifetime warranty to original owner, $50 handling fee. Rods are repaired, not replaced, except for broken sections. Usually takes 2-4 weeks.

St. Croix – Lifetime warranty to original owner, $85 handling fee. Rods are repaired, not replaced except for broken sections. Usually takes 2-4 weeks.

Taylor – Lifetime warranty to original owner. One year warranty on hardware and guides. $50 handling fee. Rods are repaired or replaced. Usually takes 1-2 weeks.

Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) – Lifetime warranty to original owner. $35 handling fee. Rods are either replaced with a new rod or the broken section is replaced. Usually takes 1-2 weeks.

Thomas and Thomas – $55 repair charges for the original owner, includes shipping. Non-original owner $150 per section. You must register the new rod within 30 days.

R.L. Winston – Lifetime warranty to original owner. $75 handling fee to original owner, $150.00 charge to all others. Rods are repaired, not replaced. Usually takes 4-6 weeks. New rods must be registered at time of purchase.
Yellowstone.


My own experience is with Greys here in the UK. I was charged £30 for a replacement section and it was delivered 3 days later. I was delighted.

Discussion - The Controversy
If you have read the 'Understanding fly lines' thread you will know that line manufacturers often overweight their lines.

"An engineer by training, my brain desperately hopes that the industry strictly followed the standards, at least for a while. One thing I do know for sure is that line manufacturers no longer follow that standard in most cases. It is actually rather challenging to find a modern fly line that conforms to AFFTA Standards. And, if you are like me, who typically really likes how rods cast when lined at or near the AFFTA Standard, just buying a fly line based on a product description and a numerical line rating on the box NO LONGER WORKS MOST OF THE TIME!."


When Trident tested 43 lines from 9 manufacturers they found that a third of them were overweight and none underweight.


Some do this deliberately and tell you about it - eg, the Orvis Clearwater line is 0.5 times overweight, the Rio Outbound Short is 3 times overweight. Both are useful tools for their stated purpose - but many don't tell you that their #5 weight line is actually nearer a #7. Why would they do this?

The answer is a very strange one, they appear to be doing it because rod makers are often under-weighting their rods; a very light, fast rod with #5 on the label may be objectively nearer a #7.

In fact, the rod weight labelled by manufacturers is only a 'guide'. Also the AFFTA standard is only advisory even for the line industry itself. For rods it always was simply a subjective opinion, but now there is, in effect, no standard for lines as a third of them are overweight at 30', and rod makers no longer feel the need to build their rods around that original 30' standard either. So the number on both the rod and the line is really a bit of a question mark. Both rods and lines are now being made for specialist - what they often describe as 'technical' - fishing situations. To match rod and line these days, you really must read and understand the full marketing descriptions of both (It's best to do this from the manufacturer's own site as retailers often truncate the description of the product they sell.)

"This may come as a bit of a shock, but there is no industry adopted standard for rating the power of fly rods - none. There is a well established industry standard to measure the weight of fly lines - but many manufacturers make fly lines outside the standard, seemingly just doing their own thing."
Epic Rods.


He goes on to explain why:

"... it’s clear that one company's 7 weight is another companies 5. And, if you want to present the market with a more powerful, stiff rod, simply build what could be called a 7 and label it as a 5."

He names Sage as a routine 'offender'. There are two well regarded older Sage rods that originally demonstrated the point: the TCR and the SLT. The TCR is designed for long - competition long - casts and high line speeds and therefore works to its optimum well past the 30' standard of line outside the rod tip. It actually comes out at #7.2 in the CCS table.

The Sage SLT in contrast has a slow action, is good for shorter casts and lower line speed and is a true #5 according to CCS. Both are labelled #5 but have a large power difference between them - more than #2 line weights (44%).

Bear in mind that lines weigh more as more of their length is aerialised. So a rod designed to load comfortably at 30' might struggle once twice that length of line is aerialised because it's carrying more load. Whereas a more powerful rod might lack feeling with a short line but love a lot of line outside the rod tip.

Expert casters here say that a #5 line works well on both the Sage SLT and the TCR and they clearly do; the SLT should because it's the correct weight for the standard and the TCR wins casting competitions. But as a fishing rod is the TCR actually only beginning to work with 60'+ of line out? Here's a slide from a presentation by Simon Gawseworth that demonstrates the relationship between length of line and the weight the rod is carrying.

Screenshot 2021-04-07 at 13.34.52.png


However, casting experts here talk of casting short from the tip and long from the butt - a rod that can do both, they say is genius, and such rods exist. I have to take their word for that. My own experience with such rods - bearing in mind I am an experienced but not an expert caster - is that they cast well at distance once you get over their lack of obvious early feedback and can also be cast short, but with no feel at all.

I'd also add, that while these stiff fast rods are used by competition casters to cast distances of 120+' (#5 line and #5 rod), the same guys can cast a line almost as far with a 'normal' #5 wt fishing rod. Don't imagine that your medium actioned, true to weight 9’ #5 rod used for little spey casts on your river can't also chuck a line a long way - it can; but only if you can.

With new technologies capable of creating very light, very fast rods that are underrated we are now tending to see rods separating into two categories called casting rods or power rods (fast and stiff) and fishing rods or presentation rods (slower and true to AFFTA weight).

If you add to this the fact that individuals bring their own personal, casting styles and experience to casting, you finish with a real dilemma - how can a rod, line, fishing situation and angler be matched properly?

The starting point is to do a lot of research on the rod so that you don't buy entirely the wrong one for your job - don't just think that it says #5 so it'll do. Read what the manufacturer says is its intended purpose and find as many reviews as you can. It's probably still best to buy a line the same weight as the rod; after all, that's what the manufacturer recommends and it's generally accepted that all rods will work well within at least one and usually two weights of its label. You may have to experiment a bit with line length and action, but it will work.

In broad terms, there are two kinds of casting we do, the overhead casts that we use almost universally on still waters and the change of direction spey casts and roll casts on rivers. (But of course we can do both on either.) Within reason we can use any weight of rod and any sort of line for both those circumstances and there are all-rounders that will do all jobs competently - according to your skill - but you'll get the best out of both rod and line by matching them. If you want to routinely cast 75'+ double-hauling on your still water you're best with a stiff, fast rod and a long bodied line (45'+). If you're spey and roll casting down a small river, a softer rod with a shorter, heavier headed line makes life easier.

For dry fly work you can have all sorts of answers but so long as your casting is up to snuff and you don't have to cast a mile to the fish, a softer action rod and a line with a slowly tapering head and long body tends to be recommended.

Try before buy is always touted as the answer but it's very difficult for most of us to find a fly fishing outfitter where you can do that - we have to do most of our retail work on line now.

The best answer for a beginner is to get casting lessons. They serve two purposes, the first and most important being that if you become a good caster, you can adapt to be able to use anything and also know what you're looking for in a rod and line and, importantly, it lasts for life. The second is to take the teacher's advice on what tackle to buy, then forget about it and think only about fishing.

If you're a beginner or just have no interest in all this technical stuff and want a forgiving general purpose rod that's a true #5 ask for one with an ERN of 5.5 or near, with a medium to medium fast action. Sadly, it's unlikely they'll have a clue what you're talking about.

Here's a short video on a practical use of the CCS


A rod’s a rod for A’ that
Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Hardy,
What's Hardy? it is nor cork, nor carbon,
Nor ring nor ferrule, nor any other part
Belonging to a rod. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rod
By any other name would cast as sweet;
So Hardy would, were he not Hardy call'd,
Reel in that dear Perfection which it owns
Without that title. Hardy, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of ability
Cast all myself.

Shakespeare (Agility)

I've never heard the question ”what rod did you catch that on mate?" Have you?


I'll leave you with this video, it's quite a thoughtful piece on using differing weight lines on the same rod. Turns out you can ;-)

Tight lines, Tangle



Further Reading and Miscellany

Steve Parton (Sparton) The true cost of rods

http://www.sexyloops.com/sparton/graphiterods.shtml

Gary Loomis His story and How Rods are Made

https://www.itinerantangler.com/blog/podcasts/2011/06/14/from_scratch_how_fly_rods_are/

US Rod Builders website – big resource and forum
https://www.rodbuilding.org

Paul Arden Fly Rod Design & Testing

Wildman in the Forest – Paul Arden’s Hot Torpedo. It’s craft not science.
https://www.sexyloops.com/index.php/ps/reviews
(If you want to see what an expert caster can do with a rod, join the video at 24mins 50secs)

UK Boutique Rod Builders
There are still a few rod builders that make small volume and custom rods in the UK. You can get beautiful rods built to your specification at a very reasonable price from these guys. (This isn’t a recommendation – I’ve never bought or used any of them.)

Steve Parks at Atomsix
http://www.atomsix.co.uk/

Mike Bell at BlokeRods
http://www.blokerods.co.uk/

Roger McCourtney
http://www.peregrinerods.co.uk/

One of the few remaining UK rod blank manufacturers is
Stephen Harrison
https://www.harrisonrods.co.uk

Dave Hughes makes the Lohric Fly rod from Harrison blanks
https://www.edencustomrods.co.uk/

Chas Burns also uses Harrison blanks I believe
http://www.burnsbuiltrods.co.uk


Simon Barnes at Simba Rods

Videos I couldn't include (space limit)
This is our very own David Norwich making rods (2010)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9QWWozl6mg&ab_channel=Howitsmade

This is Thomas and Thomas making rods (2015)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9QWWozl6mg&ab_channel=Howitsmade

Hardy test video
https://youtu.be/MGJRnYPrkdk

Making carbon fibre prepreg at scale - BMW
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-8m0CHtEPw&ab_channel=SMRTGadget
 

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Tangled

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Messages
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This is an article written by Bill Hanneman for Rod Maker Magazine. It's long and gets complicated but it QI, particularly the first half or so.

Fly Rod Evolution, Fast Action Rods, and Common Cents

Introduction

From this author’s point of view and confining this discussion to just the past 100 years, one can divide fly rod evolution into three major periods—bamboo, fiberglass, and graphite.
Due to its intrinsic fibrous nature, rod makers were able to construct reasonably lightweight bamboo rods which were a pleasure to cast.

However, the skill and expertise required for their construction made these rods relatively expensive. After WW II, anglers had more money, less expensive foreign made rods became available, and fly fishing became a fast growing activity.

Also, after WW II, synthetic plastic materials became available and soon fiberglass fishing rods made their appearance. They have been with us ever since. Coinciding with the introduction of fiberglass was the introduction of spin fishing. Utilizing strong limber rods and monofilament lines, anglers could cast very light lures for considerable distances—a technique eagerly embraced by the angling public.

Also, because of the advantages which fiberglass offered, it was not long before fiberglass fly rods became readily available. At this point, fly rod and spinning rod designs branched—not to rejoin for almost 40 years.

Fly fishing, from its beginnings, has been steeped in tradition. Part of this tradition includes what we call the “feel” of bamboo. Because of its nature, bamboo has a relatively slow rate of recovery after bending. This rate of recovery can be measured in terms of frequency (cycles per unit of time). It is also a function of the weight of the rod tip and taper. Bamboo, however, did recover faster than the previously used greenheart or lance wood, and that is the main reason it became the material of choice for fly rods. Anglers wanted a faster recovering, lighter rod and bamboo provided it.

The frequency (recovery rate) of any fishing rod is primarily a function of its stiffness to weight ratio. Since fiberglass is not limited by the intrinsic physical properties of bamboo, frequency became an important variable in rod design. Designers of new fishing rods could now exploit the full potential of fiberglass, and they did.

However, fly rod design was internally limited by the tradition of having “slow” actions, i.e., the rod first appreciably bends in its lower portion closer to the butt. To produce such rods required the retention of the relatively stiff tips which had become the hallmark of bamboo rods. All of this resulted in rods which inherently exhibit low response rates (frequencies) and demand a slow relaxed casting stroke. In order to sell their products to fly anglers, rod makers had to continue making rods with that traditional slow action.

Simultaneous with the development of fiberglass was the influx of the post war anglers who had no sentimental attachment to bamboo and accepted this new material and the advantages it offered. The introduction of fiberglass to all fishing rod manufacturing represented a milestone. At last, the major hurdle of increasing the rod strength to weight ratio was overcome. Later, the introduction of graphite and/or other composites merely represented an incremental technological improvement.

As anglers wished to cast their lines farther and land larger and larger fish, the concept of increasing the ratio of the strength of the butt to the strength of the tip became more acceptable. The net result was rods became more powerful.

While weight reduction was very important, traditional “feel” dictated fiberglass rods still be constructed with slow actions. At the same time, fiberglass allowed for making rods having fast actions, weak tips, and stronger butts. This spawned a whole new product—spinning rods. The typical spinning rod can be considered to be a fast action (i.e., flexes close to the tip) fly rod having an “ungodly” strong butt.

With fiberglass, it was a simple matter to design rods having any type of action or any degree of stiffness desired. For over 50 years, this author has happily fly fished small streams using an ultra light weight spinning rod fitted with an appropriate fly line. Granted the action of the rod was much faster than that of a bamboo rod, but what one does not know about or feel deeply about, one does not miss. One simply learns to match the frequency of one’s casting stroke to the frequency of one’s rod and line. Such a rod may not feel like bamboo, but it is still an excellent tool for catching trout.

One important feature (either an advantage or disadvantage depending on one’s point of view) of a fast action rod is that it initially flexes at its weak tip, and as more pressure is applied, the rod flexes more and more towards its stronger butt. A slow action rod, on the other hand has a strong tip which forces the flex to initially occur nearer the butt and consequently the rod does not have as much of a reservoir of power.

A slow action rod (sometimes referred to as soft action) is built to utilize the full flex of the rod and exhibits a softer “consistent” feel throughout its “optimum range of operation.” On the other hand, the flex of a fast action rod varies with the load applied, and, while its “entire range of operation” is much larger, its “optimum range for any given load” is smaller. This is why fast action rods are “less forgiving.”

With fiberglass fly rods mired in the lore and tradition of bamboo (i.e., effectively defined and limited by low frequency and slow action), it required the introduction of graphite, an entirely new material which was not so encumbered, to create the breakthrough to the modern fly rod period.

The Age of Graphite
Since the advent of spinning rods had already demonstrated the advantages of synthetic materials and how to design rods using them, from the standpoint of fly rod design, this breakthrough amounted to little more than morphing fly rods back into spinning rods. Now, after 40 or so years, the designs, in many cases, are virtually interchangeable.

However, the commercial success of this design change was predicated on convincing fly anglers that rods having higher frequencies and faster actions should be considered “better fly rods.” This then became a project of marketing departments, and they have done their job well, as witnessed by the rise of Sage rods.

Let me quote from their literature. “Years of fly fishing experience had taught Don (Green, a founder of Sage) that fly rods should never run out of “power.” While there might be fishing scenarios where the full power and flex of a fly rod were not utilized by the angler, the best designs were those that always held power in reserve. Hence, the name Reserve Power was given to the new style of fly rod Don developed for extra long casts or for windy conditions. The name was abbreviated to RP. This was the first major series of fly rods that Sage released in 1982 and they quickly became the most talked about fly rods in the world.”
The success of fiberglass had been predominately due to its weight savings relative to bamboo, and now graphite offered even more. One manufacturer even advertised its rods “felt two weights lighter.” The net effect was one could construct graphite rods which were even lighter and stiffer than their predecessors, and the public liked that—but what to call them?

Without a system for rating relative rod power, but since the introduction of the AFTMA standards for fly lines, a fly rod had begun to be rated on the basis of its power relative to the weight of line it was designed to cast. This, however, was the subjective opinion of its designer rather than an objective measurement. While a 5-Weight rod was originally considered as one which was designed to cast 30 feet of an AFTMA No. 5 line, today, its only requirement is that the rod be labeled “5-Weight.”

Essentially, Sage recognized that if everyone else subscribed to the idea that a 5-Weight rod was “loaded” by an AFTMA #5 line and “over loaded” by a #6 line, they could construct a rod which would not be over loaded by a #6 line and call it a 5-Weight rod having Reserve Power. Truly a brilliant marketing plan, and it worked. Unfortunately, it set off a Power Race, and today, no one can define exactly what a 5-Weight rod is and how one can tell when a 5-Weight rod becomes a 6-Weight rod. Clearly there was a need to be able to objectively characterize all fly rods.

Characterizing Fly Rods
Since fly rods are made to be sold, one might expect them to be described in such a manner a prospective customer can know exactly what he is purchasing. To that end, most catalogs list a rod’s Length, Number of sections, Weight (oz.), Price, Line Wt., and Action. The first four categories are simple and straight forward. The latter two, “Line Weight” and “Action” appear to be specific, but as experienced fly rod builders recognize, without precise definitions, those terms are essentially meaningless. Nevertheless, the average angler is unaware of this fact and it appears many rod sellers would prefer to keep it this way. Without these definitions, any seller is free to create a rod of any strength and action and, if he feels such a designation will produce the most sales, designate it a “5-Weight Fast Action Rod.”

This has resulted in sellers stressing the point that one should always cast a rod before purchasing it. This effectively takes all responsibility relative to describing the actual action and power of the rod away from the seller and appears to make it immaterial. This then places the buyer in the position of having to choose the least offensive (or best feeling) rod from the very limited choices available to him at any given fly shop.

While this approach is successful in the case of the general public, it cannot accommodate the mail-order angler who has no ready access to a local fly shop. It is also of little help to an experienced angler who knows exactly what he wants when he purchases a new rod. More importantly, it offers no assistance whatsoever to the sophisticated custom rod builder who wishes to purchase a blank having precisely defined characteristics.

In order to solve these problems, the Common Cents System was devised and it has received wide acceptance among those who wish to objectively describe and/or compare the intrinsic properties of any and all fly rods, irrespective of manufacturer. Full details of the system were published in RodMaker Magazine (Volume 6, issues 2, 3, 4 and Volume 8, issue 1) and are available on the internet at www.common-cents.info/.

Common Cents System (CCS)The CCS employs the term Intrinsic Power (IP) to quantitate the strength, power, or stiffness of a fly rod in terms of the relative amount of weight required to deflect or bend the rod a distance equivalent to one third of its length. IP can also be expressed in terms of Common Cents (i.e., the number required to so bend the rod), or Effective Rod Number (ERN). IP can also be mathematically related to the Weight of Line (WL) which will so flex the rod. The weight of one cent equals 2.5 grams.

Another term called Action Angle (AA) is incorporated to describe the angle the flexed rod tip forms with the horizon and is used as a description of the action of the rod in numerical terms. Finally, a third term called Common Cents Frequency (CCF) is invoked to describe the frequency of “one’s fly rod outfit,” i.e., the combination of both the fly rod and the fly line. These three terms have been condensed into a single term called the Defined Bending Index (DBI) which is written in the form of DBI=ERN/AA/CCF.

However, experience has shown additional terms are required to better describe the latest fast action fly rods. The following paragraphs describe my approach to this situation.
These new addenda are directed towards refining the CCS determination of IP or ERN of a fly rod. They recognize that as graphite fly rods were made lighter and stiffer, this increase was usually effected by increasing the strength of the rod butt relative to its tip. However, this also has the effect of increasing both the ERN of the rod and its Action Angle (AA), as well as its Common Cents Frequency (CCF)—thereby creating entirely different stronger products.
As this approach was carried towards its logical conclusion (e.g., Sage with their TCR-5 rod) the fly rod morphed back into a spinning rod having a very strong butt for lifting and/or casting more weight and a much weaker tip. This gave rise to the saying, “Cast with the tip and fight with the butt”—a marked contrast to the traditional bamboo and fiberglass rods with their stiff tips and weaker butts.

For the purpose of this treatise, one can effectively consider the modern fast action fly rod to be a composite of three separate components—a short low IP or ERN fly rod attached by an intermediate strength middle section to the top of a very stiff butt section. Consequently, since the IP or ERN as originally measured by the CCS conceptually represents an “average” value of this intermediate section, this single value could not convey a completely accurate description of the entire rod. However, by means of the BIG (Bending Index Graph) Picture described in RodMaker Volume 6, issue 2 such a description could be constructed. (See Article 2, page 2)

Tip Power (TP)
The BIG Picture is a graphical plot of the ERN or IP of a fly rod being measured at different distances from the tip and plotted against the corresponding value of AA. For most fly rods, it assumes the shape of a U lying on its side. It ranges from the strong tip to an intermediate mid section which is followed by a stiffening butt to the final IP or ERN, as shown in Article 2, page 2.

In slow action rods, a much stronger tip is followed by a weaker mid section which does not get appreciably stronger as it goes towards the butt. The BIG Picture appears more like a J or an L, as Curve D in Article 2, page 3. In very fast action rods, however, the tip is very weak while the butt gets progressively much stronger. This is shown in curve E.

One will note that in all of these Figures, there is a point (at a distance of approximately one third or less of the length of the rod from its tip) where the plot of ERN vs AA reaches a minimum value. This minimum value has been assigned the name Tip Power (TP) and represents the relative strength of the rod tip. While the value is measured on the abscissa scale, the numerical result is reported as TP, not ERN. However, it is recognized that in “non technical” speaking, one might say the TP of a given rod is “equivalent” to a short rod of that length having the same ERN. (Technically, the method of measurement of TP is slightly different from that of ERN.)

In order to incorporate this information in a useful fashion, the DBI can now be rewritten in a new form, as shown below:
DBI = ERN (TP)/AA/CCF

To illustrate this, the reader is asked to again consider the curves (Figures) from my article on the BIG Picture. The usefulness of this approach should then become clearer.
In Figure 2, the following DBIs describe the rods. (CCF was not determined.)

ERN / degrees Cents / degrees Grains / degrees
Rod A: DBI = 7.8 (5.5) / 60 64 (44) / 60 2363 (1685) / 60
Rod B: DBI = 7.8 (4.9) / 65 64 (40) / 65 2363 (1414) / 65
Rod C: DBI = 7.4 (3.8) / 70 58 (33) / 70 2239 (1278) / 70

In Figure 3, the DBIs are:
Rod D: DBI = 3.1 (2.6) / 68 28 (25) / 68 1076 (946) / 68
Rod E: DBI = 6.5 (2.6) / 78 51 (25) / 78 1973 (946) / 78

Some of the relationships one might expect resulting from differences in ERN or IP, TP, AA, and CCF are summarized below.
The greater the AA, the lower the TP.
The faster the rod (higher AA), the greater the difference between ERN or IP and TP.
The smaller the difference between ERN or IP and TP, the “softer” the rod.
The smaller the difference between ERN or IP and TP, the slower the tip speed and the lower the CFF (not illustrated in this example).
The greater the difference between ERN or IP and TP, the greater the range of lines the rod can handle, However, the “working range” for each line will be smaller and one’s casting skills must be greater, as the rod will be less forgiving.

Note: The reader should be aware that while the BIG Pictures are usually drawn with units of ERN and Weight in cents as the calibration of the abscissa, the fundamental unit of weight of the CCS is grains. The ranges for the various ERN or IP values are defined by the Rosetta Stone. Most importantly, one must recognize that these ranges trace their origin back to the original AFTMA standards and the arbitrary ranges defined at that time were not strictly linear. Consequently, extrapolations outside of any particular range of ERN or IP are not valid. While the credit or blame for that situation belongs entirely to the AFTMA, the Rosetta Stone provides the correct translation.

Power Reservoir (PR)
All fly anglers recognize the distance one can cast a fly depends primarily on the energy one puts into the casting stroke. For the most part, that energy is used to load or flex the rod. If one wishes to cast farther, one increases the speed of his stroke and ultimately provides more speed to the line. That, however, is a subjective action on the part of the caster. However, if one wishes to objectively compare fly rods of differing intrinsic properties, it is imperative to standardize the testing parameters. That is precisely what the CCS has done.
As originally conceived, the CCS was developed to characterize typical fly rods for trout which were sold under the designations of #2 to #6-Weight rods which would be expected to perform satisfactorily when used with the corresponding AFTMA No. 2 to No. 6 fly lines. These lines had been standardized on the basis of the weight of the first 30 feet of line.
Consequently, the CCS was developed around these standardized lines and casts of 30 feet without any haul by the “average” angler. An arbitrary decision was made to compare rods which had been flexed (loaded) to the extent that the rod tip had been deflected a distance equal to one third of the rod’s length.

The success of this approach was immediately recognized and there was a demand the CCS be extended to incorporate all fly rods. This was done and the results summarized in the “Rosetta Stone of Fly Lines and Rods.” All of this was well and good and for the first time the powers of fly rods of all kinds could be objectively compared.

Since the comparison of fly rod power was based on the weight of the corresponding lines, it was reasonable to relate the power of the rod to the weight of the line, but one must remember we are speaking here of a traditional cast of 30 feet of aerialized line and no haul. However well this worked for those conditions, the fact remained that for the heavier modern rods, anglers wished to cast the full lengths of their lines. This required the introduction of hauls, double hauls, special lines of varying tapers, and most of all casting strokes which flexed their rods far more than one third of their lengths.

Since hauls, double hauls, special lines, tapers, and casting speed are all variables controlled by the caster, they fall outside the domain of the CCS which is concerned only with the intrinsic properties of the rod, itself. While the original CCS data is still valid for all fly rods and the just introduced TP (Tip Power) provides additional information, there is still a need to characterize the the power of a rod which can be released by flexing it a distance greater than one third of its length.

In my previous article on Common Cents Frequency (CCF) in RodMaker Volume 8, Issue 1, (Part 4), I showed how the tip speed of a fly rod could be related to the CCF of the rod and the degree to which it was flexed. Now, with the introduction of a new intrinsic property which I will call Power Reservoir (PR), one can assign a numerical value to the resulting power of the “super flexed” rod. The astute reader will immediately recognize the similarity between the terms PR and Sage’s RP. However, while RP is primarily a proprietary marketing gimmick, PR is a carefully defined measuring system useful for comparing fly rods of all makes.

Power Reservoir (PR) is arbitrarily defined as the force required to deflect the rod tip a distance equal to one half of its length. To determine this value, the rod is set up for deflection in exactly the same manner as for determining the IP or ERN. However, instead of deflecting the rod tip a distance equal to only one third of the rod’s length, the tip is deflected a distance equal to one half of the rod’s length. The weight in grains required to effect this deflection represents the PR of the rod.

As discussed previously for TP, this value, i.e., PR, can also be spoken of in terms of ERN by use of the Rosetta Stone for the conversion. For instance, consider a rod which requires 1973 grains to deflect it one third of its length and 2580 grains to deflect it one half of its length. Such a rod would be considered to have an ERN of 6.5 and a PR (ERN equivalent) of 8.5. Remember these are relative terms relating to stiffness, power, or strength.

Although TP, IP, and PR can be determined in the basic unit of “grains” for any type of fishing rod which can be appropriately flexed, there are certain factors which must be considered relative to fly rods. These are discussed below.

For over half a century fly anglers have become accustomed to “rating” their rods in terms like “5-Weight.” We all recognize this term has no objective definition. Nevertheless it is generally understood to be a measure of the stiffness, relative strength, or power of that fly rod. When the CCS was conceived, The term ERN (Effective Rod Number) was adopted to differentiate its precisely defined and measured values from that traditionally used term (Weight). With time, one might expect, as the ambiguity of the term “5-Weight” becomes fully recognized, it will be replaced in the fly angler’s vocabulary by a precisely defined term like CC-5 or ERN-5, or even IP=1685. Any of these designations on the handle of a fly rod will go a long way in informing a prospective buyer what to expect from that rod.

While the IP scale in grains is open ended, fly lines were defined by the AFTMA scale to run from Numbers 1 to 15 (AFTMA Standard Weights from 60 to 550 grains). This corresponds to IP values only as large as 6400 grains (ERN=15.5).

Now, since the term PR has been created to describe the power of rods which have been deflected a greater degree than the original CCS calls for, the PR of an ERN=15.5 rod must be greater than 6400 grains. This means the IP and corresponding ERN scales must be expanded. To that end, using the same rational as AFTMA, I have created and defined extended ranges for these values and have listed them in Table 1.

Using this approach, one can now, for instance, describe a rod which formerly could only have been described as a 15-Weight rod as a rod having a PR of an ERN=18.5 rod. Its DBI would now be expressed as the following:
DBI = 15.5 (13.5, 18.5) / AA / CCF
or
DBI = 6400 (5280, 8080) / AA / CCF

The practical value in determining the PR of a rod lies in the fact the greater the difference between TP and PR, the greater the range of lines the rod can handle. However, as previously stated in regards to the difference between ERN or IP and TP, the “working range” for each line will be smaller and casting skills must be greater as the rod will be less forgiving.

For instance, let us consider the case of a rod which has a DBI = 7.8 (4.7) / 68 / 83, one might conclude that by merely adjusting one’s casting stroke one could comfortably cast 30 feet of any line having an ELN (Effective Line Number) between 4.7 and 7.8 (i.e., AFTMA Line Numbers 4 to 7). Such casts would not require the caster to “load” or flex his rod to an extent greater than one third of its length.

Now with the introduction of the concept of PR, casts requiring a greater degree of rod loading can be accommodated. Let us assume that the PR of the subject rod was determined to be 10.4. The DBI would then be written as 7.8 (4.7, 10.4) / 68 / 83, and the range of AFTMA lines this rod could handle would now be described as ranging from 4 to 10, and indeed a skilled caster could make them all perform. In essence, the ERN provides the “normal or line optimal loading” while the TP and PR define the reasonable limits which can be accommodated by adjusting one’s casting stroke.

Matching Rod and Line
In the case of traditional slow action graphite fly rods, having a very narrow range between TP and PR and low CFF values, it is relatively simple to define the weight of the fly line which will match any given rod on the basis of ERN=ELN and WL. This equation implies that there is a definite relationship between the strength of a rod and the line it will optimally cast. This value can be called the normal loading for that rod.

However, such a combination may not provide the optimum comfort, pleasure, or “feel” to the angler because of the mismatch between the CCF of the rod and the angler’s casting stroke speed. This can be compensated for to some degree by adjusting the line weight so as to increase or decrease the CCF of the rod. Consequently, anglers frequently “overload” or “underload” their rods for that purpose. It is generally understood that any rod can handle any line which is +/- one line number from its normal loading. If this fails, it is time to consider a different rod.

In the case of modern fast action graphite fly rods having a broad range between TP and PR and high CCF values, the choice of fly line is more complex. While the normal or optimal loading of each rod is still defined by its ERN or IP and these criteria are satisfactory for normal casting, casting lengths of line in excess of 50 feet pose problems which can only be solved by rods having greater PR values.

Normally, in order to increase the PR value of a rod, one must increase the IP or ERN of that rod. While this also usually results in an increased value for TP, this can be compensated for by simultaneously weakening the tip with the result that the AA increases and the rod action becomes faster. All of this combines to make a rod which can handle a greater range of line weights but depends to a greater extent on the ability of the caster to control the result by adjusting his casting stroke.

In the final analysis, the purpose of the CCS is to help one to describe a fly rod in a precise manner and recognize its intrinsic properties. It is the angler, himself, who must make the final decision as to which of the many available fly lines to use for any particular purpose. Ultimately it is the skill of the caster that really matters. A skilled caster can cast any rod having sufficient power, while an unskilled angler cannot cast any rod.

Interpretation of values
The reader must recognize that CCS and URRS values are completely objective numbers and carry no connotations of good, bad, or better. They simply reflect the strength and action of the rod tested. That is all. Nevertheless, once the relative numbers are available, they will be used for comparative purposes. Each individual is entitled to make his own subjective interpretations of what the data suggests to him. A good example of this is illustrated by the column marked X in Table 2.

Here, in my opinion, “X” or the “X Factor” is a measure of level of “Xpertise” or “Xperience” required of the caster in order for him to be able to make use of the capabilities built into that rod by its designer.

I shall leave the rest of these data for each of you to consider and interpret. However, since all of these rods are advertised and sold to anglers as “5-wt” rods, I trust you will recognize (1) my insistence that when you describe your rod as a 5-wt, you have not imparted any useful information. (2) When you describe your rod as Brand X, model Y, z ft, you have provided a bit of information to those few individuals who have experience with that particular rod. (3) When you provide CCS or URRS data about your rod, everyone in the world can understand what you are talking about and discuss it intelligently—if they are so inclined.

ERN Cents
TP
PR

2 20.5
3 27
4 34
5 41
6 47.5
7 55
8 63
9 71.5
10 82
11 95
12 110
13 127
14 144
15 158.5
16 173

Table 2 Typical Results*

URR DBI X TP PR
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
REDINGTON RODS

TRS-3 5 : 4 : 9 5.1 / 62 5 4.0 9.4
RED FLY 5 : 4 : 12 5.5 / 62 7 4.6 12.0
Wayfarer 5 : 3 : 11 5.7 / 68 8 3.7 11.8
Super Sport 6 : 3 : 13 6.8 / 70 10 3.1 13.3


SAGE RODS

SLT 4 : 3 : 11 4.9 / 66 8 3.1 11.7
Z-Axis 5 : 3 : 12 5.7 / 70 9 3.1 12.6
FLI 6 : 3 : 13 6.5 / 70 9 3.7 13.4
VT-2 6 : 3 : 14 6.8 / 73 10 3.6 14.0
TCR 590 7 : 3 : 15 7.5 / 73 11 3.6 15.1

URR = ERN : TP : PR Each value reduced to integer.

DBI = ERN : AA

X = PR - TP Difference reduced to integer.

* Assuming ERN values can range from 4-7, TP values can range from 2-6, and PR values can range from 6-15, then there are 200 “flavors” of “5-Wt.” rods which can be differentiated by using the three values of the URR. If that isn’t enough, one can resort to using the CCS values to the first decimal place. That way, you can have 200,000 categories, if you can measure accurately enough.

 
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ohanzee

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One thing that might be contentious is the mention of Hardy introducing Nano/Sintrix technology, I don't know the ins and outs but my understanding is they inherited/bought Nano technology and rebranded it 'Sintrix', no idea what the difference is but Nano technology was already in use long before Hardy 'invented' Sintrix.

The Reddington Nti Nano was around 2003.
 

Tangled

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One thing that might be contentious is the mention of Hardy introducing Nano/Sintrix technology, I don't know the ins and outs but my understanding is they inherited/bought Nano technology and rebranded it 'Sintrix', no idea what the difference is but Nano technology was already in use long before Hardy 'invented' Sintrix.

The Reddington Nti Nano was around 2003.

More info would be good. It may be that Hardy was the first use of 3M nano?
 

pati

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Messages
1,060
One thing that might be contentious is the mention of Hardy introducing Nano/Sintrix technology, I don't know the ins and outs but my understanding is they inherited/bought Nano technology and rebranded it 'Sintrix', no idea what the difference is but Nano technology was already in use long before Hardy 'invented' Sintrix.

The Reddington Nti Nano was around 2003.

Yes Redington NTi was the first rod using nanotechnology. Blanks were made by Composite Development of New Zealand (« CD of New Zealand »)
 

ohanzee

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Yes Redington NTi was the first rod using nanotechnology. Blanks were made by Composite Development of New Zealand (« CD of New Zealand »)

I can only add the recollection of a conversation with David Norwich who was involved in the industry at the time.

I posted this years ago...

'The NTi went into production at least 3 times in different plants, the first batch of rods were flawed, many broke and were returned before Reddington moved production to Mexico, the investment to this point was high and Reddington had not recouped from rod sales, the Mexican blanks were better, they resolved most of the issues but sales were poor and never covered the development costs, they sold the technology and the NTi was continued in production for a time, then the new manufacturer ditched the NTi and kept the technology'
 

Tangled

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Dec 28, 2015
Messages
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One thing that might be contentious is the mention of Hardy introducing Nano/Sintrix technology, I don't know the ins and outs but my understanding is they inherited/bought Nano technology and rebranded it 'Sintrix', no idea what the difference is but Nano technology was already in use long before Hardy 'invented' Sintrix.

The Reddington Nti Nano was around 2003.

Hardy reckoned that they developed Sintrix with 3M

It's tricky finding stuff from 20 years ago, you'd think these proud companies would publish their histories but as Sage bought them then sacked its owner Jim Murphy I suppose they don't want to brag too much.

An old review (2000)

Redington is calling its NTi rods the biggest advance since graphite replaced fiberglass. NTi stands for Nano Titanium and what it does is restructure the rod's graphite resins, which in turn increases strength and allows less of the high-modulus material to be used. That means the rods are lighter than ever. All models are nine feet. Rod weights from 4 to 12 are available. ($625; 800-253-2538)
 
D

Deleted member 32104

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There is info on the nano history on here. I was still in the business when Loop, Loomis and Sage lost the 3M contract to Hardy. I believe there were others looking into the technology too at the time, but that's all water under the bridge. The Sintrix story started when Hardy struck the deal.
 

ohanzee

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The Sintrix trademark seems to have been registered in 2009, and everything before seems quietly tidied away, can't find a thing other than Redington producing in 2003 then being swallowed by Sage which was bought by Far Bank Enterprises which is owned by the Joshua Green Corporation, a subsidiary of Green Family Enterprises.
 

LukeNZ

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Hawke’s Bay, NZ
A rod’s a rod for A’ that
Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Hardy,
What's Hardy? it is nor cork, nor carbon,
Nor ring nor ferrule, nor any other part
Belonging to a rod. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rod
By any other name would cast as sweet;
So Hardy would, were he not Hardy call'd,
Reel in that dear Perfection which it owns
Without that title. Hardy, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of ability
Cast all myself.

Shakespeare (Agility, 9’6”, #7)

I've never heard the question ”what rod did you catch that on?" Have you?



All I can add Tangled, is you must have an awful lot of spare time on your hands, wishing you a very merry one, and adding one last line to your Shakespearean ode..

“That was no rod; that was a 5wt. Sage TCR”...🙃
 
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BobP

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A tour de force, so here's another one that should occupy you until the end of the century should you live so long. "Understanding Anglers".

The problem with all the "understanding" threads is that that they take little or no account of the mutt at the blunt end in terms of age, size, weight, experience and overall ability.

A good caster will always make better use of an average rod, than an average caster will make of a good one. Some people just have the ability to pick up a rod - any rod - and cast well with it, the same way that a good shot will be able to pick up a shotgun, whether it fits or not, and shoot well with it. Not as well maybe as he can with his own gun, but a lot better than average purely because he is able to adapt quickly to what is needed to get the best possible out of the gun. Similar with anglers.
 

Tangled

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Messages
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A tour de force, so here's another one that should occupy you until the end of the century should you live so long. "Understanding Anglers".

The problem with all the "understanding" threads is that that they take little or no account of the mutt at the blunt end in terms of age, size, weight, experience and overall ability.

A good caster will always make better use of an average rod, than an average caster will make of a good one. Some people just have the ability to pick up a rod - any rod - and cast well with it, the same way that a good shot will be able to pick up a shotgun, whether it fits or not, and shoot well with it. Not as well maybe as he can with his own gun, but a lot better than average purely because he is able to adapt quickly to what is needed to get the best possible out of the gun. Similar with anglers.

Did you miss this section Bob?

Ability
An instructor told me that casting is 70% caster and 30% gear. I reckon it’s almost 100% caster until you can get to a level of competence where you’re able to squeeze the potential performance out of whatever stuff you have. If you’ve ever watched someone casting with a broom handle or even just their arm you begin to get a clue. Here’s Marina Gibson casting without a rod:

A few years ago, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to fish for salmon in Russia (which I’ve now repeated twice more :). I had a 24-year-old Argentinian guide for the week and caught my first salmon in the first hour. At the end of the day he took my £150 Greys GR50 trout rod and double-hauled the Barrio line to the backing, reverse cast it an equal length, snake rolled it around then whipped the fly back to himself catching it on the rod before handing it back to me. That 'cheap Hardy' as he called it could do a vast amount more than I'm still capable of doing with it. I decided then that there's absolutely no point me spending any more money on a rod without learning how to use the one I've got better first. So I find myself disagreeing with Yellowstone when they say this. But, of course, their job is to sell expensive rods…

"Some people might consider high priced rods status symbols. For others, seeing how a rod performs in an expert caster’s hands, convinces them it would make them great anglers as well, or at least take them to the next level. Surprisingly, this is often true. Great rods don’t make great casters, but there is no doubt that they will improve any angler’s casting skills and his ability to catch fish. Don’t fret about the price – you’ll find some ingenious way to sneak it into your collection of rods without the mrs. (or mr.) finding out." Yellowstone Angler.
 

PaulD

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South Northants
The problem here lies in the misconception of the term 'understanding'. Understanding is an outcome, an outcome based upon both prior knowledge and skills. Note 'both' , you cannot claim 'understanding' if either the knowledge or skills is missing. The human mind best understands facts when they are woven into a fabric, a narrative story or mental map, disconnected facts - or 'understanding' to use the forum language - facts unattached to knowledge or skills (experience) are like unlinked pages on the web: they might as well not exist.
 

ejw

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Feb 2, 2012
Messages
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Location
Helsby, Cheshire
It is amazing the number of fly fishers that blame rods for their inadequacies, or their success ? It is a tool (a bad workman always blames them). You just have to learn how to use it. When guiding I have had to show that it is not the rod that is at fault, by casting with it !! At distance or to control a cast under a bush or tree. I am NOT a good caster by any means, but I can work with most rod and line combinations to make them work. Unfortunately a lot of anglers believe that "high" cost equals perfect fishing, irrelevant as to the "caster" ability !
 

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