Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Voices from the Past: Manufacturing Fishing Rods in Britain, ca. 1858

Manufacturing Fishing Rods in Britain, ca. 1858

I ran across the following piece on the manufacture of British fishing rods and found it of interest, particularly as it concerns the selection of wood used in their manufacture. Note that bamboo was one of the materials mentioned as imported specifically for the use of rods. While this is no great revelation, it is important to recognize that the British were making cane rods before they were popular in America. This particular clipping comes from The Mechanics Magazine (Vol LXVII, 1858), a British trade journal.

FISHING TACKLE. OUR notice of improvements in angling apparatus last week has elicited several communications upon the subject, which are of a character more adapted to the pages of a sporting journal than of one exclusively devoted to the facts and novelties of science. We find, however, that the trade of a fishing tackle maker is one of greater importance, and possesses a wider range of commercial interest than we had previously supposed.

The supply of wood for fishing-rods, it would seem, is in the hands of merchants who devote a good deal of their attention to the importation of large billets of hickory, bamboo canes, etc., for the express purpose of supplying the makers of fishing-rods with the necessary material. These woods are chosen with as much care and the exercise of as much judgment, and have to undergo the same amount of seasoning, as are devoted by the caterers of mahogany, walnut, and other woods for the pianos of a Stodart or a Broadwood, and the value of a fishing-rod may be thus enhanced tenfold.

We are informed that Mr. Wright, one of the merchants alluded to, who has recently opened a retail establishment in the Strand, possesses blocks of hickory for this especial object which have been purposely kept in dock for efficient seasoning for the last nine years. The quantity of wood thus consumed in this country cannot be ascertained, but it is considerable, as the English, Scotch, and Irish rods have acquired a fame throughout the world which secures nearly the whole of their fabrication to London, Edinburgh, and Dublin.

Our inquiries into these statistical facts have been the occasion of making us acquainted with an invention of Mr. Wright, which, we believe, is but little known. It is called the Bayonet-jointed Ferruled rod, and is adapted to salmon and trout fishing. The object is to obtain a secure fastening at the joints, which are usually additionally secured by thread or silk attached to a catch upon either part at the place of juncture. The bayonet-joint, on the contrary, affords greater security, with the smallest possible amount of trouble. With regard to its practical value, however, practised anglers will be more capable than ourselves of ascertaining its merits.

-- Dr. Todd

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