Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Voices from the Past: Duplicating a Rod (1929)

The following snipped from Donald Stillman's "From the Angler's Angle" published in the January 1929 Forest & Stream illustrates one of the issues with rod making I have come to believe is massively misunderstood, at least when it comes to split cane rod making. That is, the idea that a maker can make every single rod feel and act the exact same. Now, if rods are made at the same time with the same batch of cane in the exact same method with identical tapers, they will likely act so similar we can't really notice the difference. But rods made to the same taper years apart can and will act differently. Don't take my word for it, listen to Donald Stillman, a rodmaker, outdoor writer, and fly angler of many decades.

Duplicating A Rod

An up-state rod-maker recently received through the mail a fly-rod (which he himself had built about eight years ago), with the request that he build an exact duplicate (with emphasis on the exact) in action, style and finish. The rod-maker groaned, for he realized, as many an angler does not, the insurmountable difficulties attending the filing of such as order.

One of the queer phases of rod making is the impossibility of building an exact duplicate of a high-grade casting rod. While it is comparatively simple to reproduce handle, mountings, windings, and even to closely duplicate calibrations from butt to tip-top, action and feel are too elusive to be captured by mere mechanical methods. While it is, of course, possible that the duplicate rod may be even superior to the original, you may rest assured that the action will be different.

-- Dr. Todd

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