Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Voices from the Past: An Indian Hollow Rod (1907)

The following passage comes from Ceylon Marine and Estuary Fishing: Notes on a Neglected Pastime by A.H. Pertwee (London: Caper & Sons, 1907), a nifty account of fishing in India around the turn of the twentieth century. It's particularly interesting because of its reference to a hollow rod -- and its emphasis on the importance of a one piece rod in general. Of course, the principle of the hollow rod would later be fully explored in the 1920s and 1930s, and today hollow building is commonplace in the bamboo fly rod world. But at the time, the idea of a hollow rod was pretty novel. I also like this passage as it references Luscombe, and I have several spinners marked with his name.

When I first took seriously to fishing—which was many years ago, and in India—the fates directed my footsteps to a shop in Allahabad kept by a Mr. Luscombe who was, and for that matter still is, not only a true artist with rod and line, but a practical fishing tackle-manufacturer to boot.

A Wonderfully Cheap Indian Rod. Here I was introduced to a new kind of rod which deserve to be much better known than they are, and which, in my opinion, are far superior for general all round fishing to the most expensive weapons made at home. These rods are known in Northern India as Ringalls, and are, I believe, the same thing as Messrs. Oakes & Co. of Madras sell under the name of Labeo Rods. They are a sort of bamboo reed, hollow, and very light, but of most astonishing strength and flexibility. A rod of this kind, fully mounted with snake rings and brass reel fittings, and measuring, say, 12 to 15 feet (mine are 14 ft.), cost about R10 at Allahabad, or one-eighth of what you would have to pay for a new English salmon rod of the same size. I have found that for spinning purposes, they are not only lighter than English rods, but are much quicker in "recovering."…

But to return to the Ringall. Like most good things, it is not quite perfect; there is ore disadvantage about it that has probably lost it more admirers than all its good features has attracted, and that is, you must take it all in one piece. It is no good at all if you cut it and make the ordinary ferule joints you've got to take it whole or not at all.

I hear the chorus of disapproval that will greet this fact, as also the enquiries as to why it cannot be cut, so I will tell you why it can't, and also why it needn't be. The Ringall being, as I have already mentioned, hollow, depends for its strength chiefly on the fact that at the moment of striking, and during all subsequent strains, all of the rod gives, and that from tip to reel it forms a perfect unbroken curve. Now no jointed rod does this, for the simple reason that the parts bound by the brass ferrules are kept perfectly rigid, and the under side of the curve a* those points does not contract as it should do; in other words, the under half of the joints remain the same length as the upper half, consequently the under edge of the ferrule cuts through the very thin wall of the bamboo, and a bad smash-up follows. That is why you cannot successfully joint any hollow rod and retain its full strength.

A "Carrier" For The Rod

The reason why you needn't is simpler. When not, in use, hang up your rods tip uppermost, from a loop, and not from the top ring. When transporting them from place to place, or from your house to river or sea, carry them (or rather get a cooly to do so) in an ordinary bamboo carrier. These cost about one rupee each, and with ordinary care will last a lifetime. This is how to make one. Take a female bamboo, the kind used for scaffolding will do, of about, three inches diameter, and a few inches longer than your longest rod. Split it lengthwise and knock out all the joints except those at each end, and tack three or four short buckled straps round it so as to form hinges on one side and fastenings on the other. You now have a case very light, strong, and perfectly safe, it will go into the guard's van if you are travelling by rail, or the smallest podian can carry it.

1 have frequently carried mine in rickshaws, ticca gharies, bullock carts, and even on a bicycle, and hope to do so many a time again. If you are very particular you can have a teak case made, for out here, where none of us march for miles across country carrying our own rods as we might at home, a few pounds weight more or less is neither here nor there.

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