Carbon fiber rods, approaches half the weight of either split cane or glass.



The modern period of rods has been dominated by the development of new materials, and there is no doubt that without plastics, fly-fishing, as we know it would be unrecognizable as a sport, although the basic principles would be the same.

I can remember getting a new fishing line, (black) a box of hooks and a bobber, than going down to the back woods to cut an alder for a fishing poles and we were all set.

Glass-fiber rods first appeared in the late 1940's, but it took a while for the new material to be adopted. Suppliers showed varying degrees of enthusiasm for the material. Hardy's first glass fiber rod was built in 1954, and after a period in which glass and cane uneasily coexisted, their first carbon fiber followed in 1976. Weights plunged, reaching the point where line weight became a consideration in handling. A modern fifteen-foot carbon fiber typically weighs around the pound mark, and a nine-foot, three and a half ounces. If anyone wonders why fiberglass did not replace split cane overnight, the answer lies in the table.

Glass rods weighed much the same as their split cane quivalents, and offered the fisherman few advantages other than price. Carbon fiber, on the other hand, approaches half the weight of either split cane or glass. Once the technical problems of using the new material had been solved, carbon fiber entered mass production and neither of the older materials could offer any contest.

Cane was swept away by the mid nineteen eighties, although it is making something of a comeback on aesthetic grounds.The Fly Line as with rod development, the post-war period was dominated by the development of new materials. The taper on these lines could be controlled to a precise amount, and the invention of methods of altering the specific gravity of the PVC coating (and hence its buoyancy) gave the product greater flexibility than anyone had ever dreamed of in a fly line.

The Reel. We are very nearly up to date on the subject of gear, but is one small piece of the jigsaw puzzle missing. At the beginning of the modern period, it was unusual to find fly reels with exposed rims. The last twenty years have seen a surge of nostalgia, and it is fascinating to see the designs appearing that imitate reels of a century ago.

The Salmon Fly. In a sign of growing American dominance in the field, hair-winged patterns didn't take long to make the transfer across the Atlantic. The hair-wing had become a significant influence on British patterns by the 1960s, with many traditional patterns being adapted to allow hair-wing ties. The origins of the tube fly are less certain. We know that North American native people tied lures for salmon on quills as long ago as the nineteenth century, but the idea seems to have entered mainstream salmon fly fishing during the 1940s.

There is an interesting post-script to the development of the hair-wing salmon fly. Fishermen took a long while to give up their affection for the fully dressed 'gaudy' fly, and quite ordinary tackle shops well into the late 70’s and even early 80’s commonly stocked it. As it became harder to find fully dressed flies, collectors moved in, and a substantial market in "specimen-tying" began to emerge.


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