View Full Version : Cane, glass or graphite

01-20-2009, 04:15 PM
I just thought I would start a small thread about what material rods everyone likes and why. I love cane due to the craftmanship that is put into it and that each rod is just a little different than the other. I love the fact that someone took a living thing and turned it into a piece of artistry and functionality. I cant help but enjoy fiberglass also. No other reason than I just have a love for it. What are some of your thought on this subject. Troutman and GMREEVES I am calling you out on this one. I definately want to hear from you guys.

01-20-2009, 04:26 PM
I'd have to stick with graphite...this stuff is STRONG...although, I have my great grandfather's fly rod, and it's fiberglass...great rod too, I use it for small streams.

01-20-2009, 04:44 PM
That is true. However, my six weight cane rod, I would definately be happy to tie into a brown trout that could break it. Also, I feel with the cane it tends to give to its natural abilities thus making it strong in its own rights. But I will not argue tarheel I have plenty of graphite also. (especially for saltwater and large carp.)

01-20-2009, 04:47 PM
I think it is awesome that you are still using the older rod of your grandfathers. That I believe is an awesome way of remembering him and keeping a part of him alive. I have my great uncles shotgun I still bird hunt with.

01-20-2009, 05:24 PM
I've always used graphite (mostly fast action), but my grandad's fly rod has a slow action, so you can feel the power of the fish that's on the other end of the line...I'm planning on keeping it for a long time...

01-20-2009, 05:44 PM
I prefer to fish glass rods from 3wt to 6wt in 6.5' up to 8ft lengths. I like to feel the rod loading from tip to butt and a nice relaxed casting rythym where the rod does the work, not my arm and shoulder. I'm not in any hurry and not trying to win a distance casting competition.
The old glass rods had a tendency to be heavy once they were beyond 8ft and lots of people think of glass rods as older technology. There are a few small rod makers that use a material, newer s-glass is even stronger and slightly faster actions and are being used in some of the best casting rods made.
sadly, most of the main manufactures are still trying to make everyone believe stiffer and faster is better and look where the industry is going... out of business. maybe once they build affordable rods again for people who enjoy casting a rod at normal fishing ranges instead of offering only rods designed to cast 100 ft of flyline and having to make special flylines 1/2 to 1 times heavier just to load the rod at 30 ft, the AFTMA standard. Look how many people on this forum that are overlining their rods just so they can cast easier at short distances like in the park.
I like glass because its fun to fish and the fact that it cost less, I can have several rods in different lines weights for the price of 1 or 2 high priced premium graphites.
Anyone that has ever fished with me when i've got a big smallie on my glass knows why I like it!

I only have one boo rod and it is an older H-I factory rod from the 50s, not one of the best tapers but it loads well with a 6wt. I fish it occasionaly. I appreciate the artistry also that goes into building a fine bamboo, but for the moment, its out of my price range.

My graphite selection of rods are usually the last ones I reach for anymore. I still like them in the 7 and 8 wts for chucking big heavy streamers and air resistant poppers out on the main tailwaters. They are what they are. get the job done, but not as much fun to me.

01-20-2009, 05:52 PM
Troutman I agree. Your post over the last year is what made me look into fiberglass. And I love it. I have a diamond glass rod in a 8' 4wt and it is exactly what you said it would be. FUN. I wish I had a few of the older rods. I am currently looking at a mcfarland rod. But 650 bucks and i could almost by another boo rod.

01-20-2009, 06:01 PM
Yep, Mike Mcfarland is probably one of the finest rod builders out there and his 1 year waiting list just keeps getting longer. A Steffen Bros. would be another good one to look at.
Hardy Greys has some nice new s-glass offerings this year.

01-20-2009, 06:18 PM
I checked out the steffens bro. web site. I like the price but Mcfarland stream grades are about the same price. I wish I had got a T & T fiberglass before they quit making them.

01-21-2009, 10:30 AM
I think that the material of the rod has a lot to do with what you are wanting the rod to do on the water. If I am wanting to fish small blue lines around the SE, there is no reason that I can think of to use a fast action graphite rod. On the other hand, if I am down on the flats casting to a school of cruising bones or a lone permit 100 feet out with a nice cross wind whipping through the air, you won't see a cane or glass rod in my hand. I think the middle of the road though is kind of a draw. For normal day to day fishing situations, I can cast both but prefer the one that brings me the most joy. I am not the best fly fisher. I normally catch a few fish and have some really good days and get the occasional skunk. I don't fish to catch fish. I go fish to get lost in the outdoors for the day, kick through water, explore, etc. The whole time, I am fishing though. I can get lost in the moment casting to a rising fish and I won't even think about the cast or the rod. I just stare at the fish, watch the line roll out, and the fly drift over his nose. If I don't get a take, I repeat. I think that casting is an amazing part of fly fishing. It is graceful and when done right, it one of the most gratifying things in the world. I don't think that the fast and stiff graphite being mass produced allow me to "feel" the rod working and the mechanics of the cast. That is why I have sold all of my graphite rods except my winston IM6. It is a wonderful moderate action rod that has been with me since my beginnings as a fly fisherman. That only leaves a few other options like boron, fiberglass, bamboo, and greenheart. I have cast fiberglass and think they are fantastic! I don't own any but see myself building a few in the future. My real passion though is cane. I got into wood working and building things about two years ago and a little after that, I decided I wanted to build a fly rod. I figured why order all of the parts and just glue them together when I could make the whole thing if I went with Bamboo. The rest is history. If I want a rod, I make it. When I can't go fish, I can be at home and be thinking fishing with each pass of the block plane over a freshly split piece of bamboo. When it is below freezing outside, I can be at my bench wrapping guides with fine silk while drinking a cup of coffee. The smell of the varnish when I take the rod cap off of the tube streamside. I can go on and on about why I like bamboo but I don't think I could ever really explain it to someone that doesn't have the same feeling. There are a lot of myths about bamboo that are complete myths. Bamboo is far more durable than graphite or fiberglass. Many distance casting competitions are won with bamboo. Weight can be overcome with new building techniques that are being applied by modern makers. Cost is another myth. There is a rise of hobby builders that can make a cane rod of the same quality as a full time builder. Many small time builders would love the chance to build a rod for someone and would do it for less than some big name grahite rod manufacturers. The question of "why bamboo?" comes up on many other bamboo related forums and I have always declined to answer because I am new to cane rod building and fishing. There are others there that are way more experienced than me and can explain it better. Here bamboo isn't brought up much. I think that is because this is more a fishing forum than a rod building or classic gear forum. I don't think there is anything wrong with other materials or the people that like to use them but I think for the practical fishing scenario, there are better choices on the market than graphite.

01-21-2009, 10:51 AM
Thank you GMREEVES that is excatly what I was expecting to hear from you. And I totally agree. I do not build any rods but that is what I see everytime I pull out a cane rod to use. It is very similar to tying up your own flies with natural material over store bought. Just the feeling of appreciation for the time and craftsmanship. Thank you for that very indepth answer where I feel as if I were standing beside you as you take every step of the way.

01-21-2009, 03:24 PM
Any graphite rod enthusiast willing to share?

01-21-2009, 04:43 PM
The best I can say for graphite is that on the salts no worries. And as far as trout fishing with graphite, WINSTON IM6. The greatest graphite rod ever built. I still like my cane though. But winston IM6 is my favorite of graphite. I am only priveledged to own 2.:biggrin:

01-21-2009, 05:29 PM
This is an interesting thread. Like most of you have already stated, it all comes down to personal preference. I've never had the opportunity to fish with a bamboo rod, but I'm sure I would enjoy it, if given the chance.

I prefer a rod with a medium to medium fast action, depending upon the circumstances under which I am fishing. For example, if I'm casting dry flies, I want a slower, medium action rod, and there are plenty of graphite rods out there that fit the bill. The Scott G2, which is very delicate in hand, is one of my favorites. In addition, I also enjoy the buttery smooth action of the TFO Finesse series rods. However, when I am throwing nymphs, tandem rigs, or wooly buggers, I tend to reach for my Winston LT5. These rods are stiff enough to throw heavier flies to distant targets, without feeling like a broom stick.

Although the industry is moving toward lighter and lighter rods, I feel like I have more control with a heavier rod. For this reason, I would like to give fiberglass a try. Dave Lewis of Performance Fly Rods builds some nice glass rods, as well as graphite rods. I encourage you all to visit his site (www.performanceflyrods.com), and browse through the photos of his rods. His work is amazing.


01-21-2009, 05:46 PM
Very nice. I looked at that site. Very nice.:biggrin:

01-21-2009, 06:12 PM
I agree. Dave Lewis does some fine work. The varnish work is amazing on his wraps. He does not use epoxy anymore and uses varnish like most of the bamboo guys do.

There are so many rod manufacturers these days they are bound to have just about everything available in the graphite world. It seems that all of the hype though is with faster is better which I tend to disagree with especially for a beginner caster. Those broomsticks make it very hard for someone learning to feel the rod and get the timing down. I like them for certain circumstances but usually that is only wind. I find a slower rod easier to cast the weight because I can open up my loops easier and tend to get less foul ups when throwing double nymph rigs with an indicator. I have yet to cast a TFO or even hold one. There Finesse series rods may be to my liking.

01-21-2009, 06:26 PM
Forgive me if this sounds bad. But I just can handle the made in korea stigma with TFO. That is why I have went to custom fiberglass or cane. Made in america by true worksman who are trying to turn out quality and reputation over mass production. They are good rods don't get me wrong, but where is the bueaty of the workman spending 60+ hours at a bench to turn out that rod that he would be proud to past down through 3 generations. Also my problem with alot of graphite rod companies these days.

01-21-2009, 07:52 PM
I'd like to step in here with a bit of engineering analysis on why we see so many fast action rods on the market today.

Have you ever cast or seen someone who is new to casting using a cane rod have the line just drop on the forward cast and end up in a tangle at their feet? The way a cane rod loads and unloads due to its modulus of elasticity leaves a very small "sweet spot" in the timing of the casting stroke to properly execute a cast. With the invention of higher modulus fiberglass, and then even higher modulus graphite, the design and engineering of the rod was adapted to allow for a much wider "sweet spot" with respect to timing of the cast. This broader response of the higher modulus materials allows those of us that do not have perfect form and timing to make decent casts with the high modulus rods. The manufacturers of rods realize that not everyone has that perfect form and timing, and have continued to develop rods that are capabale of energy transfer to the line over a wider time period.

As the technology for the graphite rods continues to improve, we have seen lighter and faster rods being made, as well as some moderately "slower" mid-range action rods developed. These rods have all been engineered with the larger sweet spot in the timing of the casting stroke to allow them to be effectively utilized by a wide range of casting styles. This technology gives the graphite rods an edge over the traditional cane rods, as the cane rod's modulus of elasticity cannot be as easily controlled as that of graphite or fiberglass. I imagine it would be possible for a custom cane rod to be made that has a larger sweet spot for casting, but it would have to be made from individual pieces of cane that were selected and matched by modulus. I think that would be an exhausting and frustrating process with the natural variation one sees in nature.

I have a dimensional analysis of the physics of the loading of a fly rod during the casting stroke that is based upon Buckingham's Pi Theorm if anyone would like to go through the math to understand this further. Just let me know and I can email it to you.

Cane rods are beautiful pieces of craftsmanship and a part of fly fishing that should not be lost. However, for those of us like me that do not have that perfect casting stroke, the high modulus graphite rods make up for a lot of our errors with technology.

Just my two cents from the engineering veiwpoint.


01-21-2009, 08:14 PM

I to am a mechanical design engineer and that is some deep stuff you are bringing to the table. That is why we have this forum. So that we can learn and man you are doing some teaching. Thanks for the imput.:biggrin:

01-22-2009, 12:45 AM
I wasn't aware that the TFO's were manufactured out of the states. I just assumed that a product by Lefty would have been American. That is interesting. I know a lot of manufacturers are over seas but . . .

I have seen many of new casters with any rod end up with a tangled mess at their feet due to not understanding the fundamentals of the fly casting stroke regardless of the material used in the blank. I was one of them. I agree that graphite is more forgiving but it is not a good learning tool. I first learned to cast with a graphite rod. I fished for a few years and while I was catching a lot of fish, my cast never improved. About two to three years after I began fly fishing, I began working at a fly shop. I was offered free fly casting lessons from the FFF certified instructor that was employeed by the shop. He pointed out all sorts of shortcomings that I had in my cast. At first, I blew his pointers off becuase I was catching fish and that was all that mattered. But then I realized after heeding his advice that I was capable of a lot more. I began listening and realizing that while I could cast good enough to catch fish, the fast graphite rod was only a crutch. I couldn't reach my full potential as a caster and fisher until I practiced and learned how to read each rod by feel. After a few lessons while we were free of customers, my casting greatly improved. Now this was probably 10+ years ago and I don't go out in my yard and practice but I still feel that I am a more than adequate caster. When I pick up a fast graphite rod in a shop and go out and cast it, I feel like this is a great tool for certain circumstances. I don't feel like it is good for the beginner. Yes it may be forgiving but do we really want to be forgiving to someone who is learning? I had some really bad habits that were formed from forgiving rods and it took some time to break these. I learned a lot from casting lessons but in the end it all came down to feel and how the rod actually loaded and unloaded. I have only made close to 20 bamboo rods. Some have been adequate and only good for certain situations but the majority have been great and would be good for a beginner to learn on. The engineering behind the larger sweet spot is only a crutch in my mind and a way to get past one's shortcomings without learning how to properly cast. There are plenty of rods being produced today that you can feel the rod loading and unloading with a small amount of line out and I think that benefits the beginning fly caster a lot more than a crutch. I think all rods have a place in the market whether it be cane, glass, or graphite but I would suggest to a beginner angler to choose some thing in the moderate to moderate fast action so they can actually feel what is happening in the rod during the casting stroke. As I am only beginning to play with forming my own bamboo tapers, I would love to hear how the larger sweet spot is made and how the modulus of elasticity plays a part. I am not an engineer but I will try and keep up.

01-22-2009, 10:52 AM

I thought the same thing. According to Lefty Kreh it is all technique. He can cast 80+ ft of fly line just using his thumb as a rod. I have seen that man take roods apart and use just pieces of the rod to cast. So where is the sweet spot. It lays in the caster and his technigue. But that is how rod companies stay in buisness. Buy a new rod over practice and learn.:eek:

01-22-2009, 11:25 AM
Do any of you all use the common cents system when picking a rod?
You engineers would enjoy reading this. I know several people that use the system when picking out or buiding rods.

01-22-2009, 12:00 PM
Basically my CCS is to go to my builder or flyshop and cast the rod in question. I can simply tell more by that than I can anything. Statics is simple can I use this rod for what purpose I am choosing. I spent several hours with the rod builder before buying my cane rods. Once again that is why I like cane over mass produced graphite. It is tailored somewhat to my needs. And I know the person and their desires for their work over something made by someone who simply is trying to get paid and go home or worse overseas.

01-22-2009, 03:28 PM
If I am going to buy a rod, I usually cast it first and put various lines on it and test it at different distances.

If I am going to build a rod I have never built, I can run the various tapers through a program that will give me the stress put on the rod at each inch of the rod with a certain amount of line out and at what distance. The stresses are calculated by the line outside of the guides, the weight of the tip top, the guides, the ferrules and the line inside the guide, and the mass of the bamboo. Based on rods I have built in the past and comparing their stress charts to the one I am thinking of building, I can have a pretty good guestimate of what the action is going to be. That being said, a fast bamboo or fiberglass rod is not the equivalent of a fast graphite rod.

I have never heard of the common cents method until now and agree with a lot. A quick read looks like it is what I am already using. With time I am inherently learning how to correlate one rods action with another based on the numbers and stresses I get with my various programs.