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FRW 05-02-2009 09:56 AM

Heddon vs South Bend
Hope to get some insight here on something. I am currently looking at two rods on Ebay. One is a 9 ft Heddon model 20 5/6 wght., the other is a 9ft SB either a model 323, 23, 346 or 46 the guy's not sure which in a 6 wght. The 300's seem to be for dry flies and the others for wets, I'll admit I don't understand that at all. I am buying the rod to fish bigger water in Michigan. I will still be using size 10-18 dry flies, 10-14 wets and small to medium streamers. We usually have to deal with some wind when we are up there. The prices are pretty similar. For those who know more about these vintage rods than I do which would be the best value in terms of build quality and castibility. They seem to be pretty close in terms of condition.

I have read a lot about the older bamboo rods and there seems to be a great divergence of opinion about these makes. Some of it may be snob appeal, i.e, the SB being a "production" make. I ran into that in the double barrel shotgun crowd. There also seems to be a big divergence in the opinion of Heddon's based on model number. Any help would be appreciated

I presently have a 7ft, 4 wght boo that I love and bring with me to the Park when I come, but I need something a little bigger on the Manistee and Au Sable.


canerod 05-02-2009 07:02 PM

Hi FRW drop me a line at dave

Arctic Grayling 05-02-2009 08:32 PM

The rankings of the production rods usually rank Heddon rods above South Bend rods. The Heddon #20 is usually considered to be a pretty good rod, one which I would like to have.

Having said that, I do have an 8'6" South Bend #346 and it is a very nice rod that is very enjoyable to fish.

If the Heddon is a Stanley Favorite is should be worth much more than an unmarked model according to one ten year old buying guide I have here. The dated guide shows the Heddon average price to be $30 more than the South Bend.

I have several nine foot Grangers so I'm usually looking for shorter rods. If I had a choice between two rods in similar condition for the same price, I would choose the Heddon, especially if it was a #20 and probably a #14 too. But I would not be unhappy if I had to settle for a SB #323 or #346.

FRW 05-02-2009 09:56 PM

AG, thanks that is the type of info I was looking for. I had no idea there were so many bamboo rod makers back in the day. All I am looking for is a serviceable rod for those times when we make the trip to MI. I have talked to some local fly shop people and they turn their noses up when you talk about any of the "production" rod makers. I find this interesting since they all sell "production" graphite rods of various qualities. Just to take this to another level what do you think about Montagues if you have an opinion. You see a lot of those also.

Arctic Grayling 05-03-2009 04:21 AM

Generally I think that most people consider the Montague rods to be on the lower end in quality for vintage production rods, although some of their models are more respected than othere.

Some of the finest vintage rods such as Payne and Young rods were actually production rods as are current day rod by companies such as Winston and Sweetgrass.

Tentwing 05-04-2009 01:33 AM

Most of the 300 series Southbends were considered to be Bass rods. However most have lost a little over the years and do quite a nice job with a modern 5/6WF line. My Southbends (unrestored) dont seem to lose as much of their punch as some of the higher end production rods,. I have always atributed this to the fact that in the butt sections they are usually heavier than their higher end counter parts.

As for the Bill Stanley Favorite model #20 Heddon If it is a #2 ferrule in would be a true 5 weight , and most will also cast a 4WF as all classic era rods tend to lose a little over time unless they have had a recent restoration. A quality restoration job with modern varnishes or polyurethanes tends to tighten them up and restore some of the power lost over the last 50+ years. If its a # 2 & 1/2 ferrule then it would be a solid 6wf. A solid 2 & 1/2 ferrule works great as a big river rod:smile:

As for the quality issue you could argue that it is in the eye of the beholder:rolleyes: I personally own and love both brands. With that being said the only rod in the Southbend line that would be of comparable quality to Heddon would be the Southbend #290, and even the wonderful #290's aren't in the same league as the higher end Heddons.

Now if you were talking about a Heddon #35 or a #50 then they are clearly high quality rods. Both of my #50's are the superior to all of my classic and neo classic era production rods (that includes my Grangers, F.E. Thomas' and my Leonards) Only my Wes Jordan gives them a run for their money. Hope i didn't offend any fans of the above makers cause really I love those rods too.

Hope some of my rambling helps, ...........Tentwing

canerod 05-04-2009 10:37 AM

Hi Tentwing; I have been building cane rods for a number of years. I have also both refinished and restored (two different procedures) cane for a longer period. This is the first time I have ever heard that a restoration can bring life back into bamboo. To do a true restoration the rod should be done to exactly the same specifications as when it was made new at the factory.That would include guides/grip/reel seat/wraps/varnish etc. Please explain how you revitalize old cane. thanks dave

Tentwing 05-04-2009 12:27 PM


As you know most of the pre 1950's production rods were held together with hide glues ( horse glue) , and the finishes were not much better (quality wise) Now in the age of modern era glues and poly finishes our glues are better , and also a little stiffer same for the poly finish if you decide to go that route.

This extra bit of stiffness from regluing a delamination of even just putting that 2nd coat of polyurethane down on a finish and 3 coats on your silk can add nearly a half a line weight to tired cane.

Another trick I like to use is to add a line guide. As you know the silk wraps in every line guide will add a stiff point to your cane.I coat mine with 3 coats of Poly some guys like to use Epoxy, but Epoxy is to hard to remove, and dries so hard that I feel it causes a dead spot in the cane almost like a ferrule does.

A lot of your production rod makers tried to save money by using cheaper components and less numbers of line guides on their lower end rods so they could offer them at a cheaper price and still hold up their profit margins.

For instance As I'm sure you know all Grangers were basically the same taper they only differed in ferrule size and components when determining the difference in their highest end rod (The Registered) and their dimestore models (the Lake and Stream)

Heddon also did this with the exception of the actual cane used in their #35' and #50's. A #2 ferrule Heddon #50, 9 footer has 13 line guides counting the stripping guide and the tip top. The same # 2 ferrule 9 foot Heddon #8 has only 9 lines guides total.

About 2 years ago I redid a Jay Harvey Lincoln. It was in dire straits. The silk had dry rotted and the finish was tacky and soft, and could be pushed away with your finger nail. It was tired and soft enough to be activated by a 4 and was easily over powered by a DT5 ( even without flies on it ). After the refinish, rewrap, and going from 9 line guides to 13 this rod is a solid 5 weight and is just fine with a 6WF. It is now my keep it in the truck all the time rod
This allows me to fish the same feel and quality as my model #50 without the risk of falling and breaking:eek: a highly collectable piece of Bamboo history. Now that being said I would NEVER change the configuration on a higher end collectable ; Heck i would never trust my skills to any of my high end rods he he ,...but with a little TLC some of the lower end production rods can be made into some fine fishing tools.

Dave I hope some of this helps,.......Tentwing

Arctic Grayling 05-04-2009 01:49 PM

Everything that I have read has said that the 300 series of South Bend rods is a dry fly action rod. For example the 346 would be a dry fly action rod, the 46 would be trout action (wet fly) rod, and the 47 would be a bass action rod.

I don't pay much attention to the bass action rods since there aren't any bass here, but the single-built rods I often see for sale are the 323, 346, 359, and 290 (two piece) and they are all supposed to be dry fly action rods.

Tentwing 05-04-2009 02:33 PM

Artic Grayling;

I may be wrong. I have not read extensively on Southbends, and while i have no expirience with the #323 I do own a #346, 359, #77 and a #290. My #290 is a 5 weight medium action and has a crisper action than my other three. The #77 is 7 weight while the #346 is a 5/6 and the #359 is a 6/7 weight and they are what I consider a medium slow for cane.

All of my expirience comes from singlebuilt rods. Oh and BTW If you see a Doublebuilt rod out there that wont break the bank call me;):biggrin: So far I have loved everything Wes Jordan ever worked on.

Good thread goin here,....Tentwing

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