First off, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at the Bamboo Bash and Troutfest.
Maybe I can clarify some of the facts for you.
Regarding South Bend, the rod model numbers are important for determining the "action" of the rod. South Bend didn't refer to "tapers" in their catalog - probably decided that saying "action" of the rod would mean more to anglers. Here's how it worked with the model numbers. I'll quote this next paragraph from my Bamboo Rod Restoration Handbook:
"South Bend rod model numbers are abit confusing, but there is logic to the system: each rod "grade" or "quality level" was made in three actions; Wet Fly, or Trout action,
Bass Action, and Dry Fly Action. [These are South Bends' terms.] The model number designates the grade or quality and the series number represents the type of action. For example, #159 is Trout Action, #59 is Bass Action, and #359 is Dry Fly Action. All of these models have the same wraps, hardware, number of guides and other specifications - only the taper is different."
"Usually the models follow this format: the 100 series = lightest (Trout) action,
300 series = medium fast (Dry Fly) action,
and the two digit model was the stiffest and fastest = Bass action. The two piece models use a 200 series number ( #260. #290 ) are two-piece rods and have a Dry Fly action.
I hope that clarifies the South Bend numbering system