View Full Version : Heddon vs South Bend

05-02-2009, 09:56 AM
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.


05-02-2009, 07:02 PM
Hi FRW drop me a line at mmfarm@ccvn.com 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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

05-04-2009, 03:03 PM
The nice think about bamboo rods is that every one has their own ideas. Both your statements on Grangers and Heddons are wrong. The higher grade Grangers had the strips for each rod taken from the same culm of bamboo.The lower grades used strips that were randomly taken. The amount of guides did increase on the higher models but the reel seats were the same. As for Heddons you must know that the model #20 and up were not the same as the lower grades. The cane was hand selected and each section was gone over by the man responsible for that rod.Again as I am sure you are aware the # 20 and up were made in the "hand made department" So there is a big difference in how both higher grade Grangers and Heddons are made other than the number of guides. I am not sure how many rods you have refinished or restored but if you must know that you cannot put an over coat of varnish on a Heddon.Any bamboo rod should and will cast a number of different line sizes. What a person uses more often is how they cast not how the rod casts. Come to Townsend on Sat of the of the Trout fest/bamboo blast and we can discuss it in much greater detail if you wish. Oh I was also wondering how many rods you have made not assembled?

05-04-2009, 06:50 PM
The overall civility of this thread seems to be going down hill:confused:

Cane rod if I have said something to offend you it was not intentional, but I will not take part in an on-line argument. If we have the ability to communicate through PM on this board I can't find, and since I am unwilling to post my home # on the internet.
I accept your invitation to Troutfest. I just gotta call in sick;) You and I can fish, talk, agree , disagree , and then fish some more. Like you said everyone can have their own ideas that is not only the beauty of Bamboo but of fishing in general.


05-04-2009, 07:45 PM
I agree tentwing there should not be an argument and you have not upset me in any way. I also looked for a PM choice but as you said there is none. When someone is looking for help and is given an answer that is incorrect I do not see problem with trying to maybe correct it. Your statement that the only difference between the high end Grangers and Heddons is the ferrules and components just not true.I will add no more and again no hard feelings. As I said I will be in the classroom all day Saturday working on problem ferrules for people. I thank you for the fishing invite but I do not fish in the Park. Just introduce yourself to the fat balding blonde old man(me) dave

Arctic Grayling
05-05-2009, 12:33 AM
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

I have to rely on reading since there aren't a whole lot of bamboo rods being used in the frozen wasteland! ;) We are lucky in that we do have a local rod builder in Carlin.

What really matters in these rods is what works for you. I think you just have to try different lines on vintage bamboo and fiberglass rods until you find one that you like. And that can vary across two or three line weights. I think that my 346 is marked for a HDH or DT6 line. To me that means that a WF7 line should also work for me.

I do watch those double built rods. I just haven't been the high bidder on one yet! I've bid on a few 290s too without winning one. Now I have a W&M Victory 7030 so I probably won't chase them any more.

05-07-2009, 07:56 PM
Hello Gents,

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

05-07-2009, 08:26 PM

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)


For the sake of accuracy, the Stream & Lake was not a Granger, but a pure Wright & McGill and was never marked as a Granger rod. (It was the same as the Champion except that it had no tipping wraps and used nylon instead of silk. These two minor variations were out of spec for the Granger designation per the agreement between W&M and Mrs. May Granger Stocks.) And, just as an FYI, no Granger rods were ever sold in a dime store or anything approaching that level of marketing.

Regarding the tapers,Tentwing, you are right - the tapers were the same. Granger referred to each taper as a "model". Thus an eight foot rod was called model 8040, meaning 8.0 feet, 4.0 ounces (without reelseat). An 8.5 foot 4.5 ounce rod was called the model 8642, there were several nine footers with the most popular being the 9050.

The names such as "Special, Aristocrat, Favorite, DeLuxe" etc were referred to as "Grades" by Granger. Except for the ultra-rare Registered rods, and the bottom of the line Champion, every Granger rod used the same reel seat and ferrules. The blanks were each inspected for node placement, cane beauty and overall quality. The better grade rods got the best cane, more guides and fancier wrap patterns. (Yes, the Premier is an exception to the fancier wraps.) DeLuxe, Premier and Registered rods were made from a single culm specially selected for its high quality. (GG era only ).

To complete a Goodwin Granger rod's official designation, the rod would be referred to as "G" for Granger, "C, V, S, A, F, D, or P" for the grade name and finally the model number. That means that GS8642 = Granger Special 8.5', 4.5oz - and so on.

Although Heddon rods also hold a special place in my heart, I'd take ANY Granger over ANY Heddon every time.

Arctic Grayling
05-09-2009, 03:58 PM
Cool! I have good taste (Grangers) and didn't even know it!!!! :redface:

03-16-2011, 02:51 PM
I an a nooby here but I own and fish a number of different bamboo rods. I own and fish Hardy's(English), Heddon's, Orvis's, South Bend's, Sharps(British), H&I and have owned Montagues and Shakespeares. I can tell you that most South Bend rods I have owned, refurbished/refinished and fished with are **** for tough! Not often the most delicate casting but very sturdy. Most of the surviving SB rods are from the 50's and the glues they used then were of a more modern composition than glues from previous years. )(Paducah Michael might know more about that). My best SB rod is an 8.5 ft, 3pc #323 with fine tips and casts a wonderful 5 weight line. My next favroite SB rod is a #59-81/2 foot Bass rod, its great for stream/lake bass and casting streamers for trout in high water or lakes. Both real nice rods. If you can refurbish/restore the rod you get so much the better. I prefer (just MY opinion) SB rods over most others for good old fishing tools!

I love ALL Bamboo rods for their history and nostalga but if you need a good fishing "tool" with SB you cant go wrong.
(PS a lite, ie: 5wt SB 290 would be a great rod too!)