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Drags are for Sissys
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This topic is for makers/builders of bamboo and wood spey rods, so guys: shop photos, rods you built, rod design thoughts etc. post away if you want in this topic.

I've been at the bamboo spey rod making thing for around a decade or so and I've made oddels of mistakes and learned/worked my way through them. And I'm still learning - new cane design knowledge, build tips and tricks. Finally after quite a few years the rods from my shop are casting not so bad. My rods are built for friends, family and myself. For me; its a hobby that is fascinating. Best advise I can give anyone considering a bamboo spey rod is to cast a rod of the same maker and model first. Bamboo spey rods can be designed and built to be as soft and slow as licorice or as stiff and fast as graphite and everything in between; so I say cast first buy later.

Hardest skills for makers to learn that takes so long to pickup on is: number one taper design, number two taper design , number three taper design and number four hollowing. Taper design is by far the more important of the four. Not so much public information out there on modern bamboo spey taper development or on hollowing and established makers may not be willing to share their designs.,... Get the taper wrong and the rod will not cast worth beans or not cast well for its intended purpose. Hollow the rod wrong and it will lack durability and will break. Get both right and its a winner IMO. If you are into solid built cane spey rods thats cool too.

First rod to show is a 13' 8/9 weight, medium speed, moderately hollow rod now owned by a buddy. It is back in my shop for the addition of a second tip and to repair a smashed snake guide. I took it to the river this morning to test cast with the new second tip and think I should have kept it. But I missed my design goal of a 13' rod that excels at lifting/rotating/sweeping with the utmost control into the D loop with 50 foot and longer lines (she was almost there!); so she had to go. Still a fine rod for shorter lines up to around 40 feet and up to around 600 grains and she gets mucho care and outings from the current owner. So other than meeting the design goal 100%, what else can I ask for.
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Wood Cylinder Grass Nickel Pipe

Wood Tool Cylinder Metal Pipe

Plant Wood Grass Musical instrument Garden tool


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Wood Wood stain Art Hardwood Musical instrument

BTW here is the wall of shame, this rack contains bamboo rod sections that did not make the quality/build cut or meet the design goal. Now and then one of these sections depending on its original line weight and taper gets used for testing a design/taper idea ... or perhaps kindling :-(

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To Be Continued
 

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Congrats Wayne....on submitting an informative post on the design and performance of a cane switch and spey rod. The existential pursuit of perfection in crafting exquisite cane double handers is never satisfied, but an 8 out of 10 still constitutes a fine wand to enhance the pleasures of spey angling.
Regards from the Niagara....Jim
 

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Lovely! I envy your skill.
 
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Broken Down Spey Freak
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Awesome post! Though that 13' may have missed the intended target as far as design it is by no means a mistake. This stick cast beautifully with a Gaelforce ESH 10wt. It played a crucial part in taking a 32-34" steelhead in December while swinging a blue Muddler. There are no mistakes, just learning experiences.
 

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I love the idea of this post and look forward to some good discussion. I recently posted some pictures of my first bamboo spey rod. As you say…taper, taper, taper. Being my first, and not having a large archive of modern spey tapers on the internet, I fumbled my way through. The rod I ended up with feels more progressive that I had hoped. I think on the next rod I’ll reduce the butt diameter and maybe increase the tip a bit. Try to get that butt bending more. I think bamboo is a great material for spey rods and can’t wait to get a grab and play a fish with one!

Jake
 

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good post wayne . i just got into building bamboo rods and of course i'm sure you are following the greenheart stuff that's been kicked around here of late . i've finished the blank for my first rod , a dickerson 6611 . i was gifted a bit of cane that was already split and there was enough to make this rod with one tip . i'll be straightening today and fitting the reel seat and handle . i have 6 more culms to work with ( nice stash of cane wayne !) we ( myself and rollingblock) also have a stack of greenheart billets to work with in our attempt to build a " new " vibration rod (s) . eventually i intend to try a bamboo spey . for now i'll be casting my scotties . i have a couple of silk lines that i'll be trying on them as soon as we get a weather break . i'll watching this space .
a couple of pics , my bamboo oven and some greenheart billets Naval architecture Wood Watercraft Hardwood Wood stain
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Naval architecture Wood Watercraft Hardwood Wood stain
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, my first blank , and a terenzio artificial silk spey line 54' @602 g , that arrived yesterday . :giggle:
hope everyone enjoys the day !
 

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Drags are for Sissys
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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
. i just got into building bamboo rods .... .
... some greenheart billets
... and a terenzio artificial silk spey line 54' @602 g , that arrived yesterday . :giggle:
@jimlucey building bamboo... your life might not be the same now going forward ;)
wondering how are you going to machine the greenheart to dimension, going back, traditionally wasn't greenheart turned on a lathe and it that what you are going to do?
!!! terenzio silk spey (ouch ;).) ... would love to get your impressions on how silk spey casts relative to plastic, on bamboo spey of course
 

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i'm not sure that the greenheart blanks of old were turned on a lathe . if you look at the post malcolm started about greenheart and watch the video from orvis he posted , you'll see what i have been calling a " shuttle plane " . that's probably not what it's called , but nick has one ! hand planing and using that tool is what we'll try . nick , chime in ? harry jamieson sent me a package of info that has provided some insight . we need to source some drop rings for the guides as grant says that they are integral to the whole system . we've also sourced a continuous taper silk line that is still being developed , the first prototype came up a bit short of what we wanted . i will say that i took my 13'6" to the river and spooled up a sa xlt line (plastic) that has a front taper of 85' . nobu says that it's patterned after grant;s line . i worked on my " grant switch cast or as some called it " planet cast " . quite a bit different than spey casting . i need more time to work on it , but the times that i "nailed" it , it was pretty darn cool . the fly floats down ever so gently .
i have a couple of silks to try on the scotties , one wf phoenix that budcrist loaned me and the terenzio " spey line 1" as well as a phoenix dt that i picked up . waiting for winter and cold weather to break before i use the silk . next week it looks like spring will give winter a shove outta here . i'll report when i can .
meanwhile , the saps flowing !!
 

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Drags are for Sissys
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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
. Try to get that butt bending more. I think bamboo is a great material for spey rods and can’t wait to get a grab and play a fish with one!

Jake
@Jcflyfish . butt bending more, I can relate 100% ... butt too stiff and the rod turns more progressive and lacks the sensual feel that I find so nice when its done right, too much flex in the butt and the rod starts to get that hinged, non linear effect /// taper development, trial and error, its an iterative process and bit of an art that becomes very time consuming.
 

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There is much misinformation, I mean varied opinions.. regarding bamboo rods.

Even a 'dog' taper may appear to be a 'gorgeous build' or 'fabulous workmanship' from a photo. The almost 30 years that I have been 'playing' about with bamboo as a hobby, has shown me there are pros and some cons to bamboo- graphite/ glass and bamboo are very different materials - a 'light' bamboo rod may not always be a good thing.

Another assumption, in my opinion, is that as 'named' makers who sell their rods must know best. Possibly.
Although I have met many rod makers over the years and a few have become personal friends, 99.9% make bamboo rods as a hobby, as do I - any of us can call ourselves a 'Rod Co.', indeed I can only think of less than a handful in all of the US, Canada, the UK, plus into Europe.. that is 'professional' makers who make their sole income from making bamboo rods - not retired, not independently wealthy, no guiding, no also making leather rod & reel cases, nor making reels or even giving classes- just bamboo rods alone.

One who does comes to mind however, is Edward Barder in the UK, who makes not only the bamboo rod (Coarse and single handed fly only) but the components- ferrules and reel seats etc. Look at his web site to see the exquisite rods, plus eye watering prices.. Those who buy the rods know that if they sell, they will receive a good price - an advantage over the hobby maker's rods.

Yet hobby makers, such as Wayne, can enjoy and devote endless hours playing with tapers as he is not making his rods to a price. I have no such perseverance however as I like to make various types of rods for various methods of fishing apart from spey types, preferring to track down suitable tapers and sometimes 'tweaking' them. After more than 30 rods I have only made two I did not like, and the top two sections of one of them became a very nice 8' spinning rod, so I do not have a reject pile myself.

One heated debate has been regarding ferrules and spliced joints. Personally I don't hold firm views on either (as I have attempted to explain in previous posts) but prefer my rods, for now, to incorporate a particular style of light, hard drawn n/silver ferrule.

I have read here (more than once) that splices are closer (in feel) to a 'one piece rod' which seems to make sense, although this opinion mostly comes from owners/ customers rather than makers. Makers who create larger rods know that the two sets of ferrules required would add a couple of hundred dollars at least to the cost of materials, even if you could find them; making a splice certainly saves that cost. I would guess Wayne's enthusiastic rod taper experiments would not be possible without splices being used.

As I have written before, each method of joining sections of a rod will be a compromise.

Tim Abbot has one of the sharpest minds in 'bamboo', having in- depth experience of rod tapers, and hollowing.
With Tim's permission I include the following article on hollowing and taper design, he even touches on the 'myth' of the one piece rod..

Malcolm


HOLLOW BUILDING INSIGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

While many makers are hollow building rods, those that understand how to combine the taper with hollowing are rare. Anyone can remove material and make a rod lighter, but actually making a better rod does not seem to be a priority for most. This is not really surprising as I estimate less than 1% of makers have any grasp of taper design. The tendency of many to simply go online to find information rather than learn for themselves, adds to the knowledge gap. Add this to the sheer amount of misinformation available and the average maker is doomed to mediocrity.

So what is hollowing all about? POWER TO WEIGHT RATIO! I spent many years designing successful racing cars and understand the concept well. Simply put, if you have a fixed amount of power available, any weight you can shed will add to the performance. You will accelerate quicker, stop quicker, and be more responsive all over. How does this apply to a fishing rod? A taper does not make power, but it stores energy. The amount it can store is finite. In casting, this energy must overcome the mass of the rod as well as that of the line and any other loading to accelerate. It must also recover the mass as well. If mass is removed from the rod, more of this energy is available to propel the line. Now this is where it gets tricky. The mass of the rod also helps with loading the rod. If you can’t load the rod, you won’t store as much energy. Some have noted that when they hollowed a rod, it took a higher line weight. This, they wrongly attributed to the rod becoming stiffer. This is not the case however. It is due to less self loading. Another observation is that the rod feels faster or crisper. An underlined rod will feel faster but an improved power to weight ratio makes for a faster rod as well.

Weight has a great effect on how a rod casts. It is very easy to add a little weight to a rod and see for yourself how it responds. I have several 1 piece rods, both solid and hollow. By using lead tape, I can simulate the weight of ferrules and their placement and get an immediate feedback. Also, weight can be added at any point, cast and removed to get a sense of how weight in various places on the rod affects the cast.

Making a 1 piece rod is similar to hollowing in that by removing the weight of a ferrule, it does not load as effectively as it did in a multi piece configuration.

It is very informative to cast rods with different lines and really concentrate on how it loads. If for instance, you have a favorite 5 weight taper that you hollowed and it loads better with a 6 weight, you now have a choice. The rod just told you that to keep it as a 5 weight you must modify the taper or to make a better 6 weight the same is true. To keep it a 5 weight, the tip is still a 5 weight but at some point the rod stops loading properly. Your goal should be to determine the area where you need to start REDUCING the taper. This is not straight forward as there is much variation in taper styles. Depending on the type of taper, the amount of mass available for removable and its location will vary. Also the length of the rod has a definite effect due to the leverage. There is also no 1 to 1 trade between weight removed and line weight as the line is loading from the tip top and the mass removed is lower and throughout the rod. Try to develop a feel when casting to sense where you need to modify.

There are those who feel that this can be dealt with by simple engineering. Let’s look at this. The basic concept is that you calculate the stiffness of the diameter and then subtract the stiffness of the diameter of the amount you remove. You then recalculate the diameter to reclaim the stiffness that you lost from hollowing thus creating a new taper. The claim is that it will then cast exactly the same as the hollow version but be lighter. This is a valid engineering method for structural design but improperly applied for our application.

It is based on the material being homogenous and consistent. Bamboo is neither.

It assumes a solid model to start with and as bamboo’s strength decreases as we move away from the outside towards the pith, the engineering model cannot compensate for this loss of strength.

It does not allow for any internal structure such as dams, flutes, ribs, etc. where it effectively becomes a truss, not a hollow tube.

It is based on static deflection, not dynamic deflection to which response and recovery are part of the equation, not just dead load.

It does not compensate for the weight reduction and reduced self loading on the polar moment. Also it ALWAYS calls for an increase in diameter when the rod might be asking for a decrease in diameter. LISTEN TO THE ROD!

Garrison used his engineering to develop a baseline taper but then used empirical design to make it a better fishing rod. The same logic applies to hollowing. Always trust the ROD over the text books!

There is one very useful thing to keep in mind based on this engineering principle. The same amount of material can be made stiffer by increasing the diameter and reducing the wall thickness. You can therefor increase the stiffness of a section without increasing the weight.

If you wish to develop better hollow building techniques, it is best to start with something familiar. Ideally, chose a taper you are familiar with. You also need to choose which method of hollow building you wish to work with. It is important to have a process that is accurate and repeatable. If you build 2 rods, as close to identical as possible with the exception that one is hollowed, you now have something to compare. Cast the rods side by side and concentrate on how they load and any differences you might detect. Try different lines to see if another choice feels better. It is best to do this on several occasions as preconceived ideas can cloud your objectiveness on first impressions. Depending on the taper, what you feel may be subtle or dramatic. What you are looking for are any differences and where they occur in the cast. Sometimes a change can be seen more than felt, such as a different loop profile. This will give you an idea about the effect hollowing had on this particular taper. Make note of how much weight you removed and from where in the rod it was removed. Weigh the rod before glue up and after cleaning the blank to see how much glue is retained in the hollows. This information will be useful as you continue to develop and refine tapers. Once you have an idea of how the hollowing influences the cast, you can form a plan on how to proceed next with development. Depending on the taper you start with, you might decide that you do not find any real benefit for the extra work involved or you may find a noticeable improvement that stimulates you to explore more options. Shorter, lighter rods do not show as dramatic a change as longer, heavier rods but it can still be noticed. In a longer rod, hollowing is more noticeable because there is more potential weight to be removed and more leverage acting on the rod.

There is no substitute for actually building a rod and casting it. With different tapers and different casting styles, there is no “one size fits all” answer to hollowing. Those who keep exploring are rewarded for their efforts.

This is by no means a comprehensive study of hollow building, but just a few thoughts and observations put down as I prepare for the 2015 Catskill Gathering.

Tim Abbott
 

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Has a standard for a “loaded” rod been determined and accepted yet in the broader community, or is still up to each builder (and then caster) to determine what they think “loaded” means?
 

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Drags are for Sissys
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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Has a standard for a “loaded” rod been determined and accepted yet in the broader community, or is still up to each builder (and then caster) to determine what they think “loaded” means?
Hard to answer that. As you likely know a loaded rod is a "bent" rod however its not the hippie/cannabis 'bent'. ;)

There some guidelines around maximum rod stress that might come as close to answering your question in detail as we are going to get.
A engineer named Everett Garrison (mentioned above in Malcolm's post) pioneered some bamboo rod analysis calculations including rod stress analysis.
His postulation was that the maximum stress a bamboo rod safely should be put under based on his calculation methods is around 220000 f (b).
So a loaded rod would be a bent rod, an over loaded rod would a rod bent under a stress of 220000 f (b) or greater.

The taper design software that is out there often shows the Garrison Stress Curves; so if you are designing a taper online you can see the stress graph the rod is under when the software simulates the line load on the rod. (A bent rod). This allows one to see and be rightly concerned IMO when the stress is very high in a part of the rod, ... why is it so high there and what needs to be done to the taper to reduce the stress to a safe level?
Garrison's work is often discussed as to how useful and how accurate his calculations are. IMO his work is eons better than what existed before him which was little to nothing in this area,. Everett's work is published in a A Master's Guide to Building a Bamboo Fly Rod | Book by Everett E. Garrison, Hoagy B. Carmichael/

Regarding computer design- generally those that design tapers understand that computer simulations do not tell the whole story and there does not seem to be a substitute for actually physically building a rod from the taper and evaluating it (casting it), then adjust the taper design, build the rod again to the adjusted taper and so on until the rod casts as desired.. Malcolm post above also goes down that road.

Anyways I think I'm rambling, hope some of this reply answers your question at least a little bit.
 

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Good stuff @waynev, mostly just curious about the process. I spent a few years in aircraft primary structure design and analysis so load, stress, bend, etc. pic my curiosity a wee bit. Wonder if bamboo is subject to fatigue, so designing for durability comes in to play? I have an early century (last) greenheart rod and mid-century Leonard and Heddon SH bamboo rods, none of which have fatigued out yet 😂. Probably more of a glue longevity thing anyhow (??).
 
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A couple of years ago I measured a 3 pce. 9'6" 7wt. Hardy 'Rogue River' rod and made a 10' hollow version of it, which I am very pleased with. Being one of the 99% who don't really understand tapers, or how they are designed.. I am currently after a long rod to fish a wet trout fly of 5wt or so, to match a St George 3 3/8".
As I generally like the Rogue length and action- imagining it lighter, I deducted 20% off the taper specs. to take the size of the tip section to around a 5wt.
Most wet fly rods top off at around 8 1/2' however I was after more length of a 9 footer, possibly more, for which I could not find a taper, nor (sorry Wayne) was willing to make a few versions till I found the right recipe.. I will glue it up and tape ferrules and guides on and see if I like it before finishing it off.
Both Tim Abbot & J. Reid advised me on hollowing when I started doing it- I decided on 1/2" dams plus not taking too much out.

Malcolm
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