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Fortunately, we don’t need to have a PHD in taper design to come up with very fishable and good looking rods. I do think hollowing helps a lot, especially with spey rods. I earlier mentioned I felt my bamboo spey rod was too progressive initially. I was able to tape it up and cast it quite a bit yesterday. I actually really enjoy the action of the rod. A very smooth casting rod. I don’t think I’d make it any more regressive. Again, can’t wait to hook a steelhead on it!
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Discussion Starter · #22 · (Edited)
Sometimes there are questions from other rod builders about the reel seats on my rods.
I use SWAU seats that are available from REC and then modify them. It is suspected they are the same seats used by B&W and at one time Meiser. They are great seats as they accept all modern and vintage reel feet including fat vintage Beaudex Salmon (the ultimate reel foot challenge). In my case the down locking lower cup gets hot glued and sacrificially pinned to a wood mandrel and then turned down to around .990" so it can be inletted into the lower grip. A 1/4" shoulder on the cup is left. I imagine this voids any manufacturer warranty but have not had a problem in the many years I've been doing this practice. Inletting a down locking seat is the way to go IMO as this gets the reel as far down rod as possible to better balance the rod at the top of the handle.
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Here are some inserts that are turned and impregnated in my shop. From left, Olive wood, center; thrift store cutting board Stacked Bamboo and right most; Amboyna burl. And lastly my fav, Red Mahogany on a couple of rods that need to get to their owners.

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I have lately come to the conclusion, after many years of messing with longer bamboo rods, that I do not really like the feeling of a flexing handle while casting or fishing.
While I have often read, and seen dramatic pictures of- 'deep flexing into the handle' being portrayed as a virtue in a rod, I tend now not to agree, as such a
rod can feel somewhat 'soft' and 'wobbly'.
Cutting though the handles of a few old Hardy rods, both single and double handed, a layer of pine is noticeable between the cork and the blank; this was
done to stiffen the handle. Other makers of the past did similar, but few 'modern' makers seem to consider this.
Latterly I have, in effect, been 'double building' under my rod handles with glued on 1/8" strips of sanded surface bamboo, turned round, this to me enhances the crisp feeling in a rod which I, for one, appreciate.

Malcolm

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I have lately come to the conclusion, after many years of messing with longer bamboo rods, that I do not really like the feeling of a flexing handle while casting or fishing.
While I have often read, and seen dramatic pictures of- 'deep flexing into the handle' being portrayed as a virtue in a rod, I tend now not to agree, as such a
rod can feel somewhat 'soft' and 'wobbly'.
Cutting though the handles of a few old Hardy rods, both single and double handed, a layer of pine is noticeable between the cork and the blank; this was
done to stiffen the handle. Other makers of the past did similar, but few 'modern' makers seem to consider this.
Latterly I have, in effect, been 'double building' under my rod handles with glued on 1/8" strips of sanded surface bamboo, turned round, this to me enhances the crisp feeling in a rod which I, for one, appreciate.

Malcolm
I can't say I agree with you there Malcolm. I see no point into stiffening the butt just so I can't feel the rod bend. I love the the way I can feel it down into the cork whether it's bamboo or graphite.
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Maybe I should have added Dan, that my handles still 'flex' but not overly so,the bamboo strips I add under the handles may only be 2mm or so thick, but adding them can give a rod more 'authority' to aid casting and fishing- as makers of the past well knew.
I am currently working on an unusual rod, mostly making up as I go along- a 3 piece 9'6" trout #5 wet fly rod. Due to the extra length of this single handed hollowed rod, I extended the handle.
I had semi-formed the corks, flexed the rod back and forth with both hands, to get it's 'measure', but noticed the main part of the handle 'overly' flexing.
Taking it along recently to ask WayneV for his opinion, when we were playing with lines and bamboo rods- it did not bother him at all. However such things are very personal and it niggled me, so I carefully removed and salvaged the corks for future use, then added some bamboo strips under the cork, turned it down on the lathe until it 'felt' right.
I am currently in the process of adding the corks to the handle, but have flexed the rod back and forth, and to me the 'feel' has already improved- the handle still flexes, but less so.
Re-making that handle added several more hours to the many I have already spent on this 'experiment' but does not really matter as I enjoy the process- I did learn that it is possible to carefully turn thicker (face down) strips of bamboo on the lathe using the metal cutter attachment, on my big old Delta lathe - see picture.
I have found that it is a question of leverage, shorter fly rods I am quite happy to let the blank extend into the handle unchanged, however, on longer rods single built bamboo can only be so 'big' -I am simply
'double building' under the corks when required, similar to a 'swelled butt' of a single handed rod.
So-called 'parabolic' tapers apart, generally 'deep/ over flexing' into rod handles, either when casting nor when a fish is attached does not appeal and can risk the reel falling off, using the old fittings which I am partial to- the rod mentioned will sport a brass "W" Hardy fitting from 1908..

Malcolm

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I agree a rod should feel good. The handle should not be flexing more than the rest of the rod. The flex should progress through the entire length. Now, I am NOT a builder but you description sounds like you may prefer a faster rod feel than cane might give you. Not to say you can't have a fast action cane rod. I find, at least for myself, if I can feel the bend in the cork then I'm using the whole rod to cast. If I can't feel it then I need to change something, maybe my stroke, maybe the line. Got to bend it to send it.
 

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The flex will extend through the rod to cast, that is a given- how much being the question.
Too much 'Into the handle' can make the rod, any type of rod, feel soft and slow on recovery- the 'dampening' so to speak.
For me a good taper is one that recovers from a 'waggle' almost straight away without continuing to bounce around.
Looking at the photo of your rod, I prefer my rods to be of more of a 'progressive' action, not fast- meaning less hoop like bend lower down above the handle, more bend into the mid/ upper section.
On my last 12' double handled fly rod, I took WayneV's advice and did not double build under the handle. I purchased a somewhat pricey Tributary line to match the rod, which during our trials Wayne, more nuanced with rod tapers than I, thought did not have enough 'oomph' lower down to cast the line well- but was impressed enough to measure the taper for other types of lines.

Food for thought.

Malcolm
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 · (Edited)
Wish I could pick the brains of the vintage designers/makers of bamboo double handers (circa 1930 and later) when bamboo was the salmon rod makers material of choice. Why did they add pine to the blank under the handle?
a) to add stiiffness?
b) decrease the dampening effect of the cork?
c) provide a strong substrate under the thin layer of cork to attach their "W" fittings/ universal reel foot attachments?
d) to facilitate cork handle turning off rod on the pine 'sleeve'; Later the pine/cork assembly was slipped over and glued onto the rod shaft?
e) all of the above?
 

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A good subject to bring up at our next Canadian Cane gathering May 2023- hopefully.
The single handed 9'6" Hardy Rogue River rod (1950's/ 60's) had pine under the handle, that with a screw fitting and spacer.
Old Leonard, F E Thomas and Payne salmon rods from 1918 on, maybe before, also had cork or rattan over wooden handles, along with solid n/silver screw or long slide fittings.
The famed 10' Mk IV UK carp rod, designed in the early 50's by Richard Walker, was made to cast light baits a long way with ease, plus subdue heavy fish- Walker would go on to catch the UK record of 44lbs using it in 1952.
In similar fashion, Chris Yates would use the lighter version of the rod (Mk IV Avon) made by Walker in the 50's, to land another record carp this time of 51lbs, from the same pool in 1980.
The original Mk IV taper (published in Rod Making for Amateurs 1952) mentioned it had a solid wooden dowel running most of the length of the handle.
I have made two Mk IV's and an Avon- still have one of them. The bamboo was as 'big' as single built can be at 0.500" across the flat, I now think it would well benefit from some double building, if there were not so much cork involved..I would probably re-do it.
The new owner of the Mk IV I made the rod for did not seem to mind, sending some photos of impressive fish he caught using it.

Malcolm
 

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Further thoughts of bamboo rod 'aesthetic' possibilities - The End of the Handle..
Being a Brit. I am very fond of finishing a rod off with a quality 'button'. Most traditional English rods were furnished thus, from longer coarse rods to the humble fly.
In their various incarnations, 'buttons' look good, they add a few welcome ounces to help balance out the rod, plus focus the grip while casting. They do not have to be made of rubber, turned wood also has it's own appeal.

From left to right in the photo,
Rubber/ wood/ rattan.
African Blackwood/ recessed rubber 'O' rings.
African Blackwood/ brass/ recessed rubber 'O' ring.
Blackwood/ brass/ rubber.
Ditto last one.

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Second image shows an early Hardy tapered brass end sleeve from 1908, the wooden turned end button, appears to be Blackwood.

Malcolm

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Discussion Starter · #34 · (Edited)
Like the idea of the button on the lower handle, retro cool; and it seems to facilitate the use of the bottom hand more. Additionally if you so choose, a ring grip with your bottom hand.
Coming soon to a rod near you.

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Modern hard rubber buttons 3/8" BSF threaded kicking around in my shop; just like the Sharpes buttons.

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A friend showed me this and I'm contemplating the idea of ordering a few sets. Modern machined sliding rings and universal/W fittings are out there!

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Nice thread. I too like button, classic style rod. Too bad not many companies make rubber buttons now.... There are some sources in UK that still carry, but only one size, proper good for single hand rod and a bit small for spey. From the Hardy catalog I read, they had many sizes back then....
 

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A variety of end buttons of wood, plastic.. and rubber are available at: guidesnblanks.com (UK)
The retail end of Hopkins & Holloway, long established purveyors of rod components.
Their largest screw in rubber end button (red or black) is 31mm OD, eminently suited to double handed rods.
Interestingly, I know of no British rod-makers who make bamboo spey style rods- there are surprisingly few bamboo rod makers over there, in any case.
The market is mostly for long and very high quality, coarse style rods, such as for carp and barbel as mentioned in a previous post. Makers such as Edward Barder and Paul Cook, make a superlative job of considering every detail of the rod handles on their very traditional rods.

Malcolm
 

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One of my Sharpes Scotties had the button lost when I purchased it. I found the Hopkins & Holloway buttons from a UK source. I bought a red button and a black button. They fit perfectly into the Sharpes cap, no issues. However, I do find the rubber can be removed from the base pillar. I added some Gorilla glue to the assembly and it seemed to fix the separation issue.


Mike
 

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I made this end fitting and button set for a forum member a few months ago. The ball and threaded stud utilize SAE 3/8-16 threads so can be sourced in North America.
The balls are available in diameters up to 1-7/8". If I recall correctly this one is 1-1/4" - similar to the size of the H&H buttons.








Once you have it epoxied to the rod drill 1/16" dia. through the existing pin hole into the blank. Put a dab of epoxy on the pin and tap in place.

The threaded stud is permanently bonded into the ball end.
 
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