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I have been working on a couple rods. They are varnished and ready to wrap. I noticed that if I bend the blank it will stay bent a little what I let it go. I have never seen this with a finished rod. Did I do something wrong? I think the blanks have taken in some moisture but I am not sure. If this is the case can I fix the problem or should I just stake my tomatoes with the 2 blanks.   (Bob Venneri)

    Can the sections be re straightened? If so, why not put the blanks in a long PVC tube full of silica gel and let them sit for about a week. That ought to help remove any moisture without having to resort to reheating methods. Or you could wait till summer and lay the blank in the back window of your car. Talk about slowly heat treating!!!  (Randall Gregory)

    Here is more info on the process I used to make these rods I flamed, heat treated at 350 for 25 minutes The glue was URAC it was glued up about 2 or 3 weeks ago and it was never heat set. it happened to 3 blanks from 2 different culms and I used a spiral node spacing. Can I bind again and heat treat some more?   What temp would be safe not to harm the varnish and  how long at that temp temp.   (Bob Venneri)

      Novice maker here. I had the same problem with my first rod. When I flexed the blank, they just stayed put.  It looked like one of those Mustad shrimp hooks. No return. They were bad and I was pretty disappointed. I did not varnish them for some time after glue up, URAC 185 and ammonium chloride, and heat. I thought I had moisture reentry and tried all the heat regimens. I put it in my drying cabinet for a week at 95 degrees. No good. Then, I heat treated it at 125 for half hour, then 1 hour. I did this twice with slight improvement.

      I was going to can it, or watch it burn like Bret, but I didn't want to risk running it upstairs to the fireplace and having a heart attack. So, I figured I'd practice seating ferrules and wrapping. I don't know what happened but I wrapped the guides on, then varnished, and I have a decent flyrod. It recovers very nicely, no set.

      I only heat treated the rod for 7 or 8 minutes at 325, but I am sure that I overcooked the rod because my oven wasn't right and I had hot spots in it. I am not sure if overcooking or poor hand planing and bad angles contributed to the set. I used a 3x3 stagger and I believe that (having three weak spots in one place) contributed to the problem. My sets were dead on the nodal areas of the rod. It doesn't sound as though your problem is as nearly as bad as mine was.

      My guides are placed on or very close to the nodes. I don't know if guide placement or the varnish has stiffened the rod, but I can cast it all day without a set. Since it's your first rod, I'd try putting it in a drying cabinet for a few days or give it low heat in the oven, and then wrap it.

      Tomorrow I'll let you know how it holds up under the strain of an 8" stockie.  If I'm lucky.  (Mike Canazon)

        I was once asked by this guy who I must say I have no hard feelings over to refurbish an old English rod with I think about 250 odd intermediates, that's what it seemed like anyhow.

        It was a little #7 that surprisingly wasn't a bad little casting rod. I tried it before removing all the wraps then again after and it was a completely different rod without the intermediates, really sloppy.  Quite a good lesson on just what a difference the wraps do make actually even considering all the extra weight the wraps must pick up with the varnish filling them.  (Tony Young)

          My web site (here) speaks of the use of intermediates for stiffening the rod. Of course some, like Divine, carried it a bit too far.  (Reed Curry)

            That's it in a nut shell. Makes you think about just how much the fibers, glue and splines are moving laterally during use.  (Tony Young)

    Just my unsupported personal opinion, but I would be inclined though think that the blank was not sufficiently heat treated, and there is nothing that can be done.  Heat Treating does cause a definite change in the structure of the cane, and if properly done, would eliminate your problem.  If any take me to task and ask for proof, I don't have any other than my own observation.  I think you will just have to eat this one and try again.  (Ralph Moon)

      Could he put it in an oven at a low temp for an extended period to see if that would pull any moisture?  I haven't tried it, but I think I have seen others on the list who have.  (Rob Clarke)

        I don't know the adhesive he used, but I would not think that that would be feasible.  Most epoxies let go a slightly over  200 degrees, and if the proper heat treatment as Bob has pointed out is more like 350, I would expect delamination.  However, it does not hurt to try, since Bob now has a few of the most expensive tomato stakes in the Northern Hemisphere.  What does he have to lose?  (Ralph Moon)

    I agree that you probably did not give them enough heat. I have two rods that had the same problem.  They fish beautifully, and just take a bit of a set now and then.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I had this same thing happen to me a couple times several years back, and one of my friends was puzzled when it happened to one of his rods just last summer.  I cannot know for certain in the case of your rod, but I believe the problem is an inherently weak spot in the cane itself.  You can try to dry the sections with the oven, as others have suggested, but I'm doubtful that this will solve the problem.

    The problem MAY be that the cane has become sodden, in which case, drying it could help.  If so, you would not need more than 200 degrees for a couple hours (since actual heat-curing 350+ degrees is not what's called for).  But I suspect this is not the problem.  Instead, I think that the culm you used had a weak spot in it that you just didn't notice.  This can happen, and most builders I know do not check for it.

    What I always do now is to test a couple strips just after splitting out the entire culm.  Place each hand just beyond a node and bend the internodal area somewhat severely.  Look at the shape of the arc to see that it is smoothly distributed between the two nodes.  Then release quickly to see if the cane snaps back to its original line.  If the internodal area you just bent is good, it will snap back like steel (though a little residual arc will remain).

    Move your hands down to span the next set of nodes and give the strip the same test.  Do this between each set of nodes on at least a two strips taken from opposite sides of the culm.  You will not often find a weak area in a culm, but it DOES happen -- even in the very finest looking cane.   If you should hit a bad area, you will see (and feel) at once how differently the cane responds to the "bend and release" test.  The bending will feel like "mush" and the resulting arc will show exactly where that weak spot is.  When you release, most of the internodal area will straighten out except for that mushy spot.  I think that's what you have now, built into the rod you described.

    If you find one such weak area in a test strip, you will find that the entire culm is affected similarly at that same location -- even though all the other internodal areas may be perfectly strong.  I don't know what causes this problem (it's a localized aberration in the fiber structure), but I do not believe there is anything than can be done to salvage a culm that has a weak area other than to think about building nodeless (cutting out and discarding the weak area).  (Bill Harms)

    You can always do what I did too if it doesn't work out.  I was working on a 5'3" 1-PC rod today and one of the strips delaminated on it and broke.  I broke it into little pieces and put it in the fireplace and sat and watched it burn.  (Bret Reiter)

    Sounds like you did a lot of heat treating. I would suspect that the glue is at fault. I ruined 2 good blanks before switching to the Ammonium Chloride to kick the glue. I was using the Borden equivalent and I never had success with the walnut flower. Have made many rods since with the kicker only. Not one failure yet.

    Also, you should not be gluing up with URAC if  under  70 degrees. It causes it to weaken.  You might try to cure it in the oven, but when it happened to me I just chucked them.  (Bob Maulucci)

    Heat the rod.  If it delaminates, so what; clean it up and reglue it.

    It's worth a try, you can always just scrap it later.  (Chris Obuchowski)

    It's hard to imagine you have a moisture problem after this regimen.  Are you absolutely sure that you don't have a glue failure? The problem may have been that the cane was too dry, and you don't have a good bond. Take one of the rods out and cast it hard, then look at the seams for any sign of cracks in the varnish.  (Tom Smithwick)

    My experience has been that rods that have poor bonding between splines stiffen if the splines are kept from creeping by one another. Ferrules and wraps can temporarily hide the poor lamination but eventually you get failure. Often rods that I restore have partial de laminations that do not show up until I have the guides and/or ferrules off. When I do not find these problems first they will show up later as serious de lamination or breakage.  (Doug Easton)

      I had never considered bonding as a problem, but you're probably right.  My rod has serious issues regarding glue lines and such. I am sure the tip section is going to break, and am preparing to make new tips for that reason.

      I don't quite understand how a rod that has poor bonding would stiffen the rod. Also, do you think you can get too much or too little glue to cause this "event".  (Mike Canazon)

        What I meant to say was that when you put on the guides and ferrules you prevented the splines from creeping when the rod bends. This would give the rod stiffness for a while.  Later, with continued flexing, de lamination will probably occur between the guides and failure can result. I had not had my morning coffee when I wrote the first message.  (Doug Easton)

    I didn't realize, upon reading your first email, that there were two different culms involved in the bending problems you encountered with your sections.  Considering this, I think it is unlikely that my earlier suggestions are applicable.  Instead, I would agree with Bob Maulucci (and others) that the problem is probably with glue failure.

    Even so, I would still strongly recommend testing strips from each culm you split out before proceeding farther with the building process.  You will find culms, from time to time, that may look great but are unsuitable for noded rods.

    You can use a very bright desk light and a good pair of "Optivisors" to examine the glue lines.  Space your hands about six-eight inches apart, flex the joint slightly, and then roll it slowly between your fingers.  Do this all along  the length.  Sometimes you can see the openings, and sometimes you can also feel them slipping over one another.

    Use a single-edge razor blade to probe a suspicious glue line.  When you find an opening, there are probably others in the same area.  Once spread with the razor blade, slide a pin into the opening and move it up or down in the open glue joint until you meet with the resistance of good glue.  Then position a pin in similar fashion at the other end of the open joint.  Do this everywhere you find a problem, even until the joint looks like a porcupine.   Then use Titebond II  (or Brownells Accra Glass epoxy) and work it deep into the openings with the razor blade.  When you're satisfied that all areas have been slathered, run the section through your binder again.

    An alternative to this may be to heat-treat the section to cause complete delamination, and then return each strip to your planing forms just to cleanup the glue surfaces.  You can take it from there with an alternative glue to what you had used previously.  (Bill Harms)


I have a "Montague Rapidan" that I am about to restore for a friend. Mainly strip the hardware and old finish and re wrap it. Simple job. However, both the tips and the mid section have sets in them. The mid is set to the side and both the tips set in line with the guides. What is the proper technique to remove the sets and straighten the rod ? I know I had it written down somewhere but for the life of me cannot find it. And it has been "Way" to long ago for me to just remember it off the top of my head.  (Jimi Genzling)

    If you have a heat gun, it is relatively easy.  Hold the section that needs to be straightened over the heat gun, rotating so that you don't char the cane.  You want to get the cane to the temperature where it starts to feel "plastic".  This is the point where the cane will start to bend with slight pressure.  Be real careful not to overheat the section that you're trying to straighten.  You can char the thinner tip sections and the outer portion of the enamel if you're not to careful.  The cane will feel slightly too hot to touch.  Then, to straighten the section just bend the section in the opposite direction from the set, just past center, as the cane will tend to spring back a little.  You may have to do this in a number of places along the section if the set is a long bow rather than a shorter curve.  You can "adjust" the bend until the cane cools down.  Oh, I should mention, it's easier to do after you've stripped the finish.  If you don't have a heat gun, but do have an electric stove, you can do the same thing just holding the sections above the stove elements.  (Mark Wendt)

      A hair dryer generates a lower temperature and may not be as likely to char the cane, much slower to work with.  (Carey Mitchell)


A month or so ago I posted a note about a rod I glued up where one of the tip sections took a set while the glue was setting.  It was straight when I hung it up after binding, but it had a uniform sweep in it after the glue cured.  The butt and the other tip section remained straight while the glue cured.

I heard from several list members that they too have had this experience, but nobody mentioned what subsequently happened to the rod(s).  I thought I'd give you all an update on it.

In my case, I straightened the tip section and hung the blank up.  I didn't have the proper sized ferrule on hand, so the rod sat around for a while until I ordered some ferrules and had some free time.  Today I ferruled the blank and found that the set had returned.  It was not quite as bad as it was initially, but it was way too much for me to live with.  The original set was enough that if I chucked the butt end of the tip section and turned the lathe on, the tip would have described a circle with a diameter of about 4 inches.  This morning when I chucked it to turn the ferrule station the tip was making about a 2 inch diameter circle. The bend in it was a uniform sweep just like the first time.  I went ahead and straightened it again and mounted the ferrule, but I'm pretty sure I will wind up making another tip section for this one.  (Robert Kope)

    I have had a similar problem. Most times, a set will not return. Sometimes, it will persist and it will take several sessions of straightening to correct. Be patient and persistent before trashing the section.  (Steve Weiss)


I was straightening a blank last night and to my horror I found that I could straighten the final 4" without heat.  I then checked an old junk tip section laying in the corner and found that it did the same thing.  I took a bit of pressure to bend the tip but it did not return to its original position.

Do I have a problem, or is this what causes "sets"?  (Lee Orr)

    Let me be a little clearer.  I don't see any noticeable memory except for the very tip before cutting to final length.  So I'm talking about the last 2-3" and it takes a bit of force to do it.  (Lee Orr)

    I think the tip has a high moisture content. On classic rods that display this problem I have cured it by placing the section near a hot air heating duct for an extended period. You can also place the tip in an oven at a low temp. 175F + or -.  (Marty DeSapio)

    I just checked another really old junk tip section.  The tip can be directed a fairly significant amount without using heat.  So I have tried four tip sections and have seen that the thinner the tip the greater the memory.  All four tips showed some level of memory.  Two were mine and two were old junk sections.

    I also tried a finished tip on my first rod and the memory appears to be far less.  Is this a result of the Tung/poly finish or better heat treating?  (Lee Orr)

      I noticed this a few years ago and went thru every rod I own, at that time, an even dozen, 6 of my own and 6 oldies. Of those, every last one could be bent cold and stayed there for varying lengths of time. The worst of the bunch was the Gene Edwards Autographed 7'6" that shows very high quality in every respect except this, it bent to almost 90d and stayed there until I straightened it, however, it casts very well and doesn't take a set from casting, I haven't fished it. My own rods fell in about the middle of the group, with my  9' Phillipson Pacemaker being the most resistant. I have an antique rod that originally had hanging ring guides, blond bamboo that looks like A.A., but may be Calcutta that is a wet fly action, bends fairly easily, but returns on it's own overnight. The Heddon #14 was square in the middle, some of my own were better, some didn't do as well. I've come to the conclusion that it may not mean much, what is most important is how the rod behaves under normal fishing conditions. I also discovered that the old wives tale about vigorously shaking the rod after landing a big fish actually works, almost without exception all the rods I bent cold would be as they were before bending after shaking the snot out of them.  (John Channer)


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