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Cane Prep - Staggering - Spiral

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According to the Garrison book a 6' piece of bamboo is too short for most rod lengths using his recommended node staggering method.  So, is there another way to stagger the nodes, or is it best to get the 10 or 12 foot bamboo poles?  (Jason Swan)

    3x3 will conserve the most length of your bamboo. All of it in fact if you flip every other strip end for end.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      What does 3X3 mean?  I have only seen the Garrison staggering method.  (Jason Swan)

        There is a node at the same place in every other strip (6 strip rod of course).  (Darryl Hayashida)

    Too short for a spiral pattern, or a Chevy 6, is really dependent upon the node spacing. If you'll use 1½" node center to node center  you'll  use  up  9"  of cane  just for  the stagger.  With a 2 x 2 x 2, using 3" between nodes you'll use only 6" of cane for the stagger, and if you use a 3 x 3 x 3 you can get by with  whatever  you  want/need  to  make  it  work.  (Martin-Darrell)

    As mentioned before the 3X3 makes the best use of the bamboo, I most often will stagger 3 full culms with another 3 full culms. You have to sort the cane into similar node spacing piles first. I stagger about 20 - 30 culms at a time and store them in a rack bundled together after cutting them into either 50" or 36" pieces.  (AJ Thramer)

      Does that mean you use strips from two separate pieces of bamboo in one rod?  I thought that was a no-no.  Or is that another myth propagated by the Garrison book?  (Jason Swan)

        Not only is it a myth/bad idea, but it leads to a lot of variation in the individual rods. The best example is scotch whiskey. Single malts can have a lot  of character - some bad, some good while blends are consistent. In addition to being another one of those 'red herrings' that has come out of building as a hobby and for reasons unknown to have been endlessly propagated it was never the practice of any other builder from the Golden age. My tips are still 'book matched', they are simply made from a blend of complementing strips.  (AJ Thramer)

    I think there is a touch of confusion here. Garrison bought 8' culms and cut them so that he could get a full length tip for an 8' rod, which meant he had to splice the strips under the grip to get the butt section out of it. Today's culms are 12' long, which are cut to 2 6' lengths to ship if you buy only a few at a time. 6' is long enough to do most any length 2 piece rod section you are likely to make.  (John Channer)

      Am I missing something here? I start with about 6' length; suppose I have really struck it lucky and get say 15" internodes, so I have to slip 2 strips back 5"  and 2  back 10",  that's for 2X2X2, so I am losing 10" off my length. So I still have about 5'0", which still leaves me plenty of slop for getting rid of the crummy bits as a rule and still have enough to make a 9'0" rod if I want to, which incidentally I pretty will never do.   (Peter McKean)

        No, you’re not missing anything, your 6' length I believe is half the culm, one half for tips, the other for butts. In Garrisons day, the length available at retail was 8', I suppose the companies that bought in quantity got 12'ers, but I'm not really sure, maybe the 8' culm was why there  were so many 3 piece rods made.  (John Channer)

          All of the bamboo that I saw here in Canada from the 70's until about 10 years ago were 8' long.  I have a few 8' long pre-embargo culms that came from Demarest.  Maybe this had something to do with shipping practice, but I really don't know the answer.  (Ted Knott)

    If you are going to cut them I measure down from the tip 6 feet and then go to the next node down. That way you are not left with half a section between nodes.  (Dave Norling)

    Jason, a two up or three up works just fine.   The node staggering, 2x2x2 vs. 3x3 vs. spiral is picking nits.   Keep the nodes 5 in from tips or ferrules. KISS  (Chris Raine)

    I prefer getting 12 footers, if for no other reason than that it gives me more leeway for what I need to make a rod -- more finagle factor.  (Mike Shaffer)

      Another thing to think about is that due to the relatively low weight of bamboo, the extra cost per 12' piece is minimal, but the frustration of having to screw around with 6' would drive me even further over the edge than I already am!  (G) And, you can always save the 'scrap' pieces for nodeless rods.   (Mike Shaffer)

    ANY way of staggering nodes makes more efficient use of your cane than Garrisons "Chevy Firing Order" method.  I use a 3x3, many use a 2x2.  I immediately upon receiving a bale, mark them and cut them into 5 1/2 to 6 foot pieces.  Never had any trouble getting a rod out of those, but then again, the longest TWO piece I make is an 8 footer.  (Bob Nunley)

    Use a 3 by 3 stagger . It is the easiest to do and was good enough for Dickerson.  (Ian Kearney)

      Thanks for the suggestion, Ian.  I haven't heard of the 3X3 staggering method.  Is it simple enough that you could explain it to me in an email?  Or could you tell me where I can find the reference?  (Jason Swan)

        The 3 by 3 stagger means that every second strip is off set the same amount.  This means that three nodes are at one point in the rod section but are separated by strips which have the nodes about 6" away. It is referred to in most of the rodmaking books, except Garrison, such as Jack Howell, Gould, Wayne C etc.

        Actually that is not a very good explanation. I will try again. 3 by 3 has adjacent strips with the nodes about 6" apart. The result is that you have 3 nodes about the same location in the rod but separated by strips that have the nodes about 6" away from the first location. This means that you have strip 1 with a node at point "A" and the adjacent strips on both sides (strips 2 and 6) have the node at point "A" plus half the distance between nodes which is usually about 6 or 7 inches. Strips 3 and 5 have their nodes at the same position as strip 1 , strip 4 has the nodes at the same position as 2 and 6. The net result is that  there are 3  nodes at the same position around the rod section, but separated by strips that have their nodes offset by about 6 inches.

        I am not sure if you saw AJ's comment that he uses this system but achieves it by using strips from two different culms that have similar node spacing but which he cuts so that the nodes have a 6" offset to each other. This is a good way to do it if you are into fairly high production but if you are doing one rod at a time you can do it by simply offsetting every second strip by six inches.

        As a general comment I must say I would never have got started in rodmaking if I had got Garrison first. He really does make it seem very complicated.   I got Wayne C's book first and Jack Howell's soon after. I have found Jack Howell's the easier to follow as I prefer the way it is written but that is quite subjective. I have got a Garrison also now and it is a good book but it sure tries to make things hard.

        Some comments I would make about starting out include:

        • you do not need a lathe, buy your cork handles preformed from a supplier such as Anglers Workshop and fit your ferrules using a file to round the rod section.
        • most of the gear suggested has a much simpler option which may not look as good but will work as well ( let me know if there is anything you are struggling over)
        • my first rods were up to .010 out from the design taper, but cast well and the fish do not seem to notice. Many of the "famous" tapers come with quite wide variations from one rod to the next.
        • stick to "classic" tapers, they are very forgiving of variations from the design taper
        • you only use half the tools you buy, $200 scrappers are not worth it.  (Ian Kearney)

Too short for a spiral pattern, or a Chevy 6, is really dependent upon the node spacing. If you'll use 1½" node center to node center you'll use up 9" of cane just for the stagger. With a 2 x 2 x 2, using 3" between nodes you'll use only 6" of cane for the stagger, and if you use a 3 x 3 x 3 you can get by with whatever you want/need to make it work. (Martin-Darrell)

      Thanks for the suggestions.  I don't know what those patterns are, though.   Could you suggest a source for me to find out?  (Jason Swan)

        Wayne's book has a good explanation, as does Maurer/Elser's, and so does Howell's. I'd gladly explain them to you, so that you wouldn't have to buy the books, but I don't think I could do it clearly enough without pictures.  I'll try, but it won't  be a very complete explanation.

        You know what the spiral pattern is, right? Strips 1-6 are arranged in numeric order with the nodes offset to  give the spiral pattern. I use a node spacing of 1½" - 1¾" depending upon the culm. If you use more than this it requires very long, 20" or more, node spacing so that you will not have nodes within 5" of the tiptop or the ferrule. On the butt section this is not a problem. It's the tips where you run into trouble. The Chevy Six pattern starts out like the spiral pattern, but the strips are then arranged in this order: 1-5-3-6-2-4, the firing order of a Chevy six-cylinder engine. This is thought to decrease any possibility of torsion from the spiral pattern. John Long and Bill Waara both swear/swore that the spiral pattern  caused twist  in the  blank. The 2 x 2 x 2 pattern is arranged so than any two nodes are opposite each other as you move around the blank, plus they are staggered. I use 3" for the stagger on my production rods. What you do is stagger strips 1,2,3, then stagger strips 4,5,6 in the same manner. You will now have strips 1 and 4, 2 and 5, 3 and 6 with nodes directly opposite each other. A 3 x 3 x 3 pattern is much simpler, but not as strong, in my opinion. You arrange the strips so that 1-3-5 have the same alignment, and are opposite each other, with strips 2-4-6 having their own alignment. How much you stagger them is up to you. What you end up with is strip 1 with a node, strip 2 without a node until you move up the strip, strip 3 with a node in the same alignment as strip 1, strip 4 without a node until further up the strip and this node is aligned with the node on strip 2, strip 5 with a node that aligns with strips 1 and 3, strip 6 with a node that aligns with strips 2 and 4.

        That's about as good as I can do it,  Jason.  Hope this helps.  (Martin-Darrell)

      By the way, what does "1¼" node center to node center" mean?  I think I have heard it mentioned before, but I am not sure.  (Jason Swan)

        Measure from the center of one node on one strip to the center of the next node on another strip, using 1 1/2" as the measurement between those two centers.  (Martin-Darrell)


Several years ago I bought this book because it was cheap (The Bamboo Rod and How to Build It by Claude Krieder - originally published in the 1950s).  Now, I'm rereading it to see if anything makes more sense.  There are a couple of issues,  though, that I thought I would ask y'all about.

Krieder recommends staggering, or offsetting, each strips by 1" to 2" to make sure that no nodes line up (as opposed the the 2X2 and 3X3 method which mean that either two or three strips will have nodes at the same distances).  The result is a section that has the nodes sort of spiraling down (or up, depending on which way you look at it).  I can see that this would work fine if there is at least six to twelve inches between the nodes.  It wasn't the Garrison method, either, which I still have trouble conceptualizing.  It actually seemed so simple that I found myself wondering why it hasn't been discussed on the list since I've been around. Does this not work well?

I got to thinking about another issue.  A couple of years ago, many of you told me that the need to use a single culm of cane to harvest all the strips for a single rod (or even a single section) is another common rod making fallacy.  Not to spark another debate on this topic, but when you use two or more culms to provide the strips, how do you use the 2X2 or 3X3 method of node staggering and still have the nodes on every second or third strip line up?  Are the culms that regular?  The ones I have don't seem to be.  (Jason Swan)

    I will often stagger in a spiral, moving each strip about 1 1/2" to 2".  To conceptualize   Garrison,  do  the  same  thing,  then  reorder  the  strips 1-5-3-6-2-4.

    I sand a couple of passes with 400g paper on the pith apex.  I've never seen any good reason for sanding the corners off the enamel side. If someone explains Kreider's reasoning for sanding the corners, I'd like to know about it.

    Finally, I always make my rods from the same culm.  Once in a while, I've turned three strips upside down (or backwards, or butt end of culm towards the tip) to make things work.  Often three strips one way and three the other makes for a workable 3x3 node pattern.  (Harry Boyd)

      Any reason why you would choose to spiral stagger your nodes as opposed to the 3X3 pattern?  (Jason Swan)

      The Garrison stagger gives a smother action usually. Also, like Harry, I only sand the inner apex. Why Kreider did the others I'll never know. Also I, too, reverse 3 of my butt strips on occasion.  (Hank Woolman)

    I would think that most major rod manufacturers sorted their cane to node patterns. I know that at least one of them did. This would allow them to split/mill a pile of cane without concern for variances in the locations of nodes. Most of us order small bundles and therefore rarely get an opportunity to sort them to node location. Had an order for some matched rods this winter. There as not enough cane in one culm to satisfy the order. I sorted the culms in stock[ 35 or so ] by node locations. Only 2 of the culms were bang on. One was close and the rest were off by several inches. On really large bundles of cane, I would expect that you could sort them quite readily to node locations. You could split as many strips as you needed with little concern. (Don Anderson)


Each morning during my constitutional, I read a few pages from a rod book of some sort.  I rotate between Cattanach, Howells, Keane, Gould, Kirkfield, Kreider, and Garrison/Carmichael, with one or two others thrown in for occasional variety.  I always learn something even after having read all these books several times.  Kreider continually amazes me.  If he had an easily adjustable planing form his simple little book would move a step or two closer to the top of my list.

Recently I began rereading Garrison, for perhaps the 5th time.  I've never quite understood his node staggering procedures.  Well okay, I understand the node staggering, but I don't understand where he gets his strips.

As I understand it, Garrison splits the culm into six pieces, then numbers those 1-6 with slash marks.  Then he staggers nodes while there is some splitting left to be done.  The nodes of those six pieces are staggered with the old straight 6 firing pattern, then split further.

Here's where I'm confused.  For the six strips in a single rod section -- be it tip, mid, or butt, does Garrison use strips which were adjacent to each other in the culm?  Or does he use a single strip from each of the six pieces which were staggered?

More than what Garrison does, what do we do?  I have made it a practice to use strips which were next to each other in the culm rather than use strips separated by 60 degree from each other in the 360 degree culm.  I see some logic in the second arrangement, but have never done it that way.  How 'bout you?  And why?  (Harry Boyd)

    I use Garrison staggering and I always understood the methodology to split the culm in half and to split each half into thirds, then number them one through six, (keeping track of their relative, original positions in the culm when numbering).

    At that point I split each of the six into 4 pieces (so I have 4 ones, 4 twos, etc).

    Then I evaluate and pick the best six pieces (1 one, 1 two, etc.) for the rod to be built.  I don't care if that happens to be the leftmost 4 and the rightmost 2 (for instance), I just pick the best 6 pieces.  That way I make that section of rod out of the best of the culm, while still, more or less, following Garrison's dogma.

    Then, I stagger the nodes using the 1-5-3-6-2-4 stagger and cut.

    Does that make sense?

    Why do I do it that way?  Hmmm, well, for one thing, I read the Garrison/Carmichael book first and followed that methodology.  Plus it makes sense (to me) that you would wind up with a piece from each 60 degree section of culm oriented in your rod as it actually grew.  (Patrick Mullen)

    I understand the thought process, but if you take six strips from the same side of the culm adjacent to each other, and build a rod, and six strips from each 60 degree section and build and identical rod, can you really tell the difference in the way they cast. I've only built two rods, one is 2/1 and one is 2/2. The 2 tips are different, one is from the same culm 2x2 staggering and one is mishmash of strips from two culms. I can't tell them apart by casting, only by the strange node pattern.

    As I get better at splitting and building I'll try the different theories, but for now just trying to  build fly rods for me to fish with.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    Interesting discussion. In the limited time I have been at this, I have tried to end up with adjacent strips next to each other when they are glued up. This has meant renumbering strips as they were split or at least keeping them in order as I split the thirds of one half of a culm.  Makes you wonder if it makes any difference at all! A further issue is raised since in most cases, I get two rods from a culm-one rod from one side and another from the other side. Is one half of the culm stronger than the other due to prevailing winds where the culm was grown. Would I be better off taking half of the strips from one side of the culm and the other half from the side. Or should alternate strips from each half so the rod would now more closely resemble the actual culm. Or should I put half of the strips from one side of the culm on one side of the rod and half of the strips from the other side of the culm on the other side of the rod so it really resembles the original makeup of the culm. To quote from an old movie - The Final Countdown, as they tried to understand the impact and implications of their being back in time with a modern day aircraft carrier, "just thinking about it can make you crazy!" I know, this was no help!   (Ron Revelle)

      I am not an expert nor even an old timer at making bamboo rods. This is what I feel about the strips.  Do what you feel comfortable with. I have used 2X2 and 3X3, random and as in the Twisted Miss all ways from over 10 different culms. I have had rods with no spine and rods with a noticeable spine. It did not seem to matter where the strips came from.

      When I can, I try to keep adjacent strips together. If I am making a "give away" rod I will use the strips from the same culm regardless where they came from. A real nice casting fly rod that was made in my shop was a rod that I helped a friend make. Not having much to spend on a rod, we used strips from different culms and used the strips right side up and up side down so that nodes were not side by side. As it turned out, there was practically no spine at all and the rod cast real smooth.

      I have no real answer, if the stager you are using works for you, fine, if you feel a different stagger is better then by all means use it. I have settled on 3X3, I have a South Bend Rod here now that has three nodes side by side in the butt section and two side by side in the other two sections. I also found side by side nodes in an Orvis, Winston and a PHY.  It makes you wonder about node staggering. I feel it is more a show of workmanship than anything else. I pride myself in workmanship so I will stagger nodes.  (Tony Spezio)

      Now I'll tell you a very interesting story. I have had extra pieces of bamboo from different culms that I saved in a box in the basement for years.  I hate to throw anything away so this year I flamed all these pieces (which were left over from previous nodeless rods) glued them into sticks, planed them into a 7' rod. At the Catskill Gathering I had very favorable comments on the rod and I think it is one of the best rods that I built so far. The only thing I tried to do was keep all the same size pieces for each different section of the finished strips. Now I don' know if this feat could be repeated but I sure was surprised with the results. If this could be successfully repeated it kind of knocks that adjacent strips theory in a cocked hat.  (Jack Follweiler)

    I understand (from the Dickerson book probably) that he preferred to take all the strips from a culm that was elliptical in cross section.  He used only the strips that came from the sharp part of the oval thinking that they had the most power fibers in them. Whether he kept them in order or not, I do not know.  I am inclined to think that it is gilding the lily and that testing each strip by bending is much more important.  (Ed Hartzell)

    I've always thought that more importantly than what staggering method you use is that all of the strips, once staggered & cut to length, bend/deflect the same way no mater where they came from.

    Once the strips are glued together the test I use is; clamp a couple of inches of the butt end of a section to the workbench and pull down the tip and let go. In a perfect world all flats will vibrate in a vertical plane. More often than not only one pair of flats, one of these flats will be the one you mount the guides, vibrate vertical and the other two will vibrate slightly in a elliptical circle. If all vibrate in a circle - tomato stake.  (Don Schneider)

    I have never been able to figure out where Garrison is going with node spacing.  He always succeeded in getting me mixed up. I am not convinced that one side of the culm is "better" than the other side whether it be elliptical or round, yet I continually find my self trying to get adjacent strips in the same  location on the stick as they were on the culm.  I think however, that 2 x 2 x 2 spacing makes a lot more sense.  It is not as wasteful of bamboo,  you don't have to scarf in a little bitty piece to make ends meet. and the sweeps going in opposite directions do in my mind cancel out.  Finally what the hell does 135624 have to do with bamboo?  (Ralph Moon)

    Reading the comments regarding your question got me to thinking.

    If you remember that video piece on Winston, Glenn split his culm and as I recall didn't mark it in anyway whatsoever.  All he did was bundle the strips from individual culms together.

    If what they showed was accurate, and I am correct in what I remember, then he is ignoring where the strips came from and instead is sequencing  them somewhat randomly.  (Tim Wilhelm)

      It should also be remembered that many excellent British (there are some!) rods have been made using the principle of using strips from two or 3 different culms with strips  from different culms being offset to achieve the stagger, usually 2 by 3.

      This is almost the opposite to the sorts of doctrine that Garrison suggests.

      Just goes to show there are lots of different ways to make rods, as well as Garrison's way, use what works for you.

      I am not intending to knock the way Garrison did it, but just feel it is a little unfortunate that the  most detailed and comprehensive book on how to build rods was based on the methods of an engineer rod builder.  (Ian Kearney)

      I think if you match culms with even node spacing like Winston, you will equalize the good and bad culms. You may get average rods, but they may be consistent in their own strange sort of way. I think that is what most big suppliers did.   (Bob Maulucci)

    I think this is another classic example of what Dickerson said about Garrison making rodmaking more difficult than it had to be. If I thought I had to make rods exactly the way Garrison did, I would either never have started, or given it up shortly thereafter. Stick to Kreider, he won't play games with your head like Garrison does.  (John Channer)

      Yep. George Barnes was really the one who did it for me when I started. He made rod making seem doable.  (Bob Maulucci)

    I have always used strips from the same culm, but have never concerned myself with matching up adjacent strips.  I have staggered using the 2x2 node staggering method and 3x3 node staggering and  can't say that there has been a noticeable defect with any of the rods.  (Robert Cristant)

      I've always enjoyed reading Garrison, and respect him for his attention to construction details.  He had an engineer's mind and was constantly mulling over theory.  But some of his ideas turn out to be ideas only.  I think the business about respecting the original orientation of strips within a culm, as well as his node-spacing regimen, have turned out to be almost irrelevant to the action of a finished rod - that is, all other things being equal.

      I do think, however, that Garrison's idea to distribute the nodes so that each is supported by 5 strips of straight fiber is good.  Straight fiber is different from nodes, and I never understood why one would want to place 2 or 3 of them together at the same point when it's just as easy to distribute them singly down the shaft.  On the other hand, it seems altogether unnecessary to fuss, as Garrison did, with a complicated numbering system,  or to  replicate the  firing order of a 6-cylinder engine.  I just lay my strips out so each node is spaced about 2 1/2" apart. When wrapped, these will form a simple spiral pattern down the shaft.  (Bill Harms)

        Some time ago I started using the 2 x 2 x 2 system. The argument was that a node tends to produce an inward curve. Therefore, by setting them in opposition to each other, a greater chance of producing a straight section results, because the forces balance each other. That sounded good to me, but I was taking it on logic alone. When I built a couple two strip quads, faith was replaced by evidence. The nodes do tend to produce a curvature, and the effect is more pronounced in the two strip construction, just as you might expect.

        I'll never have enough faith in nodes to join them belly to belly in a 2 strip, but in 6 strip construction with 2 x 2 x 2 spacing, each node is supported with straight fiber on both sides.  (Tom Smithwick)

    I use the 2 x 2 x 2 staggering. I split the butt strips 3 @ 1/2" wide, then I stagger the nodes and cut the strips to length, then split them to 1/4" strips. This puts the strips that were adjacent to one another in the culm, opposite each other in the rod section. I think it might help when trying to eliminate the spline. Tip sections strips are split  3 @ 3/4" and then staggered and cut to length.  Then each are split into fourths or 3/16" each. I think this might help keep both tip sections equal, plus help eliminate a spline. This also helps the node alignment to match in both tip sections. Now, all this work depends on how well the culm splits and how good the strips are and how accurate they are planed! If I have to replace one or more of the strips, it throws all this theory out the window and doesn't  make a constitutional anyway!  (David Dziadosz)


Is there any practical or functional difference between Spiral node spacing and Garrison node spacing? They both seem to seek the same thing but does the positioning of the nodes provide a different result?  (Jim Lowe)

    I'm quite certain there's no more than a theoretical difference between the spiral and the Garrison stagger sequence.  Both accomplish the central objective  of locating each node separately, and at equal intervals.  Theory suggests that, upon casting the spiral stagger, linear wave action flowing down the rod's length may induce torque (twisting), and result in an inaccurate cast.  This is why Garrison preferred to arrange his nodes in a manner similar to the firing order of a straight-six engine.

    In practice, however, the spiral stagger performs perfectly, and there is no casting inaccuracy whatever -- at least not on account of the rod.  I've staggered my nodes in this manner ever since I began building.

    (Recall that Garrison was correct in theory about the structural deficiency of five-strip rods, too -- while, in practice they continue to perform as well as any other.)  (Bill Harms)


I read the post about Garrison spiraling his nodes, and was not aware that he did that. So I dusted off my Garrison book and reviewed the part on staggering. Mind you he did place the nodes in a six cylinder configuration to set the staggers, but he states that " This arrangement is only temporary but it serves the purpose of moving the nodes into such a position before the strips are cut to length, that when the strips are rearranged in their original order no strip will have a node placed in the same position around the circumference of the section as any other strip in the section of the rod." (pg 18) The strips are then placed back into the 1 through 6 configuration with the 1 at the top and 6 at the bottom for both the tip and butt for the glue up. (pg 83) The stagger would actually appear random on the finished rod with no logical sequence if you didn't know how it was done. Garrison was not concerned with visual aesthetics, but rather how the rod functioned as a fishing instrument. However I could be wrong so correct me if necessary.   Its just the way  I read it.  (Floyd Burkett)

    You seem to have read the text exactly as written, and intended.  The only apparent deviation was the statement regarding positioning the strips, (not the nodes) in the 'firing order'.  The moving of the nodes with the strips in the 1-5-3-6-2-4 position, cutting to length(s) and then repositioning 1 thru 6, does provide the obvious 'random' spacing  around the perimeter of the section.  The one result that sometimes becomes evident, is that subsequent straightening required appears most noticeable in the nodal areas.  (Vince Brannick)

      I stand corrected, and since I have it out I've decided to read the book again.  I seem to pick up something I missed every time I read it, and its been so long that its like reading a new book again.  (Floyd Burkett)


When The Garrison bible came about, everybody seemed to think the spiral spacing was the only thing.  This even when it required splicing of strips to attain it.  I could never see the rational behind this method, and usually used opposing three nodes that Walton  Powell used.  It was easier and I felt that the opposition served to correct some of the natural bend in the strips.  There are other methods as well.  I  personally don't believe that node spacing is very important in a rod other than in terms of appearance.  I don't like to see nodes adjacent to each other, but aside from that the spacing in my mind does little for the rod.  I have never seen a rod fail because of misplaced nodes and I will bet that that is true fore most of you.  What do you honestly feel about node spacing.  I am willing to be brow-beaten, even convinced by a good riposte.  (Ralph Moon)

    As resident bodger and peasant how about completely random with no nodes adjacent? Someone will say that this is just spiral spacing when the builder is too idle to sort the strips out! You'd expect it of me, wouldn't you!  (Robin Haywood)

      Now I've never made one, cast one or even seen one but, OEM specs say that a rod should have every node adjacent to one another! It also says that rods should be hollow built AND leave the pith in! LOL. Hell all I do is stagger the nodes! 2x2x2 if anyone cares... Just drunkin ramblings I know, but hey! (Mike Shay)

    I am willing to be brow-beaten, even convinced by a good riposte.

    Not by me, Ralph. I started with Garrison spacing, but later switched to 2 x 2 x 2. I'm sure I have explained why in the past, and so won't repeat myself. The point is that I have a theory, and you have a theory. You may think my theory is half-assed, and vice versa. It does not matter. The point is, that a rodmaker should have a theory, that way we operate by a plan, and make repeatable rods that look like they were make by the same guy. Randomness in any part of rodmaking is anathema, unless, of course, you have a theory that randomness produces a good rod.  (Tom Smithwick)

      I’ve heard some makers intermingle the strips from different culms intentionally and am wondering what kind of spacing they use. Also what is the purpose of doing this?  (Frank Drummond)

        I have tried this when the nodes accidentally line up too close to each other and it solves the problem easily.  I like to keep several inches between nodes if possible.  (Brian Morrow)

        Well Frank, I usually try to stay with one culm for a rod, but I have built a lot of rods where that was not possible.  I  found a long time ago a rather large bundle of milled strips.  Some were marked with the same marking, but a lot of them were not.  Those strips  made a lot of good rods.  (Ralph Moon)

        I took a class with George  Maurer and  he used a 3x3 spacing.    He found it easier to get good spacing by using two culms, taking half the strips from each culm.  He would pick two culms that would space the way he wanted them to.   He said that he had a friend that made a rod with all the nodes together.  He fished it hard for two years with no problems.  (Dave Cooper)

          Ron Barch and John Long use 3x3 also, at least in classes.  The idea is, it's easier to match a new strip to the others if you screw one up.  No idea what they do in their own rodmaking.     (Neil Savage)

          I think he was referring to Richard Tyree. He reported it in an issue of the Planning Form quite a few years ago. I also made one and it was a very nice rod, flamed the rod and the nodes so you couldn't tell they were all together. Richard called the rod a NTN rod.

          I really liked the rod, but finally gave it away.  (Bob Norwood)

            I'll repeat for those who didn't get it first time.

            I made a Node To Node rod a few years ago, at the suggestion of Richard Tyree, who also made one. My rod was a very nice rod cast and fished well, I gave it away and far as I know it is still working. I never heard that Richard had any problem with his either and he said his son fished it all summer for bass.

            That's two good and no bad.

            Now I haven't heard anyone on the list say they had trouble with a rod failing at the nod during normal use, SO what's the big problem with nodes And why do we all have to be so careful, except for looks?  (Bob Norwood)

              My reasoning for suggesting that some thought go into node spacing is that most bends and kinks seem to occur somewhere in the vicinity of nodes.  With six nodes together, I can see the potential for some pretty interesting kinks!  (Harry Boyd)

                You would think so wouldn't you, but I can't recall any particular problems and Richard  never mentioned any either. But then I only built one NTN.  (Bob Norwood)

              I have had 2 rods break exactly in the middle of a node on rods that had 3x3 node spacing, both roughly in the middle of the butt section.

              I say that with a few caveats.  First, the rods were hollow built fairly aggressively (fluted).  Not to the point where they would fail under most normal circumstances, but I give rods to a few friends with the understanding that they will fish them to the extremes to see what they can and can't handle and I always insist that I not see the rod again until it is in pieces, and these were hollowed more than I normally would.  Second, the nodes were, coincidentally, placed at or near the point of highest stress on the butt section where the breaks occurred.

              However, I have also had a fair number of solid built rods with 3x3 node spacing come back to me in pieces, and exactly none of those have broken at a point that I would call 'at a node' regardless of whether the break was at the tip or butt section.

              This is enough evidence for me to change my node spacing regimen on hollow built rods or rods that I know will be excessively stressed.  But in most cases I feel that a 3x3 node spacing is more than strong enough (ignoring any other advantages or disadvantages such as cane waste,  kinks and twists, etc.).

              As an FYI, to prep nodes I sand off the nodal hump (in lieu of filing), steam the nodes then using a heat gun heat and press the node flat followed by a slight bit of extra sanding when removing the enamel to flatten any residual bumps.  I do a little bit of the displacement method on exceptionally nasty nodes or if making a really big butt section or heavy quad.  Though during node prep there is some charring to the pith, there is absolutely no color change to the node or any of the cane that will be used that is under it.  If I do go overboard, that strip gets remade.  (Chris Carlin)

                I think you should preface your post with the information of where your rods get used.  Alaska I believe?   And if you are challenging your friends to maul the rod then they have plenty of opportunity to really put the hurts on a rod.  I saw a video once of Andy Mill busting 3 graphite rods in a row (spinning rods IRC) on King Salmon up there.  He would just button down the drag and lean back into the fish in current.  Not surprisingly they they broke  {:>)  (Larry Swearingen)

                  Yes, that is true Larry.  Being in Alaska gives me a very good opportunity to put rods through more stress than they deserve and sometimes more than they can handle.  It can be very educational as I can easily get evidence on how things break and why.  I'm never happy to see a rod come back broken, but I have yet to not learn something from it.  (Chris Carlin)

                    I think your reply was a yes, for nodes not being a problem except for the Hollow Built rods, which are sort of a special case. Is that right?  (Bob Norwood)

                      I'm guessing the breakage of the fluted rods has something to do with the strips (specifically at the nodes) being deformed as the hollow tube flexes and bends.  This deformation doesn't occur with a solid rod hence the lack of evidence that node spacing makes much difference.  Again, at least in regards to breakage.  (Chris Carlin)

                        Have you done any "Destructo Testing" on  Scalloped   Hollowed rods? It'd be interesting to see a comparison.  Any guesses?  (Larry Swearingen)

                          I do have several scalloped hollow rods in the hands of myself and my friends, and one more that is just coming off the bench that will be used for steelheading in a  few  weeks (~.050"  walls, 1.5" hollows and .5" dams), but I have yet to get any of those back broken.  Fluted - yes, star hollowed - yes, but not scalloped.  Whether that is due to specific fishing circumstances or the fact that they are tougher, I can't be 100% sure of course, but I strongly suspect it is the most structurally sound hollowing method.  They are after all, closest to, what Shay so succinctly puts, OEM specifications.

                          In fact, I have come to the conclusion that unless you use fairly thick walls - at the absolute very minimum .070" - fluted rods are trouble.  They have a tendency to split parallel with the fibers in the middle of the flats at the point where the walls are thinnest.  If you doubt this, take an aggressively fluted or straight hollowed rod (.050" walls ±), put on a couple split shot and a size 8 or so streamer and do some up-and-across-river twisting casts and wait for the explosion.  ;)  (Chris  Carlin)

                            It would be interesting for you to compare notes with Wayne Maca. I don't know how open he would be but looking through one of his rods is like looking through a soda  straw. No solid areas even at the ferrule junction (of course he uses graphite ferrules). I don't know what wall thickness he uses and maybe his testing the power fiber depth with ultra sound equipment makes a difference. I believe most everyone has seen pictures of the circles that he repeatedly bent the blanks into until  failure, and it would be pretty hard to put that kind of stress on a rod under normal fishing. I haven't heard from any sources of anyone experiencing problems with his rods yet. It would be pretty enlightening I'm sure if he was willing to compare his findings with yours.  (Will Price)

                              We should dream of the finest, or so we are told,

                              But it seems to become quite a habit

                              That while one might aspire to silver and gold,

                              What one gets is the poop of the rabbit!  (Peter   McKean)

                              I'd love to chat with Wayne about a few things regarding his rods!  Hopefully someday...

                              IMO, the acid test is to grab a butt section of any seriously hollowed rod (especially a true tube like Wayne's) and give it a good twist.  If it can't hold up to that, one had better be very careful with the types of casts one performs.  (Chris Carlin)

    I really don't have a theory about randomness.  You and Harry both think there should be plan on node spacing.  I still don't think it matter how random the nodes are and I don't necessarily believe that each rod should carbon copy the one before.  Sorry guys I guess I  Am just only a stubborn old coot.  (Ralph Moon)

        What I am about to say is something as randomness as you can get. I had two boxes of left over pieces from my nodeless rod building, one box tips and the other butt pieces which I hated to throw away. I proceeded to lay out the pieces to splice and build both the tip section and the butt sections of a rod. There must have been at least fifteen culms of random pieces involved in the two boxes. Believe it or not the rod turned out excellent and I fish it quite often not knowing or feeling any difference. And of course the splices are as close to 2 X 2 X 2 as I could  manage for this random, nodeless, rod.  (Jack Follweiler)

    I don't believe node spacing means twit either. Except when you bend an untapered strip you can see that the node areas are a little stiffer, in a finished strip it's probably negligible. I think Harry's point was to have some kind of a plan. Anything but random shows some kind of thought and craftsmanship. Using strips from mixed culms is thought to average all the inconsistencies in a single culm. How that works, I know not and care not.

    The measure of craftsmanship is if you use 3x3 and the nodes are not lined exactly it can still be a good rod, but it reflects some lack of attention to detail on the  part of  the maker.  Same if you do a spiral at 4.5" and the vary from 4" to 5".

    There is some element of the same anal thinking in each aspect of the entire process. Each has to evaluate our own weaknesses as we make more rods and attempt to improve.

    Do you just blindly ask where Payne placed his guides or do you find the best placement for the guides on each individual rod as you make it? Do you have exactly the same number of wraps on each guide (individually)?

    Does your reel seat fit to the cork have gaps?

    Hundreds of little steps that define how craftsmanlike we are. No one could or should list them all. Make rods, learn, improve.  (Jerry Foster)

      If the rod is made from the same culm of bamboo, defective bamboo and it has say a soft spot,  which you don't pick up on.

      The rod when made would be useless.

      If you make a rod from 2 or more culms of bamboo the defects will be minimal.  (Gary Nicholson)

        I think letting a bad strip sneak in  there is one of those craftsman things.

        Or, maybe you end up choosing all the bad strips from all the random cane.

        As for Glen. He is most revered, However, he does some things in a purely production mode. Like grinding nodes flat. So in the end it's not just the rod that sells, but also the reputation.

        I make junk rods, randomized, for some of my test rods..but would I sell them as a quality finished product..hardly.

        and for Robin

        Simple is not always elegant.  (Jerry Foster)

      This is a very subjective discussion, as I guess it has to be;  but we ought to distinguish between the subjective and the objective parameters by which we tend to judge.

      When it all boils down, a "good" rod is one whose owner thinks it is a good rod;  does all the things that he  expects it to do, and in his estimation is well worth the money he spent to get it.  It feels pleasant in his hand, holds together pretty well, and doesn't give him any problems that can't be corrected fairly easily.  It is probably attractive enough in appearance that he doesn't feel that he has to hide it when his mates come around to drink beer.

      A "bad" rod is none of the above!

      It is only when you get a wee bit away from the subjective assessments that things get a tad sticky.  We are now in the area of "well-made" and "Craftsman-built", "bespoke" even, and here there are some objective parameters.

      A "well-made" rod needs to have been built with a plan, as Harry suggests. There is a nebulous standard here which applies to the level of  adherence to that plan.  There must be a level of competence that is pretty obvious. There should not be any, or at least many, gaps between the glued strips, and where there are such gaps, they ought at least to contain only glue and not bits of "stuff". The rod itself and its furnishings should all be well and competently finished.  The rod should be straight, built with attention to details like node disposition and cosmetics, and its fittings, such as ferrules, ought to be fitted straight and true.  Those ferrules, while on the subject, should fit together well and come apart well. In addition to being well fitted, the standard of the furniture ought be high - ferrules should be well made, snake rings of appropriate size and hard enough to do the job, reel seats must function well.  Wraps ought be competently applied, with few gaps apparent between wrappings.  Varnish ought be competently applied.

      In short, there should not be any evidence of "Bugger it, that'll do" in the construction of the rod.

      And if you take the "well made" product and give it to a person who hates it, what is it?

      It's a "bad" rod, is what it is!  All tip and no iceberg!

      Ain't life hard?  (Peter McKean)

    As a beginner in this game, never having made a rod just yet but viewing the Sweetwater DVD that came out last year, I was interested to see that when Glenn split (many) culms and hand-rubbed them together to remove the "chaff"(??) they were all jumbled up. I mean lots and lots of strips.

    I just know he didn't putz around trying to match those strips back up again....

    Just an observation. I may be dead wrong.  (Jeremy Gubbins)

      I think I recall a chart that each spine is compared against and the node placement determines  which rod it will be used in. At least I think that is part of the reason. Does any one sort of recall that?  (Timothy Troester)

        A very simple way of staggering nodes is to plane three sections butt to tip and the other three tip to butt.

        Works beautifully and saves cane.  (Robin Haywood)

 for me. I make one piecer's that way. Also, I have tried out new tapers with odds and ends. I do believe in some sort of organization for the nodes. I do not have an opinion about one being better than another. I think I have probably used them all and have even selected splines as mathematically random as possible. Now that shows you I've spent time talking to myself!   (Timothy Troester)

          I like that idea indeed. If I ever go back to avec nodes I will use it. And soaking. And pressing. And all the fun that goes with nodes.  (Bill Fink)

        Winston used to use that chart. I am sure Sweetgrass does now. They showed Glenn selecting a culm using that chart in a video clip I saw online. It may or may not have been a short clip from the Winston movie.  (Scott Bearden)

      Glenn's technique sorts culms into several groups that each have similar node spacing, so that strips from one group or bin will have similar enough spacing to enable good node staggering. This is a production process and each maker can decide for himself how to segregate or sort strips.

      In the past, inexpensive production rods had strips that were not sorted at all, each rod was made from who knows how many culms (# of sections X 6?), with often adjacent nodes. Many of those rods have survived to today and still cast well and catch fish.

      I don't make a living by making flyrods, so I have the luxury of doing all the nice things as well as I can. Sometimes I even stop working on a rod and take a nap, read a book, watch TV, or even go fishing!  (Steve Weiss)

        Not only the "inexpensive" rods. I had an ORV-- Rod in for repair and that rod not only had adjacent nodes but also glue lines. I really think the amateur makers today do a better job in making rods than some of the old companies.  (Tony Spezio)

          I just realized that I haven't  commented on the node spacing thread.  I guess that's because I'm just now building my first rod and have little to add.  But I'm not letting that stop me!

          I have the good fortune to own an original Dickerson 861711D made in 1938. The rod casts a 6 wt like a dream.   Its fit is beyond reproach.  Since Bob Summers restored it in 2005 for me, its finish is unequaled.

          And it has two nodes right next to each other in the mid.

          Oh, my first rod will be a Dickerson 8014 Guide with 3X3 nodal spacing.  (Reed Guice)

            "And it has two nodes right next to each other in the mid."

            OK, you made me get off my a** and go down to the basement and look at my 1936 Dickerson 861711D. My Dickerson has two nodes next to each other in two places on the mid. The rod is over 70 years old, guess someone should have told Mr. Dickerson that putting two nodes next to each other might lead to structural problems :-}

            Chris Bogart has an 861711D also. Guess I'll have to drop him a note and have him check his Dickerson.  (Dennis Higham)

              Kinda reminds me of this old farmer friend of mine when this young kid right out of school asked for some welding rod, the old guy said here's some right here. The kid told him that what he had was the wrong stuff and wouldn't work. Old guy said, "sh#! now you tell me, I've been holding this here feedlot together for 30 years with the wrong stuff!" This is a true story.  (Joe Arguello)

              Well the last Dickerson I saw on Ebay brought $7500. Who would've thunk that an old  master didn't pay attention to detail. (Will Price)

                Irrelevant, taste the steak, and stop being distracted by the sizzle. The reason that Dickerson tapers are attractive is that they are relatively fast. Unfortunately, they use step down ferrules and a taper form which produces a very rigid butt, bending in the lower 80% of the tip and a tip section which never bends.

                It may feel good, and that is because most traditional tapers are such unutterable crap. But it is nowhere near as good as it could, and should, be in 2008. Do you want me to prove it? Go into Hexrod, private taper library Robin, taper P6M1, build it, and tell me I'm wrong.

                For those of you who hoped I'd died...............sorry. (Robin Haywood)

                  I like the fast action of a Dickerson plus the fact that they have enough ass to stop a fish larger than the size normally caught on a rod of any given length. For what I like in a rod they can't be improved  on  and only "maybe" equaled. Now I have never hoped that you died but don't pick on Dickerson or you and I will  both end up in the piggery! ROTFLMAO. Besides, you Brits only build 1 tip rods and spend way TOO much time fishing for coarse fish.  (Will Price)

              Well, Dennis, it looks like that was Dickerson's node spacing pattern.  It worked for him and it's still working for us.  (Reed Guice)

                Now there is a fellow with exceptional taste!!!! Gotta love those Dickersons!  (Will Price)

    To me, node spacing is based on what you are trying to make, and the culm. You see what works best given what you are trying to make. I think that spiral spacings look cool, but one of the best casters I ever made was constructed from all the scrap/spare strips that had accumulated in the shop over two years. Probably 10 different culms, and the rod was beyond random.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    No riposte forthcoming from this end!!! Like you, I believe that appearance is the only reason to have some sort of spacing for the nodes. I can't seem to convince 99 out of 100 people of this in spite of the overwhelming evidence of literally 100's of thousands of production rods between 50-100 years old still doing what they were made to do. And doing it quite well, I might, add despite some of the worst node spacing imaginable. If node spacing amounted to a hill of beans these rods would have been doomed to failure before they left the factory. It only takes common sense to to see that this is indeed a fact and not a fallacy. I applaud you for having the guts to say so and when someone of your stature in the rodmaking field says this, I feel completely vindicated in my thoughts. The weight of being a heretic has been lifted.  (Will Price)

      The only thing shown by the "overwhelming evidence" of production rods lasting so long with awful node spacing is the scheme is adequate for the task at hand. If we are looking for the best rod we can make then discontinuities (nodes) need to be addressed in the construction of our beam (rod blank) in a manner that will yield the strongest structure possible.  (Jerry Drake)

    I build the rods to the best that I'm capable of. I built my 1st 2 rods using Garrisons' method of spiral staggering. Then like most beginners wanting to learn as much as possible and to see what method I preferred (read as which seemed to work best for me without adding unnecessary work), I built my next 2 using 2x2x2 spacing. The next 13, with the exception of one nodeless, have all been 3x3 spacing. Hiram Leonard decided on 3x3 spacing as being the best (among many, many following rodmakers) so who am I to say that it's not. Is that why I've settled on 3x3 for now? No! I use it because it is the easiest for me and it is an accepted spacing method. The whole point I was trying to make was that many things about building rods are not nearly as important as some make them out to be. Another thing not nearly as important as made out to be is that if one of the guide wraps has 23 turns on one foot but only 22 on the other. Is this not paying attention to detail? Here is the detail that I look for in my wraps. If the wrap on one foot is 1/4" long the wrap on the other foot should be 1/4" long. When wrapping with gossamer it is entirely possible to have both wraps the exact same length yet not have the exact same number of turns  if one side gets packed just a hair tighter. It is far more important to my thinking of paying attention to detail that they are equal in length, gap free, flat and and have a flawlessly smooth finish. Anyone who buys a rod and finds it an absolute delight to cast, a pleasure to fish with and cosmetically superb to look at BUT would turn around and denounce the rod as trash because after giving theirself a headache by staring through a magnifying glass trying to count turns of transparent thread (it would be a little easier and maybe not cause a headache if the wraps were color preserved LOL) they discovered that there was one less turn of thread on one of the guide feet; well, they need to make an appointment with a shrink because they have an obsessive/compulsive disorder. Dr. Schott may be 100% correct, I don't know. But I pay no attention to his findings of a few controlled tests in a lab verses hundreds of thousands of tests in the field over 100 years. That's the testing that I deem important. Does this mean I'm right and you're wrong? Absolutely not. Does it mean that those who accept everything he says is right and I'm wrong? Absolutely not. He lost me when he published his findings on flaming and I firmly believe that if Paul Young among others were alive today they would feel the same as I do. Rant over. If this makes me a heretic, I wear the cloak proudly. It does not by any means mean that my rod won't cast, fish or look as good as the rods built by those who believe the opposite.  (Will Price)


Is the Garrison node placement scheme correctly described as spiraling? The George Maurer book illustrates it as such, but it isn't the same kind of spiral that is develops from the steps in the Garrison book.  It would seem that a true spiral would produce a tendency for a twisting of the rod, either clockwise or anti clockwise, depending on the direction of the spiral. Garrison's placement on the other hand, is somewhat more random like, except with a definite pattern to the 'randomness'. Comments anyone?  (Vince Brannick)

    Did he coin the phrase "Six cylinder spacing" or was that someone else.  (Robin Haywood)

      If I remember correctly, he numbered them and then used the sequence of the firing order of a six cylinder engine. (Joe Arguello)

    It's really hard to tell Garrison spacing from Random spacing if the nodes aren't close to each other.  Just look at a Garrison spaced rod and try to figure out the spacing.   :>)

    I personally like 3x3 or 2x2x2  except if ya screw up a strip then if you don't have any more strips from that culm to match it shows.  Much easier to replace a random strip with Garrison or random spacing.  At least nobody can see that yer PLAN didn't work.  {:>) (Larry Swearingen)

      OK, so here's a system a friend of mine uses, he takes 3 culms and staggers them into a 2x2x2 spacing, then you simply split those culms and you have 3 sets or bundles of strips that are already staggered. I haven't done this but it's the way I would go if I wasn't keeping to the all from 1 culm idea. (Joe Arguello)

      I think you can arrive at the Garrison staggering order by arranging the nodes in the even strips in a clockwise spiral (or, more appropriately, helix), and the odd strips in a counterclockwise spiral.  I suspect that's how Garrison arrived at that particular node spacing.  (Robert Kope)

        Garrison naturally took a more complicated way to get there, but arrived at the same point you did. He arranged his strips 135642, staggered them in a straight spiral then put them back in proper order.  (John Channer)

          I believe he attributed the stagger to the Model T Ford's firing order. He spiraled them and rearranged them according to that. He said if it's smooth enough   for   Ford,   it'll   work   for   this   purpose.   I'm  pretty  sure  it's 1-5-3-6-2-4, but you could look it up (in a Model A service book.)   (Art Port)

            Now that I see it in print instead of in my head I think you're right.  (John Channer)

          "The Book" never mentioned a car model. Perhaps Hoagy mentioned one in one of our discussions and I was remembering that (albeit incorrectly), but in print it says merely that the arrangement is the firing order for "6 cylinder engines".

          The 1-5-3-6-2-4 is correct.  (Art Port)


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