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Years ago, Orvis produced some rods with  cork reel  seat inserts. They appeared to be machined with a groove for the reel foot similar to most of the wood inserts produced presently. Anyone have an idea how this might be accomplished?  (Don Anderson)

    I made a coupla those all cork seats a few years back.  I have to confess I don't remember exactly what I did.  Maybe at age 47 I'm getting old, huh?   I think I used a router and a fingernail bit to cut the groove.    In fact, I just pulled one out and looked at it.  I'm certain that's how I did it.  Turn it round with sandpaper to correct dimensions, then router the groove just as if it were wood.

    Boy, this is Turning out to be a ramble.  Maybe that's because I'm still on my third cup of morning coffee.  If you are referring to the wood inserts which had cutouts filled with cork, I haven't done those.  (Harry Boyd)

    I can build you a simple aluminum fixture for making mortised cork inserts. All you do is clamp the insert into the jig and sand the cork until its flush with the jig. I can send you some pictures if you like.  (Mark Shamburg)


I'm banging away slowly on a few rods, none done. but it's driving me crazy to think that I'm actually going to have a rod (two of them soon) that will weigh in at about two oz. and then have to put on a reel seat that will add half again the weight of the rod.

I want to do a cork reel seat. I know I want a sliding band to go over the cork, but I am not sure of what I should be looking for as far as a butt piece.  can I buy these items from the existing sources? I'm really not sure what I am looking for in the catalogues or web pages.  (Mike Canazon)

    I think I need to do some research on this.  I used to own a Hardy Marvel which they listed as the world's lightest fly rod at 2 3/4 oz. (I think?) I just finished a Payne #96, #4, 6' 6" which weighed in at 2.2 finished weight.  (Ted Knott)

      No offense, but Hardy (or somebody) is full of it.  Many, many rods weigh less than 2 3/4 oz.  Probably, every rod of 6 1/2 feet or less will come in shy of 2 3/4 ounces, and some 7 footers might also be included.  (Bill Harms)

    I don't understand why it would make you crazy to wind up with a 3 oz. bamboo flyrod. That's really a light rod. If that makes you crazy, wait until you put a 4 oz. reel on it.

    The lightest reel seat would be an aluminum double sliding band over a cork filler. minimize your grip size and contour it right into the filler, like Young did on the Midge.  (Steve Weiss)

      Butternut or cedar are both lighter than cork.  (AJ Thramer)

    OK, curiosity got the better of me so I went to the shop and weighed one of my aluminum DLSB RS's with a butternut filler and it weighs 6 grams.  (AJ Thramer)

    Walnut is pretty light weight, or at least lighter then say rose wood or ash.  Walnut looks really nice on a dark flamed rod with blackened N/S hardware.  (Brad Love)

    No offense, but I think you’ve been exposed to too much graphite rod company marketing. I like what Gierach (sp?) said in one of his books - after you’ve used some good bamboo rods, plastic ones are “irritatingly light.” The question of light Vs less light reels is a matter of taste - some people claim the need for the lightest  possible  reel  is  proven  by  the  advantage  of reel-lessness in tournament casting, but one does more with a rod than cast for maximum distance when fishing, so I still say it’s a matter of what you enjoy on the water. But my 8.5’ Phillipson 5 wt, which must weigh five or six ounces, is so effortless to use that I feel as though it casts itself. The best graphite rods approach this, but always feel to me like very efficient (and light) springs for which I supply the energy. The best bamboo seems to have the energy built in. Anyway, the important thing to me is how they feel (when I stop pushing it and let the rod do the work) not what they weigh.  (Barry Kling)

    It used to be standard practice for mfrs.  to specify a rod's weight.  Does anyone know if there is a standard?  For example, is it the weight of the finished rod?  Would some have reported only the blank's weight? . . .  (Ted Knott)

      In the days when a rod's weight was listed, the idea was to indicate what line it would handle.  I can't tell you what the relationship was between the various increments of a rod's weight and the optimum line to use because that method of describing a rod's action became obsolete along when plastic replace silk lines.

      At least three factors occur to me as reasons for the demise of listing a rod's weight.

      • In the days when nearly all fly rods were significantly longer than nine feet in length, the weight of a rod (measured in 1/4 ounce increments) was a significant indicator of the action one could expect.  When dry-fly action became widely popular (certainly by the 1930's), rods soon became significantly shorter and tapers more sophisticated.  The weight of these "little" rods was cut in half over that of their predecessors, and the old system no longer indicated what it used to.
      • Bamboo rods were replaced by fiberglass in the 1950s (and then graphite), and the weights of these new rods further confused the old system of relating a rod to a line weight.
      • Silk lines were almost totally replaced by plastic lines in the 1960s, and these no longer performed (even in relation to an old bamboo rod's weight) in the same way that silk used to.

      An honest listing of a rod's weight used to be based upon the cane only, since this was considered to be the "base line" of a rod's structural capability.  Makers knew what was being compared to what when they spoke in terms of the weight of a set of blanks, and the marketplace followed suit.

      Nowadays, however, we have no idea what the listed weight of our modern rods actually means.  First, we don't know any longer if the whole rod is being weighed after wrapping, varnishing and mounting hardware, or if the indicated weight refers only to the cane.  Secondly, we no longer can tell if a rod's weight (however is is measured) necessarily indicates much about the rod's ability to handle a given line.  A large percentage of the weight of our rods today (compared to yesteryear) is a function of the hardware and varnish, and this may or may not indicate a rod's ability to cast one line better than the next.

      Today, a maker lists a rod's weight only as some kind of relative suggestion as to how the rod MIGHT feel in the caster's hand, as compared (I guess) to other rods of the same length, line weight and reel seat construction with which the caster might be familiar.  Keeping careful track of weights might be important for a builder, as he tries to build some kind of data base for his own use, but otherwise, the general issue of weight doesn't indicate much to the consumer.  Also, I suppose it might be added that the weight issue has become a sort of "hidden beauty contest" among some makers.

      Overall, I am not suggesting that the weight of a rod is irrelevant, because I would always insist that the lighter one can make any particular taper design for a given line weight, the better THAT rod will be.   What is NOT relevant, however, would be an assumption, say, that the lightest of any and all 7 1/2 foot rods for a five-weight line must necessarily be the best rod.  That's where one's assumptions about comparative weight issues go pretty much haywire.  (Bill Harms)

    Any weight added to the grip and reelseat and reel will decrease the feel of the weight of the rod.  (Dave Norling)

      Indeed, this is true.  Much in the same way that tying lead weights to your shoes makes the rest of your body feel light by comparison.  It's an illusion.

      Weight is weight, and when it is built into a rod unnecessarily (whether in the reel seat or elsewhere), it is the enemy of any given rod's ability to perform to its maximum potential.

      And   this   goes   doubly   for    all    those    fancy-but-clunky, oh-so-expensive reels of 3 3/4 ounces and up.  (Bill Harms)

      If you meant "any weight added below the grip..." I would certainly agree with you. I often use very heavy reels on long cane rods for just that reason. The grip is, however, the fulcrum point and weight added there will not offset the weight above the grip.  (Reed Curry)

        Again, weight is weight.  And even though it may located (or added, as you say) at the "fulcrum point," we should not be deceived into thinking that this weight doesn't really count.  All weight counts, and anything beyond the minimum needs of a rod to do its business will detract from the potential of that rod to perform.  We all make concessions according to our tastes, but that is a different matter from saying that a little more weight doesn't count.

        Granted, an eighth of an ounce out toward the tip will detract a great deal more than a half-ounce in a reel seat or grip.  But my point would be that we need to realize that this business of "balancing" a rod is completely irrelevant (a bogus concept, foisted on the public through marketing lingo).

        Neither can the concept of balance be equated with that of a fulcrum under casting conditions.  A rod has a fulcrum or balance point only at that moment when the rod is held statically in one's hand.  But that counts for nothing.  Fly rods are meant to be cast, and when casting there is NO fixed fulcrum, and certainly not a "balance point." The motion of our arm transforms the rod into a moving "lever" at the butt-end, while the line transforms the tip of the rod into a different kind of a lever at its other end.

        The leverage (fulcrum) that originates in our shoulder and upper arm is gradually and then quickly transmitted down through the wrist and fingers. This leverage then moves outward, down the length of the rod as would a spring, and as this spring uncoils, the "fulcrum" (or leverage) moves with it.  So, thinking in terms of a fly rod's "fulcrum" just doesn't enter into the casting equation at all.

        On the other hand, the illusion of "balance" might be created by adding weight anywhere from the grip to the butt cap.  It is because leverage is first imparted to a fly rod at a point just under one's fingers and thumb, that weight in the area behind this point might seem to help in counteracting the weight of the rod.

        But I call that an illusion because this possibly "nicer feel" has been purchased at the price of needing to impart just that much greater physical effort to put the entire rig into motion.  And it is the overall weight of a rod, regardless of placement, that affects both the action of the rod and the physical effort needed to put its mass into motion. Unnecessary weight anywhere in the grip or reel seat dampens the action of a rod exactly as would a shock absorber.

        Or, put differently, whatever the combined weight of the reel, reel seat and grip happen to be, this weight must first be overcome by the effort of one's casting before any flexing shape can be imparted to the rod out in front.  If, for instance, there were no reel seat or reel at all, the rod would perhaps feel quite uncomfortable in one's hand.  But upon casting, all the physical energy of one's effort would be delivered immediately and directly to the flexing of the rod, and no energy would be wasted by the dampening effect of weight located behind  the  fingers  and  thumb.   Professional distance-casters know this well.

        But we are not professional distance-casters.  We need a reel.  And so we need to compromise in some way that will produce a rod that is  comfortable, efficient and, yes, also attractive.  We needn't try to avoid such compromises, but we do not have to deceive ourselves at the same time by saying that "it doesn't matter -- the heavier reel or reel seat only helps to 'balance' the rig."

        So, one kind of a force can have the apparent effect of offsetting another kind of force, but "adjustments" of these kinds (weight here, counterbalanced by weight or greater effort there) must always take a toll in overall efficiency.

        There's no free lunch.  Weight (mass), wherever it is located, costs efficiency when a rod is put into motion by the caster.  I am not a physicist, but I know there is simply no law in physics to circumvent that fact.  (Bill Harms)

          I think this is the second time in three months that I've had this discussion. And, as with the previous discussion, I will have to say that there is a big difference between optimum casting and optimum fishing. When I am in my favorite stream working a wet fly or streamer down through the riffles using a 10' cane rod, I might cast once every two minutes. The time casting is, because of the great rod, only, say, four seconds. The time moving to the next casting position could be 30 seconds to five minutes, but let's say 56 seconds for safety's sake in the fast water (and ease of math). That means that for every 3 minutes of fishing (180 seconds) only four seconds, or 2%, of the time is spent casting. This doesn't take into account the long walk in, or the distance to the next series of riffles. So are you saying that I should suffer 98% of the time with my wrist fighting a tip heavy rod, so that 2% of the time my casting might improve by a small percentage? No, I mount a large, heavy (Pflueger 1498) reel that brings the static balance point close to my hand and enjoy a day's fishing.

          Casting is not fishing. Moving to the position that permits the optimum presentation to the fish is equally as important as a decent cast. And hat is just one element of fishing. Enjoyment of the day is another great component, and few of us would enjoy the day with our wrists aching, IMHO.

          Now the above is worst case. Obviously I also enjoy dry-fly fishing, and that requires more casting. But since I'm working calmer water and across stream, or up stream, I have to spend more time planning the casts. So, I might cast once every minute, rather than every three minutes; my percentage of time casting increases to 6%. That still isn't enough to warrant a tip-heavy rod. What'cha think, Bill?  (Reed Curry)

            I think I came on pretty strong in my last email, Reed  Sorta like a train-wreck.  I do that from time to time, before thinking about the human element.  Something starts to piss me off and then I'll write one of these endless "open letters to the universe" -- you know, like everybody else is an idiot.  At age 62 you'd think adolescence  would have passed by now.  So, I apologize to you and to the list if I came on like a jerk.

            I accept and agree with everything you say here.  It's true that our actual fishing is about enjoyment, however we derive that.  And I believe, as you do, that casting comfort and the many pleasures of the day should not be sacrificed in the name of "maximum rod efficiency."

            I only wished to point out the nature of that "trade- off."  All my earlier discussions (rantings?) were of a theoretical nature, because it seemed to me that there have been a great many misunderstandings about how weight affects a rod's performance.  My intentions were to point out that weight (variously distributed around the grip and butt area) DOES matter, and that, strictly in terms of a rod's mechanical ability to fulfill its design parameters, added weight always figures into the negative column.

            Now, as you rightly point out, there are any number of very good reasons why a fly fisher would want to make this tradeoff.  For one thing, of course, the sacrifice may not be noticeably significant anyhow.  And for another thing, NOT doing so may actually result in an unpleasant feeling rod during a day's activity.

            I think the real issue, in practical terms, is one of knowing what kind of tradeoff one is making, and THEN deciding if the desired fishing experience will be "worth" it.  At the other end of the spectrum, NOT KNOWING that added weight detracts from a rod's casting ability can also turn a sprightly rod into one that becomes dead-in-the-hand.

            For instance, I am about to buy the small Hardy "Casopedia" re-pro, and I intend to use it on an adaptation of a Dickerson's 801510D that I'm building.  Now, I know that this reel will be far too heavy for the rod.  Even as small as it is, the reel is probably too heavy for almost any rod under nine feet, but I have decided that I don't care.  The reel is simply so beautiful, and I derive such pleasure from just looking at it and knowing that it's there, that I plan to use it anyway.

            Although I am hoping the reel won't spoil the action of this rod beyond my willingness to use it, I am sure I would never use it on my four or five weight  rods of seven 1/2 feet or less.  And I am dead certain that both the Dickerson I mentioned and all my smaller rods would perform far better with my Hardy "Featherweight."

            So, the issue is one of knowing that weight kills, and then deciding how "dead" you are willing to be for the sake of all the other fishing objectives (and pleasures) you surely need.  Overall, I believe that, for the sake of the rod one has designed, the lighter you can keep the rig, the better.  Added weight matters.  One has to know this, and then decide what other (contravening)  needs will also be important.  (Bill Harms)

        From my golf club building days we use to adjust the "Swing Weight" of the clubs to fit the customer's needs. By adding or subtracting weight from the club head or grip we could give the customer the "feel" they wanted. Keeping the weight to a minimum even though the clubs individual total weight was different, they felt the same when swung. Isn't that what we are trying to accomplish with rods also? Just a thought.  (Don Schneider)

          More or less, yes.  We do something similar in determining proper gun-fit too.  But in both (or all) cases, one can go only "so far" before we begin interfering with the ability of the club, gun or fly rod to do the job for which it was designed.  A putter would have different tolerances in this regard from, say, a number one wood.

          Similarly, the best feel for an upland game gun has different requirements and limitations  from those appropriate to, say, a trap, skeet or sporting clays gun.  And what you can (should) do with a twenty-eight gauge gun is not the same as what a twelve gauge will bear.  Then too, there is always that all-important matter of personal taste.  So, too, with fly rods.

          Bottom line in all these cases: weight matters.  What's important is to understand exactly how and why, and then to make one's choices.  (Bill Harms)

        I’m glad you said it. Because I have so many times before.  You notice that those Garrison stress graphs have no reference for reel weight it it obviously has a lot of effect on the rod. Give me a CFO, Featherweight or flyweight or even my Ballan.  (Adam Vigil)

          In the Garrison tape he talks about balance and said the he believed that a rod should balance right in front of the grip which is the fulcrum point in casting.  (Patrick Coffey)

    I have believed, as some have said, balance is foremost in how heavy a rod feels. but then weight must also determine where the rod balances in each rod (maybe that's why the old-timers tweaked each rod, Patrick).

    On my 2 oz. rod I taped the reelseat on and added a few different reels to see where they balanced. all were well down into the grip. a line and reel weighing 4 oz. came closest to balancing out near the end of the grip although it was still a little more than two inches into the grip.

    I took them off and slipped 4 pieces of cork on the butt and taped the reelseat to them.  It moved the balance point up about 3/4" or one and a half inches from the end of the grip.  It felt comfortable in my hand.  Which brings me to the next question.

    I have always thought a rod should balance in front of the grip.  If what Bill Harms says is true, and I hope I follow him correctly, then the rod can balance down in the hand, where it felt quite comfortable to me.

    The reason I ask all this is because I am making a rod for my partner who doesn't fish quite as much as me and gets very arm weary.  Except when she spends about 10 hours hauling 18" fish out of the frying pan!  (Mike Canazon)

      I like the balance point to be a bit ahead of the cork grip.   May be silly, but it seems that I get more feel for what is going on during a cast.  (Richard Tyree)

        Again, with apologies to you and to Garrison, THERE IS NO FULCRUM POINT WHEN CASTING!  There is only a "feel" of one sort or another that pleases different casters differently.

        I don't know what Garrison's context for understanding may have been when he said that, but it is simply impossible to subscribe to the idea of a "fulcrum point" (in any ordinary sense of the word) when casting a fly rod.  (Bill Harms)

        Yet it is impossible to balance the rod there when it is in the motion of casting (because of its instantaneous axis of rotation). And that is what we are talking about. I agree if you want to balance the rod on your finger in front of the grip is a good place. But fishing it that way might be a bit awkward. And actually that is the only time it will balance there because that axis of rotation will change as soon as you move the rod. I for one do not mind the tip of my rod pointing down toward the water. Actually this is my starting point for my back cast. If one likes to start their back cast with the tip up in the air this could explain why they like a heavy reel.  (Adam Vigil)

        Was it one of the Powells who used to competition cast with the line in a "puddle" at his feet, and no reel?  Not very practical on the river, but I have always tried to get the lightest reel I can for the rod.  That advice came from Marinaro or someone else that I can't recall at this point.  (Rob Clarke)

        The so called "balance point" is always changing.  Most often people check it when all the line is still on the reel.  String the rod up and see what happens, then go to a third or fourth story window and let 30-40 ft. of line hang down and check the balance point again.  The reel gets lighter and the tip of the rod gets heavier.  Its all constantly changing with varying amounts of line out when casting. The balance point only feels good when walking to a new fishing spot or hiking with the rod assembled and it "balances" near the top of the grip.  (John Long)


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