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     Darrol Groth’s Rod Care Guide


While I was testing the 3 wt and the 6 wt last weekend.  I put the three wt down along side me in the canoe.  I guess the edge was over the gunwales, because when I turned to do what ever it was I was intent on doing I heard a "splash." 

Luckily I was fishing a floating line and had several feet stripped out.   I was able to retrieve the rod.   Fished it the rest of the day, with no apparent harm.  

I always hang my rods up in the rod bag when I get home from fishing them, for a day or two.  Seems like I always splash them, or dunk them. 

This is the first time I've ever submerged a complete rod.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    I got a little overzealous when dressing a ferrule on my three weight.  This spring I cast the tip section off the rod twice in the same trip.  That sucker sank right to the bottom of the stream.  Luckily, it wasn't a deep stream and I recovered the section both times.  The next day I squished that puppy in a heavy chuck.  Now it's tight as a...  Well, it's tight.  [;-)]   (Dennis Haftel)

    My first rod suffered a similar fate!    My 10 year old daughter was handing me the rod in a tube, open end towards me while I was sitting in a canoe at dockside.  Both sections slid out and I managed to catch the butt, but the tip went to the bottom like a rocket.   We tried to retrieve the tip, but the water was deep with a black silt bottom.  The only good thing about this was that it was the incentive to make a second rod.  My daughter is 39 this fall,  so that was 29 years and many rods ago.  (Ted Knott)


I spent the last seven years bringing up my 3 children at home and building bamboo rods in my (very scarce) spare time. By a strange quirk of fate I started working for a major fly fishing dealer here in Germany three months ago. They are now holding a 4 day refresher and workshop course at the beginning of May. I have been asked to hold a  talk about the care and handling of Bamboo Fly rods. I see it as a chance to try to bring across the difference between graphite and Bamboo and to dispel some of the myths about the vulnerability of fly rods made of split cane.

Does anybody have any interesting tips on the care and handling of Bamboo fly rods? I am a bit nervous about this and I want to get it right and try and convince a few people to convert to using a Bamboo rod. So please let me have your suggestions, it will come as a great help to me as well as the rest of the list no matter how trivial your idea may seem.  (Stuart Moultrie)

    If you have, or have access to Ron Barch's "Best of the Planing Form", there are a number of tips on the care and feeding of bamboo rods in it.  Good luck with the talk.  (Neil Savage)

    I'm sure there is a long list of do's & don'ts for the care of bamboo and graphite rods but most of it boils down to common sense. IMHO I don't believe either type, bamboo or graphite, are much vulnerability different.

    Here are a few do's/don'ts that are big on my list:

    Clean/wipe-down after use. When not in use, keep in rod bag. Don't leave assembled and propped/leaning in corner for long periods of time. Storage - Hang rod, in rod bag not in rod case in a closet inside your home. When traveling, keep rod in bag & rod tube. Don't leave in closed up vehicles parked in sun for extend periods of time. And above all - don't kill snakes with your rod!  (Don Schneider)

    1. After use, always wipe the rod down with a soft cloth and allow complete drying before putting into a bag.

    2. Don't store it in a hot attic or damp basement.

    3. And the first thing I tell a novice; DO NOT twist the sections when joining or taking apart.  (Ed Riddle)


Anybody have a short list of suggestions or recommendations for first time cane rod owners?  I'm about to deliver a rod and  need some guide lines for the new owner.  I remember Best of Planing Form had some suggestions in the margins but my copy was lost in the last move.  (Brad Love)

    Try this, with reference to BPF:

    1. Never put rod away wet.  Keep rod clean and dry, bag as well

    2. Store rod, out of tube, in a bag, thin ends up in a dark place with little temperature fluctuation. Never horizontally

    3. Never leave rod leaning against anything, especially cars.  Always put your rod in tube when finished fishing. First order of business.  Rod tube is intended for transporting and going through doorways.

    4. Never pull a snagged fly by the rod.  Pull the line by hand.

    5. Never wax, oil or varnish the cork.  If dirty wash with mild soap and water.

    6. Keep ferrules meticulously clean in side and out.  Never oil. NO NOSE GREASE

    7. When assembling push ferrules home as far as they will comfortably go.  Don't store assembled. Never twist when taking down. (Show client how to hold rod to take down - also good idea to teach him two man take down for stubborn ferrule).

    8. Never stick hooks in cork.

    9. Check frequently for damage and attend to ASAP.  (Darrol Groth)

    Below are the contents of a rod care brochure I send with each rod.

    Use and Care of Your New Rod

    A quality bamboo fly rod from my shop represents about 60 hours of painstaking labor. In its natural state, Arundinaria Amabilis, or Tonkin Cane, is an amazingly strong material, much stronger than many modern synthetics. A certain modicum of care is still required to keep your rod in its best shape. Here are some commandments and some suggestions:

    First, when you assemble and disassemble your rod, Thou shalt repeat the mantra -  “Hands Together, Rod Together. Hands Apart, Rod Apart.” To assemble the rod, align the guides and place your hands as close as possible to the male and female ferrules. Push straight together with no twisting. If the guides are not properly aligned, disassemble the rod and try again. To take the rod sections apart,  place one hand near the male ferrule. Place the other hand at the opposite end of the section with the female ferrule, and pull straight apart.

    Do not use any sort of lubricant on the ferrules. Grandpa’s suggestion to use nose grease is a bad one. Any grease causes dust and grit to accumulate and will cause premature wear on your ferrules. All new rods come with the ferrules fit rather tightly, and oxidation will occur for some time. If you have difficulty assembling or disassembling the rod, carefully use some 4/0 steel wool to polish the male ferrule only, or send it back to me and I’ll refit the ferrules.

    Second, Thou shalt not carry thy assembled rod through a door. Any time you go through a door (or through the woods) with your rod, the rod should be disassembled, and preferably in a case. That means any door, from car doors to aircraft hanger doors. Car doors and screen doors break more rods in a week than all the fish in the world ever have.

    Third, Thou shalt not attempt to free thy stuck fly by jerking on the rod. Instead, pull enough line off the reel to allow you to grasp the line and pull only the line straight towards you.

    Fourth, Thou shalt not fight a fish with the rod held vertically, or beyond vertical. Holding a rod straight up with a severe bend in the tip places far too much stress on the rod and may cause tips to snap or take a set. Long leaders make us tempted to do just that. Be extremely careful any time the line leader connection is inside the tiptop.

    Fifth, Thou shalt never, ever put thy rod away wet. Buy a chamois and use it each time you place the rod in its bag. The finish on your rod is very durable, but can be severely damaged by moisture in a short period of time. When you will not be using the rod for an extended time, hang it in its bag in a cool, dry place. Also, don’t leave your rod assembled and leaning against a tree or a building for long periods of time. This can also make the rod take a set.

    Experiment to see which line you like best with your rod. This rod is designed for a specific weight of Weight Forward Fly line. Move up or down as much as one full line weight. More than one line weight will over stress the rod and may cause it to fail.

    Finally, if two tips are provided with your rod, rotate tips each time you use the rod. Each tip s usually marked at the ferrules and tiptop. Use one tip one day, the other tip the next day. I suggest removing the outside tip from the bag first, then move the remaining tip to the outside section of the bag so that you will use it next time.

    A fine bamboo rod should last for years as is evidenced by those we have inherited from our grandparents. Use care and common sense and this rod will last a lifetime. Finally, use this rod. It’s not a toy, and not a museum piece, but a fishing rod. Catch lots of fish, and let most of them go. (Harry Boyd)

      Good suggestions. You may also want to mention that when inserting the rod into the tube, form an "O" with your forefinger and thumb over the end of the tube to prevent damage to the guides.  (Ron Grantham)

    Here are the instructions I provide with each rod.  They aren't original, but collected from various places on the web.

    Care and Handling of Your Bamboo Rod

    A wise old fisherman once told me that the only things that break bamboo rods are doors and feet. This means that your rod should be the last piece of your angling equipment to come out of its case, and the first piece you put back in its case.

    1.      Cleaning: Keep a clean cotton wiping cloth with your tackle. Use this cloth to wipe the male ferrule clean of any dust, dirt or grime. Never, never use any kind of lubricant, to ease ferrule fit or abrasive/steel wool/commercial polishing cloths to clean the ferrules.

    2.      Never twist rod sections to align the guides or when assembling or disassembling the rod. Over time it will cut a groove in the ferrules, and they will have to be replaced.

    3.      When walking with the rod assembled, carry it with the rod tip to the rear.

    4.      When finished fishing for the day:

      • Use a cotton wiping cloth to wipe down the grip, rod sections, reel and the reel seat.
      • Never put a cane rod away wet, as the moisture will affect the finish. Watermarks on the varnish look unsightly.
      • After fishing in the rain or having managed to immerse your rod during fishing, you should remove the rod from the tube, keeping it in the rod bag, and hang it in a safe corner or other out of the way place in order to permit the rod to dry completely.
      • Do not let the rod and bag drop into the tube, permitting the ferrules to impact the bottom of the tube.
      • Use your ferrule plug that comes with your rod faithfully.

    5.      Don't leave your rod assembled and propped/leaning in corners or against a tree for long periods of time, or in closed up vehicles parked in sun for extended periods of time.

    Finally, have fun. Now that you have a new bamboo fly rod, get out there and catch some fish. That's what it is built for isn't it?


    1.      Ferrule cleaning is not necessary with every assembly. Once a year is fine when you go over your tackle in preparation for the new season, or when things seem to be getting a bit too tight. Ferrules may be cleaned by moistening a Q-Tip with a common household surface cleaner (nonabrasive), such as those packaged in pump spray bottles and by gently rubbing the surface clean.

    2.      To clean and polish the varnished surfaces, use a mild polish intended for fine antique furniture and a clean, soft wiping cloth. As a rule of thumb, if your polish of choice is an aerosol then it's the wrong stuff. Do not ever use an abrasive cleaner as it will damage or remove the finish.

    3.      If you find that hook strikes have damaged the surface of the bamboo rod shaft, then a little more effort is required. In such a circumstance return the rod to me for an inspection and repair.

    If you take care of your fly rod it will be a pleasant companion for years to come. (Don Bugg)


I like to fish in the winter, there are a couple catch and release areas that allow for that on the river I fish. My question is - Is this bad for a Bamboo rod, I don't go when it is below 30, but a day like today, 32 degrees, a light snow falling, makes for some interesting fishing, an occasional Blue Winged Olive hatch or Winter Caddis.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    Gosh, I hope not.  Best fishing in these parts is December through February.  I've often had to clean ice out of my guides every few casts, and so far have discovered no ill effects.  Well, at least none to the rod. Fishing when it's cold outside does horrible things to one's self-esteem. Sure makes you wonder if those folks who think we are crazy might be on to something.  (Harry Boyd)

    I fish nothing but bamboo, fish it year round... snow & ice storms or blistering heat. Just exercise proper care of the rod (don't put it back in the tube with ice chunks in the guides, etc.) and you will have no problems.  (Bob Nunley)

    I have fished many times with ice in the guides with no adverse effects (on the rod). That would be in 20 degree F weather.  (Reed Curry)

    I'd worry about plastic rods, not bamboo ones, in real cold. I've fished at -15F and colder with bamboo several times and never had any problems beyond ice on the snake guides.  (Barry Kling)

    My rods seem to hold up just fine in extreme weather and with the proper care I have noticed no ill effect. I will however like to caution at least in my case the use of silk line below zero. I have several short lines that have just snapped in cold fishing. Maybe someone can tell us of a preferred dressing for silk in cold weather!

    These were old lines but in good shape though, I have only had it on extreme days most of the time I have no problem. They first seem to ice a lot before this happens so I usually just change over and give that line a good cleaning once I get home. The icing seems to cause a loop to be thrown into it and then it tightens on itself causing a week spot. (Not A Knot)!  The weak spot will show in the form of a hinge and if the line is used more it will often break. It is almost like I am not getting a good dressing on them and the get impregnated with water freeze and break like ice.  (Ron Rees)

    Our trout season in Minnesota opens Jan. 1 I fish all winter. There's no bad weather just bad clothes. I fish my bamboo rods with no apparent problems.  I have a winter rod with all #5 snakes made from very light wire by  Dave LeClair.   (Dave Norling)

    There a whole slew of us here in Conn. that stop bamboo at 45 degrees. Can't remember where we got the info from but we have been using it as bible for the last 30 years.  We could be all wrong but I think it was one of the rod makers that told us to do it?     (Rich Colo)


On it's first outing, I banged up my last rod something awful. I had it laying in the back of a quad without a tube or sock on the way to a bass pond. I wasn't worried about the tip breaking but didn't give any thought to the finish. Well after bouncing around for a half hour I ended up with a bunch of chips and scratches in the finish. I'm not so worried about that but I also ended up with a small dent on one of the corner sections (above second male ferrule).

I'm wondering if there's any chance that I've created a possible shear point and if I should secure with a wrap.

Here's what I'm talking about:

Lowe, Jim Varnish 1Lowe, Jim Varnish 2Lowe, Jim Varnish 3For those single minded folks. Yes, I fished the rod anyway and yes we caught fish. Two strong enough to break 3x)  (Jim Lowe)

    Now you know how not to care for a rod.  Little experience with quads, but in my opinion no wrap is needed.  Most of the nicks and dings are cosmetic and can be repaired.  The one out of the corner is probably never going to look the same, but so what if it is your rod.  Fish it until time for redo then tackle the problems.  (Ralph Moon)


One of the things I remember Ed Engle saying about taking care of your fly rod is that the first thing you should do upon getting to your vehicle is break your rod down and put it into the tube before anything else. Well I always do that unless I am just going to 'drive up the road' to the next hole. Well Saturday morning I was fishing and the water was still too high to fish much, all you could do was fish the holes on the edges. It doesn't take much time to eat up a lot of river that way. So I laid my rod on the back of my Grand Cherokee, not much room for a 7 1/2 foot rod there, so I usually lay it on my duffle bag and over the front seat on the head rest, you know just 'going up the road' well I fished another section of river and it was time to call it a day. I got to the Jeep and realized I forgot to bring some water, well there is a park right up the road a bit, so I thought "you know it's pretty hot here, no shade and that park is paved, in the trees and has a water fountain. Well I will go there get some water to drink and get out of my waders there, makes perfect sense." So I put my rod on the duffle bag, laid the tip on the headrest like I always do when I am 'going up the road' making sure that the tip was not out the window, you really want to be careful of this especially if you have power windows! So off I go, it's really hot but I had left the windows cracked a bit so that the Jeep didn't get like an oven. "Im going to turn on the air and cool off on my way 'up the road' What was that sound?!!!!!!!!!!!

Well you already know the rest of the story, the rod slid off the head rest and the tip was, and I mean was, sticking out exactly 1/12 inches! Well just the day before, I had taken an old work companion flyfishing for his very first time and I told him what Ed Engle had said about taking your rod apart 'as soon as you arrive at your vehicle'.

Lessons learned:

1) You can not buy a better shear for bamboo rod tips than a power window. (nice clean cut!)

2) It takes a lot less time to break down a rod and put it in the tube than it takes to build a new tip.

3) Like the that comedian says "you can't fix stupid" !!!!!!!!!!!

Well I haven't decided if I will make a new tip or if I will just give somebody a good deal on a 1 tip rod with an extra tip thrown in (1 1/2 inches short).  (Joe Arguello)

    Sometimes it will happen to the best of us.  Like my beautiful Hamilton watch I laid on top of my car only long enough put some sun tan lotion on.  I forgot it and drove only a mile away before I remembered.  Went back and never found the watch.  Anyway, I like the idea of selling a one piece rod.  (Ralph Moon)

    I just bought one of those rod racks from Cabelas that go inside your vehicle & have been using that now for 3 weeks.  I have not had any problems with it yet.  Just make sure that you snug the rod down inside the rubber rests.  I "NEVER" laid my rod inside the vehicle as you said you did just for this reason.  (Bret Reiter)

      This is not for the faint of heart.  When “going up the road” I put my rod on the front of my windshield with the reel and reel seat below the windshield wiper with the rest of the rod protruding up and back across the roof of the car.  The wiper blade rests nicely above the reel and below the cork. It holds nicely but it scares the heck out of my fishing partners.  Never lost a rod or even seen it budge.  You do need to be careful of low hanging limbs when driving.   (Greg Reeves)


I've been fishing bamboo for over 40 years and sometimes, after several days or a week of casting long lines and big flies in often windy conditions, with the occasional steelhead landed, the rod may begin to feel a bit tired.

After thinking about this for a long time, I have a couple of questions for you guys:

1. Can the continued flexing of a bamboo rod over a period of time cause the fibers to get fatigued?

2. If so, how long does it take to recover?

TIA for your thoughtful replies.  (Ron Grantham)

    I think, sometimes, I am repetitive task challenged. It's like after learning a piano piece till you do play it in your sleep and one day you sit down at the piano and your fingers can't find the keys. This, by the way, is why I could never work on a stamping machine.  Casting all day for days you can really get in a groove but there are days, I think, finding a seat on the nearest log is the next step to excellence. I've heard it said that old rods will loose their flex. I don't believe it. I understand old violins well cared for and played well change over a century will change but will change for the better. Anyway, that's what I'll say. (Timothy Troester)

    Do you think the chemistry of the glue that holds it together could change over a long period of hard use?  (Don Ginter)

      Not the modern glues.  (Ron Grantham)

    Years ago when I was a boy living in sub tropical Australia I read a book that had been published there in the 1970's called "The Anglers Omnibus" by Roger Hungerford. It was basically a compendium of articles from Australia’s best known fishermen at the time - it was dated when I read it in the late 1980s but it must be prehistoric now.

    I always remember the best known Australian trout fisherman of the time John Sautelle Snr wrote that bamboo rods gave way and softened over time. His recommendation was that a new bamboo fly rod was suitable for dry fly fishing for the first 2 years (being crisp and stiffer in action) but over time as the action softened he recommended getting a new rod for dry flies and using the older rod(s) for wet fly fishing.

    He wasn't a maker or employed by a maker to drum up business (as far as I know) so it wasn't just a marketing ploy to sell more rods.

    Not sure how true that advice is, or whether modern techniques, glues etc. have largely made that advice obsolete, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.  (Nick Kingston)

      David Scholes, who is as you know probably the most widely read of the Australian trout writers (which, IMHO, only goes to show that you don't have to be very good to be widely admired) also said that after a few years a rod was just plain "worn out" and needed to be replaced.  He thought, as he told me one several occasions, about 2 to 3 years!

      Scholes was, in fact, retained by Messrs Hardy to pontificate about rods and various other matters about which he knew not as much as he would have everybody believe; and in this case I am quite sure that he was simply spouting the commercial line.  Another of his pieces of wisdom is that once a rod took a "set" after hard use it needed to be replaced, which you know and I know is rubbish.

      In fact none of the commercially orientated tripe that was put about back then had much basis in fact.  The Hardy/Scholes Fallacy simply fails to account for those rods that have been in use for the best part of a century;  and how long does it take to straighten a bend in a bamboo rod? About 30 seconds?

      I  am quite sure that some bamboo rods,  for various reasons, do become old and worn out, and I suppose it to be a function of either the cane in that particular rod, or of the type of glue used, or of poor construction, or of horrendous abuse, or of being put away wet by slack owners (which I think was VERY common indeed).

      But I do not believe that it is a very common event, and if a rod is fished in such a way that its elastic limit is not reached and exceeded, it should last in good condition for a very long time indeed.

      I have worked on probably half a dozen of these very Hardy rods that were retired because they were "worn out" and with a bit of reworking of bindings and a modicum of straightening, they were pretty much as good as they ever were - which, again in my opinion, in the case of Messrs Hardy, was not very good at all in the first place, but at least they had not deteriorated  beyond reclamation.

      I agree that old John Sautelle was not in the employ of the rod companies, but the myth was widely spread in the fishing community and he probably believed it.  He was every bit the knowledgeable fisherman that Scholes desperately wanted, and pretended, to be, but he would have been inclined to believe those whom he thought would know best.

      Of course, you have also to realise that those old 9' and 9'6" 7-weights and 8 weights that HB sold so many of in this country, heavy, unresponsive and painfully slow, were only ever marginally suitable for dry fly fishing at any stage of their careers!

      I often wonder what these blokes would have said had they been able to get their hands on some of the really great rods with fine workmanship and brilliant taper design that were emanating from the shops of the Paynes and the Dickersons, the Gillums, the Powells and the Youngs in the USA.  But of course not many people ever did get to use them, except for a select few who travelled over and used them, and bought them, in the US, because the accepted wisdom, put about by the likes of David and a few of his contemporaries, was that they were just a heap of "Yank" rubbish, and never could equal the fine craftsmanship of the "mother country."

      WAHOC !

      Sorry, just one of my really big hangups.  Not that you'd ever guess........  (Peter McKean)

        Seems to me that if one hung a weight from the tip and measured the deflection before fishing the rod and then again when he suspects it's fatigued, that would tell you something. That would at least narrow it down to either bamboo fatigue or glue fatigue. And then try it a few days later and see what you get.  (Don Ginter)

        ...also said that after a few years a rod was just plain "worn out" and needed to be replaced.  He thought, as he told me one several occasions, about 2 to 3 years!

        I knew it!  I should have thrown my 18 year old six weight in the compost pile a long time ago!  And to think, with it that worn out, I was fishing only last week!

        Peter, what is it they say... the prerequisite for being an expert is to be more than 50 miles from home!  Smile

        Seriously, I have heard that bamboo "wears out", but I've personally only seen bamboo rods in bad condition due to a.) Abuse  b.) Ingorance (using a 4 wt to fish for gulf coast redfish) or c.) inferior materials, like some of the glues that were used years ago and possibly some that are used now or inferior finish, etc.

        C is the most common reason a rod gets "worn out", but that's not the past makers faults.  They used what they had, just as we do today.  I think today, our rods will last much longer than say a Divine from the 20's, just because we take advantage of technological advances that just weren't there 90 years ago, or even 30 years ago when HL Leonard was still in business... Things change and techniques MUST change with them.... OOPS!!!!  Almost got on my rodmakers soapbox and started the Sermon on the Heap (that would be heap of scrap bamboo).

        Have a great day all, and I hope you have as much fun wearing out your rod as I have wearing out the Snake Rod for the past 18 years.  (Bob Nunley)

        I was not going to jump in on this but I thought I would comment.

        My first rod is 13 years old and I have used it on a regular basis for 10 years. It was made from a discarded culm that I bought at a Gathering. It was glued with Elmer's Carpenter Glue and finished with a water base varnish. It has over 3000 fish on it. True some of the fish were Bluegills but a fish is a fish. Have taken well over a couple of hundred Smallmouths on the rod. It is still crisp as it was when new. I did break a tip section but spliced a new section on it.

        Like Peter says, maybe I should throw it in the trash but I think different. Will be bending it again in a few weeks if the weather warms up. (Tony Spezio)

    Seems I read somewhere that someone thought that this was the result of moisture uptake over time.  I think they put the rod in their oven for a period of time and the crispness returned.  (Todd Talsma)

      Interestingly, I was just reading the section in Bergman's Trout where he discusses this in relation to both bamboo and fiberglass (1952 edition).  He makes the case for resins breaking down over time.  I've certainly seen that in fiberglass, and it is possible that the glue seams in a bamboo rod become more flexible over time, but like Todd, I'm more inclined to think it has to do with moisture absorption.  Simply put, while we are fishing, in a high humidity environment, the rod, naturally, absorbs a lot of moisture.  When we get home, we let the rod dry back out to normal household humidity.

      The deterioration of rods mentioned by the Aussies may have more to do with deterioration of the finish, than with the bamboo.  A compromised finish would allow the rod to absorb moisture more quickly.  A good drying out and expert refinish could restore the rod to like new condition.

      Just a theory, of course, but something to consider.  (Paul Gruver)

      In 2003 at the Grayrock gathering I saw, held and cast a rod that was thought to have been made in the 1890s.  I was asked to avoid double hauling as it had not been designed for that.  I was just in awe that anything that old could still be used at all.  I have no idea if it was tired or not, but it left me with absolutely no concerns about bamboo as a material for making fly rods.  (Hal Manas)

        I have a rod called "The Bassett", made in 1888, no restoration, original length (really long, 9.5’, I think) that is a 3 wt.  We (Jeff Hatton, Harry Boyd, John Oppenlander, I think Dennis Higham and many others) cast the rod at SRG this year.  Surprising how much life that 122 year old hanging ring guide rod had in it.  (Bob Nunley)

          You mention hanging ring guides here.  Now, I've never actually seen a rod with this style guide in place, but I do own a copy of Jeff Hatton's fine "Rod Crafting," and I gotta tell you the first time I saw a picture of one of those old sticks with what looked like hookkeepers dangling all up and down it, all I could do was swear.  With all the other madhouse complications inherent in the designs of fly rods, why in hell would someone wrap on guides that move?  So here's my chance to ask:  Do hanging guides perform as poorly as it seems to me they should and does anyone -- outside of restorations -- use or even prefer them these days?  (Bob Brockett)

    It's well documented in materials science that repeated flexing will break down a material.  Bamboo is no different with this respect, flex it enough times it will wear out. The silver lining is you have got to flex it a LOT of times, and that means a lot of fishing.  (John Rupp)

      Close.  Flexible materials will retain their elastic characteristics without breaking down, up until they've been stressed beyond their yield point, into the area of plastic deformation. Stressing beyond the yield point will cause the breakdown, and the more the rod section is pushed past the yield point, the faster it will break down.  (Mark Wendt)

        Flexible materials will retain their elastic characteristics without breaking down, up until they've been stressed beyond their yield.

        I'm with John on this one. Stressing a material beyond it's yield point will cause a very quick breakdown, but stressing it below it's elastic limit will also cause the material to break down, it's just a matter of a much longer time. Conditions of service are the key, and determine length of service before the breakdown becomes apparent. The big factor is the ratio between the stress in actual use, and the yield point of the material. If you stress a material to 50% of it's yield, it won't last nearly as long as the same material stressed to 25% of it's yield, Conditions of service vary wildly with cane rods, so there's really no predicting. It's safe to say that if you break a rod down in a couple years, you probably ought to fish graphite, you will eventually break that down, too, but it's cheaper. A well treated cane rod will go on for many years, but exactly how long is not predictable.  On the other hand, if you are dealing with a situation  where the stress is predictable, you can have a pretty good idea of service life. I think the guys who make wooden bows figure about 100,000 shots before the wood loses significant strength. I don't think we can make a 100 year rod. I choose not to worry about that.  (Tom Smithwick)

          My elegant but unfortunately expensive solution is to buy and make way more rods than I can possibly wear out in my lifetime, therefore rendering the problem moot.   (John Rupp)

            OK, now I have always had a lifetime guarantee which reads "If you break my rod, I will kill you!" now I have to amend my lifetime guarantee to read "If you break my rod or wear it out I will kill you!"  (Joe Arguello)

        Mark, what Tom said sums it up there is a non-yield stress breakdown that occurs in materials with repeated flexing cycles it's well documented in the literature especially for things like springs and other tooling used in factories nothing lasts forever.  It's just not usually taught in basic materials classes just mentioned on the side.  (John Rupp)

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that Orvis did some kind long term flex test on some bamboo rods and did eventually find an effect, but I can't recall where I saw it.  (Mike McGuire)

      Great discussion, well thought out responses peppered with a bit of humor to carry it along nicely.

      I am tending to lean towards the moisture camp, but even have my doubts about that, I am thinking the Bamboo fibers should not be able under the finish to absorb that much moisture that quickly.

      I would like the original poster to take two rods that he is most familiar with on his next long fishing expedition, I would be so lucky.  Fish the first one and your arm into a wet noodle, again I would be so lucky. Then switch to the other rod with your tired arm and see if it makes any difference.

      I can see the flaws in this, it would be ideal to have two identical rods made from the same culm and have one on the side to be exposed to the same moisture for a better comparison.     

      John Gierach, in one of his books on fishing bamboo, said something like a rod had a limited number of casts in it, but fortunately it was a lot, this is not a quote mind you just something I remembered.  (Ron Petley)

        Thanks for all the great responses. My problem, if that's what it is, happens only occasionally and only on extended trips, often after fishing in rain and otherwise humid conditions.

        The rods in question were made by reputable makers. Craftsmanship and quality are not factors that I would consider. Overflexing to the point of straining the fibres is also unlikely.

        My rods are stored in a dry, heated area and when they are used the next time they feel as crisp as they were when new. That leads me to think that moisture absorption is the most likely cause of a rod feeling "tired."  (Ron Grantham)

          There is a cure for this condition of a tired rod. It starts way back in the construction phase. You gotta make up a sauce and liberally coat the rod with it. The sauce mixture relies primarily on little blue pills dissolved in liberal amounts of single malt.

          The rod will get tired  after some years of happy employment and refuse to cast straight and true. The cure is pass a picture of a mint steelhead in front of the rod. Within seconds, the rod is ready to go. No waiting overnight as you previously experienced.

          Of course, this story was told to me and I'm passing it along for your edification and personal use. Any resemblance to the truth is an illusion.  (Don Anderson)


Are there any precautions or things that as person should do to protect the rod for use in saltwater?  (Don Anderson)

    Wash 'em down well afterwards, and consider wiping the ferrules down with oil or some sort of moisture repellent (WD40) before hand.  I have half a dozen in use in saltwater fairly regularly.  No major problems so far.  (Harry Boyd)

    I just rinse and dry well afterwards. I wax the ferrules with Butchers along with the rest of the rod. So far, so good.

    Let them sit out and air dry.  (Pete Van Schaack)


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