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I was sitting at the Oregon gathering (great again) watching a pile  of really good casters doin' their thing.

A couple of questions about rod design came back into focus.

I have been thinking (not really) about the relationship of the caster and the taper in terms of power-bands instead of  the exact shape of the curve.  I was observing all the different casting styles and all the great results, and all the different rods. I know at a gathering, people cast what is at hand. But amongst us, I wondered of you guys that had enough rods to know what your favorites are, (the rods you fish with) would compare your stress curves?  See if there are any similarities? I don't mean in the shape, unless you only like one style.  It might be high/low ranges, or bands of stress in certain places on the rod,  it could be anything.

I was trying to think about it in terms we've talked about before, (the best rod). But this time it's if you could guess a potential buyers likes by analyzing his casting style. If you could put a rod in their hands that satisfied their unique power application requirements, then i think a new buyer would like cane because they would.

I noticed that amongst the better casters, they LIKE certain rods better   than   others.   But   their   likes    didn't    make    any sense..or...maybe they did.  This is also from long time observation, I'm sure you have done the same. Maybe it's the power-action sequences in a rod  that people feel, and not just the (para, linear, progressive...)  shape. I was considering that maybe we do adapt our own casting styles to the character of the rod more easily if it falls within our  natural power on/off button ranges.

Anyway, to anyone who would like to compare their rods, or voice an  opinion, please do.  (Jerry Foster)

    I've got about 30 rods in my closet, most of them made to specifically define a certain rod style/action and so that I could experiment with that style.

    From casting and fishing all those rods I have noticed a trend in the rod actions that I like to fish with - basically the heavier the line weight the faster the rod.  Lawn casting  is a slightly different story, so I'll stick with preferences for a fishing rod.

    For rods up to and including 4 wts, I prefer a gentle parabolic to progressive action rod.  Slightly U shaped to flat stress curves.  Young 3 wt and 4 wt rods are wonderful, as is the Payne 97 and some of the FE Thomas 4  wts  out  there.    Stresses  in  the 160,000+ range with not much of a peak at the tip.

    Moving into the 5-6 wt category I find myself almost always reaching for Garrison-esque rods.  Flat to /slightly /down-sloping, yet still straight stress curves.  A consistent 160,000-180,000 stress seems to work best.  A noticeable stiffening a station or so in front of the grip is nice for extra backbone when both casting longer distances and fighting.

    From 7wt and up I tend towards a specific action with a soft tip, a comparatively stiff butt section and a slight soft spot just below the mid point (check out the Dickerson 8014 G as a good example).  The stresses at the bump should just about match the stresses at the point halfway between the apex of the bump and the tip of the rod.   Get  the stresses at the tip to around 230,000 +/- and the butt down to 125,000-150,000 depending.

    To put things simply, it feels like I have to do too much work with light line fast action rods, and with larger parabolic or even progressive rods I feel like I'm getting tossed around as the mass of the rod does its thing.

    I hope that is kinda what you were looking for.  (Chris Carlin)

    In my humble opinion I believe that the better casters can adapt to cast almost any decent rod. I also think that most rodmakers can do the same and that is  the problem, you pick up a rod make a few false cast, pick up the feeling of the rod and cast it. So you,  the caster, adopt your style to make the rod work for you. Like you, I have watched guy's at the gatherings pick up rods and cast them and you do the same yourself and you know most of them cast pretty darned well even though we are not Lefty or Rajeff. What you need is a computerized machine that casts lines like a rod that you can alter the stress curves and then designs a rod. I think that is where we are going and I guess that can be bad or good.  (Chuck Irvine)

      Let's try this.

      Let's say you hand them all the same rod. a 201e. There.

      will they like it or not like it based on the taper, or is it more  the powertiming in the taper. I guess they are the same, but I was  trying to take one step back and look at it as distributed processes  where the hi and lo stress ranges and where they are and equate that  to the casting motion as a power curve.  (Jerry Foster)

    A few years ago I came up with the idea of custom designing rods for an individual caster.  It would be challenging, but certainly not impossible, to use a digital video camcorder to record a caster's stroke from the side, load the recording  into a computer, and analyze the recording frame-by-frame to calculate the particular path and acceleration of their hand during their casting stroke.  By choosing a rod length, line weight, and casting distance, you could then solve for the taper that would translate the path and acceleration of a rod grip in their hand into a linear path of the rod tip.  However, I soon realized that I could cast a variety of tapers equally well (or equally poorly, depending on your perspective), and figured out that I instinctively adapt my casting stroke to suit the action of the particular rod in my hand.

    And there's the problem: how can you determine a caster's natural stroke when the stroke is a response to the rod in their hand?  For an accomplished caster, the best you could hope to do is to duplicate the action of the rod in their hand when you recorded their casting stroke.  I decided that this pursuit of tapers suited to individual casters is futile.  Besides, it's much more fun to get together with a group of friends, and whole bunch of rods, and just cast them.  Every now and then you come across a rod that just makes you go "WOW -  I need one of these!"   (Robert Kope)

      What an error, introducing you to Tim..now he's all goo-goo about  your rods.

      I do understand that there are imponderables. This was really aimed  at the new caster/convert. And to those who wanted to try an  experiment, ..oh well...

      I was also trying to be nice and not speaking of those who did not  posses a masters style. There ARE a lot of people who could use a  better matched rod. They still couldn't cast but you could have sold  a rod.  (Jerry Foster)

    Many flyfishers are in a sort of groove, due to geographical and personal restraints. If all there is streams within 500 miles of where you live then Dickerson's rather fast tapers, to use an example, are going to leave you a bit cold.

    On the other hand, if you live near Graffham reservoir in the English midlands you may well think them to be too soft, since 40 yard casts from the bank are very normal.

    From the limited experience of making two Dickerson tapers I might as well say that so far I'm a bit unimpressed, the butts are too rigid and the tips tend to flex mainly in the two or three feet above the ferrule. We call it "Bruce and Walker-itis" in the UK, as anyone who has used the brilliantly conceived but criminally executed hexagraphs will ruefully confirm.  Things I do not like to see in any flyrod taper, and it matters not whether the material is cane, glass or carbon, are sudden changes. Variations should blend in with what preceded gradually. This is why I intensely dislike step down ferrules or any other stratagem which produces a step taper. As Alan Vare of Dons of Edmonton once said to me "Step tapers produce an anvil for a fish to break you on." I won't even mention stress raisers, but they are all over Hexrod like a rash.  You can make ultra fast taper rods with very smooth actions, if you wish, and noodles with nasty steps in their curves.

    Perhaps it is time for a grovelling admission, my good friend and fellow West Country rodmaker Luke Bannister turned up the other day with a Payne Canadian Canoe he had just made for evaluation. Luke is not like me, he doesn't waste time on abstract theory, he gets on and makes things to cabinet makers standards. I've been rude about Payne, some of you have got very cross with me about it, but the rod was superbly balanced as a medium range #7, ideal for largish flies from a low casting position and with smooth  taper transition from section to section, in spite of being a three piece. The thing is that whilst I don't actually have a use for it I can see that there may well be a use for it. Some tapers are so ill matched that I cannot see what that use may be.

    This is not a swipe about so-called parabolics, although actually it IS a swipe about so-called parabolics, what it is not a swipe about is parabolics made in the  the spirit of Ritz's basic concepts. Sadly, commercial pressures mean that few are/were. Read the book before you disagree. To be fair there were technical faults in Ritz's design concepts, but we will let that pass, especially as they did nothing to erode his basic thesis.

    I have, in half a century nearly at this game, found little discordance among casters of equal ability in any particular microcosm of the the fancy. If I give casters of my age and experience a rod for a particular purpose, and they are experienced in that purpose, they will tend to say similar things. Similar, but not the same, some like it a bit harder, some a bit softer, some a bit longer, some a bit shorter, some a bit stiffer in the butt, some a bit softer in the tip. And that's just their wives sexual preferences, you should hear them on fly rods. The operative words here are "A bit." A bit is not very much, and sometimes, having got used to something, it can be so small that "a bit softer" becomes,  "You know, I actually think it wouldn't hurt if that tip was a bit stiffer."  (Robin Haywood)

      In spite of being a three-piece!?

      My own opinion is that the action of three piece rods is inherently superior to two piece, because the center of the arc is cane, not ferrule. I've always thought two piece actions characteristically less live in feel than three piece.

      I like more than one kind of taper myself, and I do like Dickerson (and Gillum, which are similar) 1930s (Ray Bergman-era style) American fast action rods.  It's certainly easier to drive out long casts, or casts into the wind, with fast action rods. I think fast rods are easier for beginning casters to use well.  I have only handled a small numbers of Dickersons though, and it wouldn't surprise if some of his tapers were inferior to others.  Dickerson rods commonly feature ugly second-rate watermarked cane.  Elements of his designs, like tip cases and reel seats, incorporate just plain bad decision-making too.

      I'm glad to see that you're coming around on Payne.  Jim Payne died just before I was old enough to have the money to buy his price level of rod.  I often think it's a pity I can't today pop into (the real) Abercrombie & Fitch on Madison Avenue today and pick one up, or drive out to Highland Mills to arrange for a special order.  If Jim Payne were alive, I think one could contentedly stick to his brand.  (David Zincavage)

        I don't understand the significance of having cane at the "center of the arc."

        The center of the arc is not necessarily half way up or down the rod and of itself it has no particular significance.

        Richard Walker, speaking from an admittedly technical viewpoint, once said that the fewer sections a rod has the better it will be.  But if we take the two extremes of a seven piece carbon nine footer like an example here, against any hypothetical nine foot seven piece rod in Greenheart we can see that the devil is in the detail, the carbon rod would only be marginally lighter in one piece, whilst the greenheart example would be unspeakable no matter how inspired its designer and maker. Three piece rods inevitably have a higher inherent inertia than a similar rod in two pieces, and their centre of mass is nearer the tip. In a dry "Waggle" test the rod will therefore bend against this inertia, making it feel more alive. This is why carbon always feels stone cold dead by comparison.

        I have always found that rods with extreme actions are difficult for beginners and even improvers. Because I am more used to them I can handle very fast tapers better than very slow ones. Dickerson was not at all alone in misunderstanding the correct position for the reel, Garrison and Payne had the same problem. All the Dickerson tapers I have analyzed have been similar to those I have built, which were both Hexrod variations, although I checked them.

        They seemed to have been designed for a step-down ferrule. I have an historical note here that Payne 202s were selling new for $450 in 1973, five years after Jim Paynes death. What happened after that? My archive ends there.  (Robin Haywood)

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