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Rod Design - Rod Feel

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I've said this before, but because we've been talking tapers I'll ask it in a different light. 

When designing a rod (and I've designed some weird ones) I've noticed that a faster taper (higher average slope) tends to feel heavier.  A slower taper feels lighter.   Over a day's fishing this can make a difference. 

Does anyone include this in their taper designs?  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    Isn't a faster taper by definition going to have more material, and therefore be heavier?  I suppose when I begin to think the rod is going to feel too heavy, I start thinking about hollow building ... but that's probably not a good addition to this discussion at this point.  (Harry Boyd)

      I think it's a valid addition. We are talking about making rods here.

      Do we have a group of rods we think are fast?  (Jerry Foster)

      Harry, I keep hearing this "Weight" thing and it makes me wonder.  I mean what's the real difference in weight lets say between a 9 foot and an 8 foot approximately for example?  Would it be 4 ounces maybe 5?  I don't know, I'm just guessing.  So I'm just thinking just how much weight difference would there be between a 8 foot 5 wt that's medium action and then making the same rod but with a completely fast action --  2 ounces??   If I'm guessing somewhat even accurately is 2 or 3 ounces really worth mentioning - is it all about tiring ones arm by the end of the day?  Otherwise couldn't one just take some weight like you say "Hollowing" the butt section to save weight??  I know it's probably got something to do with leverages and length of leverage arm in relation to the weight throughout the length but is it really a big deal?    Seems people seem to worry about a few ounces and I'm just not sure why??

      If my arm got tired by the end of the day - I'd just say - AH great it was a GREAT workout.  (John Silveira)

        I think you made your own point.  Weight at the end of a lever is much more substantial.

        When I hung around the golf pro shop as a kid, there was a standing challenge.  Hold a golf club (wooden head driver, steel shaft) by the grip.  Extend your arm to the side so the club is parallel to the ground.  Now hold it there.  Don't let it drop below parallel.  Keep it there for five minutes.  Five full minutes.  If you can do that, you win the $100 bill.

        Rest that same club on your shoulder and you can carry 14 of them for five hours.  (Harry Boyd)

    What I'm talking about is an experience I had about two years ago.  I'd been rebuilding a series of 7 foot 3p 3 and 4 wt rods.  I was having problems getting an action I liked.  (Several reasons for this, I'm sure but that's another topic.)  So I built (based on the average slope of the taper) a fairly fast rod.   I took it out and fished it, and it was, indeed, fast, almost graphite fast.   I fished it for several hours and found that my wrist was tired.  I couldn't figure out why.  The rod didn't weigh much more than the slower rods of the same length.  

    Then it dawned on me.   Starting all that mass (as little as it is but strung out over 7 foot) and stopping it at the end of each cast was a challenge. 

    I took the rod home and sanded a little  bamboo  (.002"~.004"  -- HORRORS!) off each section to give it a little flex (I know, I know, I have sinned).  The next time I fished it, the rod felt much lighter to my cast.  Now I'd guess I took far less than one ounce off that rod, so it was the increased flex that made the difference. (Terry Kirkpatrick)

      With fast rods you also need to take into account that, when bent to the quarter circle which no fly rod should exceed when casting, the effective length is greater than with a softer rod. This means the center of mass is nearer the tip and thus the mass has greater leverage on your casting hand. The faster a rod is the more difficult timing becomes,  everything is happening faster, this can be fatiguing. I'm not saying, of course, that weight is not important, I've spent my life droning on about the importance of lightweight structures for rods, bicycles, reels, cars, blondes.

      I shouldn't worry about shaving a rod down a bit, there was hardly a classic rodmaker who didn't, the scrap rate would have been horrible otherwise and you can always make another to the new dimensions if it worries you.  In fact, I often think that the best way to modify an action experimentally is to do just that. Obviously, you can't add any mass anywhere, but its sure quicker than making up half a dozen prototypes.

      Good job I was born in the 20th century, I'd have been burnt at the stake as a heretic in the tenth.

      I used to make a few bob fining down composite tips with wet'n dry some years ago, everyone said they would break, but they never did. You would be amazed how uneven the outsides of some of these blanks were before I got at them, I even filed a few of them.  You have to be patient, and I wish I had digital calipers then, even if they did eat batteries, good job I have a cheap source. Couldn’t afford dial calipers you see, but I'm going to get some now, fed up with the batteries going half way through a test.

      I don't like very fast tapers, never have, although there are some here, for special purposes, if I were interested in tournament casting I should have to relent, I suppose, but some of the more extreme cane tournament rods barely lasted the tournament, they were in overstress nearly all the time.  (Robin Haywood)

    Not to be contrary, but I've noticed the opposite. A "fast" rod feels lighter, with proportionately more wood in the butt, and a "slow" rod heavier, with more wood in the tip.

    I build nearly all rods hollow (fluted ALA Winston on an MHM), so yes I design and build rods with weight  in mind  (increase the area 3% to compensate for the hollowing).  (Chris Obuchowski)


I've been trying to figure out what it is about a rod that makes it "feel" right with my casting style. I have a graphite rod I built on a Dan Craft 8' 9" 3-piece, 6 wt. Signature IV blank. The action is described as medium-fast. For those of you using the Common Cents System, the ERN is 7.01 and AA 63.

When I cast this rod with my normal, crappy stroke, I can feel the line all the way through the cast and shoot nice, tight loops. The closest thing I can use to describe the feel is like throwing a high-quality dart. This rod is far and beyond the one I am most accurate with. I've tried over lining my cane rods, thinking maybe it was the line weight, but that just resulted in an overloaded and over flexed mess. Maybe it's the length? That is the longest rod I own, cane or otherwise, so don't have anything to compare it to.

Your thoughts, opinions or guesses are much appreciated.  (Rob Holland)

    I love the taste of bananas. I can’t get an orange that tastes like bananas, no matter how hard I try. Get it?  (Ren Monllor)

      I agree, it's a tough, if not impossible comparison. I'm just trying to understand the design characteristic that gives the rod the feel.  (Rob Holland)

        I can suggest a book.

        It’s called The Technology of Fly Rods by Don Phillips

        It’s well written and explains a lot about the techie stuff behind the rod. He talks about bamboo, glass and graphite.

        I’ve been reading and rereading sections until they gel and make sense.

        I think it’s a pretty good book and I recommend it.  (Ren Monllor)

        I am going to assume some facts  here that are really not in evidence, and am admitting in advance that I could be 100% wrong. I'm also a casting instructor, so consider the source. From what you have said, I'm going to guess that you are not stopping the rod crisply, or in the right places on your front and back casts. You are then compensating for that by applying too much power with your wrist to get some distance. Most likely, what you want is a rod with a very fast taper, and therefore a stiff butt to absorb the excess power without shocking the line or tailing the loop.

        I have nothing against fast rods, and enjoy casting them at times, but why doom yourself to being able to cast only one type of rod? A lot of the fun of this is to be able to have a variety of rods for different conditions, moods, etc. The best thing you could do for yourself is get to a qualified instructor and get your casting stroke adjusted. If that is not possible in your area, get a copy of Joan Wulff's video and study her methods. I particularly recommend the trick she uses for teaching people how to stop the rod. She lays a couple poles on the ground in a "V" of about 45° or slightly larger. Then the caster stands at the point of the "V" and side casts, stopping the rod at the poles. The caster instantly sees the line forming a tight, smooth loop. I have tried a lot of things over the years to teach the concept of stopping the rod, but nothing works as well of this.

        I don't know of a single golfer who has not taken a lesson, or even many lessons to improve their swing. How come we fly fishers are so reluctant? I guess we have the excuse that you can be a great fisherman without casting very well, but does anyone think that their enjoyment of the sport would decrease if their casting improved?

        Rob, please do not think I'm picking on you personally. This is a generalized rant, or maybe just my turn on the soapbox, which I now relinquish to others. Off to the piggery.   (Tom Smithwick)

          If fly fishermen could win millions of dollars by sweetening their cast like golfers can by perfecting their swing, there wouldn't be enough casting instructors available to handle the requests for help!!! LOL....Me thinks the piggery is going to get crowded.  (Will Price)

    What line are you using with the DanCraft graphite rod?  (Harry Boyd)

      The line is Hook & Hackle Hi-Floater 6 wt. WF. I've read it is the same as Cortland 444. It's the only 6 wt. line I have, so haven't been able to compare it with another. I have the same line in a 3 wt. WF, but it doesn't have the same feel on my lighter rods.  (Rob Holland)

        The H&H is the Cortland 444 peach line, only it's green for Hook & Hackle sales. Kind of like all the bamboo rod companies of the past making "trade rods" to be sold under different names.  (Will Price)

    What kind of fishing are you using the rods for?  (Stephen Dugmore)

      This rod doesn't get much use, as it's a touch heavy for most of my fishing. Plus, since I cast my first cane rod a few years ago, the plastic tends to stay at home. Most of the time I've used it on what we consider medium rivers here in the south. Browns up to a couple of pounds, casts out to 50+ feet.  (Rob Holland)

    A medium fast graphite rod is more like a very fast bamboo rod.  If you’re experimenting with line sizes, I’d think you’d want to underline your bamboo rod to see if that makes it feel similar.  Recently, I measured the deflection of a 7’6” medium graphite rod and compared it to my favorite 7’6” cane rod on a program I have that will graph deflection for a given set of conditions.  To make the bamboo rod behave similar to the graphite I had to use 2 line wts less.  (Al Baldauski)

      This makes sense to me as if I wanted to slow a rod I thought to be fast for what I was doing,  I’d use 1 to 2 line sizes up.  (Ren Monllor)

      I tried your underlining suggestion this afternoon. I tried a 3 wt. WF on a Leonard 39L copy and I had trouble even feeling the line until I got to about 35'. Really had to fight to get line out to about 20'. Granted, I am a crappy caster. It's hard to break 35 years of bait casting habits! I don't have a 6 wt. cane rod to try it on. That would be a better comparison.

      Thanks for your suggestion and information. I've been messing with CCS data from my graphite rods and comparing it to Garrison stress curves. Haven't gotten far enough along to determine any correlations. I'm not trying to design a cane rod to be like graphite, only trying to understand the design characteristic of the plastic rods so that I MIGHT be able to design that characteristic into the cane.  (Rob Holland)

    There is no easy answer to that one.  I think you will just have to get hold of many cane rods and cast them. As you know carbon is stiffer and a lot faster per diameter. You can design a faster rod yourself and hollow build it.  Go for a rise over 300.  I would not overline a cane rod You can stress the tips on a fast action rod.  (Gary Nicholson)

      Thanks for the suggestions. Not a lot of cane casters in my fishing group (one, me!), so I don't get the opportunity to cast anything but mine. I'm going to make it to a rod gathering someday. I think that would be an eye opener.  (Rob Holland)

    Well, I have a rod that never "felt right" until I put a heavier reel on it.  If you have an assortment of reels, you might try different ones.  Just a thought.  (Neil Savage)

      Was it tip heavy Neil?  (Gary Nicholson)

        I don't think so... It was a Young Perfectionist taper, just didn't feel right to me.  I never really liked it until I put a different reel on it.  Since, I've tried swapping my various reels around to find the best feel on all my rods.  (Neil Savage)

    I just read the comments on rod feel and using different reels. Yesterday I was on the river with a rod I fished last year and I really liked the way it performed last year, but it just didn't feel like it was the same rod. I just realized that I was using a different reel. One actually that is a bit heavier than I used on it last year. I'm going to put the old reel back on it next trip.  (Floyd Burkett)

      Did the reel also have a different line? I mean by that made by a different manufacturer? For instance, I know that the gram weight of Cortland lines and SA lines, for instance, are on opposite ends of the range.  (Timothy Troester)

        It was the exact same line took it off the old reel and put it on the new one. So the only difference was the weight of the reel itself. The new reel is 8 1/2 ounces, and the old reel is 6 1/2 ounces. So I guess the 2 ounces added to the butt made a significant difference. I'll know the next time I go because I'm putting the old reel back on it for the next trip. (Floyd Burkett)

          It might be of interest, but you are stating the same thing that Vince Marinaro postulated in "The Ring of the Rise."  The lighter the reel, the better the rod feels.  Primarily because of the reduction of weight that allows a faster tip action.   Funny though that there is always someone to act as the Devil's advocate.  Anybody remember the old Pflueger reels that had a hole in the center column so that BB"s could be added to increase the weight.  Then I  remember a "guru" who said weight behind the casting hand is of little concern.  Hold a broom horizontally with the hand just in front of the bristles.  Then try it with the bristles in front of you hand.  Which can you hold longest.

          Isn't it odd that there are pros and cons on so much of rod theory?  (Ralph Moon)


I have a question for everyone. Those of you who don't normally comment on some of our inane conversations should jump in here.

Confine this to a straight, forward cast, without a haul.

What do you think you are actually feeling when you cast?

There of course is no wrong answer here.  (Jerry Foster)

    In a perfect cast to a rising trout with a bamboo rod, I feel nothing - it's all about the trout.  My goal as a rod maker is to make a rod that disappears when I use it. A bit philosophical for sure but is my only objective as a maker, it's why I fly fish and why I fish cane.

    When I think about it, I want to feel the pull of line on the rod as it accelerates and the transfer of energy from the cane when I stop.  The more of this I feel the less I have to think about it.

    Interestingly on a poor forward stroke I feel the fly (usually with lead) on the back of my head.  (Jon Babulic)

      I don't want to know the rod at all when I'm catching, but I want to love it to death when I'm not!  (Robin Haywood)

    The weight of my silk fly line bending the rod!  (Olaf Borge)

    At the instant I begin the forward cast, on good days, I feel the soft hackles on my size 18 flies bending in the breeze.  As the partridge feathers rebound, I sometimes notice a  tiny  bit  of late-straightening slack, just out in the last few inches of the 6x tippet.  With continued acceleration, the line-leader knot begins to come into play, deflecting the wind and beginning to cause a minute amount of drag.

    As things move forward... nah, can't go on with this.  But it was fun while it lasted.

    I suppose I feel the weight of the rod bending against inertia of the line as the rod accelerates.  (Harry Boyd)

      What's the matter with you guys. Either I'm correct about how rods work (continued acceleration) or I'm in error. If I'm in error then you ALL should jump all over me. If I'm not then some people have a serious misunderstanding about how bamboo works. It can't be both ways on this one.

      Give Me Back My Shovel.  (Jerry Foster)

        You need more than a shovel to move dirt in Texas...  <VBG>  (Mark Wendt)

          What makes you think he's shoveling dirt?  (Hal Manas)

            Errr, Good point Hal.  Lotsa cattle out there in Texas...  (Mark Wendt)

      Darn Harry, I was waiting to see what emanated from the tail.  (Jerry Foster)

    Only pure pleasure!  (Ken Paterson)

    You are feeling the mass of the rod, all it's hardware, and the mass of the line in the air.  The taper filters that feeling down to your hand.  Different tapers filter the feeling different ways.  (Mark Wendt)

      Like Harry, I was going to start off my reply with I feel the g forces interpolate the quantum motions of the earth moving creating vibrations blah, blah, blah, ending with feeling the fly break through the surface....but instead I really thought about what it is that I actually feel.

      Now you're going to think I'm nuts or something but in a word it all comes down to the "balance". As I'm cutting strips I feel each and everyone. I flex them gently, then not so gently. I'm not sure how or why, but I can feel the weight and its pull as I flex the strips and sections. I can feel the strips actually wanting to pull to one side or the other so I plane until they are in balance. It probably don't mean a hill of beans to anyone, but that's the time consuming process I use and enjoy using when it comes to building my rods.  (Ren Monllor)

    I can't say what I feel, but I like what I feel.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    I took out a newly finished, ready to be shipped 8 wt into the yard yesterday for a test cast and, for better or worse, had Jerry's 'feel' request in mind.  I I laid out roughly 50' of fly line behind me, held the rod still at a roughly 45 degree angle, closed my eyes and concentrated on what I really felt.

    At first there was a sharp increase in pressure on my thumb, pinky and ring finger.  I felt various muscles tense in my arm and shoulder.  As my arm moved forward and slightly down, the muscles progressively loosened while the pressures on my hand kept fairly constant until the point where I slowed/stopped moving my arm forward.  I felt a slight breeze on my ear.  The pressure then began to very quickly lighten up on my thumb and lower fingers, and even more quickly snapped forward moving the pressure from my thumb to my index finger and lower palm.  There was a touch of a back-and-forth effect for a moment.  A few arm muscles contracted slightly then stabilized and it seemed there was a very slight, continuous pressure in a pulling motion against my hand for a few moments after which there was a slight vibrating feeling followed by a lessening of pressure in my index finger and everything was still.

    My point is, I didn't feel the rod load, the line turn over, an ethereal nothing, or even MOJO.  What I felt was a fairly simple but extremely dynamic play of pressures on my palm, pushes and tugs on my wrist and other parts of my arm as well as a number of variably contracting muscles.

    However, from those pressures alone I could extrapolate what I have learned from experience the rod was doing - where and how it was loading and bending, the shape and speed of the fly line, where the fly was and where it was going.

    As I cast again and again trying now to not only feel but to extrapolate and predict what was going to happen, I started to feel the Magic.  The time where I felt 'nothing' was the point where I focused on that brown spot in the grass where I wanted the fly, knew I was casting back then forth, and then watched the fly flutter down onto that spot without anything but focus from me.  By then I could intuitively predict exactly what I needed to do to my arm, what that would do to my wrist, then hand, then fingers, then grip, rod butt, ferrule :P, rod tip, line, leader, fly, air and finally to touch the ground.

    As we all know, the point of all the math, calculations, graphs, charts and computer processing is to allow us to predict, before we have made the rod and when using that finished rod, what we will have to put into a cast to reach that brown spot in the grass with our little glob of yarn.  This relies on us not only having enough experience casting various rods so that we know how each different part behaves, and behaves together, but also knowing what to see in, and expertly know how to read, each of our various charts, graphs and programs, or even straight taper numbers.   I knew seeing it on paper what this rod would take to reach that brown spot.  I knew what it would feel like with a 7wt line and an 8wt line.  I know what that drop in the ferrule station does to the tip section when casting dries, know how and how fast the tip turns over, how the area just above the grip feels when roll casting and even when I have a large trout on the line.

    The name of the game is familiarity and repetition.

    Whew.  One would think I had dusted off the old bong.  (Chris Carlin)

    I'm feeling the rod load and release.  (Hal Manas)

      The pickup which  loads the rod to start should feel secure. A rod needs to be able to get the line off the water smartly first. I like to have the rod feel connected to the line going into stop on the backcast and into  the "drift" move.  Smooth acceleration of the line during the whole forward cast, I like to think, comes from a strong  middle. This transmits to me the feel of power.  I like to feel  the line to roll off the tip at the end of the forward  stop with a slight forward rotation  of my wrist.

      Like others have said, I expect the rod to be transparent in doing my bidding on stream.  (Doug Easton)

    You feel the weight of the line pulling on the rod.  (Bruce Johns)

    I feel the line getting longer and longer until i release it to complete the cast.  (Bill Bixler)

    What do you think you are actually feeling when you cast?

    I know you wanted some new voices, but being the guy that always suggests that it always come down to the caster,  I thought I should weigh in on this one.

    You can feel the way the rod bends. An experienced caster does not have to be told he is casting a parabolic, fast, moderate, etc. You can feel it and adjust your stroke accordingly. You can get an idea about whether the rod might be over or underlined.

    You can feel the weight of the line in the air. You an feel it as you pull against it at the beginning of the stroke, you can feel it as it tugs the rod tip at the end of the stroke.

    You can feel the recovery rate, or speed of the rod and adjust accordingly.

    Anytime you pick up a new rod, it will try to tell you how it wants to be cast. The wise caster listens.  (Tom Smithwick)

      Everything you said below is true, from the caster's point of view. The real kicker is :  How do you quantify all that?  How do ya put numbers on it? I've been considering seriously, even took a rod out in the back yard a few times trying to figure out just what I felt in a rod.  More importantly, what I "Liked" about that "feel."  Still don't know.    {:>[  I can discriminate between two rods but as far as describing the "feel"   I don't know.......  How do you backtrack to the rod taper chart from what you feel in the casting of said rod.

      And everything is derived from that taper chart or spreadsheet, whatever you use. As Mark said from a Garrison developed Stress Graph you only see a "Static Snapshot" of the action.  But what more will you see from varying any of the variables? Vary the "Tip Impact Factor," line weight, amount of line cast, etc.  it still harks back to the Taper.  By varying any of those factors you just make the stress chart look a little different.   If you have enough experience looking at stress graphs and casting those rods then you should be able to interpolate what the taper "feels like." Not that I personally have that much experience.  {:>)

      Now what can you see from a Garrison Stress calculations beside a snapshot? To see what variations in a single variable look like would require a 3 dimensional graph. How do you plot that on your 2 dimensional printer?   I guess you could view a 3 dimensional graph from a Isometric View but what would that tell you?

      How about a video of the stress chart changing during varying accelerations?   You still need to make actual in the hand comparisons to an actual rod to "get the feel."   Actually now that I think about it some more a video of the Stress Chart changing as acceleration is applied through the casting stroke would emphasize what is happening and might be useful.  Do any of these other Rod Design programs show a video of the mathematically derived Rod Deflections during a casting stroke?   Or even chart derived deflection? I don't know, I haven't taken the time with anything other than the Garrison method. But just how much would a deflection diagram tell you about how the rod "feels?"

      That's enough heavy lifting for now.  Think I'll slither down the stairs to my shop for awhile.  (Larry Swearingen)

        The best way to explain the feel is that you feel the makers MOJO or Black Magic - it's kinda like spirituality, you just can't put your hands on it but you can feel it (hence the term spiritual experience). It's never the same, from one rod to another, that is the beauty of Bamboo Rods. One of a kind. I think this is driving many of the mathematical and engineer types crazy, the numbers don't necessarily make sense (this rod is suppose to be crap, but it feels so nice!) It's so cool to be able to cast different makers rods, you never know when you're gonna find that one that really does it for you, even if you only admit it to yourself that someone else has done what you have been trying to do! I love bamboo rods and you know what they say "love is blind!"  (Joe Arguello)


With all the talk recently of rod feel it was on my mind this morning as I went out in the back yard to try out for the first time a new rod I'd just finished. I made a Dickerson 8615 copy to use as a streamer rod thinking it should be a heavy 6 or 7 wt. 

I took two reels out with me loaded with Cortland Peach DT6 and DT7. I started with the DT6.  It cast nicely but I felt that I had to use too much oomph to load the rod.  Guess you'd say that too much acceleration was required to load the rod properly.  {:>)   I think that's a fault that most graphite rods have. Probably why it's so common for "old timers" to overline their graphite. Put on the reel with the 7wt and it was a whole 'nother world. The rod required less work on my part.  I didn't have to work nearly as hard to get the line flowing out smoothly and far. The rod was just "Happier" with the 7wt! How do ya describe that bunky ?  (Larry Swearingen)

    Didn’t you find that you could feel about the same with the 6wt if you got more line out or was that getting to the uncomfortable area of too much line in the air?

    Were you casting an actual heavy streamer or a piece of yarn?  That could make a line wt difference.  (Al Baldauski)

      No the rod didn't feel the same with more 6wt line out.  I was dealing with a 15 mph swirling crosswind and couldn't reliably get a lot of line out. Are you thinking about Lefty Kreh's assertion that you can cast better in a strong wind with a lighter line because you will have more line out for the same weight ?    I think that is just theoretical BS.   Sort of like when I was a kid in the early 60's and reading some older fly fishing stories.  They would invariably talk of getting the line to unfurl sweetly and having the dry fly drop to the water BEFORE the line hit the water.    BS !!!  I defy anybody to show me that trick with a hackled dry fly similar to what was used before the 60's.   I can do a tuck cast with a nymph, easier with a beadhead, but certainly not with a hackled dry fly.

      But I'm getting off track. More arm muscle was required to get the same length cast with the lighter line because I had to get more acceleration to get the rod to load correctly. Think Energy, not Momentum. m x velocity squared not mass x velocity. Don't know how this jibes with casting theory.  (Larry Swearingen)

        Physics be physics be physics.  I've yet to see a taper that can defy the laws, theories and theorems of physics.  Though I'm sure it's been tried.  (Mark Wendt)

    Well Larry, what did you expect? After all, it's a Dickerson. (Will Price)

    Overbuilt?  ;-)  (Mark Wendt)


I remember I asked what feel was, a long time ago... But it's still a valid question..

To refine that a little, what do you think you feel, what part of the rod, when you cast?

This is not a trick question, I think it would be interesting to get everyone’s perspective..  (Jerry Foster)

    Isn't that dependent on the rod in your hand and the deflection of that rod, I mean a slow action 3 weight will not feel the same as a fast action 5 weight. It depends on the kick point of the rod, hopefully it just feels like an extension of your arm NO?  (Gary Williams)

      Great thought and tricky too... he hee

      Yes to all... but.. can a slow action 5 wt (35’) and a slow action 3 wt (20’) feel the same?.. can both be an extension of your arm? I think yes.. The answer has to be yes.. Please don't be too quick to assume that those rods have different shapes.  That is the magic shape for you...maybe not so much for the next guy..  So each of out there have a rod shape that is magic for them once you find that shape. how is the essence of that taper transferred from length to length and line wt to line wt?

      The same holds true for fast rods..(but that may be a different shape because a different motion may come into play).  (Jerry Foster)

        I DON'T think a 3 wt can feel like a 5 wt.  Under the conditions you set out, the 5 wt will feel heavier in hand because there will be more torque at the wrist/forearm than the 3 wt if the rod deflection is the same in each case.  In fact, the torque from the 5 wt will be 50% more if you are trying to accelerate the rod the same way for each.  (Al Baldauski)

          Yes you are correct, technically they will always be different. It is the "in the hand" that changes all that. You don't have to have a deep thought conversation with yourself to change from 30' to 50' of line out,  your combined systems do that for you. No matter what you think the feedback system is composed of... There is still a rod that will feel better using that system as the benchmark. Your current feedback system seems to be coupled to the things your output systems are doing ( wrist/arm ). Vs. what the external energy translation device is trying to tell you (the rod).

          For anyone struggling with this feel thing.. Please do this..

          Take to your yard again (no hooks, pls). Set up a nice arial rhythm at a moderate distance. Now close your eyes. Now you must shift from a visual world to a touch oriented world. Lighten your hand pressure a little. Now through your hand you should slowly begin to feel that tug when the line straightens out behind you, use that marker to start pulling on the rod.. at some point if you keep doing this you will start to feel the rod flexing or you may feel you have control of the whole curve. Now you must adapt to some new form of imagery, You must develop a feel/internal image ("on the cam") relationship.  Now with your eyes still closed start moving your stroke through different motions. Can you feel the rod react differently, or at some point do you lose control of the line/rod. One guy I know visualizes the fly and then the path he wants to take it through.  (Jerry Foster)

          I suspect we each have our own definitions of "feel". For me, casting "feel" is the pressure on my wrist and thumb. Slower rods seem to exert more pressure, probably because they are flexing farther down the shaft. In my definition, the heaviness of the rod is a different aspect of the rod's character. Thus the "casting feel" of a 3 wt and a 5 wt of the same length having similar stress curves will be similar even though the 5 wt will be heavier than the 3 wt. I will find out shortly as I am about 70% finished with a 3 wt whose taper plots a similar stress curve to my favorite 5 wt.  (Jim Healy)

            Yeah, feel is a complex set of variables that is not likely to be precisely defined any time soon, but I contend that to a large degree the average force/torque/moment exerted by the caster thru his wrist/arm is what he feels.  Sure, the expert casters can feel the slight differences throughout the cast caused by differences in tapers.

            But two rods of the same shape just different line wts have to different feels.  It doesn't feel the same throwing a tennis ball versus a stone the same size.  (Al Baldauski)

              I think you have to differentiate between 'type' of feel and 'size' of feel.

              I think two rods of different weights do have different feels because of the difference sizes of the forces they exert, BUT if the rods have the same deflection curves they definitely have a similar 'type' of feel. As a caster you can feel that they are doing similar bending in similar parts of the rod during a similar casting stroke. If you use the same stroke i.e. same acceleration and same rotation at same intervals, the line would, I imagine, follow the same trajectory/loop etc. You would of course have to put more effort into the heavy lineweight rod to generate the same acceleration and rotation.

              Every rod of different taper has a different 'type' of feel which is determined by the degree of its bending (i.e the size of the radii of bends in the loaded rod), where the bends are located and when in the cycle they occur. It is not easy to read this purely off the deflection curve. Deflection curves can be very similar looking but have discernible differences in feel in the final rod.

              I think to really understand a rod in design terms the more ways you have of looking at it the better. Ideally you want to look at the relationship to a SLT (where the rod climbs above or below it),  the stress curve (where the highs and lows are) , the deflection curve (where the bending is tighter and where it is more gradual), the location of the center of gravity (where the rod is balanced) as well as the tip deviation from a mean {which is determined by a series of deflection curves generated by different loads}. When you look at these and compare them to the 'type' of feel you get from the rod (i.e. where in the rod the bending is happenings as you cast it) you can get a sense of why it is doing what it is.  (Steve Dugmore)

                A great summation.. I couldn't agree more about more tools in the toolbox...I'm just trying to work through the basic set for those who are interested.  (Jerry Foster)

                  Sorry. I didn't mean to jump the gun. Reading more carefully through the mails I can see where you might be going.

                  Can I suggest in line with your suggestions, that what those who are interested should try to feel when casting, is 'where exactly in the length of the rod does it feel as though the 'most bending' is happening during the cast'?. Eg. is the bending happening near the tip, or is it spread more evenly over the rod, or is it more in the butt. As the line lengthens does this point of most bending move?  (Steve Dugmore)

                    And further to that the most bending 'pronounced' i.e. does it feel as though it is occurring in a specific spot (narrow zone) on the rod  or is it more gradual i.e. is it spread over a longer length (broader zone)?  (Steve Dugmore)

                I agree with all you say though I'm a crappy caster so these nuances you talk about mostly escape me.  The more we talk about this and the more I cast rods TRYING TO FEEL what it's doing the more I realize that I probably will never be able to quantify the differences between tapers to the extent necessary to get a computer to "spit out a taper" to suit anyone who asks.  (Al Baldauski)

                  I don't think you have to be a great caster. If you can tell the difference between 2 rods then all you have to do is to try to find out, by feeling how they each behave,  where in the rods the difference lies. Does the one butt feel stiffer, is the middle softer, is the tip 'tippier' etc. I think it only becomes really nuanced if the 2 rods are similar.

                  I don't think you could get a computer to spit out a taper to suit anyone who asks as they would never really be able to describe what they want properly. That is where Jerry's set of test rods must be great for finding out what sort of feel someone prefers.

                  I do think, however, that there is real value in trying to understand the correlation between how a rod feels and what the design looks like 'on paper'. That way it is easier to make and fine tune rods to suit yourself. And if you like a rod yourself the chances are others will too.  (Steve Dugmore)

                    I do think, however, that there is real value in trying to understand the correlation between how a rod feels and what the design looks like 'on paper'. That way it is easier to make and fine-tune rods to suit yourself. And if you like a rod yourself the chances are others will too.

                    I've been a little late on this thread, sorry. 

                    To me the "feel" of a rod is weight and resistance.  Of course I feel the weight when I pick the rod up.  but I also feel the weight when I cast the line.  2 wt is different for a 6 wt. 

                    I feel the resistance to my input of power in my palm, below the thumb and ring and little fringes. 

                    A rod, for all intent is noting more than a lever with the fulcrum at our hand (or wrist or elbow) and the leverage at the tip (in this case reverse-leverage, or resistance)

                    As I apply force to the rod, the max resistance (X weight) moves up or down the shaft, depending on how the rod flexes.  In other words a "fast" rod has a longer effective arm than a slow rod.  

                    As I apply more pressure to the rod it may bend at a different point, giving different feedback as to effective length.  The palm of my hand and my little finger basically tell me the location of the "effective rod length."

                    Thanks for this discussion.  I now understand what my hand is telling me better than I did a few days ago.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

                      The one thing to realize about the rod as a lever, is that the "fulcrum" point moves during the cast.  At one point the fulcrum will be your shoulder, at another it'll be your elbow, and at other points it will be your wrist.  That's one of the problems we have relying on static measurements when trying to understand the dynamic changes that happen throughout the cast.  We can try to interpolate the dynamics through static "snapshots" of the rod/lever in action, but that doesn't really tell the whole story, because that fulcrum point is constantly moving throughout the cast.  The only time we really see any static measurements that can really be read are when the rod is stopped at the backcast, and when the rod is stopped at the front cast, and the fulcrum is actually "anchored" to one point.  (Mark Wendt)

                        I agree with your comments.  I was talking about how I sense a rod, which is through my casting hand.  I guess I'm aware of the position of my wrist, elbow and shoulder and my entire upper body, but in my mind it's my hand that I'm looking to for the connection to the rod... (Terry  Kirkpatrick)

                          Well, since our hand is the only thing that connects us to the rod, it's only natural to have the "feel" of the rod go through our hand, to our brains.

                          I was just clarifying where that "fulcrum" actually exists during different phases of the cast.  Terminology again, must be the injuneer in me creeping out.  I guess you could classify the hand as the "sensor", and a differing times during the cast, a "fulcrum sensor"...  ;-)  (Mark Wendt)

    I feel the torque on my wrist, the pressure on my thumb, and the tug when the line is fully extended behind me. This gives me an idea of how hard and how down the forward flick should be.  (Jim Healy)

      Let me preface all this by saying I am not a great caster.  Probably not even considered a good caster.  Don't double haul and very rarely single haul.  I fish smaller water where a 40' cast is a monster.  Even when I am lawn casting, it is more important to hit the cat's water dish, at 15' to 20' than lay out 50' of line.  Quite a bit of short distance wrist casting.  Its not unusual for me to extend my index finger in place of my thumb and just flick the wrist.

      I'm in line with Jim on this one.  When I feel that little extra tug on the rod when the line reaches full extension.  Usually, in the rods I fish, if I can feel the rod flex deep into the handle I am pushing the rods abilities and mine.  There is that little something in the rod that lets me know when I am trying to over power it.  In other words make the rod do what it wasn't intended to do.   (Pete Emmel)

    Good Stuff so far...  OK so it is an extension of your arm.. what if it's not that perfect rod, how does it feel bad? (Jerry Foster)

      This is a question I cannot really answer since the only bamboo rods I have ever cast are the four I have made. Three of them are loosely based on Powell tapers and the other is a Sir D. For what it is worth, they all have bamboo ferules. While I like the Sir D, particularly the way it roll casts, it feels mushy compared to the others.   (Jim Healy)

      I'm not trying to be a putz or anything, but I don't think I've ever cast a bad rod, just a rod that might be different from what I normally use. That said, I can usually find the rhythm the rod dictates fairly quickly.

      In the rods that I make, I look for a genuine extension of my arm. The rod communicates to my hand and forearm what it needs me to do to adjust my cast so as to get the fly where I want it.  (Ren Monllor)

        Yes you are trying to be a putz.. :)

        Bad is a relative term.. bad as in not your favorite.. the other part is exactly what I mean, what shape is that rod.  (Jerry Foster)

          Crap! I've got to think.....okay.

          On my last post, I wasn't talking about "a rod", instead I was talking about all of my rods.

          I use a certain rod for fishing dry's and another for fishing soft-hackles "n" flymphs and yet a third type of rod for fishing streamers. Because they are definitely three different types of fishing (I'm not talkin' styles), I've come up with three different types of rods. 

          To explain the rod shapes I use; remember I use Bob Norwood's taper program.

          My soft hackle/flymph rod has a soft tip (first 10")without being a weak tip, it strengthens up at about the 10" point and gradually tapers down to the first ferrule, providing a cushion for a strong strike and thus protecting the tip further. The mid section of the rod tapers down (as when compared to a SLT) slightly just past the second ferrule, then the butt section stiffens up a bit so that I can not only pick up line without too much commotion, but also recast quickly and accurately.  The rod is an 8 1/2', 3 wt., 3 piece.. It's sweet spot is at about 25’ to 30’ of line out for my hand and casting style. I find that there is a definite difference in length of line depending on if I'm using Silk vs. "Sylk", and lastly, I can begin casting the rod with 5- 10 of line out, hanging from the tip-top.

          Now I'm not the best caster in the world, but at the FFing show in New Jersey, there was a gentleman from the Fly Tyers Guild who was casting this exact same rod, anywhere from 50 ft. to 75 feet into small hula hoops and was floored with the rods accuracy.

          The first of my streamer rods follows a progressive taper with a strong tip from the tip through the first ferrule and then weakens up just a bit at the top at the second section and strengthens again in front of the grip. I use it for large streamers when fishing Florida Largemouth and my second rod for streamer fishing is a progressive taper from tip to grip.

          My second streamer rod I use when fishing medium to smaller streamers and weighted nymphs. It casts line beautifully from about 5 ft. of line hanging from the tip to 50 ft. (I normally don't cast any farther). It has a fairly strong butt for little, if any, back casting when fishing. It lays out line more delicately than my first Streamer rod mentioned, but then again, my first streamer rod is more of a cannon and used when chasing bigger fish with streamers.  (Ren Monllor)

            Yes, this is the same point that Terry was making a while back. Different rods for different fishing situations, tactics, locations, etc. I don't think anything that has been said so far excludes that. So far, we have talked about the feel aspect of stress curves as they relate to see aspect of stress curves. There are a myriad of ways to design rods... Many of you are advanced way beyond me and I appreciate you pitching in when I get out of line..

            I agree with Art and the others.. there isn't, nor will there probably ever be, a walk in walk out rod emporium. My point there was to think about the possibilities.

            And there are golf shafts.. any flex, anywhere. They get it.

            I guess all I'm trying to do is show that stress curves are relevant, they show something additional about the rod, as do deflection curves and degree curves, and dynamic deflection graphs, as do SLT comparisons. Each of these tools give an additional view of the rods behavior, non of them are stand alone.. I like to use all the tools I have at hand, including dimension graphs.

            But I can't seem to get beyond stress.  (Jerry Foster)

            A couple of questions that come to my mind. I appreciated your attempts to put the characteristics of your streamer rods in words. I immediately tried to translate them into stress curves which are my most convenient way to understand a taper. The first one is a modified "progressive taper" and the second is a "progressive taper" when I think of "progressive" I think fairly level stress curve with a gentle upward slope. So I would translate the first rod as having a low lying (low stress) tip except for the last few inches that stresses drop off sharply. the middle of the rod has a rather straight gently sloping stress curve dropping steadily until it drops rather steeply at the grip. I may be well off the mark. Can  you help me out?

            Second, more for Jerry, do you think that we could develop a metric that combines, various measures? Stress, controlled, modification, deflection? Maybe we could develop a set terms to describe rod types so that we are all talking about the same thing. This could be based on the combined metric curve. Crazy thoughts, but there is a real problem communicating this sort of information. Parabolic, progressive, complex, straight B9, etc. are all translatable into distinct values along stress, slt ect.. Help!  (Doug Easton)

              Are you familiar with the Common Cents System? You can learn more about it here

              Food for thought.  (Scott Grady)

                Alphabet soup yummy. Actually not a bad Idea. That plus the sweet spot might characterize a rod petty well. You have a value for the sweet spot, a line weight and a stress curve type. That might have real meaning. This would be an extension of Wayne C's idea that the stress curve shape expresses the character of a rod.

                Common cents doesn't seem to work over the wide variety of bamboo rods we make. At least that's what I heard during the Catskill gathering a couple of years ago. People complained that the predicted rod speed, intrinsic power etc were, well, just wrong! It's hard for me to tell, since none of my rods was tested. I would like to see the common cents values for rods with known stress curves.  (Doug Easton)

                  I like it.   Every rod seems to "like" casting a specific length of line.  How well it handles other lengths might be the real test of a taper...  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

                  Interesting you should mention Common Cents.  I knew of the system but before it was mentioned on this list a few days ago, I had not seen the full explanation of it.

                  It seems to me that Common Cents falls apart with bamboo, or should I say is better with graphite, is because it doesn't take into account the dynamics of rod deflection.  Since bamboo is heavier than graphite, there is a lot more "self loading" when you are accelerating the rod compared to graphite. If you look at a typical graphite blank compared to a similar bamboo  blank it is about 1/2 the weight.  So if I plug that difference into my deflection program it shows that changes the line weight requirement by about 1 1/2 wts, using a 5 wt rod as an example.  What that means is Comment Cents calls a bamboo rod a 5 wt that really should be designated a 3 1/2 wt.

                  Garrison stress curves, while calculating based on a non-flexing beam, DO account for acceleration and therefore rod weight.  So, if you're used to reading them, they give a more accurate picture, albeit somewhat subjective. (Al Baldauski)

                    Just as you were sending this I was looking at the way common cents works. I came to the same conclusion as you did. I should have plugged the difference in weight into your program. I can't recall how your algorithms deal with cross section but it is hard to work out an equivalence for a tube like a graphite rod vs. a solid as in bamboo. Once I tried this in the hexrod program. It made no sense. I wouldn't know how to deal with modulus either. Particular interest is conversion for the tip which in bamboo rods is made up of pure power fibers. I haven't checked, but I think it is probably the last 10" to 15" .

                    I wish this were adding positively to the discussion of deflection and rod action but I guess understanding what doesn't work and why is valuable.  (Doug Easton)

                      Admittedly, what I gave you was an approximation.  If you compare a bamboo rod of standard density 0.67 oz/c.i. against a bamboo rod of 1/2 density (0.38 oz/c.i) leaving all other parameters the same you get a fair idea of the difference in behavior.  The 1/2 density rod will behave like a graphite rod of similar characteristics.  If the deflection characteristics are similar then the only variable of importance is the weight.  The fact that the graphite rod is  hollow doesn't matter.  The fact that its MOE is different doesn't matter.  These mechanical properties were taken into account to get the rod to deflect in a similar fashion to the bamboo. The extra swing weight is what makes the difference.

                      Power fiber density:

                      I've measured some bamboo strips and found the power fiber density to be nearly constant  from the outside surface down into the cane to about 0.090 inches.  That means any part of a rod that is 0.180 diameter or less is essentially all power fiber.  So for most rods that's nearly half the length start at the tip.  (Al Baldauski)

                        And if I may expand on your remarks Al

                        There is also a certain law of proportionality that applies here in the natural material and the way we want to abuse it.

                        The natural stuff bends at the tips, sways in the wind... no violins.. and stiffens toward the base.

                        Same here.

                        Lots of little (diameter) fibers packed together (bends good) graduating to bigger less dense fibers (stiffer).

                        Kope's abortion is a good example of : If we could reverse engineer our rods back to the feel of a comparable natural stick we would probably have a winner.

                        So, here's what I like to think/feel about when I'm casting a rod (not fishing)..  I like to feel in control of the line at all times  (just  another goal). So I like to feel as if I am reaching through the rod and feeling for the line. I want to have the feeling I am pulling that line in a nice smoothly accelerating path. Same kind of thing you have expressed about the rod being an extension of your arm. Now, All rods are an extension of your arm. It's the ones that fit your natural motions the best that you will probably like the most.

                        While I am pulling on the rod I can feel it yield.. My body knows that my hand is accelerating faster than the line. So the rod is deflecting, absorbing part of that forward momentum intended at accelerating the line. And to do this it is absorbing/storing energy. So all during this levering part of the cast I am getting the most feedback. Are my acceleration and angles such that I can feel contact/control of the line? If I feel the line, I can also feel the rod acting almost independently. At this point you must coordinate your motions to what the rod is telling you it wants to do. We spent all that time putting some taper in there for a reason, now you can finally tell. The wrist, as a final overture, simply continues the acceleration (still levering the line). . Then some kind of stop..

                        So, shape, Wayne's character.. Only as far as STRESS CURVES so far... Has everyone looked to see if they see the picture or not? Do you see the value in this tool?

                        OK, Time for questions...  (Jerry Foster)

                          Bill Harms brought a 3 wt that he had made from a culm with just the right taper to Grayrock one year. It was one sweet casting rod. Everybody loved it. I think it would easily pass a blindfold test against comparable six strip rods. To be fair I don't think it was Tonkin bamboo. So why tear them apart just to put them back together again ;-)  (Doug Easton)

              Let's see what I can do...

              I pulled out both taper sheets and compared the stress graphs point for point. They are both Modified Progressive tapers. Rod number two being closer to a "true progressive taper" as you stated.

              Your translation is just opposite though when it comes to tip comparison as, rod 1 has a higher more pronounced stress curve reading at the tip area than rod 2.

              The main difference between the two rods is in the slope of the curve of the rod. Rod 1 has a rise of .290 whereas rod 2 has a slope of .270, making rod number 1 a "faster rod".  (Ren Monllor)

              No way could anyone come up with a standard....

              What we have now are combinations of marketing and rod action names.

              I've been trying to group tapers according to letter shape "M", "W", "U", "\" .. etc, they most resemble.

              And Frank, I do need to talk to you about 7 wt's posing as 5 wt's fished as 6 wt's. HeHee  (Jerry Foster)

    I think I have strayed off point here..the touchy feely crap is so we have a way to relate to the stress picture. If the rod just feels good and you can't discriminate the parts, that's fine. The picture you have in front of you IS that rod. Or close. So, that is stress. Stress is part of the internal strife going on in the rod that makes it bend the way it does. So, my approach is different now..

    Now I use deflection, why? Because stress, although real, is a mind exercise for those who are not engineerically inclined. Deflection, on the other hand, is the 1" to 1" (unit to unit) accumulation of bend angles, from the butt to the tip. That when stacked up show the rod in that bow and arrow posture. Of greater importance is that I can lay that deg of bend chart (Genome) out horizontally and begin visualizing/drawing the exact picture of the bend/bends I want to put in a rod. I don't have to guess what a slope change from 235 to 328 for 8"  does, I can see it in the bend curve. Was some adjustment necessary in my thinking, huge. But, for-instance, just like stresses, bend angles have to be interpreted back to feel. But now the question is.. How much, little, bend angle can a person feel?

    Furthermore, as Al pointed out.. when the output of the deflection generated dimensions are input back into a Garrison style stress program they yield the same pictures. And they should..they are the same.

    So Deflection is just another view of a rod, not a panacea.

    I begin by drawing a literal picture of the way I want the rod to bend, lets say a square wave. I generate numbers, I input the numbers to a Garrison style stress curve generator. I check for my Garrison ranges,, lets say 225k to 130k. If they are out of range back to the genome and make adjustments..

    I am also looking at the rod angle..that is the off vertical angle that the established between the tip and the butt when the rod is at maximum deflection. This tells the speed range of the rod. ( the string part of the bow and arrow).

    I also check for tip numbers..and adjust. This is the first time I have looked at the numbers (other than copy/paste).

    Then I view the rod dynamically and see what my max deflection really looks like. Now is the time to stiffen/soften a tip a little if it needs it, not later.

    Generate final output dimensions.

    The numbers I don't care about until the end. They are simply a result of the way I want the rod to bend.

    Of course bend angle can be used to evaluate existing rods also. (Jerry Foster)


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