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I'm thinking about building a rod for Steelhead and/or salmon fishing. I'm thinking maybe a 7/8/9 weight rod.  Does anyone have any ideas?  (Todd Talsma)

    The guys at Corbett Lake had good things to say about John Bokstrom's 9' 8 wt taper. These are experienced Steelheaders so there must be something to it. I'm in the process of finishing one for myself.

    The taper has been posted before & is also included in Milward's book. Let me know if you need a copy.  (Tom Bowden)

    I have two that I like, Chris Obuchowski has distributed a taper for an 8' #8 that is similar to a light Para-17.  It is a very light weight rod considering its ability to throw an eight weight line.  It is rather light in the butt, I'm not sure how it would fight a large Steelhead or salmon, but Chris may use it for that. The fact the it balances somewhat toward the tip can be tiring, but then so can a heavy rod.  The second that I like is a Dickerson 8015 Guide Special, a taper that I converted to quad.  It is a real honey, but the #7 may not be as heavy as you want.  No question that it has the strength in the butt to handle a large fish.  (Bill Lamberson)

    Look into the Gillum Light Salmon. 8' 6" 7/8/9 2 piece.  (Mike Shay)

    Harry Boyd had an 8' 8 wt at SRG last year that could cast a country mile. Might want to check that out. I seem to remember that it was hollow built but won't swear to it.  (Gary Jones)

      The rod Gary mentions is a hollow built version of the Dickerson 8015 Guide Special.  Bill Lamberson mentions that he prefers a 7 weight line, but this one shines with a WF8F Orvis Wonderline.  Be happy to send it up and let you try it out to see if you like it.

      My casting is improving.  Tonight our local FFF Club meeting had some casting competitions.  I managed to throw an entire line with the rod mentioned above.  (Harry Boyd)

    Dickerson 9' Light Salmon.  I'm starting one now, and will let you know if it's all I want.  It'd still look like Bret with a Driggs in your mitts, though!  (Brian Creek)

    I have a 9', Gillum Light Salmon that is listed as a 7 wt but throws a 5, 6, or 7 equally well. I'll post the #'s if anyone wants them  (Dennis Higham)

      If that is the rod that Dennis had at SRG a couple of years ago I can tell you it will be a great rod for salmon and Steelhead as long as they aren't 60#+  fish.  I cast the original and I was so impressed I got the #s from him and it is one of the next rods I am building.  (Bret Reiter)

    Try a Garrison 221. I had one at Grayrock you could have tried but it never left the truck. It works well with an 8 weight line but I fish it with a 9 weight SA Steelhead taper line. (Jerry Drake)

      I also made that rod in 3 piece and I like it as did many others who have cast it at both Grayrock and SRG.  (Bret Reiter)

    The Gillum 8'6" from Howells book is great.  (Tim Stoltz)

    Check out the Wolverine Creek taper.  It's in a Power Fibers back issue.  It's the one I made up hollow built.  Nice casting rod, and according to Maulucci, it fights fishies just fine.  (Mark Wendt)

    The Garrison 221 Salmon Rod is one of my favorites. 8' 9" and will throw heavy stuff and a mile of line. In any of these sizes it would be advantageous to hollow build they can get very heavy.  I have caught bass up to 7 lbs and catfish up to 8. It is a Garrison and cast like one.  (David Ray)

    9016, no doubt.  (Dewey Hildebrand)

    I'm going to second the 8015.  I had one at Grayrock a few years back if you cast it there.  Some people call this a 6 wt rod, but they're nutty.  With an eight wt it will cast as far as you can.  I built mine to 16 on both sides of the ferrule, but it actually steps 16 to 15.  It's a fine rod.  (Mark Petrie)


I travel to Canada once a year and fish mostly for Musky.  I am mainly throwing streamers in the 6” range and every now and then throw some large poppers for some top water action.  Is there a taper in the 7 or 8 weight range that might be suitable for this?  Fishing would be done from a boat, light wind, and I would like it to be 3 piece if all possible since we normally portage to smaller lakes to find eager Musky willing to demolish a fly.  Also, I may try it as a hollow build for the first time so that is also an option if  you know  of a good taper for that as well.  (Greg Reeves)

    A number of years ago, I made a Dickerson 8015 for a friend.  It casts a seven weight with authority and can handle bigger bugs if you need it to.  Here's the taper I used. I didn't build it hollow, and it IS a two piece, but I still like the taper and I've had nothing but compliments from my friend.  (Dennis Haftel)


Does anyone have any tapers for lighter line two handed rods that they would be willing to share? I was thinking of something around a 7 wt. I know of the Waara 6 wt taper, but are there others?

I am not quite sure where I am going to fish this in Australia, but thought it might be something different to make.  (Callum Ross)

    And if I may chip in, anyone has tapers for the real big rods? 15 feet? Indeed, I would like to make one (have been thinking about it for years and should get started now) just for the fun of making one. I would like to try spliced ferrules. As for the Waara taper, has anyone made it? And how does it perform?  (Geert Poorteman)

      Spliced greenheart rods are really best for spey casting. The old authorities all advise building them with spliced joints, as greenheart has a tendency to break at the ferrule. They're usually a bit heavier, but are more powerful than split cane.  The difference in action has distinct charms as well.  I have one peculiar example built by John Enright at Castleconnell which is  a 12' two-piece rod that is very delicate and light. It takes a 6 wt line. Having spliced joints, each section is more than 6' long, making it a bit awkward to transport, but the two-piece design is clearly connected with the rod's light weight.  (David Zincavage)

      This was posted a long time ago. As I recall it, Mikael had glued up the splices,  and so had a 13 foot one piece rod that he stored in a loft, and took to the river in a roof rack mounted tube. My kind of guy. There were a series of Scandinavian tapers published here as well. I seem to have lost them, but they might be in the archives.

      Spey Special  13'   # 9-10


      Dist(mm) - Dia(mm)

      0      -   14,80
      55    -   14,70
      255  -   14,20
      455  -   13,70
      655  -   13,20
      855  -   12,70
      1055 -   12,20
      1300 -   11,50


      Dist(mm) - Dia(mm)

      0       -   11,25
      60     -   11,00
      260   -   10,40
      460   -   10,00
      660   -   9,40
      860   -   9,10
      1060 -   8,50
      1305 -   8,25


      Dist(mm) - Dia(mm)

      0      -   8,25
      160  -   8,00
      360  -   7,30
      560  -   6,60
      760  -   5,90
      960  -   5,10
      1160 -   4,30
      1360 -   3,50

      The default handle-length is 650mm. Rings could be placed:

      13-15-18-20-24-25-25-28-33-39-59 cm.

      The problem is to get good, thick-walled bamboo and good ferrules.

      Please let me know if anyone builds it and tries it.



      Mikael Marklund

      I have one of the Waara taper rods. I think it's more of a 7 weight, but there is such a variety of spey lines available today, I think I could improve on the choice if I put my mind to it. The rod is nice as is, but I always thought I could improve on it by making it faster, either with a lighter tip, or a heavier butt. In fact, I did design a heavier butt at one time for one of the lads, and he built the taper and took it to Argentina. He liked it, and fished it with a 7 weight line as I recall, but I never got to cast it myself. I think a tip like that on the Para 15 would make the rod a 6 weight, but have not gotten around to trying it as yet.

      Disclaimer - I like spey rods and spey fishing, but still have a lot to learn.   (Tom Smithwick)

        There are several spey tapers in the David Ray taper library, including the Hoergaard tapers and the Bill Waara taper.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

        I first made and fished Hörgård HC #9-10 (quite heavy!) and the original Waara #7.  Then I found somewhere T Smithwick modification of Waara (a little thicker butt) which I built with spliced joints (shrink tube version). I liked it more than the original one.

        Then I wanted to make a lighter version of spey rod to a female flyfisher and made the TS-modified Waara as hollow-built (+3% thickness and 2.5 mm walls). I liked it some much that I made the same to myself. You may see the rod and some of its performance / action  at my web site.  (Tapani Salmi)


What’s your favorite 7 and 8 wts over 8'?  (Gary Nicholson)

    Any that I could cast.  (Paul Blakley)

    Garrison 221 - cast like a Garrison. Just be sure to hollow the heck out of it.  (David Ray)

    I agree with the Garrison 221 choice, and would add the Bokstrom 908.  What both have going for them is that they are full flexing, which is important in rods of this weight and length. There has to be some cane in  rods like these, or you can't cast the line, they are 8 weights, after all, but the full flexing design keeps them comfortable for all day fishing. If I were so fortunate as to own a Gillum salmon rod, I would gleefully sell it and put the money to other uses. I find them to be so stiff that an hour on the water would have my wrist aching, and I've spent some time slinging 9 and 10 weights into the salt.   (Tom Smithwick)

      I once had an Orvis Shooting Star 8 1/2' 8wt.  Good two piece rod, full flexing, caught some nice redfish up to ten pounds on it.  But, I fell into a couple of FE Thomas 8 1/2' Streamer Rods.  3/2 configuration.  Like many FE Thomas rods, they are two very different animals.

      One is  actually only 8'4" full length.  Cast a  7wt DT like a dream. Has a cork handle and grip with a sliding band and downlocking pocket. The other is a full 8'6" and handles an 8wt WF with authority.  Hardy style downlocking reel seat.

      I wouldn't call these rods 'full flexing' or 'fast'.  The word I would use is 'powerful'.

      The reason I 'fell into' these rods is that they have short tips.  But, I like casting and fishing with them, so I sold the Orvis.  (Reed Guice)

        I've been using a Dickerson 8615 taper on bass this summer.  (Larry Swearingen)

    Here is a 8'6" rod that I use for bass. It takes a 8 wf line and will throw it 80+ feet. I use it from a boat and usually cast 60 to 65 feet with a medium size popper on a size 4 hook. It has a strong lower tip and a flex area in the upper butt then a butt swell at about 80". I can cast if for 3 to 4 hours before I get tired, of course it maybe just be age that gets me, not it couldn't be that; could it? I have a 8 ft rod with a similar design but you said you wanted 8 ft + didn't you?

    380  (Bob Norwood)


Looking for ideas on a big river rod say 7 wt 8 or 9 ft progressive taper.   Medium to fast action preferred  Suggestions for favorite taper ideas.  I have stepped up Winston tapers in the past.  (Jim Macy)

    Look into Powell "B" Tapers, Chris Carlin has a calculator on his site for them. They are pretty much what you are asking for. Maybe try sending Chris an email and he can shed more light on it. He knows them very well. Hollow build it if you like. maybe something like a B8.8 - B8.9 in an 8.5'er. Food for thought....  (Jim Reid)

    Go for  one  of  the  big  Dickersons,  maybe.   Big  fast  river one-up-and-one-down casting is what they were designed for.  Bit stiff for my liking, but great rods.

    The heaviest rod I build regularly is an 8'0" 6-weight Gillum, and I cast a weight forward #7 Rio Windcutter on that most of the time, and it handles it beautifully.  I am sure there are bigger Gillums out there that would suit if you want any heavier; but this one (built originally to a taper that Jack Howells published in The Lovely Reed) really is a versatile taper and the rod a delight to use.  Not as stiff and unforgiving as the Dickersons.

    The classic "biggies" - the Canadian Canoe and the Guide Special and the big one from PHY (I have forgotten the name; Martha Marie, perhaps, maybe not) are just too much rod for me.  I find them heavy and slow.  Powerful, without a doubt, but I think you have to be a better caster than me to get anything out of them more than I can get from the Gillum.  They remind me of the old English stuff we used get so much of in this country, and they were the big reason, IMHO, for the ascendancy of fiberglass.

    The usual disclaimer - this advice is probably worth about what you are paying for it! (Peter McKean)

    I just made a fantastic Leonard Duracane hollowed to .050 in butt. I had a minor delamination but with a careful signature wrap it is now repaired. 3.97 oz with one of Dave Kennedy's flamed apple reel seat with sliding N/S hardware 8’ 6 wt medium to fast action.  (Jim Macy)


Should I focus on quads or pentas to achieve a good fast, light (relative) saltwater 7-11 wt. My thinking is that quads remove all of the weight which are outside of the casting plane thus reduces weight without reducing power in the casting plane. My casting stroke still is strong (because of my experience with graphite) and therefore I expect some deflection of the rod until I detrain myself from my current casting style. With that said, does a penta remove some of the power deflection from a heavy weight rod cast forceably?

I am gathering information regarding these matters primarialy because I have been told that heavy salt rods in bamboo just do not function. I do not believe that based on some salmon rods I have cast.  (George Wood)

    I will probably start a real snafu from the rod design experts but I will tell you to stay with  the hex and forget the quad and penta.

    Hollow building is your best route to the rod you speak of. Find a taper you like for your salt water rod and hollow it while maintaining the original stiffness. I make big rods in the 9' to 10' 6', 8 and 9 weight range.  The 9' rods are designed as a single handed rod. The 10' 6'  rods are designed as  two handed rods but, I have a couple customers that have had them made as single handed rods for salt water use. Even as a 10' 6" rod you can fish the two handed  rods single handed like a switch rod. Big rods don't have to be heavy..  (Jerry Drake)

      I think Jerry is right.  Stick with a hollowed Hex for overall ease of fabrication.

      • A quad is actually 3% heavier than an equivalent hex
      • A penta is 3 ½ % lighter than an equivalent hex

      Is there going to be a noticeable difference from those weight differences especially since most of it in the butt ??  (Al Baldauski)

        Stick with a hollowed Hex for overall ease of fabrication.

        I'm inclined to agree, too. If we were talking solid rods, however, I think I would consider the Penta because of the extra stiffness that seems to come with the package. I do have a question about hollowing the various geometries.  If you leave a constant wall thickness in a hex, a quad and a penta, have you removed more weight from one than the other? Also, is there a strength differential? I'm thinking more of pressuring a fish than casting. (Tom Smithwick)

          You do lose stiffness proportional to the amount of material removed.  That is true regardless of the geometry of the rod. For a given outside dimension the hollow section is not as stiff. This change must be accounted for by moving the powerfibers further from the neutral axis of the rod. In other words, you add back in a small amount of cane that is further from the neutral axis thus restoring the stiffness. The amount to add back in ranges from a few tenth of a percent in the tip section to as much as eight to ten percent in the  butt section As for a weight change from one geometry to another using a  constant wall thickness it  will be different for each of them.  (Jerry Drake)

            So is it possible to taper the interior to match the external taper or am I just asking for the impossible. I believe a CNC can do it but I use a MHM. Suggestions on reference materials for this kind of construction would be helpful  (George Wood)

              Sure it is possible to taper the inside with a MHM. You just need to figure out how much taper you need and set it up just like you would a regular rod taper.  (Jerry Drake)

                I taper the hollowing of my rods with my MHM.  I achieve the taper without changing the taper settings of the anvil.  Instead, I use the shims Tom Morgan supplies for making a swelled butt and insert them under the plastic of the anvil where I want the hollowing.  The taper of the hollowing is achieved by  using the various thicknesses of the shims.  The result is a gently stepped taper of the hollowing.  Seems to work well and is very easy to set up.  I figure the shim thicknesses I need by plotting the rod taper and hollowing taper on a single graph.  (Tim Anderson)

                  I am thinking of building my next rod hollow on the MHM. .I am thinking about a Powell taper. I am curious to know why one would go to the trouble of putting in dams when you can taper the wall thickness or flute the inside.  (Doug Easton)

                    Just a wild guess, but -

                    The dams control collapse, just like living bamboo does with its nodes. Of course you could get the same effect using intermediates, an option living bamboo doesn't have.

                    Most of us don't have an MHM to do fancy fluting with. Dams are a doable method with minimal tooling. Even with an MHM, I believe that you have to buy additional tooling to do the flutes?  (Larry Lohkamp)

                      One thing that I have never understood  about hollowing, and maybe I'm just missing something but , why do the hollows not fill up with glue and leave a solid mass of glue in the center of the rod?

                      I use an epoxy and I'm certain that the binding process would force the glue into these voids. (Keith Paskin)

                        When you brush on the epoxy you leave a thin film.  When some of it is squeezed into the hollow space it is negligible.  I've cut open hollow built sections to make sure.  (Al Baldauski)

                    If you taper the wall thickness but maintain a hex internal shape you need the dams to provide some resistance to the hollow hex shape collapsing.  Any tube, when flexed, tends to go oval.

                    If you flute you have the advantage of the “webs” left by the fluting process stiffening against collapse.

                    The problem with fluting is in maintaining the geometry ratios as you move from one end to the other.  With a single fluting cutter, at the butt you may get a full groove of some depth, but as you move toward the tip the groove gets shallower and all you do is radius the apex.  If you adjust the depth (wall thickness) as you go, then the cutter that gave good proportions at the butt leaves a varying “web”  as you go toward the tip.  Any combination of these techniques causes a variation in stiffness that is not easy to calculate and compensate for so you don’t really know what kind of action you will wind up with except by trial and error.

                    I’ve done three hollow rods using the dam technique.  The first had 5 inch spacing between dams and a wall thickness of 40% original.  It FAILED.  The second was 2 ½ inch spacing and 50% wall thickness.  It survived two casting competitions, one with 2 line wts over design, and a 6 pound brown.  The third was built the same as the second but it failed, too :-(  I don’t know why.  I suspect it must have been a poor glue joint.  (Al Baldauski)

                      Your points are well taken. I wonder if intermediates made with Kevlar tying thread might do the trick? I have no idea what wall thickness I would use or what the spacing of the intermediates might be. Maybe counter wound spirals  like  in  Alden Knight's book? Gives me some things to think about. However I think for the moment I will use the fluting technique since I have some of the tooling. Tom Morgan has had great luck with it and I haven't heard of his rods being particularly  prone to failure. The point Al makes about the variation from butt to tip makes good sense, but as I look at it one wants to take out parasitic weight from the butt and leave the power fiber rich areas in the tip. This would give you more power fiber density trough the whole rod. Does this require any compensation in the taper design?  (Doug Easton)

                        Any removal of material changes weight distribution and stiffness.  The effect of removing mostly pith from the butt will probably be negligible depending on how wide and deep your fluting.  As I said, compensation calculations get difficult with that approach.  (Al Baldauski)


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