Bamboo Tips - Tips Area - Sets

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I had just finished my second rod, which I call a Dickerson 7914, a shortened 8014 taper from Chattahoochee rods. Glued with Epon, heat treated et 325-350 for 1/2 hour or a little more, heat treated again after gluing, at 200 degree. Always kept dry in roughly 90 degree furnace room when not being worked on. Finished with Mike's impregnating sauce  (4 hours only as I didn't want to stiffen the action any more) and another few days in the furnace room to speed the curing.

Took it fishing, likes a peach 6 wt and had fun, performing very well. After the second evening of a fair amount of casting a few landlocks discovered a definite bend to the tip. Easily corrected with holding it in a reverse bend for a couple of minutes.

Is it anything to worry about?

I haven't yet wrapped the second tip, would you do anything different with it?  (Henry Mitchell)

    I made a comment a few weeks back regarding impregnated rods and sets. I suspect that you are experiencing this. Hang the tip and unwrapped section in a heated place and let them sit for a month or two. I kept a rod this year that I impregnated, it has gotten stiffer over the spring. I suspect it is now as stiff as it will get.   (Bob Maulucci)

      Yes, if you're lucky, Bob may be correct in his assessment of your problem. But don't overlook the need to test strips before you build.  (Bill Harms)

        You are probably right. It could certainly be a weak strip. I suspect that hoping for the best (that it is not a bad strip) is the only hope!  (Bob Maulucci)

          Well, if one strip were bad because of an inherent weakness in the culm, all the other strips would be similarly weak through that same internodal area. Further, the weakness would be distributed over quite a large area because of the staggering.  This condition could happen as easily in a butt section, but because of the larger dimensions, it may not be quite as noticeable.  (Bill Harms)

    I couldn't know for certain, of course, but from your description, it doesn't sound as if your construction process would be the "culprit."  I suspect the problem is in the cane itself, and there's nothing you can do about it now.  (Ask me how I know.)

    There seems to be no reasonable explanation, but occasionally we find (even in the very best looking cane) an area that is simply weak and limp between a couple nodes.  As a future prevention, always test-bend a strip from each freshly split culm.  Only one such strip is necessary, as the others from that culm will be the same.

    In testing your sample strip, place your hands just outside a couple nodes and give the strip a bend.   Do this for each internodal area down the length of that strip.  The cane should feel steely and want to return nearly to its original position.  But if there is a problem area, the cane will yield very easily, forming a horseshoe shape, and only barely want to return to its original position.  This is a culm that simply cannot be used, as the particular problem-area in your test strip will be identical in all the other strips, and no amount of heat treating will strengthen that area.

    On the other hand, if you're building nodeless, you merely cut that particular area out from the entire culm and discard it.  Then, just join the rest of the sections as usual.  (Bill Harms)


What could be the reason for a soft tip on a new made blank?   And how would you describe a soft tip?  (Olaf Kundrus)

    Second question has to be addressed first. 

    I'd say a soft tip is one that doesn't bend fairly all the way to the tip.  By that I mean it's got an area that bends more than it should, somewhere near the tip. 

    Usually due to a little to much bamboo being removed.  Could happen when a person cleans up a tip after gluing. 

    Or maybe you want a little faster tip?  

    If this is the case, it could be the above or it could be the taper.   I like my tips a little on the "soft" side.  I don't have to work so hard to get the rod started on my back and fore casts!  (Terry Kirkpatrick)


I'm working on finishing out my first two blanks which I finished this winter.  One is ferruled and I was varnishing it this weekend.  I had put it in a PVC tube with glued cap and screw cap and had about a cup of desiccant in the bottom for about a week or two prior to finishing.  Did notice before I put it in that if I wanted I could make the tip take a set by hand.  I was in such a hurry to get to varnishing once I took it out of the tube, that I didn't think to check if I could still make it take a set.  Two coats of varnish and now I can make it take a set by just grabbing the tiptop and ferrule of the top section and bending it to what I think a small fish would and holding for 5 seconds.  I checked my other blank and same results.

So my understanding is there are two reasons for set, not tempered or too wet.  I have to believe they are tempered enough.  I built nodeless and used the kitchen oven.  I think I went like 16 minutes at 375, but I got the nice smell, and the boo got a little brown.  And as for humidity, I'm in Wisconsin, and the temp has been below freezing for a couple weeks and we have had very low humidities, and I don't have a humidifier.  So is there any hope to change this, or are my first pole just going to be crooked?  Oh and glue was PU for the splices and Titebond II Extend for the rest.  (John Wagner)

    Don't be surprised if you can do this to most of the bamboo rods you meet, hardly any are immune to such treatment. The true test is to see if shaking it vigorously will make it return to normal.   (John Channer)

      As there is a tip in front of me with a bit of a curve I can't get out I thought I'd try it.

      No joy, unfortunately, unless you mean a very minor change indeed which rectifies itself on a very small wag.

      The cane was baked at 350 for 15 minutes and the adhesive, UHU Endfest 300 baked at a similar temp for 5 minutes.  It’s a honey color and probably not much longer for this world as The Fat Kitten has now taken a great interest in it.  Perhaps you just get bits of cane which, like John Gierach’s bears, "Behave Funny!"  (Robin Haywood)

        I don't know how the UHU glue would react to this, but I've had success straightening by steaming the section with a clothes iron, laying the section in my planing form and letting it cool in the form with weights on top. For some stubborn kinks I have to give it a reverse bend while the section is still steamed, but if the section will lay straight in the form with all six flats rotated around while steamed and allowed to cool in the form, it comes out straight. (Darryl Hayashida)

          Another possibility is that you have run into some bad 'boo.  There are sometimes sections in a culm that are, for lack of a better term, softer than what we normally look for.  Quite unfortunately my understanding is that no amount of heat treating can fix this problem.  Since you built nodeless this may not be your problem.  Just don't know.  If you have some strips left from the culm try flexing them between nodes to see if you feel this anywhere.

          In the future be sure to take the time to flex your strips at each internodal space right after splitting to see how they respond.  If you flex enough and find a soft one, you will know it.  Yes, I learned this the hard way.  But... I still fish the rod.  (Carl DiNardo)

            Run a hair dryer over the area for a few minutes let it cool then bend the tip and see if it will straighten, if not try it again after about three tries. If its still no good take the varnish of the tip section just where it will not deflect straight, hang the tip section up you can run a hairdryer over the area. Let it cool it should be OK.

            But if its still not deflecting straight try the deflection test on all six flats, forget the rod spine you have a bad strip in there You should find a good side to mount the guides.

            Try it, but don't get it too hot.  Next time make a rod from at least 2 culms and alternate the strips this way any bad bamboo is minimal in the rod blank.  (Gary Nicholson)

    I should add a follow up.

    So I put everything on hold, and hung all sections above hot air vents in a small bathroom for about two weeks.  The blanks seemed better.  I then proceeded to finish them out, hanging them above the vents when not working on them.  I have cast and fished both and I wouldn't say set is an issue. There may be a small set after fighting a fish, but they bounce back; I haven't had to straighten them from fishing.  I stored one in a bag for three days traveling, and it must have kind of wrapped the tip around the butt a bit and it came out of the bag with a set, which I was able to straighten by hand.   (John Wagner)


I have a rod that will bend and stay bent it is easy to straighten but then it bends and stays bent. I think I will try to temper it at 250 for 20 minutes but I have some concerns about the glue line turning dark or something happening with the cork handle. any one with a suggestion or experience?  (Bill Vincent)

    It sounds to me like you're using bad bamboo. If it's as bad as you say, get rid of it and start over. The quality of the rod is in how well it casts a line, something that limp won't cast 10 feet.  (Mark Dyba)

    There is something really wrong if you are getting a set in the butt section. Bad cane or bad glue or both. What glue are you using?   (Doug Easton)


I have a few issues with a recent rod and wanted to know the list's opinion.

First off, I make my own snakes and the inconsistencies with how I make them can cause alignment to not be absolutely perfect.  How big of an issue is this in your mind?

Second is "sets".  The rod is question is a 7'6" 3 weight and after a day of fishing there may be a slight curve that will go away with a flex in the opposite direction.  I have seen the same tendencies in other rods including a genuine PHY.  Honestly, do your rods come back to absolute original position after catching a fish?  This rod was flamed from the inside using D. Hayashida's technique.  The amount of heat put to this rod was substantial.

I feel confident in the quality of what I am making,  or at least I did.  (Lee Orr)

    I don’t even try to make my own fittings.  I have neither the tools, equipment, or desire to go that far. Plus I prefer the quality of the various off-the-shelf products out there. Sure they may cost more than making your own (I’m not sure that is true when you account for the costs of metal lathes and tools) but unless you are a Bill Oyster or a few others I have seen rods by it is hard to match the quality of REC and Snake guides, etc. In the end the answer to your first question really rests in whether you are meeting your own expectations of quality.   (Larry Puckett)

    The question is, does your quality satisfy your customer?  If you only make rods for yourself and maybe a few family members, you're still the customer.  If the customer is satisfied, your quality is good enough.

    OTOH, there's no reason not to try and improve your quality.  Look at your process and see if you can find a way to improve.  For instance, what is imperfect about your snakes?  Not twisted quite   the  same  amount  each  time?   Try  marking  your snake-maker at the point you want to stop twisting.  Not the same length?  Try to find a way to keep the 2 halves of the maker the same distance apart every time for a given size guide. And so on...  (Neil Savage)


I have seen a number of rods with slight curves. I heat treat at 225 for 24-27 minutes. This seems to correct it. One customer was happy enough he brought in two additional rods for me to heat treat.  (Bill Vincent)

    Here is my take on this. If you heat treat from the inside. If you compare flaming the outside of the culms (enamel side) it takes a lot longer to flame the culms.

    So what I am trying to say is to condition the culms from the inside to the same degree its takes considerably longer than it looks in comparison.

    Its no good just moving on when it burns black with the torch because  will not be exposed to the same level of heat as if you are doing the  flaming from outside.

    I think you should flame for longer when going it from the inside.  Or finish it off in your oven, this is what I do.  (Gary Nicholson)


I build mirror image tips and I got a strange thing in the shop.

I built a 7'6" 4 wt. in 2008 for a customer. He returned it for an midwinter inspection. One tip has a set. No big deal I thought. So I went to straighten it. Well, you could bend  it about anywhere and it would stay there.  The "soft" part was about 10>15" from the tip. Bend it to the right and it stayed there. Bend it left, same thing although lees pronounced. It bent easier right than left but wouldn't bend vertically @ all. It appears like one strip or more are weak on the right side. As the strips are all out of the same culm with nodes all the same, I can't for the life of me figure out why one tip and not the other. And it's not bending on a node.

Any ideas? (Don Anderson)

    Sheez! That's frustrating. I think if it was me I would make him a third tip as close the the other two as I could and return him all three. He'll have 2 matching and two good ones to use. If you want to go further put a new rod on your list and he'll have something to fish till you get finished with the new rod. Maybe let him choose which rod he would prefer. This also takes off the pressure of a deadline. He is a customer so ask him what will make him happy and try to do it. My experience is that the customer will ask for less than you are willing to do anyway. He won't go bitching to his buddies. He'll be talking about what a standup guy you are.  We have talked about similar experiences with tips on the list  before with tips as well as unfinished splines. I have seen this one time and it turned out to be a cracked strip. It was splintered on the inside out and wasn't really visible from the outside unless I used a magnifying glass and flexed it...and then it showed up as a crease diagonally across the one particular spline. (Timothy Troester)

    Sounds like a heat treating problem to me. I had a tip do that to me, I had only flamed inside and out so I put the whole thing in my oven at 325F for 8 min and it's almost impossible to put any sort of set in it now. Depending on the glue you used it may not like that much heat. I've heard others say they've re-treated at 250F with good results. I'd give that a try first before building another tip.  (Ken Paterson)

    It may be that you've got a glue failure in that area.  You've have guide wraps close together and varnish holding everything in place so it's not easy to see.

    I've intentionally overheated a sample section to see how far I could go before the epoxy let go.  When the epoxy failed the rod section still looked fine and this was on a butt section where there was not wrap support.  And though the section was less stiff than before failure, it was still surprisingly rigid.  (Al Baldauski)

      What temperature can we safely heat the varnish to?  Can it go to 325-350 degrees safely? I have always wondered but never tested it out. (Dick Steinbach)

      I agree with Al on this. I had this happen with a tip I was making for a 3 pc rod. The last 10-15 inches were starved for glue. It was sliding just slightly. This happened before I assembled the rod but could easily happen after hard use. Heat treatment might be an issue but it seems to me that the heat treatment might just rearrange the glue joint enough to stiffen the rod.  (Doug Easton)


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