: Cutting Graphite...
I will be heading down to Smitty's den of iniquity this weekend to make the first cut >sniff< on a beautiful SAGE European two-handed blank to kick off the program. With the tasmanian rod-builder on hand, the thing will be ready to cast (temporary handle and guides) in short order. I hope to throw something on it the same day.
If anyone's up for it let me know and we can coordinate times to meet at Smitty's Rod Builder's Workshop, 3A a mile off the highway (rte 3) headed east, in Kingston MA. I'll bring the SWFF swap flies in case you are in the swap and want to pick up your batch.
03-06-2000, 09:57 AM
Would have liked to have seen the process...did you end up working on the rod? If you were delayed or are going to meet again, let me know and I will hook up with you. The splining of the rod is an interesting first step that always fascinated me. I have splined several rods but the process is not a clear right or wrong situation, at least until you cast the stick and see what it does. What length did you cut the stick to? I think we were talking about 10.5 or 11'?
Let me know how it went.
Initial measurements, discussions, and ponderings of whether we would be maddening the graphite gods were made. In the end, strips of masking tape lay in positions that are no less stark than the dotted lines in a cosmetic surgeon's work, and much like the patient the anticipation and hope of a new frontier lay in these marks for guys like me.
In Smitty's matter of fact manner, he showed me an old, yellowed rod building magazine that was entitled "Resurgence of Two-handed Rods", describing the renewal of two-handed salmon fishing techniques in North America. He said "there's nothing new about this stuff", and if fact he is right - this stuff has been around for hundreds of years.
But nowhere was there a mention of 2 hands in the surf scene, in fact this magazine was published at a time when surf flyfishing by any means was about as new and unheard of as two-handed rods in the surf are today. Funny, though that 2-hand rods had been in wide use since the 18th century!
The discussion included not only the blank length, but the handle design. Interestingly, most of the two-handers shown in the magazine had reel seats located in higher positions than today's Spey rods and European Rods. The position of the reel is an important factor for surf flyfishing, if I was to cite a single problem with the ones I tested last season it would be that the reel is too far back for proper line handling with stripping baskets. The reel position was measured and (with Smitty's advice) located with more masking tape. The cork handle length will be extended for the prototype as well.
I don't expect everyone will be interested or excited by this work, but I do find it amusing that some make an effort to oppose or denounce our experimentation. Maybe we'll achieve nothing more than ruining perfectly good blanks, or maybe we'll accumulate and share significant findings about the potential of two-hands in the surf. Who knows, but we'll certainly find out in the weeks ahead.
Jay - you and all are welcome to join us at the Rod Builder's Workshop anytime we get together. We'll be throwing line on them the next get-together. I spoke with George Roberts on the phone via Smitty's introduction and it's great to hear that he'd like to test these rods. Needless to say we had a lot to talk about but we had to cut the conversation short to let Smitty lock up. He was going out pole-vaulting or something like that. I think I could've talked to this well-known casting instructor for hours!
Well Smitty called to say he had to take off a few inches because it was too long... I assume he was talking about the Sage but with Smitty, one never knows http://188.8.131.52/images/flytalk/Wilk.gif
Seriously, the rod has been reduced to it's first cut and the temporary handle is on the rod. Guides are being attached and will be ready to cast by Sunday. I won't be in Wilmington on Sunday, I'll be casting every line I own on this first of three rods. Forum members invited.
I'm psyched! Report will follow.
I took the first of the test rods out to the water with Jeff Roop today. Weather was poor but there was a lot to be learned from the trial. The wind was blowing cold and drizzly from the north/northwest between rainy spats and there wasn't so much as a chub swimming around. Despite this, the excitement of a season not far on the horizon and the promise of new places, people and things to experience was in the air.
<font size="1">Roopster on the reins</font><!--1--></center>
When I walked into the shop, Pete Sorensen was discussing fine points about a rod he's building. Smitty had one of the new test rods lookin' (almost) like a real fishing rod. Well not quite, but it is been left unfinished to allow rapid assembly and disassembly according to adjustments we wanted to make along the way. There will be time for permanent wraps and sturdy reel seats later on, when the dimensions are known. Today, it's about being able to move something around on a whim. To the uninitiated, the rod does not impress. But to the trained eye, one can quickly see how the cork tape can be unwound to make way for a fine burl cork grip, and the exposed underwraps just means of holding the eyes in place for the time being. Tape would serve just as well.
Anyway, Jeff and I hopped over a creek flowing into Kingston Bay to reach a tidal grass flat just down the street from the Rod Builder's Workshop. I felt like a kid on Christmas Day, taking a summertime toy out in the snow just because. We started with the 425 grain QD Cortland, which casts very well on another factory two-hander I own. It seemed a little LIGHT for this rod, despite the fact that this line feels real clunky (chuck and duck). Although it was easy to throw 60 feet without false casting or double hauling, it felt like there were not enough grains to really get the rod into a groove.
This was not a bad thing! I hope we end up with a 13wt rod that takes nothing at all to throw. I wish for the ability to throw huge flies into the surf and handle big fish just as easily - without making the angler pay the price for casting all that.
Next was a 12wt intermediate, then a special Spey shooting head design given to me by Mike Kinney of Seattle. The Spey head performed best, but there was more to try. We ran back to Smitty's to grab a 525 grain 444 line (more grains! >grunt<) and on the second shot the whole flyline shot from the rod with no false casting or double hauling. Unfortunately, the piece of mono I had knotted on the line didn't stabilize the line's head, which is almost impossible to stabilize anyway. I went back thru the other lines for good measure and was able to throw the whole 12wt intermediate to the backing two or three times but with no consistency. Eventually, it was time to conference with Smitty back at the shop.
I decided the 525 won't do unless I can stabilize the head with a very stiff heavy butt section on the leader. Many of you know how blunt of a front taper this line has. The 325 is a sweetie but the 525... is a boater's line if you know what I mean.
The 12wt, although it had promise, wasn't enough to really load this rod. A denser head with a quick front taper seems in order, but the experimentation continues.
I've now got an excuse to break out the box of chopped lines I have from my hybrid Spey and sinktip days out west - but this time to build a taper that suits the inherent power of this two-hander in a manner that exploits it's potential. The search continues....
Peter, It was nice to finally meet you & put a face with all the postings from the guy having success in my own back yard.
Juro, Sorry I couldn't stick around for the second run.
For the doubters out there, I'm not the most coordinated person in the world but after about half an hour I started to get the hang of casting this bad boy. It's really effortless + less strain on the shoulder for those of us with prematurely aging body parts.
Casting a whole line & big flys all day long? It's gonna be a breeze once Smitty & Juro work out the kinks. I'm excited about casting a whole weighted line - it will really open up opportunites for those hard to reach spots for us shore-bound anglers.
It's almost time.... Roop
Took rod#1 to a pond, set up with a 12wt IWF. Drove to the side getting the blasting headwind in the face to see what it would do. The wind was bitter and blowing droplets off the pond by the time it blazed across the surface of the pond.
Throwing the head into the teeth of the stiff North wind was a no-brainer, about 35 feet. Strip - 45 feet... cake. Strip - 60 feet, still very doable. Hands got real cold, face too. Strip - 70 feet... no go.
I could throw a line into the wind face-first up to about 60 feet before the fairly slim forward taper on this line wouldn't turn over. Modifying the line to overcome this would help, but that's not something I could do on lunch break. All this without a false cast or hauling of any kind.
To be continued...
ok Juro, now you got me interested! can't wait to hear what you can do when you're used to casting that stick. Tom
Me too Tom! It was promising to take Smitty's 525 grain line and throw the whole thing without false casting / hauling - but if you know that line it's probably due to weight and the loop form is the typical chuck n' duck. If you check out the photo of Jeff (above) the rod is not large, but it's capability to throw line is amazingly high.
We're done messing with this rod for a while, and now the trick is to match a line to the rod. Although most factory rods have the advantage of using off-the-shelf lines and changing the stroke if they don't match, our modifications require that we investigate a wider range of lines to find the "sweet spot".
The other two will go "inch at a time", cutting from both ends to balance sweet with stout. I'll keep you posted!
03-15-2000, 07:46 PM
<BR><BR><img src="http://home.adelphia.net/~striperman/fish/Burlgrip.jpg"><br><img src="http://home.adelphia.net/~striperman/fish/Fightinbutt.jpg">
the new rod