Bamboo Bonzai

The Split Cane Fly Rod
(Excert from Part III: Research and Technique)
A Fly Fisher's Life (1959)
By Charles Ritz
Our sincere thanks to Crown Publishing Company

October 12th, 1998

Publishers note: Since this publisher is older than dirt, it occured to me that some may never have seen many of the older books. From time to time, we hope to excerpt interesting segments from our personal library to enlighten, entertain and perhaps amaze our rod building friends. Some things are older than you might think. Most of these books are long out of print, and if we spark an interest in you, check out the used book stores, or one of the mail-order book sellers. Armchair Angler in Hillburn, NY is one we particularly like. We previously ran a series on bamboo from Ring of the Rise, (check the archives) which I understand is now available in reprint. Your suggestions and comments are always welcome.~DB

The Split Cane Fly Rod, Part Four
(Excerpt from Part III: Research and Technique)
"Rods Made to Measure and Comments on the Ideal Action P.P.P."

"To make a rod to measure is, in my opinions, and speaking in all sincerity, out of the question. To balance a rod and achieve the optimum action, it is necessary:

  • 1. To have numberious prototypes;
  • 2. To make exhaustive trials in the act of fishing.

    The net price of a unique model would therefor be impossible.

    Comments on the ideal action P.P.P. Here is an interesting example:
    The three rods P.P.P.: Wading, 7 ft. 1 in., Baby Zephyr, 7 ft. 9 in., and Zephyr, 8 ft. 4 in., have two identical first joints. The 7 ft. 1 in. has its handle on the second joint. The 7 ft. 9 in. has also a detachable handle of 9.45 in. The 8 ft. 4 in. has a butt handle of 13.78 in. (cork and reel seat 10.63.). thus, their power is identical, but the 7 ft. 1 in. is ultra rapid, the 7 ft. 9 in. rapid, and the 8 ft. 4 in. semi-rapid.

    Each of these rods has a rigidity appropriate to its length. Furthermore, the rod tips have a maximum length. The slightest extra weight on the rod tip (ferrules and guides) has a considerable influence on the action. The nearer the ferrule is to the point of the rod, the greater the weight. The first sixteen yards of a heavy line only weigh between .035 and .088 ounches more than those of a medium line. A ferrule weighs between .176 and .246 ounces. The lower you place the upper ferrule, the less weight there is on the rop tip and the better the quality of the action. Therefore, to achieve an ideal action, rod tips should be extra long with only one set of ferrules. On the other hand, the length of the rod tip is limited by the requirements of transportation. But I was also in search of the ideal action, or as near as it is possible to achieve it, by effecting a perfect compromise between suppleness and rapidity with the maximum of strength.

    Instead of trying to incorporate this action within a determined length, I preferred in the first place to discover the optimum length. In order to achieve this, I was forced to abandon the standard lengths of 8 1/2 and 9 feet. The trials make for curvature and the act of fishing have proved that 8 ft. 5 in. is the desirable length. I therefore arrived at the following:

    Rod tip:   54 in.
    Butt:   46 3/4 in.
    Total length:   8 ft. 5 in.

    and I finally obtained the Fario-Club, a rod which corresponded to all my needs for fishing trout and grayling at that time."
    ~ Charles Ritz

    For more of Charlie Ritz's wonderful comments on the "Art and Mechanics of Fly Fishing" look for a copy of A Fly Fisher's Life through your favorite used bookseller!

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