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Vince Marinaro on Bamboo Rods:

from Ring of the Rise

Part 3
January 19th, 1998
"I have indicated that length is one of the three important considerations in rod d esign and rod function. Length must be regarded in two aspects: one, as a limiting factor in the use of rod materials and the energy output of the caster, and two, as a factor in the dynamics of rod function.

It is obvious, I think, that any lightweight material, highly resistant to bending, can be make longer and be kept within the bounds of the caster's ability to move it and move i t faster than any material of an opposite nature. Bamboo, glass, and now graphite have this valuable attribute. Hollow thin-walled tubes, other than steel, and natural growths with punky interiors have been the best solution for obtaining length and min imizing weight. Additionally, such materials afford a minimal diameter or cross section to overcome wind resistance, an extremely important consideration in distance casting. Any small reduction is a tremendous advantage. In this respect fibergl ass has been good. I think that bamboo is better and graphite, at this point, has the smallest diameter for length and stiffness that I have yet seen. Whether or not graphite rods, with that very thin-walled construction, can stand the harsh judgment of time and use I do not know. They are too new to be assessed; besides, I have no experience with them.

Length as a dynamic factor in rod function is little understood. Static length means little or nothing. Rod are described in the catalogs as having a specific length, for exam ple, of six, seven, eight feet. These designations are of very little value to the purchaser because they do not tell him the length of the rod while it is in motion under bending stress. That is when it achieves its casting length. This can be determi ned only under full line load at the moment of greatest bend in the act of casting. The measured chord that subtends the arc of the fully bent rod becomes the true casting or effective length. Accordingly, a nine-foot rod, under full bend, may become a seven-foot-rod. Another nine-foot-rod, stiffer than the first nine-footer, may be eight feet in length. Or to put it another way, a stiff seven-footer may be effectively longer than a limber nine-footer. All this is not merely academic. It has very pra ctical application on every cast that is made. It determines for example, how much line the caster can pick up or retrieve for the backcast. It determines whether or not he can hold a backcast above the weeds or obstructions behind him. It tells him, o n a forward overhead cast, the most accurate of all, whether or not the line and leader will clear his head or catch him in the back of the neck; or if he must resort to a sidearm cast, the least accurate of all casts, in order to avoid a distressing coll ision.

For me, effective length is a very serious matter. In much of my meadow stream fishing, it is often necessary to kneel or even to lie fully prone on one side to avoid spooking a nervous trout. A cast under those circumstances, especially a long one, need an effective length that will hold the cast well above ground.

Today the mania for very short rods has aggravated the problem of obtaining adequate casting length. We have been oversold on the short rod. The common spectacle of the short-ro d fisherman reaching mightily heavenward to get a higher backcast represents an admission that he needs more length." VM

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