Lighter is Better

By Tom Kirkman, (RodMaker Magazine)

Here's a question from the September/October 1998 issue of RodMaker magazine:

"What would you say if the one most important thing that a rod builder can do to make any rod perform better?" Dick, Denver, CO

RodMaker Magazine

"Make it lighter. For any given stiffness, a lighter rod will dampen quicker, transmit vibrations better, cast farther and reduce fatigue on the angler. This is why fiberglass outperforms bamboo and why graphite outperforms fiberglass. None of these materials are magic in themselves, rather, as the stiffness-to-weight ratio climbs, so does the performance capabilities of the rod.

Anything you can do to make a rod lighter will result in some measure of performance increase. Even if you can't design and build your own blanks, there are many other ways to lighten a rid. The choice of componentry, assembly techniques, guide style and placement, and even wrap finish offer many areas where weight can be shaved. All other factors being equal, a lighter rod is also a better rod.

Perhaps the best analogy I've ever heard concerning how rod weight affects performance came from Gary Loomis. Gary compared a rod blank to a diving board at a swimming pool. If you jump on the board it will toss you up in the air a certain distance and then vibrate for a certain length of time before it stops. Now, add a 50-pound sack of cement or whatever to the underside of that board. Jump on it again, and this time, it won't throw you quite as high and it will vibrate for a longer period of time before stopping. You didn't change its stiffness, but you did add to its weight and that weight you added reduced the board's performance.

The same thing goes for fishing rods. Less weight translates into better dampening characteristics, better energy release and recovery, and less fatague for the angler fishing the rod. Again, all things being equal, the lighter the rod, the better the rod will perform." ~ Tom Kirkman

Publishers note:

If you have any tips or techniques, send them along! Help out your fellow rodmakers! ~ Publisher, FAOL

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