Here's a question from the September/October 2000 - Volume 3 - Issue #5 issue of RodMaker magazine:
"In one of the fly fishing magazines Lefty Kreh recently stated that
over time the action of a rod can become softer as the graphite and
its resin break down. I understood you to say in a past issue of
RodMaker that actions can't become softer or slower. Can you
comment on Lefty's comments? I hate to think the blank I just
bought will wear out at some point in the near future. Martin. . . Orlando, FL"
Lefty perhaps used a poor choice of words to describe the fatigue a
rod can suffer after prolonged use, but I understand what he was trying
to convey. No, the action won't become softer but the rod will. The
taper (action) will remain the same no matter how much use the rods sees,
however, the rod itself will become less stiff over time and after much
use. I feel sure that is more along the lines of what he meant to say.
Nearly all materials and their related structures suffer fatigue over time
and from use. Sometimes this is referred to as the "fatigue life" of a
material. The fact is that each time a rod is flexed (this is sometimes
referred to as a "cycle") a certain amount of wear and tear takes place
within the fibers and the resin. Over a certain period of time this adds up
and you have a rod that is a bit softer than it was when new.
It is important to remember, however, that modern day rods do not
suffer from fatigue nearly as badly as rods made several decades ago.
Graphite in particular, fatigues extremely slowly compared to fiberglass
and some other materials. I know some serious surf fishermen who
claim that they can actually feel their heavy-power fiberglass surf rods
soften after less than one season of hard use. Fly fishermen I have
spoken with who have used rods hard over a period of many years
claim they can tell a difference between their rods' stiffness now and
when they were new. They probably can. But don't be too alarmed about
your new graphite blank degenerating into a noodle before next season.
You will have to make hundreds of thousands of casts and fight
score of fish before you "wear it out." ~ Tom Kirkman
If you have any tips or techniques, send them
along! Help out your fellow rodmakers!
~ Publisher, FAOL