Wood Rod Construction

By Tom Kirkman

Here's a question from the Volume 3 - May/June 2000 issue of RodMaker magazine:

RodMaker Magazine

"I read the article on making wooden fishing rods in the last issue. I have since made and put together several rods of red cedar. They are fun to fish with, but not as resilient as split bamboo rods. I have had two of them snap unexpectedly. I know there are structural differences in the materials themselves, but wondered if the construction method used for making these solid rods had anything to do with it." . . . Rick C. - Lenoir, NC

First let's be clear that the structural make-up of bamboo makes it a more ideal rod building material than most other types of wood. But you are correct that the actual construction methods for making solid wood rods versus split cane rods also plays a large role in terms of durability and performance.

Remember that the fibers furthest from the center of the structure, the outermost fibers, carry most of the load. With the solid rod construction you are working with, the taper is created by planing material from the outside of the rod. This means you do not have any full length tip-to-butt fibers along the outermost portion of the rod. When you build a split cane rod, the taper is created by removing material from the inside of the stips, and then the strips, with intact outer tip-to-butt fibers are rejoined. The method used for making split cane rods simply creates a more efficient, as well as tougher, rod.

You may find that as you become more experienced in making these solid wooden rods, you will discover tapers and diameters that hold up a bit better. Yet is is important to remember that the construction method used for making these solid rods, while not inherently bad and certainly fairly simple, does have some limitations. ~ 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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