Fishing Rod Manufacturing

Fishing Rod Manufacturing - Part 1

Preface

Fishing Rod Manufacturing – What you definitely need and indispensable for sport fishing is a fishing rod. Which rod is the best or not is frequently discussed among fellow anglers. In this blog, I will try to share my vision, opinion, and experiences. However, I am not commercially tied to any brand or manufacturer anywhere. I will try to explain what happens and what is important when designing a rod. Of course, everyone has the right to have a different opinion, this only concerns my personal opinion.

Fishing Rod Manufacturing: The Blank

A “Blank” is a completely bare rod without a handle and guides. It can be said to be just a hollow stick. But this is very significant and determines the rod that will be designed with it. It determines how this rod will perform when fishing.

Fishing Rod Blanks
Fishing Rod Blanks
Carbon Kevlar Blank
Carbon Kevlar Blank

Making a Blank

Today, the main component of a fishing rod consists mainly of carbon fibers. It happens that a mix is made with other components such as glass fiber, boron, or kevlar. How a blank is made is quite elaborate and quite technical. Here I will explain the most important thing. A mat is designed from the fibers used with the aid of a resin. This is also called a “prepeg”. Then a tapered strip is cut from this mat and rolled around a metal mold. The mold with strip must then be baked in the oven for a long time. When the “baking” process is complete, the metal mold is removed from the core. Now you have a usable rough blank that can be further finished. You can think of sanding, coloring, and painting. Then one can continue processing it into a full-fledged fishing rod.

Carbon Fibres
Carbon Fibres
Glass Fibres
Glass Fibres
Boron Fibres
Boron Fibres
Kevlar Fibres
Kevlar Fibres

Classification of materials

Since there are no official names for the materials used in the manufacture of a fishing rod, manufacturers can use their own names and say whatever they want. For example, the following terms exist:
20, 30, or 50 tons of carbon
  • IM7, IM8, IM9
  • low modulus
  • high modulus intermediate modulus
  • and many other terms …

The angler can therefore only do with these terms used as marketing, as one never knows what material the blank is made of. And yet one can use some guidelines to see what material is involved …

Fishing Rod Manufacturing – First guideline: Stiffness

As most probably know, there are soft and hard carbon types, and that in many degrees. You can compare the difference yourself by feeling 2 rods with the same length, diameter, and tapering (more about this later). Then you will notice that some rods feel limp and flexible while other rods feel hard. This stiffness is expressed in terms such as IM6, IM7, IM8 where the highest number has the most stiffness. It should be known that the higher the stiffness of the carbon, the more bending resistance it has compared to a softer carbon. So more force will be needed to bend such a rod.

The same is actually also true for manufacturers who express the stiffness of their carbon material in “tons” instead of “IM”. Here the highest “tons” are also the stiffest ones.

There are already many terms that are used to express stiffness, but there is still NO standard. For example, two manufacturers will rate the same rod type differently. This, of course, complicates the assessment of a rod. And on top of that, two other factors influence the properties of a blank, namely the wall thickness and the tapering. (more on this later).

They also work with their own terms at the well-known large American fishing rod manufacturer St. Croix. Those are SC2, SC3, SC4, and SC5. Again, the higher the number, the stiffer the rod …

How much does a fishing rod cost?

The rods in the more expensive class are mainly made from the harder carbon types, but that does not mean that they are therefore perfect. Although these are the more expensive rods, they can still be prone to “abuse” and thus also be more vulnerable. It mainly depends on what you will be using the rod for.

A rod made of a softer carbon type and therefore normally cheaper can, on the other hand, be loaded much more than a harder rod. An expensive fishing rod is therefore not a priori stronger than a softer one; on the contrary …</p

Which material: fiberglass or composite?

Since glass fiber is cheaper than carbon, a mix of carbon and glass fiber is often made. This is how you get a composite fishing rod. But fiberglass is much tougher than carbon and can therefore withstand more load, in other words: more flexible. And all this because glass fiber is less rigid.

Cajun Custom Fishing Rod (composite)
Cajun Custom Fishing Rod (composite)

One rule is: the weaker the rod, the less well it can cast. This is not good for many types of fishing. But they are extremely useful when fishing for fighting (sea) fish. The fishing rod then has to endure a lot and then a relatively short composite fishing rod is the right choice. An example of such composite fishing rods is made by the Shakespeare company with their range of ‘Ugly‘ fishing rods. With these rods, you have to put in a lot of effort to break them.

Latest trend

Many fishing rods are already being made with Nanotechnology. These would be lighter but at the same time much stronger, making them much more resilient. A type of resin from 3M, called Matrix Resin, is used in the production. With this, you achieve that through a connection between the resin and the carbon, everything stays together much better. Such fishing rods are therefore much more resilient. Other rods would have broken at the same point of loadability. These so-called “Matrix Resin Prepegs” are of course also expensive.


Fishing Rod Manufacturing – Second guideline: Wall thickness of the blank

The wall thickness of a fishing rod is thus determined at the very first step in production. The moment the material is turned around the mold (or mandrill), one can use more or less material, depending on what is desired.

Are these rods effectively stronger?

Something very logical: the more material you use in a fishing rod, the stronger it becomes. The bending resistance will increase here. Thick-walled blanks have already been made on which one can even stand without breaking. The positive thing is that the rod is much stronger, but the negative is that it also becomes heavier. Properties of the fishing rod are therefore determined by the mix of the wall thickness and the type of material that is used.


Fishing Rod Manufacturing – Third guideline: tapering of the blank

Types of Tapering
Types of Tapering

A fishing rod runs from a thin top end to a thick rear end. During production, this progression can be made fast or slow. The faster the progress is made, the stronger the fishing rod becomes.

With tapering, people mainly talk about how a fishing rod will bend. With a slight tapering, the fishing rod can bend over its full length. Depending on the type of tapering this is called “slow taper” or “medium taper”. With a rod with a very strong tapering, the flexibility only occurs at the tip. Only with great forces will the rear part bend, with the top standing almost straight. This bend is called a “fast taper”. Since there are no standard names for the different actions, the terms parabolic action, semi parabolic action, semi top action, and top action are used.

So these would be the most common terms to describe the flexibility of a fishing rod. Of course, there are many more degrees of bending and practically everyone uses their own terms.

More Information?

For those who want to know more about blanks, here is the link to a site where various manufacturers are proposed: Onthewater.

Finally

I hope you have learned something from this article. The properties of a blank are therefore determined by:

  1. choice of material
  2. wall thickness
  3. tapering
But of course, the other components that are used with the fishing rod can also play an additional role. Anyway, that’s not that important.
Perhaps you will have a different opinion here and there and that is welcome! As I said, there are no real standard names yet and everyone can use their own terms. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them … Thank you for reading.

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