Please take a moment of silence today to remember those that died while serving in our nation's armed forces.
The Nickle-Silver ferrules on bamboo rods are, these days, unique to cane rods. In these days of graphite & modern fiberglass, most of us start fly fishing with rods that don't have metal ferrules. Modern rods have ferrules made up of the same material (usually) that the rod shafts are made from. These modern ferrules are a lot more maintenance-free & you hardly ever have to think about them, except when putting your fly rod together. The nickle-Silver ferrules on bamboo rods, however, should be inspected from time to time & kept clean.
I won't get into the different aspects of metal ferrules - that's a discussion for another time - but I will say that all metal ferrules are made slightly over sized by .001" or more. It is up to the rod maker when mounting the ferrules onto the rod to lap the male slides of the ferrules down to size. A very small amount of metal must be removed from the male ferrule in order for it to fit into the female. This is done so that the rod maker has control over the fit of the ferrules. A new pair of ferrules off the lathe looks like this:
The male ferrule is the one at the top of the photo above. This is the one the rod maker will lap to size so that it fits into the female ferrule shown below it.
To properly lap a male ferrule to size, the rod maker must spin the ferrule. The small amount of metal that must be removed needs to be taken off evenly on all sides of the round male slide. The metal itself can be removed with different grains of wet/dry sanding paper, special lapping files, of a combination of the two. In the photo below, I've temporarily mounted a male ferrule onto a drill bit to spin it at high speeds while I lap down the slide to the size I need.
A micrometer is a very useful tool in this process, as you'll only be removing one or two thousandths of an inch of metal.
Now, about ferrule fit:
Some folks like a very tight fitting ferrule. They want to have to pull a little harder to remove the rod sections & they want to hear a loud, distinct "pop" sound when the two rod sections come apart. That's absolutely fine, if that's what you like. For others, they don't really care so much - as long as the ferrules hold well & the rod doesn't come apart while fishing.
In my experience, when making rods for clients in general, it's always best to make the ferrules fit a very small bit looser. There are many reasons for this.
Mostly it's because as you use your fly rod, the ferrules will accumulate a small amount of dirt on the surface. This is environmental stuff, like grease from your hands, elements in the air & water, etc. This stuff over time builds a very small film on the surface of the metal & so the ferrules will occasionally need to be cleaned - wiped down with a soft cloth, wet with alcohol.
If the ferrules are fit a hair looser, it will give you more time between cleanings. On very tight fitting ferrules, you must always keep them clean until the ferrules have been used for quite a long time.
One more reason for a looser ferrule fit is the old habits of folks who have fished with nothing but synthetic rods. You should never twist metal ferrules - ever. It's a great way to tear the bamboo strips in your rod apart or to break the glue bond holding your ferrules onto your fly rod. You can get away with twisting the sections together if they don't line up correctly on modern synthetic rods, but not with the Nickle-Silver ferrules on bamboo fly rods. In my experience, I've seen too many angler twist their rod section to line them up when putting a rod together. If the ferrules are a wee bit looser on your bamboo rod, it might just save you a broken rod - if you catch yourself doing the twist in time.
You might have heard that when metal ferrules make a clicking sound, it means that they are loose & should be repaired. That is not true. It simply means that the male ferrule is moving slightly side to side inside the female while the rod is being wiggled. The only time you need to worry about loose-fitting ferrules is when they start to come apart during normal casting & fishing. Metal ferrules will eventually wear out from use, as it is a friction fit that keeps them together, but not for many years & quite possibly longer than you or I will be around. Save your money & don't have a set of ferrules replaced only because they make a clicking sound. Wait until there's actually a problem with the ferrule fit.
Like all other aspects of custom bamboo fly rods, each rod maker will put their own personal touches into each rod they make - including the fit of the ferrules. To me, super tight fitting ferrules can lead to more problems for the angler than if the ferrules fit a little looser. In the end, we all have our opinions & personal tastes, but I want every aspect of the rods I make to be as maintenance- free & enjoyable to fish with as possible. How I fit the ferrules is just another aspect of that philosophy.
It's been over 60 years since Vince Marinaro introduced the thorax style dry fly to the world. I wonder just how much these flies are fished any more these days? This design of dry was described in Marinaro's legendary book "A Modern Dry Fly Code".
A thorax style dry fly is, basically, a dry fly that has the hackle wound about the thorax area of the fly. It also has splayed tails for a more realistic look & better floating.
These days, thorax dries don't look very strange to our eyes, but in 1950 this was a revolutionary design. It really set the dry fly world on fire.
Marinaro designed these flies for a more real-looking imitation to fool the wise trout on the limestone streams of Pennsylvania. However, these flies will perform well over any difficult trout, - especially at those times when the trout have become selective, choosing only one specific type of bug to eat when there are others on the water. These flies are also good in low & clear water or any place the trout has very good visibility & plenty of time to inspect your fly before it decides to eat it or not. Obviously, this style of fly can be tied to imitate any species of mayfly.
There is one down side to these dry flies: they are difficult to tie. This is not a pattern for the beginner tier. But with some practice, time, & patience anyone can learn to tie these flies.
To that end, check out this video below showing how to tie these thorax dries. So far, this is the best video I've found for this pattern. Videos for thorax flies are great, as it can be difficult to learn how to tie these even with the best of books.
I grew up fishing with fiberglass fly rods from an early age. Because of this, glass rods hold a special place in my heart & I will always cherish & appreciate a good fiberglass fly rod. That's why I offer custom made glass fly rods, because I want others to enjoy them the way I have & to make rods much better than the ones I waved in the air as a kid.
Recently, I was honored to have my name listed as a professional fiberglass rod maker in the re-issued & updated version of Victor Johnson's book "Fiberglass Fly Rods: 20th Anniversary Edition."
I remember the first edition of this book & it was very good. I can only image how much more information Mr. Johnson has packed into this new edition & can't wait to read it. As I said, I'm flattered & honored to be mentioned in between its covers.
You can purchase a copy of the book HERE.
...And while we're on the topic of fiberglass fly rods, I hope you've all been able to take your rods out on the stream for some good fishing this season. Check out this photo below, submitted by my friend & client John. In this photo, his custom Lantzy fiberglass fly rod takes a break from fishing, as it lays across a fishing bag that was also made in my shop!
Thanks for the photo, John. As always, you have wonderful taste in fishing tackle!!
Finally, one last note about fiberglass fly rods. Please keep checking back to the Available Rods page of this website, as over the summer & into fall I plan on listing a variety of different glass fly rods. In the meantime, if you want a custom made fiberglass rod of your very own, please contact me to see just how easy & fun it is to have a custom fly rod made for you!!
I was recently honored to make a Custom Series graphite fly rod for a client. The Custom Series rods are the highest level of rod that I make. When you order one, anything that you can imagine is possible. These rods come standard with Nickle-Silver reel seat hardware, real stone agate stripping guides in a Nickle-Silver frame, strap & ring style hook keepers, & a black powder-coated aluminum rod tube with real brass end caps. That's just the basics. From there we take it anywhere you want to go in design.
This latest rod has, in my opinion, a really cool color scheme. The rod shafts are a burgundy color & the silk thread wraps of blue with gold tipping play off the rod shaft color nicely.
Strap & ring style hook keepers are traditionally used on higher end bamboo fly rods. These simple, yet elegant, hook keepers are made from Nickle-Silver. I think they always look great on modern graphite rods, adding a touch of class & a nod to the traditions & history of fly fishing:
The wood that you choose in a reel seat can be a great way to make a statement in the cosmetics of your fly rod. You can go bold & contrast the other colors in the rod, making the reel seat a focal point; or you can go subtle, adding a bit of understated class to the rod. The client chose to go subtle with their reel seat & I think that on this rod it was an excellent choice! This reel seat is a screw locking, up-locker with Nickle-Silver hardware & a gorgeous, rich rosewood that just matches the rod so very well. Note how well they match, as you can see part of the tip section in the lower left corner of the photo below. To me, it's beautiful:
The main attraction for the eye, to me, on this gorgeous fly rod would have to be the agate stripping guide. It is a natural stone agate ring, held in place by a Nickle-Silver bezel & frame. Just look at the beautiful colors in that stone!! It looks so nice on this rod:
I was truly honored & privileged to make this fly rod. I really like the color scheme of this rod &, I must admit, I would have never thought of using these colors together myself. This is just another reminder to me of how much I learn from you all. You folks have some fantastic ideas & vision of what you want in a fly rod, just as this client did.
So, what do you want your fly rod to be? If you have an idea for a rod you can't buy from a catalog or store, please contact me to discuss it. It would be my honor to work with you to make your unique fly rod to look & fish just how you want it.
A common question I get asked a lot is regarding fly lines & what line is best to use on bamboo rods - double taper or weight forward. Well, it all depends on how you'll be fishing it.
Way back when we used to use level lines. These were fine for fishing smaller waters & in tight quarters, but if you needed to get further out, forget it. They were difficult to get a lot of distance, at least it wasn't easy. I'm not even sure where you can get a level line these days.
Double taper lines are better for delicate presentations & - in my opinion - all around general fly fishing. The line loops & unfolds in the air in the typical way. You can cast close in & further out with these lines, no problem. They're also good lines for roll casting, too.
Weight forward lines are better for distance, driving a fly against the wind, & throwing larger flies. They limit the delicacy of your presentation some, but a very good caster can overcome that. If you need to shoot some line, weight forward is what you want.
Below is a short video of Tim Rajeff talking about fly line tapers. He does a great job of describing these in simple, clear terms - & yes, Tim - an indicator is a bobber.
So it doesn't matter if your rod is made of bamboo, graphite, or fiberglass the line you need will be determined by how you'll fish it.
The Pliant Rod
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