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What is PROGRESSIVE ACTION

You see this label on many a rod these days; it has become some sort of a quality mark. In theory, given one certain rod length and one certain line weight, a progressive taper could be just one, definite calculation. Rod people use the term more widely, though. But it is not an "action"; it only says the rod is meant to bend evenly and gradually more up the rod.

As a matter of fact any GOOD rod of any action (with the exception of some "parabolic" tapers, etc, which can´t be classified this way) is engineered to bend progressively, though more or less radical; when the line forces the tip to bend it must deliver this impact down the rod.

Carl i Norgehttp://www.splitcane.se/plugins/system/jcemediabox/img/zoom-img.pngIt has to, otherwise the tip should take all the punch from the cast and, if this is too heavy, be broken. This transition of energy should go down the rod evenly, GRADUALLY loading the rod more and more until it is stopped, preferably in front of the rod grip (the caster´s hand) or under the grip itself. 
Under this pressure the rod fights back the stress in order to regain its straightness, so contributing its part to the cast.

It has to, otherwise the tip should take all the punch from the cast and, if this is too heavy, be broken. This transition of energy should go down the rod evenly, GRADUALLY loading the rod more and more until it is stopped, preferably in front of the rod grip (the caster´s hand) or under the grip itself. 

Under this pressure the rod fights back the stress in order to regain its straightness, so contributing its part to the cast.  The "feel" of the rod bending is commonly called its action, but as I said before, subjectively so.

If a rod bends progressively it uses ALL its length (the "feel" being rapid or slow, according to what action the rod is given).This is a great advantage.
It allows the rod to cast more line weights than a non progressive rod and it will respond better to different casting lengths also;
You have a more resilient rod

If a rod has a weak spot, say in front of the ferrule, You don´t cast a progressive rod. You cast something else but definitely not a progressive rod, a "weak spot" disrupting the EVENLY transported impact.
A rod having a weak portion can be very sweet if You cast the RIGHT line to the RIGHT distance the RIGHT (read "calm" ) day, but be kind of awful if the conditions are altered.
Try another line weight, try to cast at all practical distances on a windy day and You´ll see...

The reasons are obvious, the rod being unable to direct the impact progressively down the rod. The
more pressure the fisherman puts on the rod the weaker this spot reveals to be.
The caster "hits through" the action since the rod cannot respond; it can take an EXACT force only, no more no less.

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American Action Rod

Grips

A grip must be comfortable, otherwise you will get tired at the end of the fishing day. You will also get the wrong impression about the action.

Too thick a grip is better than a too slim one. The dimensions must be in harmony with the rods length and intended purpose.
It shall be as long as needed, not more, or the grip will “steal” action from the rod.

Recommended lengths:
7 ft, 13 cm
7 ½ ft, 14 (15) cm
8 ft, 15-16 cm
8 ½ fot, 17 (18) cm
The thickness in the center should be close to 25mm (1")

Handtag

 

The picture shows three rods:
The short “cigar” (11,5 cm) is a 6 ½ - footer for a # 3 line. A typical “Midge grip “, where your hand will cover down on the reel seat. Not good, but better than lengthening the handle out of proportions.

The “Payne grip “is an 8-footer for # 5-6. This type is associated with fine classic rods like Payne’s, Gillums and the most popular today. If the depression behind the center is more pronounced it´s a “Western grip “. Both are comfortable in the hand and the first choice for many.

The “Wells grip “is not seen very often these days. It´s a pity for it is excellent where thumb thrust (for long casts) is needed.
It was the standard grip on most European rods in the past and should be considered for rods of 8 ft and up. Fishing a big river always calls for thumb thrust.

Rod wrappings

Windings treated with ”color preserver” to create an opaque look is not favored on a fine bamboo rod.
The reason why? They soak in moisture beneath the wrappings, so creating whitish areas that will eventually (if silk) rotten or otherwise become fragile.

Therefore most fine rods have transparent windings, letting the bamboo expose under the wrapping since the varnish will soak into the thread completely.

The colors blend with the color of the bamboo to a shade that can be quite unpredictable, especially if the rod is tempered to a dark tone. Below you see what happens on a medium tempered blank:

All windings are Gudebrod Nylon / A (from left to right)

Olive Green 1892, Dark Green 5896, Medium Green 6779,
In the middle a snake ring wrapped with Medium Gray 0720 tipped Black,
Medium Brown 0541, Tan 0290, Gold 0340, Scarlet 0326, Garnet 02406

Lindningar

 

Note that the Tan is almost invisible as if used White silk, the Gold blends into a medium brown shade and so on.
The difference between the two green shades is much more pronounced than if you compare the two spools with untreated thread. Garnet, Olive Green and Dark Green loose most of its character to the dark toned bamboo whiles the influence on Scarlet and Medium Green are much less.
The single uninfluenced color is Black.

Sometimes, while using light shades of Gudebrod Nylon like Tan, White and the like, you will get what appear to be whitish splashes at certain areas.
These white lines” are a nuisance since they don´t blend with the cane. The thread seems to resist the soaking.

Years ago I wrote to Gudebrod Inc. about these phenomena and was asked to send a sample, which I did. I never got a reply so I can´t tell what causes this discoloring.

 

Ferrules

Ferrules interfere with the action of a rod but we need them.
The ferrule itself is stiff and it also stiffens the bamboo sections that surrounds it, in average some 2-3 inches. This has to be considered when You calculate the action. And if You wish to make a three-piece design from a two-piece taper You must recalculate entirely and You come up with completely different figures.
The mathematics will help but is not enough, You must be experienced to make such an operation , no “chuck-it-and-chance-it”philosophy.

In order to reduce the area occupied by ferrules the so called ”Super Z” or ”Swiss” ferrule has been favored by many since its introduction in the 40-ies.
Compared to the “Leonard – type “ or “Payne type “ ferrule it is shorter and so occupies less of the bamboo blank but at the cost of a much bulkier construction.( see pictures )

 ferrules2 small
Super-Z on top and Payne/Leonard-type below 

On a short three-piece rod a set of Super Z´s could be considered, but in general there is no need for a shorter ferrule than the original “step down” type.
You don´t gain much ; as long as You use ferrules the stiffening problem is there , and a few millimeters less impact won´t do much.

To me the slender look of the traditional ferrule, almost flush to the blank, gives a rod that elegance look You should expect from a fine rod so I use them exclusively. I never make any other. 
The minor advantage of a shorter ferrule is so slight that You can decide what kind of ferrule to use by esthetic preferences.
“Truncated “ ferrules are shortened versions of the the two. Stay away from them! By their short construction the momentum by casting makes them slip easily (if not pinned).

Holkar

Top: American step-down
Below: Super-Z

 

Ferrules are foremost made from nickel silver.
Commercial ferrules are soldered together from matching pieces of tubing while independent rod makers often make them from solid bars.

Cheap manufactured rods from European commercial makers came with ferrules made from brass tubing. The ferrule itself was normally made from one piece of brass tubing that fit into another piece of larger dimensions. That arrangement called for a “step” of 1 mm.!!! which normally meant stepping down the taper of the tip ferrule station accordingly.

To reduce wheight titanium ferrules would be an option, but unlike nickel silver and brass titanium is´nt self-lubricating, causing stuck ferrules.

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