Elite series rods
I have been very happy with the traditional range of rods that I have made over the years but during all that period which is some 14 years now I have always sought to improve on tapers and construction to optimise performance. The Elite series incorporates the aspects that have shown themselves to offer real benefits whilst retaining the essence of traditional cane rods.
Clearly the materials used in these rods are the very best available carefully selected out of the already high grade stock that I use for all my rods. The key however is in the design and the detailing. The various aspects are covered below.
The tapers used incorporate refinements and modifications made and proven in the construction of around 200 rods. No one taper suits all people so the Elite series does not represent a range of rods based one one design, rather, as the name suggests it offers a range of tapers each of which is optimised within its own style.
The two rods presently available for casting represent a medium through action style and a faster more tip actioned rod.
Rods are are sized to specified line weights using computer programmes and based on experience and altered to allow the use of particular hollow building techniques.
These rods utilise the established 6 strip format giving a hexagonal section rod. these are other sections that due tio their geometry can offer slightly better strength to weight ratios, such as rectangular sections. However acceptability of these sections is more limited and they lack the classic aesthetic of the 6 strip rod.
How the 6 strips are constructed offers several possibilities. I tend to make nodeless rods when making blond flyrods as the technique gives best use of the cane and removes the top node that is in the most vulnerable part of the tip. I will use this technique where it is of benefit especially in the tip of a rod. Conventional sections of course featured heat straightened nodes which are coerced to be as short as possible for the culm in hand.
Hollow building is at the heart of these rods and is the most effective system available. The reason for hollow building is to reduce weight whilst maintaining the required strength and stiffness this means looking at the requirements at each position in the rods shaft. Traditionally hollow building meant just removing the inner apex of each strip, this reduced the strength of the section if taken beyond a fairly modest extent. If the wall thickness is made too thin the section becomes unstable. An improvement was introduced by EC Powell that use a star shaped cutter, this produces a U shaped channel in each strip so that a thin wall can be used without reducing the gluing area. Unfortunately these are examples of failures in the form of longitudinal splitting. It remains a viable system if correctly used and is utilised by those who mill their strips whether by machine or by hand. Its disadvantage is that using a standard cutter along a strip gives a variable effect as the size of the strip diminishes.
The method that I use is called the scalloping system in which small dams of solid cane are left along the length of the strip. These sections enhance the shear capacity of the section and stabilise the hollowed sections so that thin wall thicknesses can be used. The skill lies in the selection of the dam spacing and on Elite rods this varies along the shaft so that each section can give of its best. I have developed my own software to determine the required section size depending on the wall thickness and dam spacing.
These small elements are very important. Traditionally made of brass or nickel silver they add dead weight and put a flat spot in the action. In my standard rods this problem is addressed by making them shorter and machining them thinner through the use of stronger materials.
Elite series rods take this a stage further. Three basic options present themselves for the production of an improved ferrule. Perhaps the best is the all bamboo ferrule which has been improved a lot in recent years notably by Italian builders it gives lightweight and reduced stiffness although the stiffness extents over a longer length and it requires some care in use. The next is to use a composite ferrule which basically consists of graphite or fibreglass reinforcing material in a resin matrix which is cast around the cane. It is light and offers some flex but looks totally alien on a cane rod. The third is to use Titanium. It does not flex but it can be made short and extremely light but it does have one major problem, galling. This is where the opposing surfaces of the ferrule bind under pressure either damaging the ferrule or preventing the sections from being parted.
The galling prioblem with Titanium can be solved by the use of a bi-metallic design where the largest and heaviest part of the ferrule, the female is made of Titanium but the male is another metal. two metals have shown themselves suitable for the male section, Arcap alloy and Aluminium bronze. To achieve acceptable aesthetics the Titanium can be left plain, either polished of with a brushed finish or its colour can be altered using electro anodising.
To maintain the approach of lightness two options are offered, REC recoil or H&H finewire snakes. For those after the greatest robustness, conventional snakes may be used.
For the butt ring I generally stick with agate lined nickel silver as weight savings are not so critcal this low down on the rod but I'm happy to use lightweight options for a consistent philosophy.
Reel seats can be chosen to compliment the overall look of the rod and feature cork inlaid hardwood inserts for great performace and light weight. Conventional construction may also be used for the reel seat as the affect of weight saving in this location has a minimal effect on casting.
The finest grade of silk direct finished to give a tranlucent effect. Colour to choice.
Marine spar varnish normally polished back to satin but can left gloss, or impregnated to give a soft satin finish. In the latter case the whippings will be individually varnished and polished.