RE-EVOLUTION OF FIBERGLASS FLY RODS
As the best local Cajun accordion player, Dujon was often asked by the funeral parlor to play at grave-side services. Early one morning, he was called to a service for a homeless man, who would be interred with no family or friends. The funeral was to be held at a new cemetery back in bayou country where the deceased would be the first to be laid to rest there.
Dujon was not familiar with this particular backwoods area and became lost. He finally arrived an hour late. There, he saw the backhoe and the crew, who were eating lunch, but the hearse was nowhere in sight.
Dujon apologized to deceased for tardiness and promised his music would make amends. He stepped to the side of the open grave, where he saw the vault lid already in place. Dujon assured the workers he would not hold them up for long, but this was the proper thing to do. The workers gathered around, still eating their lunch while Dujon played out his heart and soul for this lonely friendless dead man.
As Dujon played beautifully, the workers got teary eyed. Dujon played, and played, like he'd never played before, pouring out sweet strains of "Going Home" and "How Great thou Art" to "Just a Closer Walk with Thee." He closed the lengthy session with "Amazing Grace" and walked to his car as angels wept.
Dujon drove off, when one of the workers said to the other, "Sweet Jesus, Mary'n Joseph. I ain't never seen nothin' like that before - and I been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."
Sometimes fishing equipment is given up for dead.
Men of good will hate war, but, like it or not, wartimes produce inventions like no other periods, because it's important for your side to have better things with which to bash in heads. Fiberglass is such a product. Made from individual glass fibers, combined with polymers, fiberglass comes in a variety of forms, resists burning, and will not decay, stretch or fade. Glass fibers are either continuous fibers, such as that used in textiles and rods, or discontinuous shorter fibers, such as that used in insulation. Glass weaving actually started in ancient Egypt, had a renaissance in the Renaissance, and was finally patented in the 1830s, but every older product was fragile. Experiments during World War I for airplane insulation structure eventually resulted in major progress during the 1920s, with fiberglass being used for both plane and boat parts, and as the primary substitute for asbestos.
As America was dragged into WWII, better materials were needed for aircraft and boats. A flexible fiberglass cloth suitable for use as reinforcement in plastic laminates was developed (a form of which is still used in boat construction today) and fiber reinforced polymers and glass reinforced plastics were substantially improved, strengthened and made more versatile. Foot soldiers were grateful to fiberglass which served as helmet liners, and great strides were made before the end of the war. By the 1950s, fiberglass was appearing in products galore, including storage tank liners, furniture, autos (i.e. the corvette), and fly rods.
Prior to World War II, the vast majority of fly rods were bamboo. They were beautiful and effective, but the expense of such rods was discouraging to the average fisherman. Fiberglass was cheap, but had some flaws when it came to casting, especially as compared to faster bamboo rods. Years later, as graphite science improved, rods got lighter and faster, were cheaper than bamboo, and demand for fiberglass essentially died.
Over the last decade a number of other favorite fishing or tying products have died or disappeared – Mustad's 34011 saltwater tying hook, hula popper flies, Sally Hanson's Teflon polish, Loktite's original easy brush, Jax beer, Falstaff beer, Dixie beer – okay, beer's not necessarily a fishing item...is it? For a long while, that list of the deceased included fiberglass rods. However, today there is resurgence in fiberglass.
What made fiberglass unpopular? First, advertising. Fly fishers are like anyone else. If a famous fisherperson was shown using the latest and greatest, everyone had to have it. Many of the most famous fishers were locked into contracts with faster, slicker and lighter rods. Today the science of manipulating graphite has taken rod prices to new highs, together with unparalleled performance levels. Fly fishermen will buy an expensive rod – not because it will make them taller, thinner nor better looking (wouldn't it be nice) – but because Mr. Famous can use it to cast a hundred feet against the wind into a bucket size hot spot. You probably won't do that with fiberglass.
What else made fiberglass unpopular? Fiberglass rods were either very soft/slow, or stiff and thick as a broom handle. Why is that a problem? Because soft rods take practice to cast well, thick rods are heavy. The timing pattern on a soft rod is back cast, then wait for the rod to load...wait...wait...bring the rod forward gently...wait for it to unload. The recovery rate of fiberglass requires patience and a tempo that drives some folks crazy. Their first reaction is to muscle the rod, which only results in piles of line somewhere it's not supposed to be. Executing a good roll cast with a fiberglass rod is infuriating until the timing and necessary patience is learned, then it is easy and effective and takes a lot less energy from the fisherman.
The next downside was that fiberglass is heavier than graphite. The solution here is in the rod maker's art of balancing the rod to make it easy to use. Larger line weight fiberglass rods have a lot of heft in the butt and can be tiring to use all day, but are very adaptable to two handed casting. Lighter line weight rods need not be heavy and many of the newer products are not.
Angelle thought she'd been very patient, through a long period of dating Devereaux with no talk of marriage.
One night her Devereaux took her out to a Chinese restaurant. As he looked over the menu, he casually asked her, "So, how do you want your rice – plain or fried?"
Without missing a beat, she looked over her menu at him and replied: "Thrown."
The last reason fiberglass lost popularity was that fiberglass rods became difficult to find. Many rod manufacturers stopped making them, or made very few. With today's graphite rod science, five and seven piece graphite rods are common and attractive for travel. Standard fiberglass rods are usually two pieces. TSA isn't too pleased with large rod cases, and neither are the airlines (remember, it counts as an extra bag).
But, as Dracula would say, you can't keep a good man down. Fiberglass rods are making a comeback, a reincarnation of sorts. Why? Firstly, because they are inexpensive. A perfectly good rod, and even a complete rod kit can run around thirty to forty dollars. Very good (non-custom) rods are well under a hundred dollars and excellent custom rods are under two hundred. Today, custom rod makers can deliver multi-piece fiberglass rods that perform very well. You may want to check out the information at http://www.thefiberglassmanifesto.blogspot.com/ and the extensive list of rod makers there.
Second, flexibility and sensitivity. Graphite rods are touted for their sensitivity and many fishermen have been known to flinch at a supposed take because graphite doesn't filter anything. Take the standard graphite rod by the tip and butt and try to touch the two. After a while, the person trying to sell you that rod will freak. A traditional fiberglass rod can easily do 180 degrees, sometimes 270+ degrees. It there any advantage in that? Absolutely. Nymph sucking trout and fast rods can be nerve wracking; especially when the hook set from a fast rod is too strong or too soon. In some instances, it is possible for a rod to be too sensitive. Fiberglass is a bit slower and softer for hook setting. Of course, a bluegill or bass will give a distinctive tap that fiberglass clearly registers. Warm water fish require sharp hooks, because hook setting through the hard cartilage of a warm water fish's mouth takes a bit of oomph and willowy soft rods need help. On the other hand, sculling a canoe or kayak or pirogue or john boat with one hand, while casting with the other, hand exemplifies how fiberglass makes something like one-handed casting much easier.
Andre Decou and T'boy Comeaux are in their eighties, sitting on the side of a bayou watching red and white corks on the water, when Andre asks: "Do you believe in reincarnation?"
"Well, Andre," replies T'boy, "I've never really thought much about it."
"Maybe we ought to start thinking about it," says Andre. "One of us is going to go first. Let's agree that the one who is left behind will come to this spot every Saturday at 7:00 a.m., and the one who has departed will find a way of getting a message across about reincarnation and the afterlife."
Comeaux agreed and landed a healthy bluegill.One month later, Andre died. Every week for months, Comeax would fish in the bayou at 7:00 a.m. Finally, one morning he heard Andre's voice.
"T'boy, can you hear me?" the voice said.
"Andre, you come back?""Mais, Cher. You bet."
"Tell me, what's it like?"
"Good and bad, T'boy. About the only thing we do is make love. We wake up at seven in the morning and make love until noon. After lunch and a nap, we're at it again right through until dinner time. And there's this fox that's always after me."
"Ga de don, Andre. Why you think anything's bad?"
"I'm a rabbit!"
Third, fiberglass has durability. High modulus graphite is somewhat brittle. Shut a graphite rod in the car door and its history (or off to become a multi-piece rod). Fiberglass is more forgiving of the heavy-handed careless treatment which most of us experience. I have completely shut a door on a fiberglass rod tip and it lived to catch fish. True story.
Let's go back to cost. A recent tour through fishing shops (traditional equipment retailers, not fly shops) and big box stores reveals a reincarnation of fiberglass rods which are more versatile and cheaper than their progenitors. Remember, a fiberglass rod kit (three piece rod, reel, line, leader and a pair of flies) will fix a new fly fisherman up for super cheap. What better way to introduce a kid to fly fishing, or anyone else who is not going to try to muscle the rod? A new fly fisher may have a bit more trouble starting with a soft rod, but once that skill is accomplished, any faster rod is just easy.
What to look for in a fiberglass rod?
- Length. Rods vary from under 7 feet to 9 feet and across the full spectrum of line weights. Because a fiberglass rod should not be counted on for very long casts, length and weight is mostly a factor of comfort and prey. Shorter rods are excellent for fishing under cover or short casts. There are saltwater worthy fiberglass rods as well, but a good one is usually custom.
- Construction. Rods coming off an assembly line can have flaws. Inspecting any rod should be standard practice. Even though manufacturers say it isn't so, many rods seem to have a spine, so that the rod bends best in a direction opposite the spine. If you notice this happening, make sure the spine is opposite the guides. Fiberglass rods come with a variety of guides and reel seats. Some of this is cosmetic, and some will affect performance and durability. Most fishermen seem to prefer snake guides and graphite reel seats.
- Flexibility. Soft rods should have give, but a totally limp noodle is more trouble than it's worth. A good glass rod should bend, but have enough resistance to store and release energy to the cast and enough backbone to set the hook. There's a bit of experienced feel involved in choosing here, but at the low cost of fiberglass rods, most fishermen can afford to experience more than one rod.
- Weight. Identically long fiberglass rods can have entirely different weights. Chose one you can handle all day.
- Balance. Many fiberglass rods are butt heavy. Don't hesitate to feel a rod before you buy it with a reel in place. A common point of reference is that the rod should balance on your finger at the point where line weight is shown, slightly in front of the grip.
- Cosmetics. Fiberglass rod makers play with colors. Yellow and orange and pink and bright blue rods are all out there for the taking and announce to everyone around you that they are fiberglass. If this bothers you, buy more subtle colors, but understand that this may cost a bit more. Note, however, that it is hard to misplace a yellow rod.
Gaston's wife, Matilda, collapsed and a traditional funeral was arranged.
At the end of the funeral service, the pall bearers were carrying the casket out the door when they accidentally bumped into a wall, shaking the casket. From the casket, they heard a faint moan, opened the casket and were shocked to find Matilda was still alive.
She lived with Gaston for ten more years and finally died. Another ceremony was held at the same church and at the end of the ceremony the pall bearers were headed toward the door with the casket.
As they walked out, Gaston yelled: "For God's sake, watch out for the wall!"