SOME NOTES ON ROD ACTION
By Mike Brookes, UK
With Specific Reference To Bamboo
The whole basis of a fly rod is that it is a spring which stores the
potential energy imparted by the angler in the back cast and releases it to
the line on the forward cast as kinetic energy. As we are concerned
primarily with river fishing at relatively short distances (less than 2O yds)
it is immediately apparent that comparatively stiff rods will not flex much
on short casts and therefore the stored energy in the rod will be small.
A 'softer' rod under the same conditions will flex more and,
therefore, store more energy for later release to the line. This
is why a bamboo rod invariably roll casts better than modern
Ignoring stiff, tip-action rods, the two most useful
types of action are 'PROGRESSIVE' and 'PARABOLIC' and,
of course, the myriad of actions in between these two. The
progressive action rod, as the name suggests, bends progressively
as the rod is loaded. This means that the greater the load the
more the action moves down into the butt section utilizing the
full power and length of the rod. The parabolic actioned rod is designed
to bend at the butt with a relatively stiff mid-section. This enables
quite high line speeds with tight loops to be formed.
With reference to bamboo I would choose the parabolic-type
rod for the larger, more exposed rivers and the progressive actioned
rod for smaller, clearer streams where delicacy of presentation is
Leaving casting aside and moving to fishing situations,
the bamboo rod has further benefits. As the actions tend to be
softer than most composite materials, with much finer tips on
the bamboo rods, finer tippets can be employed and the rod
cushions the strike.
This is probably the reason why anglers maintain that bamboo
rods hook better than carbon-fibre rods. Because the hook has time
to penetrate and doesn't 'bounce' out. If as I contend, softer rods
impart more energy to the line as a percentage of the total, it follows that,
in reverse, the more energy imparted to the rod by the fish, the more the
rod absorbs that energy and subdues the fish more quickly, allowing
it to be brought to the net much sooner, for later consumption or better
still, immediate release.
As bamboo rods are individually made, the custom rod builder
can tailor the rod to suit customer requirements and produce a rod
for specific fishing conditions.
Fly fishing is a gentle sport suited to the leisurely action
of bamboo rods. Why sweat trying to bend stiff 'plastic' rods when
you can use a rod that does the work for you?
~ Mike Brookes