ROD BUILDING TIPS
Aging Effect On Rod

By Tom Kirkman, (RodMaker Magazine)

Here's a question from the September/October 2000 - Volume 3 - Issue #5 issue of RodMaker magazine:

"In one of the fly fishing magazines Lefty Kreh recently stated that over time the action of a rod can become softer as the graphite and its resin break down. I understood you to say in a past issue of RodMaker that actions can't become softer or slower. Can you comment on Lefty's comments? I hate to think the blank I just bought will wear out at some point in the near future. Martin. . . Orlando, FL"

RodMaker Magazine

Lefty perhaps used a poor choice of words to describe the fatigue a rod can suffer after prolonged use, but I understand what he was trying to convey. No, the action won't become softer but the rod will. The taper (action) will remain the same no matter how much use the rods sees, however, the rod itself will become less stiff over time and after much use. I feel sure that is more along the lines of what he meant to say.

Nearly all materials and their related structures suffer fatigue over time and from use. Sometimes this is referred to as the "fatigue life" of a material. The fact is that each time a rod is flexed (this is sometimes referred to as a "cycle") a certain amount of wear and tear takes place within the fibers and the resin. Over a certain period of time this adds up and you have a rod that is a bit softer than it was when new.

It is important to remember, however, that modern day rods do not suffer from fatigue nearly as badly as rods made several decades ago. Graphite in particular, fatigues extremely slowly compared to fiberglass and some other materials. I know some serious surf fishermen who claim that they can actually feel their heavy-power fiberglass surf rods soften after less than one season of hard use. Fly fishermen I have spoken with who have used rods hard over a period of many years claim they can tell a difference between their rods' stiffness now and when they were new. They probably can. But don't be too alarmed about your new graphite blank degenerating into a noodle before next season. You will have to make hundreds of thousands of casts and fight score of fish before you "wear it out." ~ Tom Kirkman

Publishers note:

If you have any tips or techniques, send them along! Help out your fellow rodmakers! ~ Publisher, FAOL

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