SPLIT-CANE FLY RODS
JUST HOW TOUGH ARE CANE RODS?
Updated March 18/14
In order to demonstrate the ability of cane rods to take it, Oyster Creek rods made up this You Tube video below. Enjoy!
One of the things most cane builders suffer is the many and mostly
uninformed statements made by people who have never cast a cane rod.
Usually the comments goes something like this " they don't last and require
babying all the time" or words to that effect. In an effort to dispel the
BS, I use one rod a lot. Here is it's life's story to date.
I built a rod in 1983 that I really liked it for the fishing I do. Made
another in 1988 and decided to fish it hard to find out what failed and
about how long it took before the failure occurred. I figured that the
fishing time should be rated in hours effort rather than years. Years left
a lot to interpretation. The rod has been fishing from Northern Alberta for
Arctic Grayling to the spring creeks west of Livingstone, Montana. It's
been in the pontoon boat in class III white water, been out in freezing
conditions, left on the truck dash for weeks at a time, fished through
several days of solid rain, been hauled through swamps, up cliffs and is
stored in the truck from spring till fall. It's cast tiny dries to # 10
heavily weighted nymphs. The only consideration it's been given is not
storing it wet. I went out of my way to intentionally kill this thing as
soon as possible. The lines used on the were not cleaned. They were
replaced about every 2 years. An effort was made to abuse the rod. During
it's life time, it's possible that it has landed near 10,000 trout.
The intent was to fish this rod to determine what would fail and how long
it would take. It has been truly treated like a Wally World Special.
On a personal level, I mostly fish trout. I usually roll cast to get the
line airborne, false cast once and present the fly. I've taught casting
clinics. Most casts are under 30 feet and most fish average 10" although
the rod has landed 3 browns over 24" long.
The rod had:
1] a Zebra slip ring reel seat with Ni-silver rings and cap finished with
2] A 6" cork handle glued with epoxy
3] A rod shaft dip finished with Varathane 900 gloss 5 coats rubbed out
4] Snake guides were originally Perfection
5] Strip guide was Mildrum
6] Fitted with Ni-Silver Super Z ferrules
What failed and about when:
1] The Zebra reel seat lacquer finish lasted about 2 weeks till the first
time it got wet. It peeled off. Replaced the lacquer with Varathane 900.
Been OK since.
2] The cork handle got depression marks where my thumb and fore finger have
pressed in it during casting. The epoxy wouldn't shrink @ the same rate as
the cork requiring the epoxy glue rings to be filed down every now and
then. That's the reason I use Elmer's wood glue now. It bends with the cork.
3] The Varathane finish on the rod shaft lasted about 2<3000 hours before
it started to crack along the glue lines. When it fails I usually rub it
down with steel wool and slob on some more finish till winter and a rebuild.
4] The original snakes were hard chromed Perfections. They lasted about
3500 hours and got switched out during a recoat. The Perfection guides
were followed by Pac Bay chrome guides which gave about 1000 hours of
service before grooving. They were replaced with Hopkins and
Holloway Chrom Guides which are still on the rod.
5] The Mildrum Strip guide lasted just fine.
6] The Ni-silver Super Z ferrules wore a little and have been waxed from
about 3000 hours. Frankly I like them like that. Makes the rod easy to take
apart and other than waxing 3>5 times/year, they are working just fine.
The cane itself is doing just fine. Other than rolling the tips to get the
set going the other way, there has been no failure other than the one I
inflicted when it tried to land myself. Got a dropper caught in my gravel
guards and a good sized trout on the dry. The line wrapped around the rod
tip a couple of times. When lifting the trout, I bent the rod tip to
fracture. Carpenter glued it back together, over-wrapped failure point and
slobbed on some varnish. Was fishing it the following week.
So the abuse continues - with some luck - this afternoon.