Chose your rod blank!
First, let me say I'm talking FLY RODS here. Still,
many of the principles apply to spinning and drift rods. There are
MANY, MANY blanks out there. Here are some things to consider:
Length - you
may have a length already in mind...if not I'll be glad to help
you figure out what best suits your needs. As a general rule, the
size of the water you're fishing will determine the length blank
you want - small water=shorter rod. However, sometimes you might
go against that general rule, i.e. you plan on using a rod for fishing
tiny streams that have TALL grass behind them...in that situation
a longer rod may be beneficial.
Weight - The
weight of your blank depends on a few factors. First, what species
are you targeting? Second, what types of offerings do you want to
throw? Third, what type of WIND will you most often encounter? As
the size of the fish or flies increase, or as wind becomes more
of a factor, you'll go up in rod weight.
Some general rules on what I PERSONALLY like to
Brushy/Overgrown TINY Creeks (bushwhacking) - 6'6"
Spring Creek Trout, Pond Panfish - 7' to 7'6" 3-4wt.
Larger Trout Rivers - 9' 4wt. to 6wt.
Lake Michigan / Erie Tributary Steelhead - 9' to 11' 6wt. or 7wt.
Lake Michigan Chinook Salmon - 9' to 9'6" 7wt. to 9wt.
Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike - 9' 7wt.
Muskie - 9'-9'6" 9-10wt.
Pieces - This
is something you may struggle with. Overall, a 2 piece has fewer
weak spots and will generally cast better and therefore in most
cases folks opt for a 2 piece. The cost of a 2 piece blank is always
considerably less than the cost of a 3, 4, 5 or more piece version.
Additionally, a 2 piece blank of the same model, weight and length
will cast and feel differently than the multi-piece versions. Furthermore,
multiple-piece blanks can weigh more than a standard 2 piece. Of
course, with a multiple piece blank you have added easy of transport.
Additionally, some multiple piece blanks have not really noticable
differences to their 2 piece counterparts. In the end, if you foresee
doing a lot of traveling, flying with or backpacking of the rod,
it's not difficult to find a multiple piece blank that will suit
your needs. If not, go with a 2 piece.
Action - "Action"
is somewhat the default term to describe how flexible the blank
is, but also HOW it flexes. "FAST" action blanks tend
to be stiff and flex almost exlusively at the tip. "FAST"
blanks can feel like a broomstick; they're designed primarily to
cover great distances in your cast.
Conversely, a true "SLOW" action will
cover a blank that is delicate and flexes all the way to the butt
of the rod. Bamboo Blanks are indeed often the epitome of a "Slow"
action. "SLOW" blanks are primarily designed for delicate
Most people are actually most comfortable with
a blank that falls inbetween those two extremes - I personally enjoy
blanks that are moderately fast and have "progressive"
actions, meaning they will flex very far down towards the butt,
but only when there's a massive load. I find these blanks to be
the best because you can feel them load, yet you still have time
to react, and yet they will still cast good distance and can be
"babied" when a delicate presentation is required.
Graphite - There's
a lot to do with graphite. You may have come across modulus - modulus
is a measure of weight to strength. MOST manufacturers give you
the modulus for a blank in millions, i.e 33 million etc. There are
also IM ratings, i.e. IM6 (41-43 mil. mod.), IM7 and so forth. Here's
the jist: a blank manufactured with higher modulus grahpite will
be stiffer, may weigh considerably less, will be more sensitive,
and can be more brittle. The higher you get in modulus, the higher
the price you'll pay for the blank. Often (but not always) a higher
modulus rod will have a faster action as well.
Let me just say this; I only own one truly HIGH
modulus rod; most are in the low to mid range. A further thing I
dislike about the ultra-high modulus blanks; due to the fact that
they are often very light, you'll have to spend an arm and a leg
on a very light REEL in order to balance the rod properly. So, from
my presonal viewpoint, I feel that since most of the high-modulus
rods are built with very fast actions and cast like a broomstick
- they are probably not the best rod for the casual angler.
Warranties vary, and generally the only time I've personally broken
a rod is due to a bad blank OR misuse. Misuse happens much more
often. If you're GOOD to the rod, you will pretty much never have
to worry about the blank breaking. Another note, some companies
offer different warranties on different blank models, so don't just
assume that your blank has a lifetime warranty!
Color - yes,
of course, the blanks come in different colors! Most common now
is matte black, probably because it looks good with everything.
The next most common are gloss or matte green, gloss blue and gloss
brown. I don't suggest that COLOR be the first thing you look for
in picking your blank, although I'm fully aware it's often a deciding
So how do you decide?
- If you already have a rod that you really, really love, start
there. If not, check out every rod you can. Ask your angling buddies
to cast their rods a couple times and note the ones you like. Stop
in at the shops. You may already have a brand preference or you
may not give a hoot.
Once you know what you're looking for, I can help
you with some options, or you can feel free to look through the
manufacture's information and pick one for yourself. Most ALL manufacturers
offer blanks of the same rods they offer in their production line,
so if you've fallen in love with a production rod it's still doable
to get it custom built to your exact tastes.
I've included links to the manufacturers I use
most often. I'm happy to work on others too, it's just that time
and again, these two seem to be where we end up at!
Croix Rod Blanks
Next - Chose your
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