Maybe you are thinking of purchasing that snazzy high modulus, ultra-sensitive, extra-powerful totally amazing rod you saw last week in the local tackle shop. The price was right and it is only 10,000,000 modulus less than the other manufacturers rod that cost 50% more. You just have to explain it to your wife but your not sure if she will be impressed or understand what it means to have a high modulus, ZMZ super sensitive graphite rod. On the other hand, do you understand? Does the salesman even know what ‘modulus’ is? Just how is sensitivity defined? Does he understand anything about the physics of fly casting?

I admit that I can't give you advice on explaining to your spouse (though you might find some help here), but I suppose being Scotch-Irish, the Scottish side of me wants value for my money so I want to find out a bit about these things before I let a salesman or some company’s literature sell me on the latest incredible product. Let’s face it, we have become a ‘technically expectant’ market, us fishermen. We own computers that have things called megabytes, ROM’s and RAM’s, our vacuum cleaners use centrifugal forces to get a bit of dirt out of our carpets, and even some of our coffee makers are computer aided designed in order to get the ultimate tasting cup of coffee. The point is, it seems that unless some item comes with a label with words we don’t understand, we won’t buy it. Those in the tackle industry realize this only too well.

Hopefully, we can all come to some understanding of these various terms, how they are used by the various manufacturers of rod blanks, and how it applies to us as anglers. As I pointed out earlier, I’m no expert on these matters and the information I’ll share with the readers are written and relayed in good faith. Most of the information I have learned through stumbling through manufacturer claims, reading other material on the subject, attending RodCrafter rod building seminars, and conversations with others interested in fishing rods and rod building including some rod designers.

I feel that once we apply some understanding regarding how rods actually work and with respect to materials used and processes involved in making fishing rods, we perhaps may become better anglers. At least we will know what we are spending our money on, and may in fact be able to impress our spouses.

As well as briefly examining the history of the fishing rod, it is my hope to look at the terms: modulus, sensitivity, taper, action and their implications, as well as looking at the various components that are used to make a rod. We’ll spend some time discussing cork handles, reel seats, guides, finishes and how they relate to your fishing. We’ll also look at pricing of these items to help better understand the differences.

I would like to state that it will not be my intention to promote or criticize any manufacturer or individual unless it is in the examination of some particular claim made. Good rods for particular individuals and particular situations are made by all rod makers. But, it is still true that you do get what you pay for. Hopefully we will all be able to pay for the right thing. Admittedly, I have a bias towards custom built rods. Unfortunately there are a number of individuals who market a product which they describe as being custom built even though there is not much difference between what they are selling and a similar rod off the rack in the local tackle shop, except perhaps the much greater price. So we will also look at what a true custom rod should be and what it is not in the coming weeks.

Next week, look forward to a brief overview of the history of flyfishing!

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