What are Fishing Rods Made Of?
Fishing rods have been around since time immemorial and are used to catch fish from ponds, streams, rivers, lakes or the sea. The fishing rod in its most basic form is basically a long pole along which a line is attached, with a hook tied to the end that holds the bait.
However, for most modern day anglers that simple pole is more likely to be a professionally manufactured fishing rod made from high-specification materials which are ideally suited for the strength and flexibility required.
History of Fishing Rod Materials
The oldest forms of fishing involved using wood, which was reinforced using rocks and bones. The earliest account of what we would recognize as a long fishing rod is from China from around the 4th century B.C. This was made from a bamboo rod, with a silk line, a needle as the hook and rice used as bait.
Since then, depending on what part of the world, the use of either flexible pieces of wood or bamboo seems to have been the two most common materials used. In the 19th century, a hexagonal rod made of six triangular bamboo strips became popular. During the Industrial Revolution, we then began to see rods made up of various metals and plastics. Most modern professional rods are made of carbon fiber or fiberglass.
Construction of Fishing Rods
A fishing rod is usually a long pole which is light in weight and flexible. It is the main and largest component of your fishing kit. It has mounts and guides to attach a fishing reel and fishing line. Traditional fishing rods were constructed in a single piece, but this was not always the best way to make fishing rods as they were often too long and easily broke.
Then came the fishing rods constructed of two or more pieces. Modern two-piece fishing rods are normally assembled using threaded joints to secure the pieces together.
There are also modern fishing rods which are telescopic. These are made up of 4 or more pieces which can be collapsed while not in use. They may not be as popular with traditional fishers who prefer to go old-school, but many anglers love them as they’re very convenient for traveling and storing.
Modern Materials of Fishing Rods
A very large proportion of the modern fishing rods you will see for sale are made of carbon fiber and fiberglass. Though these materials sound as if they might be the same, there are quite a few differences between them.
Carbon fiber is made of carbon atoms which form a long chain by using chemical bonds. They are, in essence, strands of carbon, thinner than the human hair. This thinness makes this material extremely light.
However, the fact that it is light in weight and also that carbon fiber rods are thin belies some of its other desirable qualities. Carbon fiber can be up to 5 times stronger than steel while weighing about a third of what the steel would weigh. This is why carbon fiber it is a great material for fishing rods which need to be long, strong, and flexible.
Fiberglass is different from carbon fiber as it is made of melted glass, which is forced through small, round bushings. A string-like extrusion is produced which can be woven into yarns or molded into different shapes. The bonds between fiberglass atoms are also very strong and it has similar strength and weight characteristics to carbon fiber. However, fiberglass requires far less heat to accomplish this.
Manufacturing a Fishing Rod
The manufacturing of fishing rods is achieved using a fairly common industrial process. Fishing rods are composed of tubular sections known as blanks. All the smaller components are attached onto the rod later on.
In the process, a carbon fiber sheet is dipped into liquid resin and squeezed to control the amount of resin in the sheet. After heating, a metal template is pressed on top of the sheet. This leaves cutouts of the material shaped as tapering rectangles. One edge of these rectangles is heated and attached to a tapering steel rod called the mandrel.
While rolling the mandrel, this is done on all its sides until a full circle is met. The wrapped mandrel is heated causing the polymer to shrink and later, the mandrel is removed from the setup. This leaves a section of the rod ready for combining with other sections to make the complete fishing rod.
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