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Weekly Fraser Valley Sport Fishing Column, Dec 14 to 21, 2015
Soon after Tonkin Cane became the premier rod making material, Hiram Lewis Leonard changed the face of rod making by developing the first six section rod blank. Following the lead of the Leonard rod company, Orvis, Thomas, Payne, Hawes, Chubb, Edwards, Devine, and Hardy, began experimenting with shorter and stiffer rods. By the early 1900’s, the average trout rod had decreased in length from fourteen feet to ten, and increased substantially in its stiffness. The completion to make and market the best cane rod, was demanding, from 1900 until political strife brought and trade embargos, removed Tonkin cane from the market place. During these years of intense pressure rod designers such as: Garrison, Ritz, Young, Powell, Jordon, and Stoner, set the standards by which performance rod are still built today.

When Tonkin cane was no longer available, rod makers were pressured to come up other materials and rods that performed as well or better than the non-existent cane. Greenheart saw a limited resurgence, but proved to be too heavy and too whippy to meet the demand. Tubular steel rods were tried, but also proved to be too whippy to power a fly line adequately. Then in 1947, the Shakespeare Tackle Company, using the design of Dr Arthur Howard, began producing a rod made of fiberglass strips laminated over a thin wood core. A short while later the Conolon Company (predecessor to Abu Garcia tackle) began marketing the first tubular glass rods. From 1950 until the Graphite fiber was made available in the late 1960’s; fiberglass rods increased in popularity until they dominated the market.
While boron and kevlar materials have found their way into rod making rod making research, they have yet to stand equal to the performance quality of graphite.

Today graphite is the king of rod making materials. Current graphite rods are light and powerful, to a caliber of which was unheard of as little as twenty years ago. Anglers owe a word of thanks to the late Phil Clock; of Fenwick Rod Company, for bringing graphite from aerospace to rod making.

Last week I started by saying I always recommend that you take your angler shopping for their rod, rather than just randomly buying one. It is our hope that this brief history of fishing rods has enlightened you to the reality that, a rod is more than just a pole; it is a precision instrument that creates art in motion. The angler on your gift list knows what he or she wants, while he or she may say thank you for something less, it does not make the grade. As I tell students in my fly fishing classes, “a good rod should fit you; not someone else. It’s yours, and should fit you and your comfort, like a well tailored glove.”

The Report

Our lower mainland lakes are fishing slow. For your best watch your barometer and focus on any upward swings in air pressure. Try: Chironomid, Bloodworm, Wooly Bugger, Doc Spratley, Halfback, Micro Leach, Pumpkinhead, or Baggy Shrimp.

The Fraser River is slow for late coho, spring, chum. For coho try: Coho Blue, Christmas Tree, olive or black Wooly Bugger, Coho killer, Bite Me, or Rolled Muddler. For spring try: Big Black, GP, Flat Black, Squamish Poacher, Popsicle, or Kauffman’s black Stone. For chum try: Popsicle, Flat Black, Christmas Tree, Dec 25[SUP]th[/SUP], Met Green, or Holliman.

The Harrison River is slow for cutthroat, coho, spring, and chum. For cutthroat try: Rolled Muddler, American Coachman, Tied Down Minnow, Stone Nymph, Eggo, Cased Caddis, Czech Nymph, Hares Ear Nymph, or Irresistible.
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