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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ive been saltwater fly fishing for about 2-years now, so I am by no means an expert. I own rods from sage, TFO, and orvis.. which all use their own spin on graphite technology. However, my favorite spinning rods are from Cajun Customs Rods, and they use a pretty heavy blend of carbon fiber to graphite in their blanks. They use multiple layers of 40-50 ton carbon fiber. These spinning rods are incredible... very light, sensitive and ridiculously strong. The action is fast of course, but they are not broom sticks.
So my main question is why isnt this technology adopted in the fly fishing industry? Is it and I just dont know about it?
I know Fly rods are designed to do completely different things than spinning rods, but I could see a huge benefit in weight-strength ratios with using carbon fiber in fly rods.
 

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This could get very, very long but in short, carbon fiber is graphite. All fishing rod manufactures whether they are designing a fly rod or anything else use varying levels of carbon fiber, unless they are building glass rods of course. Surprisingly, there are not tons of graphite options out there being used in the fishing industry. Certain carbons are made for sporting equipment, some for aerospace...etc The patterns, resins, tapers, it all changes to make each rod unique. Keep in mind the blank wall diameter in that spinning rod could be considerably different than a fly rod. There are probably fly rod manufactures using the exact carbon fiber/graphite that goes into the spinning rod you are fishing as Cajun buys their carbon from Toray, Mitsubishi....etc. just like many others. All things considered fly rod blank are not any less strong than any other blank with the same amount of material.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This could get very, very long but in short, carbon fiber is graphite. All fishing rod manufactures whether they are designing a fly rod or anything else use varying levels of carbon fiber, unless they are building glass rods of course. Surprisingly, there are not tons of graphite options out there being used in the fishing industry. Certain carbons are made for sporting equipment, some for aerospace...etc The patterns, resins, tapers, it all changes to make each rod unique. Keep in mind the blank wall diameter in that spinning rod could be considerably different than a fly rod. There are probably fly rod manufactures using the exact carbon fiber/graphite that goes into the spinning rod you are fishing as Cajun buys their carbon from Toray, Mitsubishi....etc. just like many others. All things considered fly rod blank are not any less strong than any other blank with the same amount of material.
Thanks for the lesson on materials. I was unaware. So is it safe to say that the whole "Our rods are built with Carbon Fiber" is a bit of a marketing ploy?
 

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Thanks for the lesson on materials. I was unaware. So is it safe to say that the whole "Our rods are built with Carbon Fiber" is a bit of a marketing ploy?
Well they are not lying but I think to some "carbon fiber" sounds cooler or maybe more impressive than "graphite".
 

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With fly rods they try to make the walls as thin as they can without sacrificing functional strength. The more weight you have the longer it takes for a material to recover from flexing. It is in general is what makes a higher end fly rod fly more crisp when casting. More exotic and expensive fibers usually have a higher stiffness to weight ratio. So you can use less material to achieve the same power/flex/taper. Because of the dynamic nature of the fly casting, a quick recovery speed of a blank is a desired trait.

With the standard casting/spinning rod, its a one time motion to cast so eliminating that vibration is less of concern. You end up with the higher end fibers to help increase the sensitivity of a rod.

(Disclaimer: this is a generalization, I am sure people don't want to read a 10 paragraph snoozer)
 

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... and you can bet when they start calling it “carbon fiber” you’ll be paying
more...

Many years ago when graphite blanks first became available (around 1977 if memory serves). The British were calling it “carbon fiber” and it took many years before ad-men over here started to use that instead of the old garden variety graphite... Maybe their sales went up but that’s another story.
 

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Thanks for the lesson on materials. I was unaware. So is it safe to say that the whole "Our rods are built with Carbon Fiber" is a bit of a marketing ploy?
It depends what your looking for in a fishing rod. Carbon fiber is strong, light and fast in recovery but lacks durability to abuse like gunnels, rod tubes and tree limbs. Fiberglass is heavier, slower in recovery and requires more timing but will take a little more abuse. Most spinning rods and inshore/bass type casting rods have gone to some levels graphite blank while offshore rods still offer a mixture of fiberglass and Carbon Fiber rods for different applications.

As to fly rods if you like a "fast" flyrod you want to look at something like a Sage Salt-x, Gloomis NRX +, or Asquith. if you like a slower rod that requires more timing you can go with carbon fiber or fiberglass. Blue Halo and Echo BAG (Bad Ass Glass) rod will fill in that slower action area nicely.
 

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To understand carbon fiber you need to know what the word modulus means. Basically it means resistance to bending, or how stiff it is. Higher modulus carbon fiber takes longer to manufacture and has more of the impurities removed from it. This obviously takes longer to make and costs more than lower modulus carbon fiber. As the modulus number goes up, the carbon gets stiffer and higher tensile strength numbers. It however, also becomes more brittle. As the carbon cloth is made, to achieve the desired strength vs flex properties, the fibers can be oriented differently in the cloth. In a rod blank builders application they are looking at modulus to achieve power, light weight but also durability. In addition to the properties of the carbon, the properties of the resin has to be evaluated. A very high modulus epoxy with a medium or relatively low modulus carbon fiber would likely crack and break. A high modulus epoxy resin and a high modulus carbon fiber wouldn't flex. On top of that, layers of cloth can be added to change the flex characteristics of the blank. There is a lot more science and research that goes into making rod blanks than you realize. There are probably less than 10 rod blank makers in the US. All the rest of the rods are private labeled to each of the rod companies specs.
 

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One other minor point... although we're speaking about fly rods I learned long ago not to use "graphite push poles" since what makes them strong, very stiff, and lighter than any other - also makes them relatively fragile... Instead I much prefer a hybrid push pole (a mix of carbon fiber and fiberglass) that isn't quite so light or stiff - but is certainly more durable...
 

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To understand carbon fiber you need to know what the word modulus means. Basically it means resistance to bending, or how stiff it is. Higher modulus carbon fiber takes longer to manufacture and has more of the impurities removed from it. This obviously takes longer to make and costs more than lower modulus carbon fiber. As the modulus number goes up, the carbon gets stiffer and higher tensile strength numbers. It however, also becomes more brittle. As the carbon cloth is made, to achieve the desired strength vs flex properties, the fibers can be oriented differently in the cloth. In a rod blank builders application they are looking at modulus to achieve power, light weight but also durability. In addition to the properties of the carbon, the properties of the resin has to be evaluated. A very high modulus epoxy with a medium or relatively low modulus carbon fiber would likely crack and break. A high modulus epoxy resin and a high modulus carbon fiber wouldn't flex. On top of that, layers of cloth can be added to change the flex characteristics of the blank. There is a lot more science and research that goes into making rod blanks than you realize. There are probably less than 10 rod blank makers in the US. All the rest of the rods are private labeled to each of the rod companies specs.
You did a great job explaining that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
To understand carbon fiber you need to know what the word modulus means. Basically it means resistance to bending, or how stiff it is. Higher modulus carbon fiber takes longer to manufacture and has more of the impurities removed from it. This obviously takes longer to make and costs more than lower modulus carbon fiber. As the modulus number goes up, the carbon gets stiffer and higher tensile strength numbers. It however, also becomes more brittle. As the carbon cloth is made, to achieve the desired strength vs flex properties, the fibers can be oriented differently in the cloth. In a rod blank builders application they are looking at modulus to achieve power, light weight but also durability. In addition to the properties of the carbon, the properties of the resin has to be evaluated. A very high modulus epoxy with a medium or relatively low modulus carbon fiber would likely crack and break. A high modulus epoxy resin and a high modulus carbon fiber wouldn't flex. On top of that, layers of cloth can be added to change the flex characteristics of the blank. There is a lot more science and research that goes into making rod blanks than you realize. There are probably less than 10 rod blank makers in the US. All the rest of the rods are private labeled to each of the rod companies specs.
Great info. So just because they use higher quality carbon fiber, doesn’t mean a better rod... But more so the proper balance of the right cloth, resin, and design is what makes a good rod. Sounds complicated... who are the top blank manufactures in the industry?
 

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You did a great job explaining that.
Thanks Capt. It took me a while to keep it that simple. Real easy for me to geek out and get way into the weeds when talking about this stuff. Lol...
Great info. So just because they use higher quality carbon fiber, doesn’t mean a better rod... But more so the proper balance of the right cloth, resin, and design is what makes a good rod. Sounds complicated... who are the top blank manufactures in the industry?
I don't know that many blank manufacturers but I do know St Croix, Sage, Lamson, Northfork Composites, and Loomis actually make blanks. Honestly, it doesn't matter who makes the blank and what label is on it. What matters is how the rod feels to you and how well it works for your fishing.
 
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