INNOVATIVE LOCALS Graphite ferrules for split cane fly-rods and other ingenious tackle refinements by Ed Herbst

THE general consensus is that the first six-strip split cane rod was made in 1845 by Samuel Phillipe, a violin maker and gunsmith, who lived in Easton, Pennsylvania. However, it was Hiram Leonard, also a gunsmith, who made such rods available on a commercial scale by producing a machine which reduced the manual component of the process.

The early split cane rods had metal ferrules joining the sections. Initially, marrying the two materials caused problems because water seeped into the join.

Leonard took out two ferrule patents in 1875 and 1878. The first completely enclosed the wood within the ferrule; the second took the silk wrapping over the join and then varnished it to provide both strengthening and waterproofing.

In 1882 Thomas Chubb of Vermont took out patents on machinery to mass produce ferrules and other fly-rod components. With progressive improvements in metals and design, the metal ferrule has remained the standard in split cane fly-rods to this day.

Although splice joints, long a feature on split cane salmon rods, are making a comeback, the dead spot created by metal ferrules remains a universal and unchallenged norm among the overwhelming majority of split cane rod makers. The innovative Cape Town rodmaker, Stephen Boshoff, used splice joints on his centre axis model as I described in the December 2010 issue of FLYFISHING magazine.

There has been one innovative diversion, a bamboo ferrule the Fries Integrated Bamboo Hexaferrules (FIBA) which Danish rodmaker Bjarne Fries introduced in 1999. See www.fries-rods.dk.

Subsequently, various split cane rod makers such as Marcello Calviello in Argentina http://calviellorods.blogspot.com, Massimo Tirocchi in Italy, www.t-rods.it and Harada Takezao in Japan, www.le-grand-soir.net, have refined and streamlined the FIBA ferrule.

It was a young South African, Nick Hughes www.canesplitter.com, who produced the most streamlined bamboo ferrule and also took the process a step further by incorporating a carbon-fibre spigot ferrule into a split cane rod.

Nick, who made his name as an innovative split cane artist while living in Switzerland, now lives in Somerset West and was exhibiting his rods at the annual Stream-X open day, along with Stephen Boshoff, Mario Geldenhuys and net maker Deon Stamer.

Nick had several rods on show which ranged from a 53, 0-wt to 11-wt saltwater and 13ft double handed Spey rods, some with carbon-fibre ferrules. When bent, these rods showed a smooth, unbroken arc, and Nick said that the short rods were particularly popular on the alpine streams of Switzerland.

Read the full story in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of FLYFISHING.
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