Tuesday, October 9, 2012

G. Loomis - poor construction??

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

There I was standing in Cabela's in Buda Texas where I had purposely hunted down the most expensive G. Loomis rod I could find on the rack so I could check it out.  As many fisherman know, there are "store bought rods" and then there are "custom rods".  I had come to Cabelas to see if the most expensive rods they sold were just "store bought" or if they attained to the "custom" category.  Imagine my surprise when I took that expensive casting rod, bent it in line with the guides and it nearly popped out of my hands!  The guides weren't aligned on the spine!

What is this thing called a "spine", you ask?  It is something that exists in all rods from the old metal rods to the finest Sage and Winston rods.  The spine or spline is something that occurs naturally in any straight piece of material no matter what it is.  If you take a long, round, flexible, straight object and bend it in an arc, and then roll it in your fingers, you will feel the rod change it's flexibility.  Simply put - one side of the rod is more flexible than the other. On most rods there is a main spine and a sub spine though some rods only have one. Very few and generally the cheapest rods will have almost no spine.

How a rod builder arranges the guides on the spine will depend on the type of rod he is building.  Generally a custom rod builder will consult with his client to determine the exact arrangement for the guides.  Is the fisherman a streams and river fisherman?  Does he fish on the coast? If so, does he do Inshore, surf, or beyond?  Does the fisherman focus on accuracy in casting into brush or does he need more backbone for into-the-wind casting and a better fish fighting experience?  All of these things play into the decision the rod builder makes when placing the guides on the spine.

What happens if the guides are not centered correctly on the spine?  These days it's not as critical as it used to be.  Back when rods were still highly experimental and fiberglass was in its infancy, the centering of the guides on the spine was hyper-critical as a misplacement could result in a broken rod.   Now days with even light rods exhibiting the strength of an old world surf rod, you can pretty much throw the guides on any side of the rod and the rod will usually survive just fine... note the "usually" part.   When guides are placed on the side of the spine on a casting rod, the guides, the reel seat, and tip are all attempting to "slide" around to the bottom of the spine.

This "rod twist" isn't particularly noticeable with a normal sized fish that are no where near the rod's capacity.  But invariably, we will look at the line weight of the rod and go out and buy line that is at the maximum or even a little over the rod rating and go fishing off the channel in Port A.  That mackeral that hits your bait/lure at 20 knots isn't going to do your big casting rod any favors.  It's going to make you work so hard that you will wish you had spent a little more time in the gym.  With a custom built rod, this scenario would still be a win-win situation.  You have a fish that you can fight to the max and most likely make the most of your 30lb test line and 30lb rated rod.  

Not so with that "on the side" casting rod you picked up at the big "A"!  When that big one hits your bait, at the very least you will be fighting the rod as much as the fish and let me tell you, there's no amount of weight lifting you can do that will help you hang on to a rod where from the reel to the tip top, the rod wants to turn on it's side. It's entirely possible that your tip top will twist off the rod, your guides will rip themselves out of position and your blank snap at the tip. 

So back to that "G. Loomis" casting rod....  Why in the world would you spend $250-$500 on a rod where the guides are placed on the side of the spine???  I would rather take my chances on a $75 Shakespeare where I know it's "weak" than to spend half a 'G on a so-called high quality rod!

When I was a kid and learning how to build fishing rods from "Junior" Herron, I learned the simple concept of a spline (as he called it) and how to make sure you maximized the potential of the rod.  How is it that these rod manufactors ask you to spend exhorbinate amounts of hard earned cash on a rod that isn't designed much better than your $10 "Tournament Choice" rod?!   If they can't get the spine right, how do I know they got the reel seet glued to the rod properly?  I can't tell you how many rods I've torn down only to find the reel seat glued to the cork only and not even glued to the rod!

For $500 I can build a rod that will outclass and outperform most of the big name rods.  So far as I'm aware, the only rods you can find on the market that are worth the money paid for them cost much closer to a full G.  And they are probably worth it.  Unlike these $250 "store bought" garbage sporting the name of one of the fathers of modern fishing rods. 

If I was Gary Loomis, I'd be insulted.

My rant for the day,  :-)


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