A Misconception Of Power
By: Phil Foo
Depends on which circle of angling groups you hang out with; the understanding of fishing and fishing tackle differs as wide as the circumference of the equator. Haha, maybe not that wide but it certainly is wide. I have gotten into many debates in earlier days. These days I share my views and if it is not accepted I just smile and wish them, happy fishing. Well, one of the misconceptions that has stood the test of time is that of Power. The power of a fishing rod.
What Is This Misconception Of Power About?
Every fishing rod will bend when a fish takes the bait and makes a run with it. The rod’s power in its blank with the help of the guides, fishing lines, and the drag of a reel helps to tire out the hard running fish. The misconception in this article is based on the bending of the rod. There are anglers who believe that a rod is powerful if it can easily bend all the way to the fore grip and not break. I meant bending without much effort.
[ I was worried for him, but the rod bent like a floppy jello stick and did not break… ]
This was one debate I had recently over a zoom fun meet. The rod in question was classed as a Medium action rod. To prove his point, he bent his rod into a “U,” smiled and said “see.” I was worried for him, but the rod bent like a floppy jello stick and did not break; lucky for him. I doubted the rod class and proceeded to explain things to him. I could see that he saw the light when his eyes opened up. With this article I hope more see the light.
The rod on the left would have lower power compared to the rod on the right. But not all small rods are lower in power as compared to larger rods.
Anyway, a fishing rod blank is constructed using different materials. Most modern rods are made using carbon graphite sheets mixed with glass fibers. Graphite is brittle like the lead of a pencil. It will not bend much and it breaks easily. Glass fibres on the other hand are flexible. Not as flexible as rubber but flexible. Hence the reason why rod blank builders add glass fibres to graphite. This allows the graphite to have some flexibility. The more glass fibres added, the more flexible it becomes.
The pressure is on. The harder the fish fights, the higher the pressure from the backbone.
The sheets are then cut and rolled. The tip section is the thinnest section of a fishing rod and the butt section is thicker. This is because there is more surface at the butt section as compared to the tip section. See the image in illustration 1 for a better understanding of what I am trying to explain. Due to the tapering of the sheet we get a thinner tip section and a thicker butt section.
After rolling the graphite sheet and putting it through its process; a cylindrical tube is formed. This cylindrical tube is what we call the blank. Because of the rolling the graphite sheet, an area on the blank will run the length of the blank. This is called the spine or the backbone of the rod. This backbone holds the power of the rod. When the rod bends, this section flexes. Pressure is thus created from the flex.
The backbone of a rod can be felt by placing the butt section of the rod on a flat surface such as a table, supporting (supporting and not holding) the tip section of the rod with one hand at the area between the tip and the area before the bend starts. Next place your other hand somewhere in the middle of the blank. Bend the blank by pushing down slightly with your hand that is on the middle of the blank. Then give the blank a roll. See picture below for a clearer idea.
One hand nearer the tip, another at the mid. Push down the mid and roll.
If you have done this right the blank will roll and stop. You will feel something like a pop as it stops. The backbone is on the underside of the blank (side facing the table). For spinning rods, the guide goes at the bottom. For casting rods, they go at the top. This backbone contains the power of the rod. The stiffer it is the higher the action of the rod. The higher the action, the harder it is to bend the rod (meaning more force is needed to bend the rod). The harder it is to bend the rod the more powerful the rod is.
Fully utilizing the power of the rod’s backbone when battling a fast and hard fighting fish.
To conclude this article, a fishing rod is powerful not because it can easily be bent into a “U.” That is a pretty weak rod as you will need more of your own strength to fight the fish. A powerful rod will depend on the backbone of the rod (some call it spine). Not so much how much it wants to bend but how much it resists bending. It is this resistant to bending and not the wanting to bend that determines the power of a rod.