Fishing Rod Blank Ratings: Modulus Part 1
By: Phil Foo
When an angler walks into a tackle shop to buy a fishing rod, the decision making process is quite diverse. Many years ago I went rod shopping with a friend. While looking at rods he pointed out that the way to see if a rod is good is by looking at its tip. If the rod has a thick tip, that rod is a good rod. If it has a thin tip, it’s a lousy rod. That he learnt from is dad. Such misconceptions are a plenty in our world of fishing.
[ So, what on earth is rod modulus and ton? I have written about fishing rod ton in an earlier article… ]
These days’ anglers are more informed. Of course there are still many ridiculous believes making its rounds, but not as much. There are many anglers who make decisions based on what their fishing buddies say. There are those that make decision based on design and looks. There are those who make decisions based on brands. There are also many who make decisions based on what they read.
The very sensitive Fenwick Techna AV rod with IM8 blank rating.
The more knowledgeable angler will look at the blank graphite ton rating such as 24ton, 36ton, etc., or modulus rating such as IM6, IM7, etc. Those who are really well-versed with rod technology will not just look at these ratings but also feel the rod, and look at its built, and feel its flex. This allows us to see if everything adds up.
So, what on earth is rod modulus and ton? I have written about fishing rod ton in an earlier article. There is a link located at the end of this article that will take you to said article. In this article we will not go into detail of tonnage and give you a taste of how rods are really made. In this series of articles, we will focus more on rod modulus while making reference to rod tonnage.
A hyper sensitive rod rated at 36Ton.
There definitely is plenty of confusion when it comes to rod ratings especially when it comes to rod modulus. I have got quite a few enquiries on what the heck IM means. I have also seen rods that claim to have high modulus or high IM rating (printed on them) but feels and acts like a low modulus rod. They come with very attractive prices; at least to those who are not well-versed with rod blank technology.
I have seen IM8 rods priced at IM7 rods prices. Picking it up and instantly it felt wrong for an IM8 rod. It felt more like an IM6 rod and I truly believe that it is an IM6 rod. If that rod was indeed IM8 as claimed, its built (rod blank) must have been at a hopeless rod building facility. Anyway, I believe the misinformation came from the brand owner doing a bit of unethical trickery to make the rod look like a good deal, and probably not at factory level.
As there are rod brands who use rod ratings as a sales or marketing tool, it is important for you to be able to tell the difference between rod blank ratings, and the qualities and characteristics of these blanks. This allows you to make an educated choice and more importantly, not get cheated off your hard earned money.
24 Ton graphite blanks may not be hyper sensitive but it is an all rounded rod for all sorts of fishing. They are less fragile, and not as stiff.
So, What Is Modulus?
When we talk about the term “modulus,” what it really means is the stiffness of the material. Ok, to make things least confusing; when we talk about the term “modulus,” what it really means is the stiffness of the carbon rod blank. The higher the modulus, the higher the stiffness of the rod. The higher the stiffness of the rod, the more fragile it becomes. This means that the higher the modulus, the more fragile the blank becomes.
[ I first handed him the Berkley Series One rod with a lure on the line. He cast out the lure and reeled it back. He was really impressed with the rod… ]
If this is the case, then why the heck are high modulus blanks so expensive? Why pay so much for a rod with the strength of a biscuit? This is where rod engineering comes into play. A high modulus rod is much lighter than a low modulus rod. It really is very light. It is also really sensitive. One will actually be able to tell the difference between an actual high modulus rod, and one that claims to be a high modulus rod, but is actually not.
This is what I did with an angler friend who was at the time quite new to fishing. He wanted to know why some anglers are willing to part with thousands of Ringgit for a fishing rod, when one can get a good rod with a few hundred Ringgit. I brought along my Berkley Series One rod and a Fenwick Techna AV rod during a fishing trip for him to have a go. Both models were around year 2007 to 2008 models.
The awesome Berkley Series One fishing rod.
I first handed him the Berkley Series One rod with a lure on the line. He cast out the lure and reeled it back. He was really impressed with the rod. It was lightweight and it cast really well (comparing to his fishing rod of which brand I will not mention). It was sensitive and he could feel the movement of the lure. He really liked the Series One rod.
Next I handed him the Fenwick Techna AV rod. He grabbed it and instantly went wow! I then transferred the reel and lure over from the Series One. I then handed him the rod and he proceeded to cast with it. This time he was blown away. After the first cast he started expressing his feelings and how the rods were different.
The even more awesome Fenwick Techna AV Aramid Veil fishing rod.
The Fenwick Techna AV rod comes in an IM8 rated blank, whereas the Berkley Series One comes with an IM7 rated blank. The Fenwick Techna AV rod was a lot more sensitive and lighter than the Berkley Series One. Both these rods feel very different when fishing with them. The Fenwick Techna AV cost way over a thousand Ringgit while the Series One was not even half its price.
Wait a minute. With such high IM or modulus rating, wouldn’t the Fenwick Techna AV be a fragile rod to fish with? Would it not crumble like a cookie when bent? To strengthen the blank, Fenwick use a type of Kevlar (material used to make bullet proof vests) coating called Aramid Veil which is tough. This allows the blank of the Fenwick Techna AV to be lightweight, sensitive, and yet strong. The addition of Aramid fibres into the composition of carbon graphite allows it to bend.
Without the use of these fibres, the rod will not be able to bend. It would be like trying to bend a pencil led. The led would simply just break. Without the use of Aramid Veil the blank would easily crumble too, unless the blank walls are built thicker. Doing so will in turn make the rod heavier and less sensitive. This is why rod blank engineering is very important.
Another super awesome fishing rod, the Abu Garcia Fantasista Yabai! Super light, hyper sensitive, and extremely well balanced.
I will stop here for now and allow you some time to digest the information in this article. We will continue with part 2 in the next issue. Anyway, should any of you be interested in the Fenwick Techna AV, IM8 Aramid Veil rod; I recently saw one on sale on eBay for USD480.00 without shipping. You would most likely not be able to buy it in tackle shops these days, so if you are interested; go for it. It would make a good collection rod. One disclaimer; I cannot vouch for the condition of that rod.
To learn more on how a rod is built and rod tonnage, read an earlier article by clicking the link below.