Since the invention of fiberglass fishing rods, this material has stood out for its affordability, lightweight construction, and unsurpassed durability, making it ideal for fly fishing. Fiberglass rods and reels, such as the Shakespeare rod and reel, are making a resurgence these days, and we’ve put together an instructive essay to help you get up to speed.
An overview of the past
Fiberglass was invented during World War II with the primary objective of being utilized in aircraft. Fiberglass is easily molded into any shape and has exceptional mechanical strength, allowing it to handle a wide range of applications without breaking and outperforming most other materials on the market.
It didn’t take long for this new material to be used on everyday goods; the first fiberglass rods were manufactured in the 1940s, and fiberglass remained the most popular fly-rod material until the 1970s. Because it was easier to work with and less expensive, fiberglass supplanted bamboo as the primary fly-rod material.
Wrapping impregnated fiberglass cloth around a hardwood core and then wrapping the rod in cellophane was how the first fiberglass rods were manufactured. Later, the method was improved to be more cost-effective by employing a reusable steel mandrel. This new method was so effective that it is still used for fiberglass and graphite rods today.
While fiberglass rods were introduced in the 1950s, they were still fairly harsh and couldn’t compete with bamboo or other materials because the performance and movement weren’t quite there yet. Despite the fact that bamboo is less expensive, serious anglers prefer it.
Companies like Hardy, Orvis, and Winston didn’t start making fiberglass rods capable of competing with bamboo until the 1960s. Because fiberglass was so much easier and cheaper to make, and it could now rival in performance with traditional rod materials, it quickly became a favorite of both amateur and professional fisherman.
Fiberglass rods may be mass-produced without requiring a large number of experienced personnel, and they require less upkeep. It’s easy to see why many were taken aback by this new fishing gear.
Graphite was launched in the 1970s and quickly became a competitor to fiberglass. Because graphite is lighter, which is an important attribute for fishing rods, most firms have stopped producing fiberglass rods.
New rod designs have been developed over the last decade, and they are currently being used to improve and reintroduce fiberglass rods as a viable option. The demand for this sort of rod is increasing at a quicker rate than ever before, and big manufacturers are taking notice.
Fiberglass has several advantages.
Fiberglass is a material that is more durable than bamboo and graphite, making it ideal for travel rods. When trekking through rugged terrain or merely bushwacking down the stream side, a fiberglass rod, rather than a delicate and pricey graphite or bamboo rod, can make you feel more at ease.
This brings us to another significant benefit of fiberglass: its low cost. The price, not the features of a product, is what matters most to the average buyer, and this is where fiberglass has a significant advantage. A high-quality fiberglass rod can be bought for approximately $300, whereas a decent bamboo rod can cost more than $1000.
Anglers also enjoy the feel of fiberglass in their hands. It’s not uncommon for your arms to be sore after using a graphite rod for a whole day. Because you’re letting the rod do the most of the work with fiberglass, you don’t need to slow down your casting stroke.
A fiberglass rod can support the line’s weight, bends deeply, and casts as far as 30 to 50 feet with remarkable accuracy and ease. Furthermore, these rods are ideal for beginners, particularly in fly fishing, as the timing of back and forth throws is much easier to master.
Professional anglers choose fiberglass because it is better at protecting tippets of various diameters while still allowing the user to apply as much pressure on a fish as needed. Anglers can land fish faster and easier since the line is less likely to break.
Furthermore, fiberglass has a comparable feel to bamboo, and the rod will react quickly if a fish takes the bait. It can add to the excitement of fishing, especially for beginners, because every tremor and run the fish makes will be evident, giving you plenty of time to react.
What are the drawbacks?
There is no such thing as a flawless product, and depending on the type of material you use for your rod, there will always be a tradeoff. It is heavier than graphite but substantially lighter than bamboo in the case of fiberglass. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but if losing weight is essential to you, you’ll want to think about it carefully.
Another thing to keep in mind is that glass rods aren’t available in long lengths because they don’t function well in windy environments like lakes and larger streams. 5-weight graphite rods are the superior choice in these situations.
Finally, fiberglass is a slower-moving substance. It’s not a fast-action fly rod, and you shouldn’t treat it like one. Graphite is a lot superior material for this task if you need a fast-acting rod.
The alternatives open to you
The two primary forms of fiberglass used to produce fly rods are E-Glass and S-Glass. While there are many variances in production that make each fiberglass rod unique, the two basic types of fiberglass used to make fly rods are E-Glass and S-Glass. The fundamental difference between the two is that E-Glass is a little slower than S-Glass, although the difference is very small depending on how the manufacturer rolls and modifies the rod.
These rods come in a wide range of colors and are much easier to tailor than bamboo because glass fibers are clear. Manufacturers may dye the rods to make them practically any color you can imagine. While bamboo and graphite can be painted, they will never approach the vivid colors achieved by fiberglass rods.
Modern fiberglass fly roads are typically 6′ and 7′ in length, with 3-to-5 weights. As a result of recent developments in manufacturing technology, fiberglass rods with lengths of up to 9 feet are becoming increasingly prevalent.
When should you use a fiberglass rod?
Fiberglass rods, like bamboo rods, are best used in shorter lengths, under 8 feet. While you can buy decent fiberglass rods longer than eight feet, most anglers don’t advocate them because these rods shine in the short length. The majority of trout are caught here as well.
Fiberglass rods with 2- to 4-weights are ideal for small spring streams and stream fly fishing, where a subtle approach is required if you want to catch the fish. A fiberglass pole is built for fishing dry flies on smaller water, therefore don’t expect to use it on the big lake.
This equipment is also ideal for fishing in small streams since fiberglass can bend and flex without breaking. You’ll also be able to modify your line while it’s still in the air, preventing it from being tangled in shrubs, banks, or trees.
The popularity of heavyweight fiberglass rods has skyrocketed in recent years. Some producers have responded to this trend by developing items that can be used on both skinny-water species like redfish, carp, and even tarpon, as well as salmon, lake-run browns, and steelhead.
Fiberglass has an advantage in these scenarios because it can load with minimum false casts and can provide great leverage. Given how quickly things are changing, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if anglers who prefer a fiberglass rod will have even more options in the coming years.
Charles Reynolds is an engineer from New York University with a passion for fishing. His earliest memories of fishing go back to the days spent on the lake with his grandfather who taught him the sport. Reynolds spends a large part of his holidays fishing with his son and passing on the skills to the little one.