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Basic blank construction

Basic Fishing Rod Blank Construction
There are basically two different types of manufacturing processes in common use today for producing fishing rod blanks.
 
1. Solid fibreglass blanks. (Mainly used for building inexpensive Boat rods)
 
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Solid fibreglass blanks are produced by a 3 step process, starting with the Pultrusion process where the parallel rod stock is produced. This is normally run through a multi cavity die pulling up to 6 or more  rods at a time.  The colour is integrated in the resin mix at the time of manufacture, and as the Pultrusion process is a continuous one, the parallel rods are cut to length as the saw travels at the machine speed ready for the second stage of the process.
 
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Fibreglass roving & mat station
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Fibres entering resin bath
 
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Preforming of "wet-out" fibres prior to entering die
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Finished pultruded product exiting heated die.

A centreless grinding machine is used to put the desired taper on the rods which pass through the grinder up to 3 times to achieve the correct dimensions.

The grinding machine has a large, fast spinning grinding wheel and a slower control wheel which moves in and out by hydraulics as the fibreglass rod passes through on a hardened steel anvil.

There are 3 variables that can be set to achieve the desired taper.
  • Starting gap between the wheels
  • Desired finishing dimension at tip
  • Speed of through-put
When the taper and dimensions are correct, the blank is sanded smooth and coated in a hard but flexible polyurethane to give a gloss finish ready for assembly.


 
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Self coloured parallel fibreglass rod exiting heated pultrusion die. After being cut to length, they can be taper ground for solid fibreglass fishing rod blanks.
 
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Early Fibreglass Pultrusion machine showing the fibreglass rovings entering the resin bath dry and exiting after being saturated with resin.
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Wet-out fibreglass rovings exiting the resin bath on the way to the heated pultrusion die. The colour is the natural colour of resin and related ingredients without pigmentation. Many applications do not require a certain colour.
 


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Modern Fibreglass Pultrusion machine with reciprocating pullers to provide a constant pulling motion.
 
 
2. Hollow Blanks (Fibreglass, Carbon Fibre or composite blanks)
 
Used with different materials to manufacture blanks from Fly rods through Salmon casting rods up to large Surf rods and heavy rated Game rods.

Most rods on the market today are manufactured from hollow blanks.

Hollow blanks are made by cutting pre-impregnated cloth to a precise pattern and wrapping around a tapered steel mandrel. The mandrel, the shape of the cut cloth and the number of wraps determine the taper, strength and the action of the blank. After being wrapped, the blanks are hung in a large oven and cured. When cooled, the wrapping material is removed and the blank is sent for trimming and if required, sanding and spraying with special paint or clear finish.

The above process is basically the same whether the "cloth" is fibreglass, graphite or a combination of the 2. The modulus (basically the stiffness) of the material is taken into account in the design stage of the blank. Graphite or carbon fibre is much stiffer and lighter than fibreglass as it has a much higher modulus and therefore is ideally suited to light, small fishing rods. Fly rods are made from different grades of carbon fibre and as a result are ultra light, stiff and responsive. The higher the modulus, the stiffer the blank and the faster a rod can recover therefore keeping pressure on the fish. More power is achieved by the rod resulting in better properties all round. The only problem with carbon fibre is that it is more succeptible to damage and must be treated accordingly.

An alternative to the above options is a composite blank made from 2 or more materials combined. Although some performance is sacrificed, for many anglers, the composite blank provides a strong powerful rod that can take a little more abuse without failing. As composite blanks are normally cheaper than graphite, the resulting rod is correspondingly less expensive.
   
Taper & Action explained.
 
 
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Blank actions basically fall into 4 catagories, Extra fast, Fast, Moderate and Slow.

A slow action blank deflects under pressure evenly from the Butt to the tip.


A moderate or medium action blank deflects under pressure in the top half ( 50% )  of the blank.


A fast action blank deflects under pressure in the top third ( 33% ) of the blank.


An extra fast action blank deflects under pressure in the top quarter ( 25% ) of the blank


A word of warning here, if you regularly fish in bad weather, it is advisable not to use a graphite rod as they are conductive and can attract lighting strikes.
  
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