Advanced glass fibre offers much for rod makers and will benefit casting rods too. What’s not to like?
Glass fibre goes high tech.
Most rods contain a certain amount of glass fibre, often as a support matrix for the carbon fibres that do the work. But some rods use highperformance glass deliberately to enhance performance and characteristics. This is a very different ball game.
The Zziplex M4GT is a great example of how combining the design strengths of glass and carbon produces an exceptional fishing and casting rod, which would not be possible using either material on its own. Other makers are following suit.
Carbon fibres are inherently stiff and light, perfect for making high-performance tubes, which is all that fishing rods are in engineering terms. One restriction is that their degree of safe bending is quite limited. Thus fast-actioned blanks with high carbon-fibre content are not the ideal choice if you need liveliness at the top end without a high risk of snapping if bent too far or otherwise overloaded.
Older carbon beach rods were meaty at the tip, often nastily so, because that was the only way to survive the rigours of casting and fishing. Modern materials are much better, especially on parabolic rods where the curvature and load are widely spread. But the inherent nature of carbon fibres remains an issue for beach rods. Adding ordinary glass makes a tip less prone to snapping and probably a little better for fishing, but to extract excellent tip performance yet retain carbon’s benefits lower down, you need a superglass such as ‘S’ glass.
DOCILE AND VERSATILE
‘S’ glass and its derivatives are quick, sensitive and resilient. Alongside the mundane glass normally used in rods, ‘S’ is like a tiger next to a cow. Yet despite the high performance it remains docile and versatile, adding great refinement and control to a surf rod.
I first met ‘S’ glass in the 1980s while developing surf rods for Fenwick in the United States. The SurfStiks made by Fenwick still head my list of favourite rods. The material is far from new, but was subject to US export restrictions until fairly recently. Now it’s here and the vanguard of classy rods with glass-rich tips are on sale. Midmarket rods will follow.
What seems not to be picked up on as yet is the design freedom that advanced glass fibre offers. Older readers may have fond memories of the lissom glass fibre Cod Poles and similar sporty beach rods, whose only failing was a slight lack of guts and speed. The same rods made in high-tech glass would cure that, and be a wonderful addition to today’s beach armoury.
Recall, too, the semi-carbon rods that once dominated fishing and distance casting. Made from cheap glass bolstered by carbon fibre at middle and bottom, they cast and fished like a dream except for being a touch heavy and ‘flat’ feeling. The same semi-carbon format in
‘S’ glass would be light and lively, the perfect all-round beach rod in many respects. ■