Peanut Butter and Chocolate…

The Origin of Foam-Core, Carbon-Skinned Fishing Rod Grips

How many of you are old enough to remember the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup advertisement? The one where some guy eating a chocolate bar walks around a corner and bumps into a guy who’s finger scooping peanut butter out of a jar. They look up and as they regain their senses, one shouts “You got peanut butter on my chocolate bar!” The other responds with “You got chocolate in my peanut butter!”  All ends well as they taste the combination and decide that something delicious has just happened.

Back in 2003 I began searching for a good do-it-yourself method for creating  flocked grips.  For those unaware, flocked grips are made from embedding short nylon fibers onto an underlying base, generally of cork.   Such grips had long been available from a couple of commercial sources and were often referred to as “the Cadillac of rod grips.”  But there was no simple, inexpensive do-it-yourself method for rod builders to create their own. If you desired a flocked grip, you paid the price – which often exceeded $30 for a single grip!

Borrowing and then modifying a process used by custom furniture makers for lining drawer bottoms, I developed the method I was looking for. I published an article on the technique in the  Volume 7 #4 issue of RodMaker.

Shortly thereafter, I decided that there was no need to use expensive cork as the core for flocked grips.  I began experimenting with mixing, pouring and shaping my own urethane foam to use as flocking cores.  Hold this thought…

Down in Texas  Andy Dear  had purchased a large quantity of cork grips from the old  All Star Rod Company  operation. In an attempt to salvage some of the lesser quality cork and create something more novel at the same time, Andy had begun experimenting with glass and carbon sleeving as a covering for the cork.  Hold this thought…

In 2006, shortly after researching and publishing an article on  Rod Grip Ergonomics  (Volume 10 #3) I began toying with the idea of fitting a fly rod with a carbon fiber grip. The increased rigidity it would provide over a standard cork grip was bound to increase control and reduce fatigue. Trouble was, any such grip would be limited in size and shape to the commercially available non-tapered carbon tubes often sold for making Tennessee handles. Or so I thought.

One afternoon while conferring with Andy on another matter, we spilled our current projects to each other. In an instant, peanut butter and chocolate collided. A unique idea was borne that day – combining a lightweight, rigid, shaped urethane-foam core with an outer skin of carbon-fiber. Within 72 hours afterwards, the world’s first urethane-core/carbon-fiber skinned fishing rod grip was a reality.  

The world’s first rigid foam, carbon skinned fishing rod grip appeared on the cover of the Volume 10 #5 issue of RodMaker Magazine in October of 2006.

Maybe not exactly delicious, but innovative and important nonetheless, that first grip appeared on the cover of the Volume 10 #5 issue of RodMaker. An article on making your own cores and how to skin them followed in the Volume 10 #6 issue. Scores of rod builders picked up the technique from there and a few are producing them commercially today. Now you know how they came to be.

Tom Kirkman

Additional Photos of foam-core/carbon-skinned grips. Copy and paste each URL into your browser’s address window.

http://www.rodbuilding.org/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/9319/title/some-more/cat/507

http://www.rodbuilding.org/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/9503/title/carbon-fly-rod-grip/cat/507

http://www.rodbuilding.org/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/10147/title/stellablack/cat/507

http://www.rodbuilding.org/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/10913/title/playing-around-with-carbon-sleeving/cat/507

New Issue

The Volume 20 #5 issue of RodMaker Magazine mails this Wednesday. Subscribers should expect to receive it during the 3rd week of October. Some will receive it a little earlier while others will get it a little later.

New Issue

RodMaker Volume 20 #4 mails on Tuesday, August 1st. Most subscribers will receive it towards the end of August.

 

New Issue Mails in 10 Days

RodMaker Volume 20 #3 mails on June 1st, 2017. Most subscribers will receive it during the 3rd week in June.

New Issue Mails Monday

The Volume 20 #2 Issue of RodMaker Magazine mails to subscribers on Monday, April 3rd.  Most receive it towards the end of April.

New Issue Mails Tomorrow

The Volume 20 #1 Issue of RodMaker Magazine will mail tomorrow, January 25. This issue is going out just a few days earlier than normal so that subscribers will have it just prior to the Expo event which begins on February 18.

New Issue

The Volume 19 #6 issue of RodMaker Magazine mails end of next week. Most subscribers will receive it around Christmas time. www.rodmakermagazine.com

v19-6

RodMaker Volume 19 Issue #5 will mail on October 1st. Most subscribers will receive it around the middle to end of that month.

 

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New Issue

The Volume 19 #4 issue of RodMaker is in the mail now. Most subscribers will receive it towards the end of this month.

 

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Show Me How To…

A few years back an advertiser told me he wanted to buy the cover of RodMaker to highlight a new product he was introducing. When I told him I didn’t sell the cover for advertising he wanted to know why. He had, after all, bought the cover of other trade magazines. I explained that RodMaker isn’t a trade magazine for blank and component companies – it’s a consumer magazine aimed at the end users of the products he sells. The cover therefore, is reserved for custom rod work – art, if you want to call it that.

His request was but one of many in a long line of requests and suggestions from others in the blank and component making/sales field. Many would like to be featured in articles that detail their beginnings, rise to prominence, product offerings, etc., etc. But I’ve never done those type articles and never will. Why? Simply put – rod builders do not want to read that type of stuff. They could care less how company A started or what company B plans for the future. They’re satisfied with seeing that information in the advertising run by those companies. They don’t want to see it in the articles. It’s not what they paid a subscription fee to read about.

So what do custom rod builders want to read about? It’s very simple, really, and reflected in what builder after builder has told me hundreds of times over many years… “Show me how to do something.” It’s a remarkably simple equation for a successful publication. People buy “how-to” magazines for that reason – to learn how to do something. With that in mind, now as always, RodMaker remains the single best source for learning how to do something. Occasionally you’ll find an editorial (you’re reading one now) on some aspect just outside of actual how-to information. But overwhelmingly RodMaker has been built on teaching rod builders how to do things. Step by step, method by method, technique by technique. And this is how it will remain.