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Developing a new Competition rod for ice fishing

  • Published: Thursday, 11 December 2014 00:02
  • Written by Matthew G. Hauge
  • Hits: 2431

BodasjönSince the Countryfisher is all about the joy of fishing and developing new innovative products we often try and make things better, or specialize our products in some way. After testing a couple of Competition rods I decided that there must be a way to make these rods better, so I started taking notes on what the competition anglers wanted from their rods, and more so, what faults the common competition rods have. I then started the planning process to figure out what materials to use and what I wanted out of my own product.

 

 

 

IMAG0328While studying the competition rods, so called "Varpestikker", I had noticed some major areas where these could be made better. First of all it seemed that a lot of people where hung up on the materials used to make them. Everybody wanted carbon fiber rods. Why the need for this ?? Carbon fiber is used to make light weight casting rods and fly rods that are optimal in low weight and gives superb casting and fish fighting properties. With the competition rod light weight is often sought for. This can be handy when running around on the ice. Most carbon fiber rods are still way heavier than they need to be. Mainly because of the brittle nature of carbon fiber, causing the manufacturers to put more material in their rods. In regards of the flexible properties of carbon fibers good competition rod should not be flexible at all. Thus another reason for manufacturers to use more carbon fiber to stiffen up their rods, thus causing more weight to the rod.
Another thing that I noticed was that most of these competition rods are used with a spring tip or plastic tip bobber. these strike indicators are very easy to get a permanent bend on, and just about every single angler that I have seen using these rods has to struggle with a strike indicator that has gotten a permanent 90 degree bend to it, making it less sensible to striking fish. As I already have developed a solution for this on Balalaika rods i only had to figure out a way to transfer this to a competition rod. So now it was merely the hunt for materials.

IMAG0349A local angler had developed his own competition rod that weights only 38g. I studied his rod, and tested it a little for inspiration. His materials where plastic foam and carbon fiber tubing. I won't show his rods here, because I don't want to attack other brands, but though his rod was very light, and had a pleasant handle to hold on to it felt like having a toy in my hand. It felt too light, and when using it with a vertical lure it seemed to flimsy. Also it had no shape. It looked like a simple rectangle shape with sharp corners. Besides that it had a nifty design feature where the reel could be moved to the other side of the rod, making it suited both for left and right handed.

From before I had one of these rods that I had been using for a while. It was a commercial product where the manufacturer also was some local bloke, though I have seen rods that are almost identical from commercial manufacturers. He had taken a common ice fishing rod, and taken off the rod, and replaced it with a metal frame so it could be used for competition use. It seemed more sturdy than the Carbon fiber and foam rod, but the rod part which was plastic had broken after a few fishing trips, so not exactly a solid product.

IMAG0361The break through in materials was when I visited my supplier of Balsa wood for lure building. He started to show me his other products, and I noticed a piece of plywood on his bench. I had been thinking of using plywood for my project earlier, but found that as plywood was strong it had a tendency to splinter while working with it. This would make it difficult to get a finished product with the quality of finish that I desired. This plywood was however very different. Only 3mm thick it had five layers of wood, and was much stronger than conventional plywood. The finish was also much nicer. This was a product made for the RC model industry, and used in remote controlled planes and boats. It was light, and strong, and yet flexible, still not too flexible for what I was going to make. I figured out that cutting a rod out of one piece of plywood would give me a rod with weight about 20g, and strong enough to out perform most rods on the market. I purchased a piece and took with me back to my work bench to continue my project.

Back at the design bench I quickly found that I had to scrap my plans of making the lightest rod on the market. The plywood was more than strong enough, but cut as a slim frame it would become a bit too flexible, and also not be able to be made to feel good holding. It would be virtually impossible to make a handle that the angler would be able to hold on to and feel comfortable fishing with. In stead I decided to make the handle three layers.
Another detail that I added, and that also added weight was a back plate for the reel. With the frame being very slim the reel would easily start to wobble. To avoid this I widened the frame where the reel is mounted to cover most of the back of the reel, making it more difficult for the reel to wobble while reeling in the line.
A ring was added at the back of the reel for the angler to be able to attach a string and hang up the reel. Two mount points for spring tip bobbers or top rings where added, and finally my bobber guard.

IMAG0347I tried a few different versions of the guard, but ended up with making the entire guard of 1mm stainless steel wire. The guard will capture water from the line, preventing the bobber to ice up, and is detachable if the angler doesn't want to use it, or wants to use the rod with lures. On my first rod I used plastic for the mount points for bobber or ring, but I broke one during transport of the rod, so I decided to go over to making these of metal  for the final product. I also used epoxy for the final finish of the rod, but found that this added 10-15g to the weight of the rod which was too much. It also caused the reel to function in an undesirable manner. The finished product will get a heavy duty varnish in stead.

I can customize these rods very easy. Put club logo, country colors or anything else you want on them. I can even paint them using my air brush. The prototype model was made in black for an easy and neutral look, but I can add virtually any design you wish. Tests of fishing with the rod has been very positive. The rod fits well in your hand, is sturdy and will not twist while fighting big fish, and is easy to handle. the weight is between 60g and 70g with line and a mormyshka. Of course different custom features such as handle foam, Cork handle, or Shell veneer handle will alter the weight a little, but all in all it is right there with the elite of competition rods.