The Design Process
To design good rods you have to be a good caster. Good rods aren’t designed with a computer. They are designed by good casters and serious anglers who can evaluate a rod, know what changes need to be made, and conceptualize how these changes will affect the revised rod. Being a rod designer is part caster, part angler, part physicist, and part mad scientist. Rod designs start with an idea, a thought for a better rod, an action that will enhance your fishing experience.
Once I visualize the design, I start thinking mandrels. Mandrels create the rod’s taper which is the heart and soul of the rod. These precisely ground, tiny steel rods have a taper rate that varies depending on the design of the rod. Most rods will have several taper rate changes throughout its length. We have over 2,000 mandrels to work with allowing us to achieve the perfect taper design.
set of mandrels are selected, it’s time to decide on the pattern cuts. This is where I finally use all those years of math courses. Calculations of diameter, thickness, and how much material is needed to achieve the desired amount of power all combine to form the initial pattern dimensions.
Now that we have the mandrel specs and the patterns are cut it’s time to roll the prototype blank.
After the rolling is complete the blank goes to the cello wrapper where a special tape is precisely applied over the entire length of the blank.
The rolled and cello wrapped blank then heads to the oven to be cured.
After the curing cycle is complete the mandrels are pulled and the cello tape removed.
The prototype blank is then ferruled and flex tested.
The blank is then fitted with a temporary grip and guides taped on for test casting.
After thorough test casting with various lines it’s time to decide if the prototype is close enough to the desired action to be built up into an actual prototype rod with wrapped and finished guides and an actual grip, both of which affect the rod’s performance compared to taped on guides with no finish. Once this is done the rod is taken to the water for real testing. Some rods take a revision or two, others take “several”.
The Construction Process
The construction of a McFarland rod starts with the blank rolling process described above. Once the design is perfected and the blank is rolled and ferruled it’s ready for cork.
All McFarland rods are made with grips glued up from hand-selected individual cork rings.
The rings are selected for minimal pits and then arranged so that any pits will be sanded out during the shaping process. The rod’s grip is your connection to the rod. All of the feel and sensitivity that you experience while casting and fishing the rod comes through the grip. A well designed, properly constructed grip is essential for a truly great rod.
Reel seats are our own unique design and produced by a machine shop here in the United States. Wood reel seat inserts are milled from a collection of unique and highly figured woods that I’ve been collecting for years. Some are cut from burls taken from local trees while others are purchased from various suppliers from around world. These woods are cut, milled, sanded, and sealed with a durable finish that will last indefinitely.
After the handle is turned and the reel seat is mounted the guides are wrapped by hand. Guides are wrapped by hand.
As the final step in the construction process the wraps receive several coats of epoxy finish and every rod is personally hand signed, serial numbered, and epoxied by Mike McFarland.