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Old 03-07-2010, 09:37 AM
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Default Is it the Blank or the Builder?

Every fly fishing forum has recurring threads on the relative importance of gear versus skill. Skill always comes out on top. I'm curious about a slightly different issue. What's more important in determining the performance of a rod, the quality of the blank, or the skill of the builder putting it all together?
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Old 03-07-2010, 10:13 AM
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Default Re: Is it the Blank or the Builder?

For sure the blank is more important...the skill of the builder usually interferes with aesthetics...but may slightly change the rod action according to the place and number of guides or the varnish used for example...
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Old 03-07-2010, 10:29 AM
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Default Re: Is it the Blank or the Builder?

I think the answer could be both. If it is a poor quality blank, then the builder can only do some much. If it is a great blank and the builder misalignes the spine then the caster can only do so much.
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Old 03-07-2010, 10:44 AM
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Default Re: Is it the Blank or the Builder?

As Kerry and jbbfly said, both can impact the final quality of the fly rod. However....if the blank is poor quality to start you will never get a decent rod regardless of how skilled the builder is.

In other terms: You can put earrings on a pig, but it still ain't no lady!
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Old 03-07-2010, 11:48 AM
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Default Re: Is it the Blank or the Builder?

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Originally Posted by Brewmaster View Post
As Kerry and jbbfly said, both can impact the final quality of the fly rod. However....if the blank is poor quality to start you will never get a decent rod regardless of how skilled the builder is.

In other terms: You can put earrings on a pig, but it still ain't no lady!
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Old 03-07-2010, 01:05 PM
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Default Re: Is it the Blank or the Builder?

Yeah, a broomstick is still a broomstick no matter the skill of the builder, and any blank is improved by the work of a skilled builder, but what about when the difference in blanks isn't that extreme? For example, imagine a St. Croix Imperial blank in the hands of a skilled builder compared to an off the shelf Avid.

Purely in terms of performance, is it worth stepping down a notch or two in blank quality but having better build quality and components, or is it better to get the best underlying blank you can with at least decent build quality? Does build quality beyond mere adequacy only affect longevity and aesthetics, or does it significantly affect the performance of the rod?
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Old 03-07-2010, 08:57 PM
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Default Re: Is it the Blank or the Builder?

As a guy who has built so many rods I have lost count, there is only so much you can do with a lousy blank. No matter how good you are. A lousy builder can take a good blank and make a lousy rod. But even the lousy builders good rod blank that comes out bad will probably be a better rod than one built on a lousy blank. Lousy blanks are never a good idea,as far as I'm concerned.
Just in case you are thinking your first rod should be on a cheap blank. Cheap does not mean bad in all cases. I've seen expensive blanks I didn't like, and fairly cheap ones I did. Quality and cost are two different things. A little research before you purchase a blank can go a long way.
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Old 03-09-2010, 12:35 AM
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Default Re: Is it the Blank or the Builder?

Quote:
Originally Posted by drnihili View Post
Imagine a St. Croix Imperial blank in the hands of a skilled builder compared to an off the shelf Avid.
I would go with the off the shelf Avid ..... or Imperial! Why compare apples and oranges? The Chinese laborers make thousands of the same rods every day. They are close to perfect! You can check out the off the shelf rod and pick out a good one.
The custom rod builder can't make a rod that perfect, and he spends so much time building one that he has to use cheap components and mark up quite a lot to make any profit at all.
Rod blanks are for folks that want to make their own rod. Just like tying flies, nobody here could make a living tying! Do it yourself, it's a lot of fun.
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Old 03-09-2010, 08:34 AM
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Default Re: Is it the Blank or the Builder?

Actually my question isn't directed at the DIY crowd. There's an increasing availabililty of hand built rods on the market, many of which are priced at a point that makes them accessible to the average joe. Frankly it's not hard to find decent work at substantially under $200. I saw a custom built rod on an Avid blank go for $125 the other day.

I tie flies, but haven't been bitten by the rod building bug. On the other hand, I care far less about how my rod looks than how it feels in my hand and casts. So it seriously is a choice between buying a hand built rod vs. a commercial rod. Typically, the commercial rod has a bit better blank, but skimps on fittings and production costs. Since I don't build rods, I really have no idea whether a well built custom rod can make up for being one or two notches worse in blank quality.

That's why I asked.
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Old 03-09-2010, 02:04 PM
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Default Re: Is it the Blank or the Builder?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diver Dan View Post
As a guy who has built so many rods I have lost count, there is only so much you can do with a lousy blank. No matter how good you are. A lousy builder can take a good blank and make a lousy rod. But even the lousy builders good rod blank that comes out bad will probably be a better rod than one built on a lousy blank. Lousy blanks are never a good idea,as far as I'm concerned.
Just in case you are thinking your first rod should be on a cheap blank. Cheap does not mean bad in all cases. I've seen expensive blanks I didn't like, and fairly cheap ones I did. Quality and cost are two different things. A little research before you purchase a blank can go a long way.
I agree with all this. Another thing to keep in mind is "how" the builder is lousy. By this I mean are they not good enough at getting all the parts attached well enough and in the right places, or not good enough to do the sharp looking decorative stuff. I'd much prefer to buy from a guy who uses one ugly color of thread, an aluminum reel-seat, and a little too much epoxy, but builds it carefully and tough, than a builder more concerned with making pretty rods.
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