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Old 01-29-18, 07:19 PM   #1
GoutUnlimited
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Default New vs. Old Glass

I keep hearing about how old glass is better than new. So after trying out a fair amount of new glass, I was lucky to meet a guy on the river who let me try out his fishhawk from the 70s. Donít think fishhawk has these anymore might have been a custom or promotional item.

Anyways, I was blown away how much I more I enjoyed casting this setup. I figured this was mostly nostalgic ďback in the dayĒ talk but now Iím starting to believe there may be some truth in this. Why so? Old school craftsmanship? Technology/materials? Or maybe they just simply get better with age.
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Old 01-29-18, 07:43 PM   #2
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I think it may be a combination of things. "Old school" rods tend to be heavier and slower action. I'm sure technology has changed, making today's glass rods appeal to the graphite lover. And I believe you are right, the nostalgia of an old glass rod has something to do with it. I have a couple of older glass rods as well as a couple of newer rods...Eagle Claw and Cabelas.
A lot of my opinion is based on glass vs grass vs graphite. I'm a 'boo head. I love fishing boo for trout. I use glass for warmwater bream and bass, and my heavier rods are graphite. Each has its own application.
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Old 01-29-18, 08:03 PM   #3
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I haven't played with glass much in the past few years, so take this for what it's worth. There seems to be a bit of a "class divide" with glass. There are budget rods/blanks that are cheaper than the average graphite rod/blank, and there are rods/blanks that cost as much or more than Boo. That's true with modern rods/blanks, and the oldies. I think it matters more which side of the divide you fall on. The old/expensive stuff will always be better than the new/cheap stuff. The new/expensive stuff will be better than the old/cheap stuff.
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Old 01-30-18, 07:11 PM   #4
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Depends on how old too. The first glass versions made from 'brown glass' are as heavy as cane but the nostalgia element makes it worth bringing them out every now and then. The hollow body Phillipson's of the 70's are very sweet rods. An old Wonderrod from the 70's is so-so but it's nice to fish down memory lane. A fairly recent Hardy was easily as good as the 70's era Phillipson. Picked up a Fenwick recently and it's a very enjoyable rod. In a nutshell, there were very good rods back in the day and they are still making very good ones. ... and some not-so-great ones. It's best to steer away from brown glass unless its just for grins.
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Old 01-30-18, 09:04 PM   #5
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Glass rods are as varied in their abilities as carbon fiber (graphite) rods. There are poor and awesome examples of both. Most of the older rods are constructed of inexpensive E-glass which is used in industry for its electrical resistance. Many newer glass rods are constructed of S-glass which has higher tensile strength and lower weight. Some rods are a blend of both just as most graphite rods are blends of various modulus rated materials.
The magic in any rod comes from the mix of different materials and how-where they are applied. Great R&D uncovers the right mix/blend of materials whether dealing with glass or graphite.
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Old 01-31-18, 12:02 AM   #6
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For teaching fly casting I love using my first fly rod which is a fiberglass Shakespeare Wonder Rod from the 70's. The blank color is white which shows up well against the sky or trees. Every movement is magnified because of the nature of the glass. It has soul I guess you could say. With it you can really slow everything down and draw with a big crayon which is important to the beginning fly flinger. Adding a blaze orange line also adds to the effect. It just makes casting that much more enjoyable.
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Old 01-31-18, 12:36 PM   #7
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I have a Wright & McGill from the 50's.It is a 9 foot wound fiberglass rod that is tough as nails and a joy to fish. I had it refinished by the famous Cal Parker in the 90's shortly before his death. He said he would charge 600$ to make a rod like that.
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Old 01-31-18, 07:54 PM   #8
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Old things are almost always better than new things, just a feeling I have.

Question to Mog, I have my fathers old Shakespeare rod, wraps and cork are crap, but I remember the day he bought it. Can it be refurbished?
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Old 01-31-18, 09:12 PM   #9
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That would be a good project for you. No shortage of cork & wrap materials available.
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Old 02-02-18, 12:47 AM   #10
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I wouldn't say old fiberglass rods are necessarily better than new fiberglass rods. Instead, I'd say the overall quality of some of the good old glass rods is really surprising. For trout fishing on medium to large streams, it's hard to beat a 6wt Fenwick in the 7.5-8' range made in the 60s or 70s. When you pair one of those rods with an old USA made Pflueger Medalist, there's definitely a nostalgic aspect if you think of all the fish that combo has caught over the years.

Like others have said, the introduction of S-glass has been a major development in fiberglass rods. Not only is it lighter in hand, but maybe more importantly, it allows new glass rods to be consistently produced in lighter line weights, which is especially useful on our small mountain streams. Anything below a 5wt in glass was not very common in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Some of the modern 2, 3, and 4 wt glass rods are just excellent to fish and perfectly suited for small stream fishing.

A few of the major companies like Orvis and Scott are making some great modern glass rods, but some of the best modern glass rods are being produced by a relatively short list of less than a dozen small makers who specialize in designing modern glass rods. One of the most highly regarded makers is Mark Steffen, who rolls his own glass blanks and builds rods based on custom orders in his Arizona shop.

Feel free to PM me if you'd like to get out sometime and compare a few old and new glass rods - no matter the age, they're lots of fun to fish.
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