Feather inlay

#1
Ive been wondering what the deal is with feather inlay on rods....
I know what they are but why do people do it? Why is it so common?
Is there a history to it?

A couple of thoughts going through my head....

While it is asthetically pleasing to many, it really doesn't make the rod. I just can't beleive that is the ONLY reason that its a common practice. Because if it is done solely for beauty, why not other things? Why do I just see feathers? There's lots of cool things to personalize/beautify a rod.

It could have originally had another purpose, but it was a tradition carried on and no one really knows the funtion, but it looks nice so why not?

It might have originally been done as a sort of signature?

Some sort of good luck charm?

Some sort of mimicing: a few builders did it for kicks, but they were held in high regard as builders so people mimic that behavior?
 
#2
What better to adorn a FLY FISHING rod with than feathers? Dont you think that there is symetry in fishing with flies made of feathers and a rod decorated with them? Seemed like a pretty good match to me.

Also, a lot of people have been doing decorative butt wraps on their rods for an awfully long time.

I thought of actually doing a decoration above the cork with actual fish skin, but havent done it yet. I think that the pattern of a specific fish could look pretty cool. The problem lies in the small circumferance of the butt section of most trout fly rods. Maybe I could get someone to just airbrush it instead?
 

Bert Kinghorn

Formerly "nextcast"
#4
Could it be that you are seeing a piece of history/culture in the making, Sloan? At least in my memory, the first feather inlays began to show in the work of several custom fly rod builders about 1980. I remember seeing a very few experiments with feathers before then, but thread weaving (primarily used on gear rods), decals, small medalions and even photographs were more common. I remember about 15 years ago seeing a remarkable inlay of an image of a fish, formed with size 32 hooks. That said, "historically" fly rods have tended to be very conservatively wrapped compared to other rods. Also, it was not until the availability of "high-build" wrap finishes that inlays of three-dimensional items like feathers became practical on any rods, fly or otherwise.

I also wonder if feather inlays are as common as you suggest? Walk into the fly shop nearest you and count how many rods in the store include even one feather. Could feathers simply be the current temporary fascination for amateur builders and hallmarks for a few high-end custom builders? Feather art is a trademark of Bob Meiser's beautiful rods. Kerry Burkheimer builds gorgeous rods as well, and he avoids feathers like the plague.

So should an amateur builder feel compelled to add feathers? Absolutely not. Do feathers add variety, keep things interesting, and fuel debate? You bet!