Impregnated Splice Joint a la Sharpes Scottie

Discussion in 'Bamboo, Fiberglass & Classic Reels' started by Chukar Spey, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. Would someone explain the spliced joint and why the 'impregnated' version on the Sharpes rods would be preferred?

  2. To make a rod with a splice joint, you bevel the sections where they join. To assemble the rod, you place the two bevels together and then tape the rod. It makes for a surprisingly strong joint, and has become the standard for spey rods.

    You can't varnish the beveled areas where the rod sections join, because they'll slide when taped together. Most rodmakers use oil finishes to protect this area of the rod, and then apply varnish to the rest of the blank and wraps. An impregnated blank, like the Sharpes you mention would be the best solution. Blanks are impregnated by soaking the rod in a pressurized tube or container, so that the finish literally impregnates the rod, rather than just being on the surface.

    I hope this is clear. I can send pictures of my spey rod to illustrate.
  3. Impregnation has been a controversial technique since Wes Jordan first perfected his "liquid Bakelite" process for the wonderful mass-market rods he built for Orvis for decades after WWII. Since the impregnation process actually seals the cane from the inside out, impregnated rods don't require nearly as much care as varnished rods, making them almost as bulletproof as plastic ones.

    Detractors have claimed for decades that impregnation slows down or 'dulls' the action of cane rods. But one cast of a vintage Orvis Battenkill 7-1/2' for HDG will convince anyone that's simply not the case. Nearly maintenance-free little rocket launchers, the Battenkills were (and are) highly prized and have been called the Chevy 283 of bamboo rods. IMHO, impregnated rods are highly under-appreciated these days.

  4. I Use my 8'0 - 3 piece, 6wt. Orvis impregnated Battenkill for my saltwater beach fishing because of its toughness AND it casts like a dream and packs up small for travelling, too. Built by Orvis in Sept., 1967 it still looks almost new. The impregnation process gives me the confidence to use it regularly in the salt.

    So I agree with what Kent said about impregnated rods. Just rinse it well w/fresh H2O just like I would do with contemporary fly gear after an outing and it withstands any harmful affects just fine. These bamboo rods are tough.

    Most Orvis, many Phillipsons as well as Wright & McGill "water seal" bamboo rods were built using some form of "impregnated" process. Contemporary maker Mike Brooks in Oregon utilyzes his own impregnation process on the rods he builds today.

    Can't help at all with the splice question, but have seen photos of some really old (and long) rods built that utilyze a splice to join the pieces.
  5. Don't forget the Sharpes impregnated rods as well. They shrewdly negotiated a deal with Orvis to supply additional impregnated blanks beyond what Orvis was able to produce on the condition that they be allowed to use the process for their own rods as well. Sharpes even went to far as to solicit third-party makers to build blanks for them using the same Orvis process. I've got a wonderful Leonard Duracane 755 7-1/2 foot 2/2 factory-built on an impregnated Sharpes blank to a Leonard taper. It's a late-model production rod (with a ceramic stripper guide) that's become one of my favorite cane rods.

  6. Kent, I wont forget, as long as I get 1st. right of refusal on that rod... sounds like a keeper though!
  7. Chuker spey google Bob clay he builds probably the finest bamboo spey rods built today .They are all spliced and impregnated . He also builds single hand rods that can be ordered either ferruled or spliced and are also impregnated . He wont build spey rods with ferrules because he says he got to much breakage when he did .
  8. Talking of old Sharpes. I have an old Sharpes greenhart spey with spliced ferrules. Someone told me that traditionally they used wet leather and wrapped them. When they dried it would be a solid connection. But those rods never traveled. I used tape on mine when I did try using it. What a beast of a rod.
  9. VERY familiar with Bob Clay. What I was hoping for was the impregnation steps if anyone was familiar or would like to talk off line.

    Also interested in the steps associated with creating the splice joints. Can't be as simple as just eyeballing and making a run at it, can it?
  10. I learned how to do splice joints from Bob Clay presentations at Corbett Lake. Basically, you plane a 25:1 bevel in the sides of the blank where they join, leaving at least .100" at the end of the joint for strength. You can also glue a strip of bamboo opposite the bevel for additional strength.

    I built a simple wood jig to do the bevel. It's basically a strip of maple glued between two other pieces of maple, with the middle strip creating the bevel. Once the jig is made, it's a simple process to plane off the bevel. My jig is set for a 25:1 beve: i.e. the taper increases by 1" for every 25" of blank. So, if your blank is .400" at the splice joint, the splice will be 10" long (25" x .400"). After you figure out how long your splices will be, you determine section lengths so that all sections will be the same length, and the assembled rod is the desired length. This is challenging math!

    I've never tried impregnating. Suggest you look at old articles of Powerfibers or Todd Talsma's Bamboo Rodmaking Tips web site. I've heard that soaking the sections in Nelsonite is a good easy way to impregnate. I also remember seeing some pretty complex processes involving pressurized tanks.

    Hope this helps.

  11. Here are pictures of my splice joint jig, unassembled sections, and the sections taped together. It's amazing how sturdy the joint is when casting. This is the 12' Hoergaard spey rod I made, which works reasonably well for me with a 550 grain skagit line. My spey casting leaves a lot to be desired, but it's a lot of fun. I haven't caught a steelhead on the rod yet, but did hook a few Pinks last year on the Sky.

    I hope this helps illustrate the process.


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