The last few months I have been working and thinking about how I could improve my rods. I suppose all rod makers think this way, but maybe some don't.
What started me on this quest was my trip out to the Henry's Fork builder's gathering last summer. I was speaking a prominent builder who I consider to be a friend. We both had 8'6" 3 weights at the gathering and were letting people cast them. He picked up my rod and began to cast it. I think as all builders do I hoped for praise. Well, it didn't come and I started to think my rods weren't very good. He started explaining why his rods were better or at least that is the way I took it. For the next period of time I was formulating what the builder said and how I could improve my rods. Basically I felt he was saying that my rods weren't very good.
Several hours later a gentleman asked me if I was Cris Carpenter. I said yes and he asked if I would come over to his group of friends. They were casting my 8'6" 3 weight and loved it. I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off of my back. I felt vindicated.
I felt this way for some time. My friend the prominent builder didn't mean any harm by it, in fact he was just trying to help me make a better rod. After I got over the incident (the ego can be a hinderance) I started to realize what the builder had said to me had some merit. There were things I could do to change my rods for the better without changing my tapers or basic philosophy of how I make rods and this is what I have started doing.
The first thing I am doing is using Micro Ferrules. Only a couple of builders use these and they sell their rods for over $3000 (mine are 1/3 of that ;-). This is done for a couple of reasons. The main thing is weight. I have working with fiberglass and carbon fiber ferrules for some time. However, I haven't ever been satisfied with them enough to put them into production. The MF weigh almost the same as my CF ferrules and they look a whole lot better too!
My grips are changing as well. They will be thinner and smaller. I will stay around 11 or 12 cork ring grips. If a customer has a specific request for more I will accommodate that request. Looking back at pictures of my rods some of the grips look "clubby".
I have also started putting length and weight on my rods. That is followed by the date in which the rod was made.
My tips on my rods are getting bigger. I liked to stay below .060 on my tips, but I will be going over that for now. Why? because my butts are getting slightly smaller. I will go into that in a later post. Just think "Parabolic".
This is a rod I have just completed as a prototype for the ideas I have expressed in this post. I have been using some walnut inserts in my reel seats to enhance the color of my rods. This rod is an 8'4" 4 weight. The total weight on this rod is 3.39 oz. That's with the walnut insert!