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Mike Wallace

Balancing the rod

16 posts in this topic

I am working on balancing a muskie rod with a pretty big diameter cork but not having a lot of luck.

How have you added weight to your rods to balance them?

By balanced, I mean the balance point is on the reel seat.

I have tried the Fuji butt cap, but it is too small for the muskie cork. Is there an adjustable kit that you know of? What about something you have come up with that seems to work well.

Thanks,

Mike Wallace

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I have not tried to add weight to balance a rod(have not had to yet). But what comes to mind would be to add small shot in the butt section til you get what you want and then mix some epoxy and add the shot a to that and stuff it into the butt section of the rod before the butt cap. That would harden into a solid, stable blob that would stay where you put it.

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Balancing is an issue on bigger rods for sure. The longer the rod the easier it becomes. The balance point IMHO should be immediately above the reel in the foregrip on most rods. The client will ultimately tell you where this is to be.

The rod tube of course is hollow, so adding pencil weight, then testing for balance is the only way I know of to make this happen. Once the balance point is achieved, epoxy the weight into place. Seal the butt end with a cork plug or fashion a butt cap of some kind. When the rod and reel combo is loaded with line then put on one of the big lures, the balance point will move around some more of course. All of these factors must be taken into consideration.

Does that mean a rod for every lure? Maybe! LOL...

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Just did this with my current build. I use pencil lead, it's just a pound of coiled lead about the thickness of a pencil.

For smaller diameter rods it just determine how much is needed and then snip it off and epoxy it inside the rod butt.

On larger diameter rod butts I find the largest size drill bit that'll fit inside the rod butt and then drill a 3" to 4" hole in a block of wood. I then use a propane torch to melt the pencil lead letting it drip into the hole in the block of wood until it's full. Once it's cooled I break open the block of wood and I've got a perfectly sized weight to balance the rod. If I need more or less I just add or subtract more lead and when I've got the perfect weight I epoxy it in.

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Kind of curious on why you would balance a musky rod (any rod for that matter). The balance point is constantly changing when the rod is used. Could anyone could tell the difference when there is a bucktail on the end of the line. What does balancing a rod gain you in real world fishing situations?

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kenais,you ask a great question. I'm sure many builders have the same one... let me take a "weighted" crack at it.

There is a difference between a off-the-shelf rod and a custom rod. Many factors make up this/these differences. One of them is ergonomics. How does the outfit "feel" in the hand,is it balanced to the reel, and on and on. There is a on-going study, which I'm a part of, to prove the theory. The results so far indicate that balancing does create a sensation of weightlessness vs. unbalance which creates the sensation of heft or weight, even unruleness.

Tommorrow I will give my right arm a workout throwing double cowgirls until my shoulder gives out. My rod/reel/lure combo however will balance to a "T". If we are to throw a out-of-balance object many physical factors come into play. Similary to a out-of-balance tire on your truck... things just do not "feel" right.

There may be something in the balancing of a fishing rod that helps it preform better, become more sensative (that will open another can of worms), and more. The proof is in the pudding, that still is on the cooker.

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Thanks for the replies.

All great ideas for balancing. Looks like the Cabela's one only works on a couple rods, and the Shimano Tiralego system prices itself out of my range.

I've had the thought about epoxying in weights, so it is good to hear that others have made it work successfully.

I love the idea of making a mold and then making it custom fit. Seems like a great way to do more work than you need to but that is what makes it appealing to me. If I can spend many hours overengineering something, I will just to say I did it the hard way.

Why would I balance a muskie rod? Most of the time with that rod is spent with it reeling in. So, counterbalancing the rod to balance on or near the reel seat (I palm the reel) would make it easier to manipulate over a long period of time. The "weight" I feel in a musky rod is at the tip when I have it tucked under my arm. In essence, my armpit it the fulcrum of a lever and I can only move the lever on one side of the fulcrum. Just like a teeter-totter with the fulcrum way over to one side. Adding weight to the short side will make it easier to move the long side.

I had considered whether to balance it with a lure on, but again, most of the time you are fishing, the lure is in the water and your are moving the rod tip side to side or up and down. Anything that will ease the muscles strain will help. And even though I am adding additional weight to the rod overall, because it isn't tip heavy it will actually seem lighter and more maneuverable, again reducing fatigue.

I have been trying to make my own adjustable weight system by epoxying a lock nut into the butt end of the rod and then being able to add/subtract weight based on reels/lures/fishing style.

Anyone ever try this?

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Just finished my test run on an 8'6" rod:

Used a bolt from an unused toilet installation, lock nut, 5 minute epoxy, and a 1-1/16" socket as my counterbalance.

Drilled about 3/8 into the butt cork on my rod the diameter of the lock nut(about 1/2"). Then finished drilling the butt cork with 1/4" bit for the bolt to run through. 5 minute epoxy the nut into the cavity, find the correct weight socket, and assemble (I added some electricians tape just so I don't lose the socket in the lake tomorrow).

We'll see how it works.

Mike Wallace

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"I love the idea of making a mold and then making it custom fit. Seems like a great way to do more work than you need to but that is what makes it appealing to me. If I can spend many hours overengineering something, I will just to say I did it the hard way."

There's a reason I make the mold to better fit the rod cavity on larger diameter blanks. The more weight I can get towards the back of the rod the less overall weight I'll need to balance the rod. Think of being on a teeter-totter when you were a kid. If you sat closer to the fulcrum it was much more difficult compared to when you'd sit all the way on the end.

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kenais,you ask a great question. I'm sure many builders have the same one... let me take a "weighted" crack at it.

There is a difference between a off-the-shelf rod and a custom rod. Many factors make up this/these differences. One of them is ergonomics. How does the outfit "feel" in the hand,is it balanced to the reel, and on and on. There is a on-going study, which I'm a part of, to prove the theory. The results so far indicate that balancing does create a sensation of weightlessness vs. unbalance which creates the sensation of heft or weight, even unruleness.

Tommorrow I will give my right arm a workout throwing double cowgirls until my shoulder gives out. My rod/reel/lure combo however will balance to a "T". If we are to throw a out-of-balance object many physical factors come into play. Similary to a out-of-balance tire on your truck... things just do not "feel" right.

There may be something in the balancing of a fishing rod that helps it preform better, become more sensative (that will open another can of worms), and more. The proof is in the pudding, that still is on the cooker.

It’s an interesting topic and I’ll stir the pot a bit.

What is the nature of this study? Just by the caster feel(ings) or is there scientific evidence to support better performance (casting distance, accuracy, fatigue???) and greater sensitivity of a "balanced rod".

When casting from deep to shallow on a weed line wouldn’t you start the retrieve tip high and end tip down? Optimally balanced towards the butt transitioning to the tip during the retrieve? Or are you building these rods for a specific technique, reel, line, and hand position? Any one of those would alter the balance point.

I make my rods as light as possible, there is no way I would add ounces to a rod to shop ‘balance’ it. There is theory and evidence that the lightest rod is the most sensitive, anything added to a bare blank reduces sensitivity. If ‘balance’ was so important wouldn’t we all be fishing with Tennessee handles so we could change the point on the spot?

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Kenais,

I think you have good points about sensitivity vs. weight and also fishing style.

Sensitivity is moot on a muskie rod (for me anyway), with 80lb braid, 120lb. leader, and 6-12" baits I don't try to "feel" much. When I move the rod up or down, it rotates around the reel seat (I palm the reel) and I whether I am moving the tip up or down, I want that movement to be a easy as possible.

Your rods are built for a specific trait - sensitivity - and I assume last on your list of concerns for the rod is balance. Do you also minimize the guides (number and size) to increase sensitivity?

Quote:
There is theory and evidence that the lightest rod is the most sensitive, anything added to a bare blank reduces sensitivity. If ‘balance’ was so important wouldn’t we all be fishing with Tennessee handles so we could change the point on the spot?
I will argue that if sensitivity was so important, wouldn't we all be using micro guides and only have four of them on a blank? Of course not, there are other factors that play into a rod, and the most important is what is the rod used for.

Does a rod that will be used for dragging live bait or a jig need to be balanced? No, it should be sensitive. But a rod that is manipulated up and down, left and right, working a Suick or Bulldog or spinnerbait or bucktail or slashbait for hours at a time would be better served as balanced as possible with little regard to sensitivity.

Ultimately, it is up to the end user as to what is important. We are talking about a specific trait, used for a style of fishing, with a wide range of baits.

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I will throw in there that with the type of fishing that you are doing, like tip down retrieves a rod that is a little tip heavy will fish easier, or be more user friendly than one that is butt heavy, and if you are jigging or something where the tip is often high up in the air, a rod that is butt heavy will fish "easier". So for throwing hair and crankbaits and bulldogs and the like, a tip down rod would fish a easier for you.

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It really is pretty specific for the person, I guess. I will fish hair high, low, and in between on various casts. Same with just about everything I fish with. For me, a rod balanced at the reel is best.

Going back to my original question - What has worked well for you to balance your rods?

This past weekend, I experimented with a rod I had already built that was pretty tip heavy. I didnt' get the balance point exactly where I wanted, but I thought it was close enough. Once I got used to it, it felt pretty good. I may even move the balance point back behind the reel seat to see what that feels like.

The connection system worked okay, I may try to incorporate it into my next rod when I build it. That way I can adjust the weight as needed.

Thanks for everyones input. If you have any other ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Mike Wallace

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Sensitivity is moot on a muskie rod (for me anyway), with 80lb braid, 120lb. leader, and 6-12" baits I don't try to "feel" much. When I move the rod up or down, it rotates around the reel seat (I palm the reel) and I whether I am moving the tip up or down, I want that movement to be a easy as possible.

That is a good point Mike and I didn't mean to hijack your thread. I'll try to add something to make up for it.

I've seen a picture of Mike Harris's adjustable system and it looks pretty sharp. I think you can get them from Bob at Custom Tackle. Its basically a threaded insert that is turned to the ID of the blank and epoxied in place. Then a threaded rod butt is screwed to the insert and weight is added/subtracted with turned brass washers of different thickness. I think it works in 1/4 oz increments. Something that you could make yourself if you have access to a metal lathe. No first hand experience but I thought it looked much nicer than other balancing systems.

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Thanks for the tip, that sounds similar to what I tried. I'll check to see if they have them.

Mike Wallace

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