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Cane splitters!
by Christian Strixner

Dear Sexyloopers!

It was quite a long time ago... on a dull day - fish where not very active - Paul, Reinhard from Germany and myself where flicking some casts into the mighty Waiau in Southland NZ. We tried several rods with different lines... what else is new, you might ask?! Well, I could convince Paul to have a cast with my splitcane - or was it rather his courtesy not to refuse my suggestion? Anyway, we had a good time, the girls where making coffee and besides the anticipation of dinner (pasta) we were penetrating into the depths of casting physics. In the evening after a few glasses of tasty Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, Paul said: Christian why don't you write a story about cane rods on Sexyloops? By the next day he might have regretted his venture - but now it's to late Paul! Sexyloops goes Tweed! Here's a short story…

splitting the cane
Our wonderful sport (or is it more likely of the character of a passion?) has an eventful history. Fishing is literally as old as mankind. People of different epochs utilised whatever was available in materials for their hunting tools.

The making of fishing hooks can be traced back to the bronze and stone age. Archaeologists found fishing hooks in the Euphrates Valley that were nearly 5000 years old. The earliest portrayal of an angler with a rod is displayed by an Egyptian wall painting dating back 2000 years before Christ.

ancient hooks
Horse hair has been braided for fishing lines and guts have been used not only for amorous intentions. How sexy is that Paul? Greenheart and ash followed and were popular for a long time. The use of bamboo for making fishing rods can be followed back more than two thousand years. But it took quite a while for this material to find its way to Europe and America. We have to look back to the middle of the 19th century, before bamboo replaced other materials in rodmaking. The first bamboo rods from British and American rodmakers where made of Calcutta Cane. And this stuff seemed to be the right one, as it was readily available and in sufficient quality.

But then came a new material on the scene - Tonkin cane (Latin name: arundinaria amabilis) or “the lovely reed” as it is known to rodmakers. This happened in the 1930s and pushed forward bamboo rodmaking once again.

Tonkin cane is grown in China along the Sui River in the adjoining provinces of Kwangsi and Kwantung. The demand for that material is still high to date and not only for rodmaking. But the total growing area extends only approximately 30 to 50 square kilometres. And it's the only region in the world where one can find this amazing material. It's highly sought after by splitcane rodmakers because of the dense and strong power fibres that concentrate on the outer layer of the culm.

splitting the cane
Tonkin Cane became a rare material, especially in the U.S. after the Truman embargo from 1950 to 1970. Politicians wanted to prevent the spread of communism and had from there - not knowingly of course - an influence on the development of other materials for making fishing rods. The demand was great and the fishing tackle industry was desperately looking for alternatives.

Fibreglass replaced bamboo. Fibreglass was invented long before the shortage of bamboo but adapted production engineering was needed to utilize fibre glass for making fishing rods.

Physics tell you that a pipe with a small wall thickness is relatively lighter and stiffer than a stick with the same outer diameter. Consequently manufacturers aimed for hollowed glass fibre rods. And after trial and error this was the cutting edge product for many years.

Of course you know the rest of the story; Space Age resulted in carbon and boron. And tackle industry was blessed with such outstanding lightweight and resilient materials. Combined with the latest laminating technology rods became faster and lighter and faster and …

Nowadays flyfishermen around the world enjoy the benefits of these high tech rods.

But cane is still alive and there are still a few old fashioned Romantics around and sometimes it happens that a casting dude unintentional is faced with the question: Wanna try my splitcane?

Christian Strixner.

And so what did Paul think? I was shocked! Christian has a hollowed cane rod which is not only looks gorgeous, but is also a hell of a fishing and casting tool (I know - and I don't even like cane!). It's so good in fact that I want one, and yes I will be buying the obligatory tweed underwear. Christian is going to make us a small limited edition of these rods for the more discerning Sexylooper - obviously Carl won't be allowed one. Check out Christian's site: Split the Cane.


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