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Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Joe Boenish (207.71.136.---)
Date: September 01, 2023 12:24PM

What factors makes a rod "sensitive" and what techniques and materials are you using to achieve the highest sensitivity? Also, interested to hear how you test as well.

I have a number of rods under my belt at this point, mainly focused on minimal weight, and I'm finding the amount of weight you add to a blank is only part of the factors to consider. What are your tips, tricks, materials, and recipes that have lead to your most sensitive builds?

I did some cursory searching and found a lot of threads that discuss sensitivity, but not in an encompassing way that allows builders to get a full understanding of what can be learned from the experience collected by this community.

Not interested in the debate of why sensitivity is sought after, or how much is enough, only in how you have learned to maximize it.

Thanks

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: September 01, 2023 01:01PM

First you have to define what "sensitivity" is. And that's not easy - it means different things to different people.

If you want to feel what is happening on the other end of your line, a longer rod is a more "sensitive" rod than a shorter rod. Any movement, resistance, etc., whether it be a fish, the resistance of a spinnerbait blade, the resistance of a jig being pulled through the water or across the bottom, will result in more leverage against the fisherman on a longer rod than on a shorter rod.

A lighter rod, for the same stiffness, can be a more "sensitive" rod in some respects. It will react and respond more quickly than the same rod in a heavier version.

A rod with a super light tip might be considered a more "sensitive" rod for those fishermen who fish "hands-off" and are watching for any movement of the rod tip to indicate what their lure is doing or if by nature of a change in cadence, indicates a fish has mouthed the bait.

Sensitivity encompasses a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

................

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Robert A. Guist (---.res6.spectrum.com)
Date: September 01, 2023 02:07PM

Hello Tom.

Here is what I found on sensitivity.

Vol/Issue........Article.............Author................Page
25/5 Sensitivity- A Practical Test By Tom Kirkman. 24
25/3 Measuring Sensitivity. 10
23/1 Sensitivity… By Tom Kirkman. 18
10/1 Feature: Sensitivity (What is it? What makes one rod more sensitive than another?). By Emory Harry. 28


Tight Wraps & Tighter Lines.

Bob,

New Bern, NC.

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Joe Boenish (207.71.136.---)
Date: September 01, 2023 02:24PM

The sensitivity I'm after here would be the first case you describe, what is happening at the end of your line. Deciphering bottom structure, lure action, fish bites, etc.

A few factors you point out:
1. Length of blank - safe to say then that longer blanks are more sensitive to line feedback? Assuming similar blank material.
2. Lure resistance - the more leverage a lure has against the blank, the more you will be able to feel what is happening. For example, a steady retrieve of a spinnerbait with give more feedback than twitching a weightless fluke.

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Joe Boenish (207.71.136.---)
Date: September 01, 2023 02:26PM

Robert,

Are these articles available on this site? Can you provide a link?

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Robert A. Guist (---.res6.spectrum.com)
Date: September 01, 2023 03:05PM

Hello Joe.

They are articles in RodMaker Magazine,

You can buy back issues from them, they are on the list on the left <-.

It seems 10-1 is no longer in stock & 25 is to new to be listed as a back-order, I just thought of the cd's, the 10-1 would be in it but the others would not be.

Good Luck.

Tight Wraps & Tighter Lines.

Bob,

New Bern, NC.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/01/2023 03:24PM by Robert A. Guist.

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Ernie Blum (---)
Date: September 01, 2023 03:21PM

As Tom said......"First you have to define what "sensitivity" is. And that's not easy - it means different things to different people." No truer words were ever written. If one doesn't have a particular notion of what he or she considers "sensitive", then that person could never be able to compare rods of different "sensitivities", or attempt to build that sensitivity into a rod him or herself, and certainly could never expect anyone else to explain how it is done.

I was involved in a discussion recently about a popular guide system which has been exalted ad nauseum in many threads by many people time and time again. Although I didn't necessarily doubt the validity of the consensus of information, I didn't necessarily want to be gaslighted either. So I posed the question as to why the system was so superior to other systems or previous ways of determining the best guide layout. As responses began coming back, I realized that they were merely responses, but not answers to my question. I got responses regarding the new anatomy of the guides, how the guides should be laid out, how light the guides were, how to determine how the system should be constructed, how the line was much better controlled etc., and when all the ducks are properly positioned in a row, just how wonderful the system works. But none of those things answered what, when the plan comes together, is SO much better than other systems. In essence, I found that it was difficult for responders to clearly define what "wonderful" was, or perhaps more accurately what each individual's "wonderful" was.

I am thoroughly convinced at this point in time that there is likely nobody associated with this board who isn't, at the end of any rod building project, somewhat surprised in one way or another at the end result of their project. There are just too many variables associated with this craft for anyone to dream up the perfect rod with specific characteristics in mind, and procure the perfect blank, components, and the materials to secure and apply those components, and end up with the rod they actually had in mind. And if by some stroke of good fortune it happened, I would defy that person to build another exactly like it! In essence, when the rod is complete, you may like it or you may hate it...but it's usually a matter of what you ended up with, and not exactly what you had intended to end up with. Has anyone ever ordered two or more "identical" blanks and actually found them to be 'Identical"? For that matter, has anyone ever ordered a blank based on written specs whose specs were such that you wondered whether or not you received the blank you had actually ordered? I don't build that many rods, and my answer is a resounding yes.

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: September 01, 2023 04:20PM

Even a glass rod can be more sensitive than a carbon rod if the glass rod is longer. Line and rods don't transmit "vibrations." We're not dealing with electrical inputs. We're dealing with physical resistance. A longer rod is a longer lever for the fish, bottom, water, etc., to resist your efforts to move/retrieve your lure. For instance, you retrieve a spinnerbait and think that what you're feeling is a vibration of the blade. But in reality the "vibration" is really the resistance created by your efforts to pull the blade through the water. You feel that resistance as a cadence and thus it seems to be a "vibration."

In Emory Harry's excellent article on sensitivity, where he focused mainly on stiffness to weight ratio, he stated that a shorter rod, all else being equal, would be more sensitive than a longer rod due to having a higher stiffness to weight ratio. I disagreed and mentioned the practical test and he took me up on it - a few issues later I published his retraction where he stated that he failed to consider how inputs would be received more strongly by the fisherman on a longer lever.

But I wouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater - a rod with a higher stiffness to weight ratio responds more quickly to resistance so I'd do my best to maximize everything involved. You shouldn't just build a longer rod in order to have a more sensitive rod, particularly if it upsets the other things the rod has to do for your particular use. I would, however, always build a rod as light as possible because of all the other positive attributes that doing so offers.

............

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Spencer Phipps (---)
Date: September 01, 2023 04:23PM

Joe, your description of what you are looking for are not that conclusive, your description meets the first and the third. A soft tipped, but high modulus long rod will let you feel and see what is going on at the end of your line, weed or similar contact with your lure will be visibly seen also, one of the reasons hot shot and live bait rods have such fast soft tips. In the case of live bait rods, you see the fish has the bait before he feels something unnatural.

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Peter Yawn (---.mpls.qwest.net)
Date: September 01, 2023 07:35PM

Not to derail the thread, but I previously gave a very objective answer to why a certain guide train (KL) is better. It makes for a guide train that weighs less. Which reduces the weight of the rod and allows maintaining as much of the stiffness to weight ratio of the bare blank as possible. A rod that is both light overall and has a higher stiffness to weight ratio responds better to inputs. It would be hard to argue that adding less weight to the business end of the rod does not result in higher performing rod.

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: John Santos (38.22.141.---)
Date: September 01, 2023 11:55PM

Sensitivity is a big deal to me, and that is one of the highest priorities in my personal building. Other than starting with the highest end, typically expensive blanks, the biggest tip I could offer is to make it as light as you can. To me, less is more and I try to minimize what gets placed on the blank (between reel and tip), meaning no decorative wraps for me, no painted blanks, thread wrap starting right at the guide foot, light quality guides, and special attention to reel seats and handle materials. I didn’t bring up balance because if you build your rod light enough, balance becomes irrelevant. All things equal a balanced rod would be more sensitive (or appear to be) than a tip heavy rod (on bottom contact techniques).

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: David Baylor (---.neo.res.rr.com)
Date: September 02, 2023 05:55AM

Joe, all other things being equal, weight in the guide train, particularly weight in the upper half of the guide train, has the largest affect on sensitivity. If you want to build the most sensitive rod you can, use the lightest running guides you can. Of course that doesn't mean you'll actually be able to feel the difference, but a lighter rod tip recovers more quickly, so it may allow you to feel those nonexistent vibrations coming from say a spinnerbait, a little better.

I don't go as far as John does when it comes to saving weight. While his approach would technically result in a more sensitive rod, I question whether one could tell the difference in sensitivity between a rod with guides that have a two or three wrap trim band on the guide wraps, versus one without.

John didn't bring up balance, (rod and reel combination balance) but I will. I am of the opinion that on rods used for bottom contact techniques, or baits where you're fishing with a semi slack line, that rod and reel combination balance needs to be a major consideration. There is zero doubt in my mind that certain types of bites are more easily felt on a rod and reel combination that is neutrally balanced, or balanced to be tip light, than it is on a rod that is tip heavy. And with all due respect to John, I don't think that building the lightest possible rod causes balance to become irrelevant. At least that hasn't been the case for me.

For cast and retrieve techniques, rod and reel balance as long as it doesn't affect casting performance, is a non factor. You can't balance a rod and reel for pulling a bait through the water. There are just too many factors that come into play.

Anyhow .... I don't know if this thread [www.rodbuilding.org] is one of the threads you may have found in the cursory search you performed on the subject. If not, it may be one that you might want to read through. I will caution you though, it is a 12 page thread that contains stuff that is way off course of the subject. But it does have posts that debunk a fallacy that has already been mentioned here. That being the fallacy that what we feel through our rods, aren't vibrations.

If you want to determine on your own, whether or not what we feel with a fishing rod are vibrations or not, I'd start reading at page 6, and continue through at least page 9.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/02/2023 08:09AM by David Baylor.

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Michael Danek (---.alma.mi.frontiernet.net)
Date: September 02, 2023 06:08AM

These are my opinions, and no I cannot prove that they are more accurate than others. But they are consistent with my subjective conclusions on what makes a rod more able to feel the bite of a fish.

I don't agree that rods and lines don't transmit vibrations. A vibration is a cyclic force, but still a force just as much as a steady pull on the line is. And it is obvious that some materials transmit vibrations more efficiently than others. It is technically logical that higher modulus materials will transmit both steady forces and vibrations better than lower modulus materials.

I agree that length of the lever is a significant factor. It also is technically logical. However it has a couple problems. First is that length alone doesn't consider the rigidity of the lever. For example is a 9 foot 2 wt fly rod more sensitive, more able to transmit the force of a fish biting to the hand than a 7 foot 3 1/2 oz 20 ERN premium modulus spinning rod? The fly rod is likely too soft in power to be considered really sensitive. Second, length as a sole indicator of sensitivity is not predictive. Is a 7 foot glass rod that weighs 6 oz more sensitive than a 6 1/2 foot 3 oz premium graphite rod? It cannot predict that. It is only valid and somewhat predictive when the rods of two different lengths are very similar in material, power, and action.

As others have mentioned, the lighter the better for sensitivity, and it is especially important to keep weight off the area of the rod farthest from the hand. This means using the lightest guides possible if you're after maximum sensitivity.

I believe that the only practical, inexpensive, objective way of testing sensitivity is by using the TNF method which utilizes an Android device to measure the True Natural Frequency of blanks and rods. Based on my experience premium blanks have higher natural frequencies than basic material blanks/rods and they feel more sensitive. Titanium tiptops degrade the TNF less than SS tiptops of the same size due to their lighter weight. It has been argued that TNF is not a good measure of sensitivty but no one has yet produced objective data that proves their argument. Premium blanks are advertised as being more sensitive, most anglers agree that they are, and as I mentioned, they generally have higher TNF's than cheaper blanks.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/02/2023 07:05AM by Michael Danek.

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: September 02, 2023 07:22AM

Per my earlier comment, this is the statement that Emory Harry asked me to run in a subsequent issue following his article rod sensitivity. (Yes, Emory took the time to actually perform the test).


"In my article on rod sensitivity I wrote “… sensitivity comes down to how much of the energy in the fish’s bite gets to the fisherman’s hand in the form of rod movement.” This is accurate but I overlooked one thing that the editor brought to my attention and which I should have considered before allowing the article to be published.

I focused on impedance and frequency in terms of such movement and failed to consider leverage on the rod from the fish. Tom supplied me with a simple test that added a new twist to how we should look at sensitivity. From the fish’s end the rod is a second order lever and any resistance by the fish will be more strongly felt on a longer rod than a shorter rod. I apologize for the error."

............

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: David Baylor (---.neo.res.rr.com)
Date: September 02, 2023 08:14AM

I initially had edited my post above, to add something to it, but I figured instead of adding to that post, I'd just make a new post. So ......

I forgot to mention .....you asked how we test what we put forth.. Not to be a smart you know what, but I test by using the rod. Ultimately it's about what we can feel with a fishing rod, and despite what a mathematical calculation may prove, or a bench test of a rod may show, not all testing of that type will necessarily translate to what we can feel while using the rod in all situations.. There are other factors involved in the use of a fishing rod that may diminish or negate the results of testing a rod on its' own.

Below I'm adding a link to a thread I participated in that dealt with form versus function of a fishing rod. In it I posted an experiment I did dealing with rod tip weight, and the affects that adding weight to the butt of a rod, has on it. I think the results will make it clear why I think rod and reel combination balance needs to a major consideration for rods used for certain types of baits, and presentations. You make the decision as to whether or not you think it's a valid experiment, and if the results would be felt while using the rod, or not.

[www.rodbuilding.org]



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/02/2023 08:19AM by David Baylor.

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Dean Veltman (193.42.0.---)
Date: September 02, 2023 05:15PM

Based on this thread, is there any reason to think exposed reel blank reel seats or resting a finger
on the blank in front of the reel seat aid in detecting a bite?

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: David Baylor (---.res6.spectrum.com)
Date: September 03, 2023 06:00AM

I would say that exposed blank reel seats offer an advantage, but not necessarily because of the exposed portion of the blank. I think the reel seat being in direct contact (other than a thin layer of epoxy) with the blank, probably plays just as much of a role, or possibly more of a role, than the exposed blank itself. I'd have to think that how much of a difference there is between an exposed blank reel seat and a reel seat that requires arbors, would be dependent on the physical dimensions of the arbors, and what they're made of.

Can I personally tell the difference between an exposed blank reel seat and an arbored reel seat? To be honest, I don't know. I don't have two rods where their only difference is the type of reel seat they have on them, to compare. I know if I am building a rod for cast and retrieve techniques I'll some times use a reel seat that requires arbors. But if I'm building a rod that I will use for bottom contact baits, or semi slack line techniques, I always use an exposed blank reel seat. It's an in my mind thing I guess.

As far as a finger on the blank in front of the reel seat to aid in detecting a bite goes ........ I don't know how much of a benefit that is for me personally. Because of my job, I have what my female friend describes as "man hands". So they may not be as sensitive to touch as others might be, But I still build my rods without a fore grip for the purpose of allowing easier blank contact. And even if it doesn't help me from a sensitivity standpoint, I prefer the looks of it over the looks of even a small fore grip.

Rod sensitivity and bite detection are a greater than the sum of its' parts kind of thing. It's not just tactile. It's visual, and it's mental. I know there are days, when using the exact same everything as far as equipment goes, that I can seem to sense every little thing that is happening at the end of my line. And other days where the fish could swim up to the side of my boat, stick its' head out of the water, and ask me if I plan on setting the hook any time soon.

Surely the rod we're using can make a big difference, but it's more than just the rod.

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: September 03, 2023 08:21AM

Dean Veltman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Based on this thread, is there any reason to think
> exposed reel blank reel seats or resting a finger
> on the blank in front of the reel seat aid in
> detecting a bite?


No.

...........

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Michael Danek (---.alma.mi.frontiernet.net)
Date: September 03, 2023 02:01PM

With all due respect for the leverage argument, there are companies that are spending a lot of money demonstrating what they consider their product's superior transmissibility. (From the end of the line to the hand) And calling it sensitivity. I disagree with totally dismissing transmissibility as a factor in sensitivity. It's not all about length, IMO.

The OP'er asked about testing and the only totally objective test that has been mentioned in this string of posts is the TNF (True Natural Frequency) process which is IMO highly likely to indicate which blanks and rods are more sensitive. Yes, I know that all do not agree, but they have not offered a totally objective test for sensitivity and I don't think they have run TNF on blanks/rods with which they have experience and subjective conclusions. .

Many have commented that premium, higher modulus, higher priced blanks are more sensitive. TNF consistently shows higher natural frequencies for premium blanks. Many have argued that weight out on the blank cuts sensitivity. TNF shows the differences in natural frequency between even micro SS and titanium guides and tiptops. For many years it has been argued that the higher the stiffness to weight ratio, the higher the sensitivity. TNF consistently shows that higher stiffness to weight ratio blanks have higher natural frequencies. Technically everything shown by TNF is aligned with subjective conclusions on sensitivity. I believe that it not only measures recovery speed; it measures sensitivity. I suggest that those who are really interested in objective testing try it and see for themselves whether they think it measures sensitivity.

Sensitivity = the ability to feel a fish's bite .

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Re: Rod Sensitivity Factors and Testing
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: September 03, 2023 02:22PM

A fish's bite is more strongly felt on a longer rod than it is on a shorter rod.

..............

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