Rod Crafting

Reviewed by David Golobay

Jeff Hatton, cane rod builder and author of Rod Crafting, believes that it is important to understand the history behind cane rod production. Can a book begin to cover such a rich history of rod making and will it help cane rod enthusiasts to understand the evolution of their prized fly rods?

Historical Process

Rod Crafting is a historical representation of split cane rods and their progression. The book divides into three chapters, or eras: The Smith Age (1870 and older); The Expansion Era (1870 to 1900); and The Classical Era (1900 to 1960).

Each chapter begins with an explanation of what was occurring during that era, such as why different materials were used in manufacturing cane rods. This introduction also describes different development processes adopted during these eras and identifies problems that cane rod manufacturers were experiencing.

150 Cane Rods!

Jeff Hatton must have spent years researching and acquiring cane rods for this book; he catalogs 150 cane rods from over 50 makers. Hatton took the time not only to photograph the cane rods, but he gives some of the history surrounding that rod.

The Photography

Rod Crafting presents more than 900 color photographs of split cane rods, visually showing transformations of fly rods over a century. Each fly rod has an average of eight photos depicting different aspects of it. Most of the photos focus on the male and female ferrules, reel seats, butt sections, guides, and rod sections.

In the foreword, Hatton notes that he is less than an amateur photographer, and at times this is apparent. Although the quality of the photography is not superb, it does show the changes of rod manufacturing throughout a century.

Aristotle and 'Boo

Aristotle said "If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development." Hatton has obviously spent countless hours putting this history together, and for those who have a strong interest in the history of cane rods, Rod Crafting will be a source of understanding.

A "regular" on the Westfly Bulletin Board, David Golobay lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and young son. He frequently fishes the Deschutes and Crooked rivers.