before it’s made! Then again maybe it was just my old salesmanship experience!
AD: Having seen the fishing rod move through fiberglass and several generations of carbon fiber, how do you feel about the cur- rent state of blank technology and design? DC: Well, let me share my thoughts on that with you, which may be all old fashioned. I don’t know (laughter). Concerning the subject of blanks, I would tell people that certainly today’s graphite is the best material out there. But if you happen to have a fiberglass blank that truly does what you want to do, by all means use it! That’s it. That’s the blank for you! The same is true if you compare a third generation graphite blank that has a phenomenal modulus and strain rate with an older first generation technology blank where the numbers are not nearly as impressive. Likewise, I don’t care if the price is $500 or $75. The blank that performs the best for you, for what you want it to do, is the blank that you should use. Some people just can’t see that.
AD: While we are on the subject of blanks, one of the things that interested me that I never had the opportunity to experience was that line of solid tipped blanks that Clemens sold for a while. DC: Yes, the Apogee. Fantastic! The plant that made those very, very thin tips for us in Japan burned down, and we were never able to find a replacement. We used a number of people’s technology to join the short, thin, solid tip to regular hollow graphite to make the rod’s tip section while maintaining a smooth dynamic transition.
The rest of the rod was made for us by Gary Loomis, and Gary tried making the tiny tips, but it just was not eco- nomically feasible for him, or us, to do so. It was definite- ly a product for the custom builder and not a finished rod company who wanted to sell rods for each line weight. We sold a lot of them, but not in the huge numbers needed for the tooling costs. The Japanese company had original- ly done their tooling with another purpose in mind. Then we came across them and they were failing in the other venture. We said “Could you do this for us?” and the Japanese looked into it and said “Yes.” Personally, I think the blanks are fantastic! A lot of people still do not believe that you can build a flyrod that will cast a very wide range of fly line weights, but you can.
AD: Was that your idea, the solid tipped design? DC: Yes, that was my idea. Multiple weight rods had been tried years before using the so-called “magnum taper” theory. This concept used a very stiff butt with the mid section less stiff, and a light, soft tip. The idea was that using just the light tip you could cast a light weight. As you increased the weight of the fly line (or lure) the mid section would flex more, load, and take over the casting. Finally, when a heavy weight was cast, the butt section
would do the work. Supposedly you could progressively increase the weight to be cast and the rod would load and do the casting. It sounded good, but nobody was ever able to make it work. You could get the tip to cast fine, but as you increased the line or lure weight and the mid section came into play, the tip was overpowered, flopped around, and actually destroyed the casting action. An extremely small diameter solid graphite section substituted for the top portion of the blank’s tip section did work. Its profile was thin enough to reduce air resistance enabling it to be more responsive, yet it possessed enough strength that it was not easily overcome and be an impediment with heav- ier lure weights (it didn’t flop around). A lot more went into the design, but that is the essence.
The apogee, how can I say this, required a certain amount of time and dedication to learn how to use it. Not a great deal, but you had to break some other habits. A buyer of a custom rod would be willing to do this. The fin- ished rod companies didn’t think the average customer would make the transition as easily.
AD: As far as casting techniques? DC: Yes. A good example was when we first developed it. I took it to the show in San Francisco. They had one of the first real tackle shows that wasn’t just people walking around mindlessly with bags filled with literature. They demonstrated things and had a number of casting pools. When I asked a local fly casting guru who everyone was watching to try the new Apogee, I requested he look over his shoulder during the back cast for about 10 to 15 min- utes in order to adjust his timing to the new rod. He calm- ly told me “I never look at my back cast.” I said that I did- n’t either while fishing but if he did so, now, it would be a big help to me, and was the quickest way to develop the necessary timing. He didn’t do it at first, and had some problems. Finally, he did as requested and in about five minutes was doing fine. I then put on a reel with a line two sizes heavier. He continued to watch his back cast and did beautifully. Ultimately he cast four different line weights with that one rod. With a little attention to timing detail, anyone could make the Apogee sing.
AD: And that rod would cast how wide a variety of line weights? DC: After we had the Apogee on the market, I took one with me on a motor home trip through New England to the Maritime Provinces and Eastern Canada and up-state New York. I caught smallmouth bass in Maine, Atlantic Salmon in Nova Scotia, trout in Quebec, and largemouth bass and perch all on the same rod while comfortably cast- ing line weights from 6 to 9. There were no record fish. I just wanted to see if it could be done. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t kidding myself.