A tribute to W. E. Edwards, creator of the original quadrate fly rod.

Updated: Feb 21, 2019

Trent Tate thought of the idea for an innovative fly rod when he was working as a guide in Montana. In the fading light after work one day he saw fellow guide, Dave Melrose, about to make a tricky presentation to a large cutthroat trout. A rock wall prevented Melrose from making a backcast, so he performed a “bow-and-arrow” cast by pinching the line against his grip and pulling the rod tip back like a slingshot.

His rod tip was wobbling like crazy, and Melrose had to wait for it to settle before releasing the fly. In that moment, waiting for the rod tip to get still, Tate realized if the rod were made the way an archery bow limb is made, it would load and spring straight on target instead of wobbling all over the place. The idea seemed so obvious, Tate figured somebody surely must have tried it before.

The first rod designer thinking in the right direction was bamboo master, W. E. Edwards, who is known for making the first quadrate bamboo rods featuring a square cross-section. There are rumors that Edwards experimented with making some rods that were rectangular, but his efforts in this direction and in making quadrate fly rods were not rewarded by the industry. Traditionalists preferred the familiar six-sided format for split cane, and early adopters were wowed by the futuristic round plastic rods introduced in 1947, right when Edwards’ quads should have gotten their proper footing in the market.

Other traditional split cane rodsmiths have experimented with rectangular designs, and some of their results have been outstanding. Yet, bamboo aficionados by their nature are traditionalists, and the demand remains steadfast for tapers mimicking, or at least echoing, the hexagonal rods made in the “Golden Era” of the craft by famous masters. Tate’s design was not originally inspired by the original quad and rectangular quad makers. Instead, he looked at how archery bow limbs are made. The advantage in the approach used for bow limbs is that modern, high density skins sandwiching a lighter core concentrates the working power fibers farthest away from the neutral axis of the rod, thus maximizing energy.

See the next generation fly rod at www.tateangling.com

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