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Tippman

Wood vs. Cork rod handles

28 posts in this topic

Looking for some input on rod handle material. I'm starting to get into buying custom rods and have heard both claim to be more superior in sensitivity. So figured I would bring it here for some advice. The one thing I have noticed is that all the high end retail rods seem to have cork handles.

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Cork Handles are going to be cheaper, lighter and last longer than wood hadles. Wood is mainly for artistic purposes and when you use them they will get dinged and scratched easily.

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Wood is much heavier and it also becomes slippery when wet. Cork, if kept clean, will have a much better grip to it. smile.gif

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I prefer the cork most of the time. The wood is cold to use in the spring and fall. As far as sensitivity I dont think wood is much if any better than the cork. Save some money and get a nice tennessee handle or whatever reel seat type you like. The most important thing is a good high quality blank when you buy a custom rod.

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Wood? For a handle? I've seen lots of high end rods, never seen a wood handle. Cork or foam....

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I've made some rods before and when I was learning spent a lot of time talking with different experts. Cork is more sensitive. Wood looks better. You can get some phenomonal finishes on the wood handles. Are there other differences, yes. But those are the main two. I prefer cork because of the sensitivity. When you buy one, make sure they put cork sealer on the cork. That will extend the life of the cork. So will lightly washing them.

If you are using the rod for hard core fishing, I would go with cork. If you occassionally fish and want to look real good doing it, I would go with wood.

Foam is NOT an option, IMO.

Good luck.

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Agreed, foam is not as good as cork. But where are these wood handles??? Someone point to a website that shows any? What manufactures offer them? Custom stuff only I gotta think...sounds like a bad idea for a handle...

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137holol.jpg

220woodseatrod3.jpg

587HPIM0082.JPG

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RobertELee,

Very nice rods and handles! smile.gif

I had a couple of ice fishing Mad Dog rods a few years ago with wood handles and loved them! But as stated they were heavier and cold in the winter. I did think that they were more sensitive though.

Cliff

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Quote:

RobertELee,

Very nice rods and handles!
smile.gif


I wish I could say that I made them but I found the pics on the internet. smirk.gif

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OK, didn't really mean to question thier existence:) I've never seen one on the water tho', and don't expect to in my next 40 years of fishing either!!

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Wow, that first pic is sure a beauty!

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Sorry, but cork is wood!

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Quote:

Sorry, but cork is wood!


Actually cork is the bark of a Cork Oak Tree

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I have made a few rods with wood handles and they are both nice in appearance and functional. You have to choose the right type of wood for the application of the rod. Some of the real hardwoods are pretty dense and heavy and don't belong on a Walleye rod or an ultra light, but I have used several types of Cedar and they are both light and sensitive. They are durable and the "slippery when wet thing" is just a myth.

Quality cork is getting hard to come by now days and you pay around $3 per 1/2 inch ring for top quality cork. Take a close look at the cork you see on the shelf and you will more than likely see where the manufacturer used filler to fill the voids, or worse some of them use a cork tape to cover even worse cork. I tried to post a few pics of the ones I did but the site where they are on right now seems to be not allowed here any more.

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you do have another option if you

go with a tennesee handle

i have 2 custom built with a texaluminum handles

you could look at them at mudhole...

come in variuos colours

i have blue to match my st croix blanks

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I agree with the availability of good cork, 3$ on up is what is costs per ring if you can find it. I prefer to use exotic burl cork from Lamar Manufacturing or the more traditional burl cork (regular and colored varieties) from various suppliers. They look great and work well in the rain and slime.

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HT came out with a wood handled ice rod. They are nice but I dont think I will change to them from cork. I do want a custom rod built someday with a wood handle just for the appearance but that will have to wait for a while haha.

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Here is what I know about wood handles.

From my experiences the wood handles give you MORE sensitivity. They transfer vibrations from the rod directly to your hand better than cork does.

I would say the wood handles WILL outlast cork handles as well. The wooden handles I’ve been exposed to have an epoxy coating over them which makes them super durable. This epoxy also gives them a shiny finish and really brings out the wood colors. If scratch a wood handle, you only scratching the epoxy (clear coat) finish and not harming the wood.

I don’t agree that the wood handles are slippery when wet. The epoxy coating does not get slippery. It maintains a similar grip whether it is wet or not. It feels a little different when wet, but I wouldn’t consider it slippery.

When you go with wood handles, you have lots of options on types of wood. Each type has its own properties including weight. There are several types of attractive looking wood that is as light (or possibly lighter) than cork handles. I was surprised as to how light some of the wooden handles actually are.

Cork is softer and easier on the hands after a long day of fishing. Cork is also easier on the hands when fishing extreme cold as it does not get cold to the touch.

I’ve built 3 custom rods and put wood on my last 2. I will probably continue to use the wood handle on future rods unless I plan on using that particular rod regularly in below freezing temps.

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Well guys, just to add a little extra to the discussion, I have adopted a "hybrid" handle on my latest walleye rods. Cork foregrip and rear grips. Wooden insert reel seat. There are a couple of wood insert manufacturers out there, and you can add a true custom touch to the rod.

In addition, the wood seems to transmit the feel of the rod just fine. I use the carbon spacers from the rod blank to the reel seat, and epoxy them in first, and then slide on the seat and glue in the seat after the spacers are dry.

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Do you have any pics of those Jackpine?

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Quote:

Cork Handles are going to be cheaper, lighter and last longer than wood hadles. Wood is mainly for artistic purposes and when you use them they will get dinged and scratched easily.


Cheaper: not necessarily. Lighter: slightly - it depends on the wood. Last longer: not even close! If the handles are properly finished the finish will take a lot of abuse. And as Tyler already mentioned wood transmits vibration far better than cork.

Talk to several custom rod builders before deciding. There are lots of rod builders - most just don't advertise much. Often times they can build a rod with better components than a factory rod for less.

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I like the cork -- could be because that is all I have ever used. Sometimes change is good -- But if you are happy with cork then why change?

That is why I like cork. Sounds dumb, but it is my $1.25.

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Quote:

RobertELee,

Very nice rods and handles!
smile.gif

I had a couple of ice fishing Mad Dog rods a few years ago with wood handles and loved them! But as stated they were heavier and cold in the winter. I did think that they were more sensitive though.

Cliff


On a canadian fishing trip two years ago we were at the dock rigging our rods on the first morning of fishing . A retired friend of of my Dads pulled out a custom made rod that his son had built. It was a pretty rod with custom colored wraps on the guides and the blank. The handle was made from Cherry wood and was laquered with a smooth clear finish. The butt end protruded out and was rounded off in a bulbous fashion. It was beautiful. He presented it to us and we remarked on its beauty. He complained that the trouble was that it wasn't very sensitive, but because it was custom built by his son he felt obligated to use it. He handed it to me and I took a closer look at the finely crafted wooden handle. Upon closer inspection it looked remarkably like an adult novelty. I told him that maybe the next time he's gone for a week fishing in Canada that he should leave this rod at home for the Misses!

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Quote:

Last longer: not even close! If the handles are properly finished the finish will take a lot of abuse.


I guess I should have gone into more detail about this... The wood finish is not as impenetrable as you may think, if you put a scratch into it and not notice it, get it wet(which in fishing is easy to do) you might as well say goodbye to that rod (yes you can have it rebuilt but there is a cost to that also). The wood will swell up and eventually begin cracking. With corks near-impermeability, you scratch it, what happens?....nothing, it will not swell, rot or crack. Yes there are negatives to having cork as well, sensitivity, gets dirty easily, not the greatest looking. But IMO corks advantages outweigh that of wood. The sensitivity issue is easy to get around though. I install exposed blank reel seats on all of my rods that I build, it takes a little bit of extra time, but it is well worth it.

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