Finite Element Analysis
Designing a fly rod is a complex process that requires enormous amounts of time and experience.
In conventional rod making, the principle tool used for empirical design work is a deflection board, which roughly establishes how a finished rod bends under load. The drawbacks are obvious-a rod must be completed before its flex characteristics can be determined.
Our design team at Freestone has developed software that, in part, uses Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to create a digital deflection model of the rod under load - before the rod is built. A computer doesn't "design" the rod; FEA merely tells them how a rod they've designed will behave when flexed-and allows them to make modifications before the rod ever reaches an angler's hands.
One major advantage is rod durability.
Fly rods ultimately fail because of extremely small design errors that usually
only show themselves over time, largely because one part of the rod is working
harder than the rest, producing strain on the rod similar to metal fatigue.
Using FEA, we can electronically "magnify" those problem areas during
the design stage and correct any inherent design flaws. This procedure produces
extremely stable rods, with very low failure rates, even over long periods of
FEA offers another benefit: there's no
need to simply "make do" when it comes to choosing rod-building
materials. We can now strategically select and manipulate materials to optimize
performance. All aspects of how a fly rod delivers a line are vastly improved
as a result.
Anglers often, if sometimes mistakenly,
attribute the performance of a rod to the material it's built from-an
understandable confusion given the emphasis on materials in much of rod
advertising. Different rod-building materials certainly behave differently, but
a material is not the distinctive or exclusively defining feature of any fly rod
ours included. Carbon-fiber and glass-composite typically made for the
aerospace industry, not the fly fishing industry are available to all rod
builders. Top quality Tonkin cane is also readily obtainable. Everyone in the
industry "including us" has access to the same materials.
It's worth remembering that a great fly
rod is far less about the material it's made from than how that material is
used to embody a performance idea.