The world’s first unbreakable fishing rod, heralded as “the most sensitive, smooth casting” of its kind was announced by G-Rod International at the jump-off of ICAST 2015, an annual fishing industry gathering.
The Texas-based G-Rod – no surprise the Lone Star State figures in this story – is known for cutting edge equipment. Miller’s soft southwest drawl epitomizes the knowledgeable, focused and patient personality we associate with great sports fisherman.
Despite the rod’s pedigree – it comes from a family of some 50 other well-regarded models – we had to set Miller’s trust instilling aura aside and put ‘unbreakable’ to the test.
The trial was conducted by avid Fisherman and Osprey Bass Anglers Club of Texas member Joe Cottrell and renowned fishing guide Mark Pack. For ‘proving grounds’ they chose Lake Fork, Alba, TX. We’ll let Joe tell the rest:
“Mark Pack told me to hold on to the butt end of the rod and pull down – while he pulled down on the tip as hard as he could, and the damn rod did not snap. I’m 5’10 220 and Marks about my size, give or take,” there you have it Joe explained.
Two strong men put their full weight into a failed attempt at snapping “the unbreakable rod.” To be fair, Miller addressed this issue with candor, explaining as we all know that nothing is absolutely unbreakable – though our test puts the feat beyond mere mortals.
G-Rod’s owner, Glenn Miller, shared some of his expertise in both rod making and advanced materials so we could better understand the genesis of his newest offering. A background in semiconductor tooling combined with thirty plus years customizing fishing gear preceded this product release.
“I fished high-end rods all my life,” he said, adding his father’s advice “Buy the best it’ll last you.”
To produce exactly that required an epic effort. “It took me nine years to do my homework,” For most of the last decade, Miller traveled Europe and Asia meeting with factory owners and material specialists. The key issue: finding graphene priced low enough to keep the rod affordable. Some six years back, Miller did just that, locking in a strategic agreement others are hard pressed to duplicate.
The who and where is secret, though he was open about the construction of the rod: Durable Fuji titanium guides with ‘tangleless’ silicon carbide inserts ensure smooth casting. A proprietary mixture of graphene on a “high modulus Toray carbon backbone” wrapped in a 1k carbon scrim complete the build.
Says Miller, “The backbone is so phenomenal you can load up some very big fish with no problem.”
Tech in America has written extensively about graphene and it’s rolled up version, carbon nanotubes. The single atom thick, two-dimensional material now rapidly insinuates itself within the builds of cars, planes, appliances, and now rods. It’s supreme strength – over 200 times greater than steel –
and light weight lend themselves perfectly to Miller’s application.
Before ending our talk, I asked Glenn Miller to give his version of the near future. He hinted an answer, saying “As you know, graphene’s the new miracle material.” What followed, derived from no less than eight trips to Asia in the last year, revealed an enviable understanding of economic forces affecting his industry, and American industry in general. Miller expounded on effects of rising third world living standards pushing manufacturing from China to Vietnam, on quality control, revealing a snapshot of challenges facing a worldwide production and sales operation.
The man who worked California’s silicon industry for years before starting G-Rod has long kept his finger on the pulse of materials science. It’s gratifying to watch those smarts and diligence pay off in this well-conceived marriage of tech and application.