Two tip rods are fairly common place when you are looking at bamboo rods, and often, quite frankly, expected by the discerning bamboo fly rod fisherman. When I first began my foray into bamboo rods I was guilty of the same, and saw them as a highly desirable, and perhaps even a mandatory option. The stories I heard of broken tips, sets, and just the overall fragility of bamboo caused me to believe they were needed.
Being a bit more experienced and hopefully a lot wiser in the world of bamboo rods now, I don’t have those same false beliefs, and have actually come to the conclusion that I prefer single tip rods. Blasphemy you say? Well… you are not alone. This thought seems to go against the grain of many (if not most) of the bamboo rod buyers I speak to or read about, and you may well feel as they do and wonder how I could even think such a thing, let alone take such a position.
But, before you get too disgusted with me, allow me to elaborate…
I agree that it is nice to have a spare tip section around, should a rod tip actually break, and that doesn’t just apply to bamboo rods. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any current graphite or fiberglass rods that come standard with two tips, even though they probably have more reason (justification) to do so. I will also concede that by alternating which tip is being used, you can save some wear and tear on them, and may decrease the likelihood of putting a set into one (or both) of them. On the second part of this point I’m somewhat dubious, as I have yet to experience a set in a “modern” rod, and I really don’t believe this is a legitimate issue with the quality rods being made today. Even my one tip rods do not exhibit any signs of taking a set.
For a Maker, planing a second tip at the same time as the first certainly has its advantages. The planing forms don’t need to be reset for the taper, so the labor involved is less, and the taper will be the same with both tips. This also often allows for the second tip to be made from the same culm as the other tip, and should therefore provide a more consistent result both in the finish and the feel of the rod. But a skilled Maker can still make you a second tip in the future should the need arise, and in reality, they may very well be able to just repair a broken tip section in the first place. Which is something you can’t even consider when your talking about graphite or fiberglass rods. Again, a second tip is probably of greater benefit to owners of rods made from these materials than those made from bamboo.
My point here is this… Today’s quality made bamboo rods are tough. Really tough. I don’t baby them anymore than I do a graphite or fiberglass rod, and they certainly aren’t anymore likely to break. In fact, I believe they are actually less likely to break, providing they are a quality made rod. Furthermore, I believe the non-fishing times like lining up and/or packing up are when rods are most vulnerable to being damaged. Car doors, wading boots, tailgates, half-blind fishermen, ceiling fans, and even that gust of wind that blows the rod off the car top you laid it on are major rod endangering elements.
Also consider that when I get to the stream with a two tip rod in its tube, I’m always left with one tip just waiting for a careless event to occur. The nagging question of just what to do with that extra tip while I’m lining up and/or out fishing always rears its ugly head. But we all know that leaving any rod (or rod tip) in a vehicle is a bad thing, and I certainly have no desire to cart it around with me all day. So what do I do with it? Just leave it at home in the first place? Then why do I have it? If I leave it at home, does it need a separate tube to protect it while I’m gone? And if I left the extra tip at home and the unthinkable happens, what then? Do I go home and get it, or would I just as soon go home and grab a different rod altogether?
I’ve gone back and forth with myself on this issue a million times, and I still don’t feel really comfortable one way or another about it. But more and more I see a second tip as a liability I have to worry about and really don’t need, instead of an asset that increases my enjoyment of the fishing time I have, and the rod I’m using to do it.
So perhaps the old saying is right, Two’s company (a butt and a tip) but three’s a crowd (a butt and two tips).