A 10' 2pc Leonard Bangor rod

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jeffkn1
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A 10' 2pc Leonard Bangor rod

#1

Post by jeffkn1 »

This surfaced in California (I think). It was mentioned here by Dr. Baits, AKA John Elder, some years back, at a time when my attention was being drawn more to the 1870's rods from Bangor makers. We struck a deal and a few days later it arrived back in Maine where I gave it a first slack-jawed once-over. John told me it was a Bangor Leonard and said the scratches and battle scars told of significant use. That was clear but you can still make out the B and or of Bangor putting it in that 1877-1879 period just before Leonard inked the deal with Mills.
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I have been referring to it as a 10-footer but it may have originally been 9 3/4' . The butt seems to be full length at 59", and both tips are short, one at 47 1/2" and one at 55". Doubling 59" and deducting an inch for slide length brings me to 117", or 9 3/4 feet. The male ferrule slide is about 13.5/64ths and with a scale weight of 6oz I'm sensing it's either a trout or very light salmon. Being minus half its ring guides it hasn't been cast since I got it but it feels somewhat faster in the middle than most Leonards from that era. I suppose one of these days I'll have to mic it.
Beside the short tips, sparse finish, and missing guides it sported repair wraps on both tips. I took it to my 'mechanic', Fred Kretchman, for an inspection and scarf if feasible. His message the next evening was that the wraps weren't to reinforce damaged areas, they were hiding scarfs. So either the tips had been broken in about the same place and then received scarf repairs, or they were constructed that way on the bench. More about that below.I will replace the overwraps.
It is made of Calcutta that has been rounded somewhat. That results in a slightly cleaner look since the lathe removes some of the scars and burn marks. Seams are all tight and the ferrules are solid with no play.
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The plain look is not just from lathe work. The rod was wrapped in gold and there was a short band of thread at the winding check, a short component over a butt with virtually no swell at all, very un-Leonard in proportion. Adding to the lean look is the uncovered wood grip and plain bands, very simply adorned. Nothing suggests the grip ever had rattan. The more I look at the early Leonards, the more I think that he sourced all the ferrules and fancy reel seat parts from P&P, and the plain stuff like this from Chubb. And the serrated ferrules, with a water seal in the female but no patent dates, complete the hardware list.
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I have to stop here but will continue later with what I feel is the explanation for this rod's makeup.

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Woodlakejag
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Re: A 10' 2pc Leonard Bangor rod

#2

Post by Woodlakejag »

Very nice. Thanks for posting.

headwaters
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Re: A 10' 2pc Leonard Bangor rod

#3

Post by headwaters »

Great information, Jeff . . . Thanks!

Please keep the serialized reveal going.

60InchDV8
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Re: A 10' 2pc Leonard Bangor rod

#4

Post by 60InchDV8 »

Congrats on acquiring and undertaking the restoration of this piece of angling history. These single and double hand Leonard’s were very popular on the Restigouche and other Canadian salmon salmon rivers and were commonly known as Canadian Canoe Rods. I have seen quite a few Leonard salmon rods but none with ring guides. Does your rod have a ring guides throughout or just as stripper? Many of these Leonard salmon and grilse rods appear to have been custom ordered as many have different features. This was also common with other rod makers. I have a Vom Hofe double hand 12 1/2 foot 3-2 which is an early rod and has a tunnel guide as it’s stripper with snake guides and a tulip shaped ring guide on the tip. I inherited this rod with its early 6/0 Restigouche reel so I’m not sure if the rod guide configuration was original as the rod had been fully restored years earlier. I brought it to the Summerset NJ fly show a few years back and the consensus was that this rod was possibly a Leonard.
I also inherited a Payne double hand 12 foot 3-3 with a 4/0 Tobique. This rod has three distinct tips, a more delicate taper for smaller flies, a faster tip for dry flies, and one for a heavier line for windy days or larger sized flies for Springers.
These rods have been restored and I enjoy fishing with them to fully enjoy their craftsmanship, as I hope you will with your new treasure. You should try it out when it’s restored up here on some salmon and grilse with dry flies.
Regards from the Restigouche....Jim
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jeffkn1
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Re: A 10' 2pc Leonard Bangor rod

#5

Post by jeffkn1 »

60InchDV8 wrote:
11/21/20 16:09
Congrats on acquiring and undertaking the restoration of this piece of angling history. These single and double hand Leonard’s were very popular on the Restigouche and other Canadian salmon salmon rivers and were commonly known as Canadian Canoe Rods. I have seen quite a few Leonard salmon rods but none with ring guides. Does your rod have a ring guides throughout or just as stripper? Many of these Leonard salmon and grilse rods appear to have been custom ordered as many have different features. This was also common with other rod makers. I have a Vom Hofe double hand 12 1/2 foot 3-2 which is an early rod and has a tunnel guide as it’s stripper with snake guides and a tulip shaped ring guide on the tip. I inherited this rod with its early 6/0 Restigouche reel so I’m not sure if the rod guide configuration was original as the rod had been fully restored years earlier. I brought it to the Summerset NJ fly show a few years back and the consensus was that this rod was possibly a Leonard.
I also inherited a Payne double hand 12 foot 3-3 with a 4/0 Tobique. This rod has three distinct tips, a more delicate taper for smaller flies, a faster tip for dry flies, and one for a heavier line for windy days or larger sized flies for Springers.
These rods have been restored and I enjoy fishing with them to fully enjoy their craftsmanship, as I hope you will with your new treasure. You should try it out when it’s restored up here on some salmon and grilse with dry flies.
Regards from the Restigouche....Jim
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Jim

At 6oz my rod is more likely a trout rod. Leonard built trout rods as long as 11 1/2', and this one actually measures out to 9 3/4, rather than the 10' spec in my discussion title. The big salmon sticks are certainly impressive, though. I replaced some guides on a 15' 7-strip EVH for a friend of mine some time ago.
Can you provide me with photos of that unmarked rod you spoke of, the one some people thought might be a Leonard?

Regards
Jeff

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teter
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Re: A 10' 2pc Leonard Bangor rod

#6

Post by teter »

That's a great piece of history. Thanks for sharing it with us.

jeffkn1
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Re: A 10' 2pc Leonard Bangor rod

#7

Post by jeffkn1 »

The 1870's left us with a bewildering assortment of rods because it was the cornerstone of bamboo rod making development . Demand was high, driven by well-to-do sports who could now access the hinterlands by train on newly constructed lines. Leonard continued to saddle himself with debt, even in the face of a national economic crash, the Panic of 1873. By 1878, the year before the Mills sole agency period, he was advertising outfits for fishing clubs trying to utilize his underworked full staff. In November, right smack in the middle of his Bangor rod period, he ran an ad in Forest & Stream that was offering not only bamboo, but wood and bamboo rods. And notice what else he offered: cheap bamboo. Click on the ad to enlarge it and note the bold font.

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I think that's what my rod is. It's stripped down to bare essentials, the opposite of the high content swelled-butt rods with patented ferrules and full metal seat from Philbrook & Payne. Chubb reel bands meant $5 off the $17 price. If you look back a few years, you might recall the problem Leonard was having getting good cane and here was one way to help use it up. Once the shafts were turned a bit, a lower grade could be made acceptable in appearance.The result is a rod that would perform as well as his $20-25 version at half the price. He had to do something to stay in the race at a time when market share was being grabbed by the up-and-comers like Wheeler and Chubb, both of whom were mechanized and now selling through leading outfitters. Maybe this was an answer.
I've never seen one of these before and don't know if he ever made them once Mills entered the picture.


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headwaters
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Re: A 10' 2pc Leonard Bangor rod

#8

Post by headwaters »

Very interesting, Jeff! And, what a scoop.

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