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Black Hardy Fibatubes
Post 29 Aug 2018, 06:13 • #1 
Guide
Joined: 06/01/14
Posts: 190
Location: Pennsylvania
Just a few quick questions.

I own 2 fibatubes and 2 fibalites. All 5wt or under.
I love the action of these rods. People would say fast for glass but I love them.

I recently acquired a 6'1" 3.5wt fibatube glass fibre in mat black, in stunning condition. Lovely rod.
I just curious when these compare, time wise to the brown fibalites and fibatubes.
Interestingly enough it looks like a factory build but a list of every hardy rod ever produced has no mention of fibatubes.

Hardy built these right? Not just blanks for builders, right?

Image


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Post 29 Aug 2018, 06:39 • #2 
Sport
Joined: 10/26/16
Posts: 65
Location: UK
I have never seen a matt Fibatube like yours: looks an absolutely lovely rod.
I recall that Fibatube was Hardy's name for the blanks that were sold direct to other builders.
The blanks came out of the same shop, the vast majority were the same gloss brown, but a small proportion towards the end of that glass era were, as yours, black. So I suspect early-1980s.
All the Hardy-built rods were called Fibalites: I never saw a Fibatube in the Pall Mall shop (and I visited it frequently as a youth!). And I never heard of Hardy building out Fibatube-branded blanks. If this was the case, then it is possible that the rod bag is not original: it certainly looks a rather later design of badge, but I will check mine this evening.
I always suspected that these black blanks were a rather odd marketing attempt by Hardy/Fibatube to pass them off visually as carbon, when those early rods were so popular.


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Post 29 Aug 2018, 07:05 • #3 
Guide
Joined: 06/01/14
Posts: 190
Location: Pennsylvania
Yes sorry. The rod sock is a later not original bag


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Post 30 Aug 2018, 07:41 • #4 
Guide
Joined: 06/01/14
Posts: 190
Location: Pennsylvania
Not much info going on these huh?
I'll see what I can dig up elsewhere


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Post 30 Aug 2018, 08:24 • #5 
Sport
Joined: 10/26/16
Posts: 65
Location: UK
I got my first fly rod (an 8ft #6 Hardy Fibalite) in the early/mid-70s and, being at school in central London, spent what now feels a remarkable amount of time in Hardy's Pall Mall shop over the subsequent years: the staff were VERY tolerant of me, and talked to me a lot about the tackle and the company. My mentor later on owned a very successful tackle shop in eastern England, and had dealt with Hardy's, as well as a wide range of other rod makers and builders, for decades. I constantly referred to the latest Hardy's catalogue, and could probably recite most of the rods and reels from memory.

I recall quite clearly that there were a fair number of small independent builders around then, including in the North East of England, who would make up rods on Fibatube (and other) blank, for sale to the then-wide range of independent fishing tackle shops. These rods were made to a good finish, as yours is, but priced well below the Hardy-branded rods.

Hardy were generally very careful not to stray too far down the price points (although reels like the early Viscounts - I had three - are examples of where they sadly failed to maintain this discipline!).

The Fibatube label gave the buyer the assurance that they were getting a Hardy-type/quality blank, although a fair proportion of the rod lengths and line weights never made it into the official Hardy ranges: it was a good way for Fibatube/Hardy to experiment in terms of market acceptance, especially as reservoir trout fishing was still growing strongly as a branch of the sport in the UK.

I do just recall a #3 1/2-weight Hardy "brook" rod: it was, at that stage, regarded as absolutely the lightest rod weight that could be built (!). A brown blank, clearly: yours could well have come off the same mandrel but without the finish for a Fibalite. If that is the case, it is pretty unusual, since this was not a strong-selling length or line weight in the late-70s/early-80s: it took graphite to make ultra-light rods really workable and popular.

I would be 99%+ certain that your rod is one of these models built by an independent for the tackle trade, but not Hardy-built. So, to be precise, it is a Fibatube, not a Hardy Fibatube.


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Post 31 Aug 2018, 09:04 • #6 
Global Moderator
Joined: 04/20/07
Posts: 7978
Location: US-ME
That is fun to read the recollections of Hardy 'glass and its place in their line and among their customers of the time. I don't recall Hardy having much of a presence in 'glass rods in the U.S. at that time but perhaps they did in some upscale venues. It would be interesting to find out about--as would more accounts from over Sash's way. Thanks, Sash. Am I understanding right that the color was, essentially, a marketing decision to keep the "factory Hardy" distinct from the independent shop or hobby build?

Glass entered the blue collar market here and gradually became viable in more upscale markets. So early on "the Pall Mall shop" would be a place to buy a pack of smokes, and only if the corner store had run out of Camels.


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Post 03 Sep 2018, 06:28 • #7 
Sport
Joined: 10/26/16
Posts: 65
Location: UK
Actually most of the Fibatube blanks were also brown, like the Hardy blanks; I have only seen a few black blanks with the Fibatube label on as the OP has. The marketing differentiation was the use of the Hardy name and badge; "Alnwick" (where used) was the additional hint that a Fibatube blank was pretty similar to Hardy, even if the subsequent finish was less so.

For a period Webley & Scott (a brand far better known as a shotgun and pistol company), sold a 9ft trout rod and a 14ft double-handed salmon rod on brown Fibatube blanks: there are usually a few of these on the auction site, and the trout rods are definitely worth a look.

I had the W&S DH salmon rod: it was my first, and it was a beast: the blank diameter at the butt was c.3/4", and the rod flexed all the way down, especially when lifting a DT sinking line. Fish that all day and your shoulders and arms really got a workout!


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Post 14 Sep 2018, 17:05 • #8 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 07/11/14
Posts: 1277
Location: urban Colorado
thanks Sash, interesting reading. I used to pester my local fly-fishing retailer, Laxtons Sports, as a boy in the 70s too ;-)

Bought two of those 3.5wt Fibatube blanks like the one shown here, from Laxtons. This was when they were new, in the mid-80s. Gave one to a friend and built mine up with an insert in the butt to make it 6' 10", as I really prefer a rod longer than 6'. It's more of a 4.5wt to me, still a fine small stream rod, will cast a leader with a #12 Royal Wulff quite happily.

As recounted in an earlier post,
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=49181
The first time I took it out on a backpack trip in the Drakensberg, it ran into a 20" rainbow on one of the low lakes, a shock for all concerned. Next trip found a 19" brown in a tiny stream at dusk, after catching 6-9" rainbows all day: nearly fell flat on my back as the fish rushed off three pools upstream.

I believe the Fibatubes were made in an Alnwick factory as part of Hardy's attempt to branch out from flyfishing, during the hard times toward the end of the family's time of running the company. The Hardy history page says,
"Jim was instrumental in catapulting Hardys into the modern era when he set up Fibatube, the plant which made the firm's glass fibre and carbon rods. "

The factory became a subsidiary known as Hardy Advanced Composites.
According to this page, its tubing is in the Airbus 320 among other high-tech products..

So Fibatube was certainly closely associated with Hardy, but not Hardy. Whether these blanks used a different taper and/or layup than Fibalite rods from Hardy, is lost in the mists of time..


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Post 17 Sep 2018, 11:55 • #9 
Sport
Joined: 10/26/16
Posts: 65
Location: UK
My understanding is that Fibatube was set up in Alnwick when Hardy brought the Fisher blank-rolling technology from the US, and set up the on-shore capability. So in the early-70s, when Hardy was still going strong.

(I do not know whether the JETs were Fisher blanks for the entire run? They certainly had the very striking white male ferules although, if these were the sign of an exclusively-Fisher blank, then the relationship continued in a limited way until 1980, when the Hardy Esk and Fred Buller Drifter rods stopped production)

The diversification into aerospace subcontracting occurred at the same time, and likely gave Hardy some of the necessary know-how to stop using Fisher. It certainly enabled the company to learn a great deal more about the technology of the resins, scrims and (later), pre-pregs, as well as manufacturing processes (which, of course, got harder with the move to graphite).

This diversification, selling fiberglass and, later, carbon tubes out of the the Fibatube facility, was stimulated by Hardy's relationship with the Royal Aircraft (now Aerospace) Establishment at Farnborough (where the Air Show takes place). RAE Farnborough was at the forefront of developing new materials and technologies for the UK aerospace industry, and there was clearly a symbiotic relationship in composites between RAE and Hardy. And this was more than a decade before the Airbus A320.

It was the relationship with RAE that was used by Hardy to brand one of the Richard Walker-designed graphite rods "Farnborough": that name had strong brand awareness in the UK, and was heavily marketed using the aerospace image.

So the Fibatube plant produced (likely at the same time) blanks of varying sorts for Hardy, the independent/3rd party rod builder market, and tubes for the aerospace industry.

Again, from memory, a fairly consistent way that the Fibatube blanks were differentiated from Hardy blanks was by their having different lengths from the Hardy catalogue, and different line weights (much more often a range, such as #5/6 or, in the early days of graphite, #5/6/7). So I remember it being unusual to be able to get an identical Fibatube blank to the specification of the current Hardy rods. Finish was also used, although the brown Fibatube blanks did not look shabby!

Hope this helps


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Post 17 Sep 2018, 17:08 • #10 
Global Moderator
Joined: 04/20/07
Posts: 7978
Location: US-ME
Thanks again! It would be great to have more accounts of fiberglass heyday tackle shops, shop builders, and manufacturers from across the Atlantic.


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Post 18 Sep 2018, 07:17 • #11 
Master Guide
Joined: 06/24/11
Posts: 948
Location: Belgium
Just picked up a 7' 4/5 rod built on a shiny black fibatube blank. Nice action and worth a rebuild..... Very similar but not exactly same as 7'2" 4wt Fibalite Perfection of same era.


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Post 19 Sep 2018, 06:39 • #12 
Sport
Joined: 10/26/16
Posts: 65
Location: UK
whrlpool wrote:
It would be great to have more accounts of fiberglass heyday tackle shops, shop builders, and manufacturers from across the Atlantic.


I have just posted a piece about an even older Hardy glass spinning rod in that section of the forum. Hope it is of interest.


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Post 24 Aug 2020, 18:40 • #13 
Guide
Joined: 06/01/14
Posts: 190
Location: Pennsylvania
Bringing this one back.
I knew i was part correct.

Hardy did in fact at least supply partial built Fibatubes from the factory with all the components along with their blanks of course.

https://www.thomasturner.com/hardy-fiba ... s-1970-80/


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