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Judging by stone inscriptions, fishing rods go back to ancient Egypt, China, Greece, Rome and medieval England, where they were called "angles" (hence the term "angling" as a synonym for fishing). Prior to widespread availability of synthetic materials, such as fiberglass and graphite composites, fishing rods were typically made from split Tonkin bamboo, Calcutta reed, or ash wood, as it was necessary that they be made light, tough, and pliable. The butts were frequently made of maple, with bored bottom; this butt outlasted several tops. Handles and grips were generally of cork, wood, or wrapped cane. Guides were made of simple wire loops or, later, loops with ring-shaped agate inserts for better wear. Even today, Tonkin split-bamboo rods are still popular in fly fishing.

Rods for travellers were made with nickel-silver metal joints, or ferrules, that could be inserted into one another forming the rod. Some of them were made to be used as a walking cane until needed for sport. Since the 1980s, with the advent of flexible, yet stiff graphite ferrules, travel rod technology has greatly advanced, and multi-piece travel rods that can be transported in a suitcase or backpack constitute a large share of the market.





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