Samuel Phillippe

Born 9th August 1809, died May 25th 1877.
Inventor of the six-strip split cane rod

t is generally accepted that the first four strip split cane rod was made by Samuel Phillipe, a gunmaker in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1845. A portrait of Phillipe shows an elderly man with magnificent mutton-chops whiskers, a long face and steel framed spectacles balanced high on his balding crown . Phillipe was an angler of some note who fished with Thaddeus Norris from time to time and he was motivated by the idea of making a rod that was lighter than anything else available. In this he certainly succeeded; an 11 foot four inch rod of Phillipe's, made in three sections, weighed only eight ounces. Compare this with later English rods, which weighed about an ounce a foot.

Phillipe started by making tips and the second joints of rods out of two and then three sections of split-cane, following accepted practice by putting the enamel on the outside, and he finished them with solid ash butts. The three strip rods wouldn't cast true, so he experimented with four strips, which was an improvement. The first four strip rods weren't 'pure' cane, because Phillipe used white ash for the butts, but a year later he eliminated the ash and built one entirely from split-cane. The early rods weren't intended for sale and he didn't put the design on the market until 1848. Quadrate rods built to his specification were shown at the Great Exhibition at the same time as some of the first British three-strip rods, which shows how much Phillipe was well ahead of his time; by comparison Farlow's didn't advertise their first four strip rods some twenty four years later.

The first six strip split cane rods were built by Phillipe in either 1848, or 1849. He did this very quietly, without any fanfare and sold them to Andrew Clerk & Co., in New York. Clerk was Phillipe's source of bamboo, so it was natural for the two to do business. It did Clerk a great deal of good, because the firm subsequently became the patrons of the rod-makers Leonard, Green, and Murphy. Of these three, Hiram Leonard was the one who would build the best rods and the greatest reputation.


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