Cork Reintroduced

Cork as a material for fishing rod grips has been around a long time. Unfortunately, one of the most common statements from rod factories and consumers alike is that the quality of the cork on fishing rods has gotten worse. This is not to say that the world’s cork supply has dropped off or that high quality cork no longer exists. Quite the contrary. There is still outstanding cork produced every year. But the demand for cork products has changed. Cork as a flooring or underlayment has grown dramatically, cork fabrics and veneers are growing as well. The best cork has long been reserved for the production of wine corks and that is still true today. These pressures have driven the cost of high grade cork upward.
The material as a grip still has the great qualities of shedding moisture, feeling warm to the hand even on cold wet days, being resilient to pressure and some unfortunate but unintended physical abuse, resistant to rot, and not tasty at all to bugs. Most importantly it is ingrained in the sporting enthusiast mind as the standard for grips in the fishing industry.

When the quality of cork drops, the amount of fill required goes up. This can get the rod sold to a customer, but does little for the long term branding or consumer satisfaction with the rod when the fill inevitably exits the grip. How do you satisfy consumer desire for a beautiful, durable yet affordable, cork grip? A great answer for many may be found in a cork product called “Agglomerated Cork.” Agglomerated cork is made from all natural cork that is ground into specific size ranges and then pressed and glued into sheets. The varied sizes of cork chips combined with a polyurethane glue create a uniform, beautiful and inclusion free surface.

Agglomerated cork is a process that uses what might otherwise be waste in the cork manufacturing processes. Pieces of cork are ground up and sifted into size ranges. There are different grades of agglomerated cork and this differentiation occurs based on the size of the granules used. The lower grade of cork is made of 2 to 8 millimeter pieces with the same process. This does not have the same look or performance characteristics as fine grain agglomerated. A-grade, micro-agglomerated, or the highest grade agglomerated cork is made from ground cork between 0.5 millimeters and 2 millimeters in size. Combine this with the polyurethane glue and the result is a very beautiful, consistent and flaw free cork surface on a fishing rod grip.

Agglomerated cork retains the authentic color of cork. It has the same waterproof characteristics and has tack providing a comfortable connection to your hand even in the wettest conditions. Agglomerated cork can be exposed to boiling water without coming apart. Talk about harsh fishing conditions! Because it is made of 90% cork it also retains the resilience of natural cork. Deformation after 100psi of pressure has a rebound of greater than 80%. The surface of an agglomerated grip is inclusion free and requires no fill during production.

Thus, there is never any fill to fall out. From a rod designer or an assembler’s point of view, perhaps the best characteristic of agglomerated cork is the sharp and consistent shaping ability of this material. The proper grinding or turning of this material produces consistent and repeatable grips with very low variance. Bottom line, every grip looks and performs just like every other grip on all your rods, over and over and over….

Please contact Scott Whitmore at Piscari Incorporated to learn more about Agglomerated cork and the full range of cork products available. We will be happy to discuss technical details of grip materials and to supply cork for all your rod building needs.

Scott Whitmore
[email protected]