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I'm going to guess that when you purchased your last fishing rod you specified the length you wanted in actual feet and inches, rather than just asking your dealer for a rod of medium length. After all, what you call medium length and what someone else considers medium length may be two different lengths entirely. And yet, other than length and perhaps physical weight, all other intrinsic properties of a fishing rod are rated or listed by purely subjective means. Why?

This was the question that Dr. William Hanneman asked himself some years ago as he pondered why no two 5-weight rods possessed the same amount of power. After all, just what makes a 5-weight rod a 5-weight rod? At what point does a 5-weight rod become a 6-weight rod? Contrary to popular belief, there is no standard nor system to quantify or measure rod power by objective means - that number you see on the side of your rod is a purely subjective rating.

Dr. Hanneman believed that fishermen would be better served by having a system of objective and relative measurement for quantifying rod power, action and even this elusive thing we fishermen like to call feel. Rods do indeed possess these inherent properties and there should be a way to measure them. Well, now there is.

As you begin reading about the Common Cents System for yourself, you will no doubt ask how or why Dr. Hanneman decided to define things a certain way, or why his standards and constants should even be considered remotely correct. I offer this reminder - Is the length of an inch correct? Is it too short? Too long? Who decided what amount of length it would represent? None of us are born with an inherent knowledge of how long an inch is or how heavy a pound is. But over time, we learn what these figures represent and then we begin to use them to relate to other lengths, distances and weights.

What is important in any system of relative measurement, is not how or why certain definitions were created or what they are based upon, but rather how do the numbers relate to each other. Can the system be used in a totally objective fashion without being influenced by the subjective opinion or bias of the person taking the measurement?

Give this system a fair try. It has no opinion. It has no bias. It only measures the inherent properties of a fishing rod. The data it provides you with can be extremely valuable, provided you allow yourself the time to learn how the numbers relate to each other. At some point you learned to do this with length, weight, speed, temperature, etc., and now you can learn to do this with rod action, power and frequency.

Tom Kirkman
Publisher/RodMaker Magazine