8: Reel Seat – Extra

8: Reel Seat – Extra

Let’s take a quick look at a problem that arose when I began to assemble the cork and reel seat on the 8 wt rod. The seat is all metal without a visible wood insert. Its inside diameter is five-eights of an inch and the rod diameter is slightly less than three-eights. This is too large of a gap to fill with tape and epoxy. What to do?

My first thought was to cut a piece of wood the length of the seat and drill a 3/8 hole through its length. A piece of 3/8 all-thread through the hole would be chucked in the lathe, and the outside turned down to 5/8 diameter. Glue this into the real seat and the problem is solved. But, this is not a workable solution if you don’t have a lathe. We all have an Ace hardware, so I decided to solve this problem with a trip to the local hardware store.

I found a 5/8 OD, ½ inch ID nylon bushing along with a ½ inch OD, 3/8 ID bushing. Gluing these together produced the needed diameter deduction.

Two half inch surfaces holding the rod in the seat doesn’t present a strength concern with the seat being a solid metal tube. Nor am I concerned about enough glue surface to hold it in place. There isn’t much twisting force against the seat during normal use.P1070062

The photo shows how all the parts are aligned when assembled. Note that the rod blank doesn’t extend to the end of the seat. It butts up against the end cap plug. This plug is threaded to accept the screw in cork butt. The alignment pictured isn’t exact, the bushing needs to be forward so that both the blank rear-end and the cap front-end are inside the bushing. This complicates placement of parts during final glued assembly, but all things are possible.

My good friend says, “I do it the way I think I should the first time, and the way I should have the second time.” If there is a second time, I will get three bushings, two for the blank and one for the cap, and the alignment challenge goes away. This unplanned post arises from having to overcome an unplanned problem – always the source of anxiety your “first time”.


Read previous post 7: Finish

6: Grip and Reel Seat

I’m back from Southwestern Colorado, which included my first day fishing the San Juan in New Mexico. The fish count in the Juan is beyond belief, and I landed over thirty of those Rainbows. Now, back to rod building.

The grip is not the business end of the rod, but function is critical and aesthetics valuable. Select a grip style that matches the rod size you are building and feels good in your hand. Look at the grips on rods in your fly shop, but remember that they conform to the norm. I chose a half well grip for the 4 wt., and full well grips for the 6 and 8 wt. You can build your own using ½ inch thick cork sections, then sand it to fit your needs. Color and character can be added by mixing types of cork. The process requires gluing, clamping, and shaping the grip. If interested, contact me for help.GripSeats640

Like building a sub-sandwich, there are still more choices – reel seats. “The bigger the rod, the beefier the reel seat,” is a starting point. This is a matter of both looks and function. I have chosen all up-locking seats for these rods. The reel is locked in place with a threaded knob on the butt end. Down-locking seats are common on bamboo and vintage rods. The seat for the 8 wt rod has a fighting butt that is screwed into the reel seat. This is a great comfort when landing a sizable fish and allows cranking the reel with the rod anchored against your waist.

The cork grip, build or bought, will have a ¼ inch hole that must be enlarged to fit over the rod blank. The tool pictured with the blue handle is made for this. I start here. I have also accumulated a set of round tapered metal files that can be mounted in a drill. Set the drill to rotate counter clockwise. This is very important, otherwise the file will screw into the grip. As you expand the hole, turn the grip a quarter turn in your hand often so that the hole doesn’t become oval shaped. WheCorkFit640n finished, it should be a snug, but not tight fit. Themoda butt end of the grip will need to accomte the reel seat. This is easily shaped with a Dremel Tool. As I purchased the grips and seats from the same supplier, this had been done for me.

Locating the grip on the blank starts by placing the reel seat on the blank, then sliding the grip into position. The blank should extend to the end of the seat with the end cap in place. Use masking tape to mark the upper location of the grip. Next, wrap a layer of tape around the blank at both ends of the seat. This will cause the seat to be tight and centered. Now, choose the upside of the bank and mark a line on the tape. Place a very small corresponding mark on the grip, depending on what side of the grip you want facing up. The reel seat must be mounted so that the reel hangs down. Place alignment marks on the seat, cork, and tape. Finally, rough up the blank with a file or sand paper where glue will be applied.

I use waterproof marine epoxy to hold it together. This is the gutsy part. Mistakes are fatal. Spread glue over the blank where the grip sits, slide the grip in place and rotate to evenly distribute glue. Clean the reel seat hole if as necessary. Spread glue inside the cork where the seat fits. Now, cover the two bands of tape that center the seat, and fill the gap between these with glue. Slide the reel seat into position, turning to distribute glue, and fit the end cap. Run a length of tape down the side of the grip, over the end of the seat, and up the other side of the grip. This holds the grip in place while the glue sets overnight.

WARNING: don’t let glue dry in threads or where the reel fits into the seat. Acetone, Q-tips, and tooth picks are your friends when it comes to cleanup.

 Grip640In the next post, I will discuss final wrapping and finish. Fishing with the rod is in sight.

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