The rods are complete, I have been fishing them, and all is good. Watch the Saturday Fly Tying announcements. One day soon I will bring the three in for show-and-tell after the demo. For now I want to review what is important and what I have learned in this process. This I know from experience, you will learn more doing it and writing about it than just doing it.
Starting at the butt end, if you build a rod like the 8 wt with a large gap inside the reel seat, make or buy bushings to fill it. Find reel seats that are sealed on the front so that epoxy can’t get under the front ring that holds the reel. Before applying glue, make sure you have an assemble process to assure that the reel hangs below the spline and the best side of the cork is up. Start gluing with Acetone on the bench by your side along with cloth and Q tips. Some builders do the grip/seat step first and others last. It doesn’t matter unless there are guides on the butt section, but you do have to mount the grip before wrapping the butt section.
Mark the spline along with the guide locations, prep the guides, and arranged in order for assembly. Tape the guides in place very close to the proper alignment, I wrap from the large end to the small of each section. Guides can be adjusted under the wraps if little thread tension wass used. More about that below the first picture. Using a color preserver on the wraps is an advantage. Place a drop on the end of a needle, and then on each tag where it comes through the wrap. Once dry, they are locked in place and can be trimmed flush. During this process I find it hard to maintain a consistent length of wrap over all the guides. Do your best.
I mentioned placing a Kevlar thread wrap under the visible wrap on the female ferrules of the 8 wt. I didn’t. It’s not easy to wrap over a previous wrap, and I will just be more careful about the ferrules loosening when hauling big line.
When it comes to finish, I like Lite Flex Coat because it works well using several thin coats of finish, which is my preference. It allows me to saturate the thread and further trim tag between coats. If bubbles appear, have an alcohol flame or heat gun handy to easily remove them.
Three things are important when wrapping a rod. The width of wraps, trim bands, and inlays should be consistent. There should be no gaps between individual wraps of thread, and there should be no overlapping thread wraps. These all depend on good light and good thread control. I found midway through the second rod that using a bobbin to hold and control thread worked well for me. It was particularly good on the small front section where tension will bend the rod. I use both bobbin weight and hand control to apply tension. Note, I also use my hackle pliers for grip and weight on the tag when needed. Those fly tying tool can be re-purposed.
Sometimes this all seems complicated, and in addition to the three aesthetic needs above, the thread ends must be locked under the wrap so that they don’t loosen before finish is applied. I learned that as a guide foot is wrapped, a gap between thread and the rod will form on each side. The loop that is normally placed under the last eight or so wraps so that the tag can be pulled back under the threads is best placed in this gap on the far side of the guide. It can then be easily pulled through, and the tag end pulled tight and under the threads away from you. Find a method to lock the thread ends that works for you. Use dividers to measure widths, and get started. Before you know it, you will have built a fly rod.
This finishes the initial rod building blog, but there are still two subject that I want to cover in a followup. Decorative wraps with Trim Bands and Inlays add a personal touch to a rod. These are not hard to do, and I will cover (touch upon is a better description) these in a blog post. Also, the skills learned to build a rod can be applied to repairing a rod. I will discuss how a bamboo rod with a loose ferrule and missing guide was repaired. These two repairs turned a $80 rod acquired in an antique store into a perfectly good fishable bamboo fly rod. It doesn’t get us the expensive and very good bamboo rod that can be purchased new, but it gets us the rod that our fathers or grandfathers fished.