With the fighting butt, reel seat, grip, winding check, and final wraps in place, all that remains to finish out my first fly rod build is to coat the wraps and blank on the butt section with varnish. My handy work is far from perfect but considering I did all the wraps BY HAND, without any rod wrapping tools or motors, I think it looks pretty darn good.
I took the rod out and cast the outfit assembled for the first time today. The reel, loaded with line and backing, balanced out the rod perfectly and I was casting long tight loops with minimal effort. I couldn't have been more pleased! I still expect the first good fish to snap the crummy blank I built this rod on but I enjoyed the process so much, it would just make a good excuse to immediately do it all over again.
To top it off, my new 5wt 3pc Signature S-Glass Rod from Graywolf Rods arrived today!! If you've seen the pics, you only get a taste. It looks better in person. The transluscence of the blank, the perfection of the finish, the attention to every detail...it's just impressive all around. I have never held a rod that equals it and I still can't believe I own it.
I plan to take both rods out tomorrow for their first "dip."
Cheers - SRM