Friday, June 22, 2012

First Time Fly Rod Build

About two months back, I snapped an Albright 10wt rod that I used to toss 500grn depth charge line.  It ticked me off somethin' fierce, but I picked up the rod second hand for a song anyway, so I got over it.  I've been pondering rod building for a while.  Given my wide range of interest in all things related to fly fishing, I'm as surprised as anyone it's taken me this long to try my hand at building.  After all, I think it would not be boastful to say I'm a decent hand at the vise, so rod building would be a perfectly natural way to complete the general picture.

I decided to take the low budget approach on this first feeble attempt.  I did a bit of homework on the basic order of operations, materials, tools, etc. and decided to get going.  It made sense to me to start with an inexpensive blank in the likely event I will botch the job, get frustrated, and snap the rod with intent anyway.  One eBay special and a few days later, I receive a product equal to what I would expect for the price and get started.  Since it's a 4 piece rod, I was able to start placing guides and wrapping on the upper sections since there will not be a guide on the butt section.

I started by robbing the guides off the fatally maimed Albright rod. This made me a little sick to my stomach but it was quick work with my handy Dremel. It sounds a little ambitious (foolish), but I chose to go with silk threads for the wraps and spar varnish for finish.  I like the low build of the varnish over epoxy and the clean classic look.  I've read up on this and, while you may not agree with this approach, the result thus far hasn't made me regret the decision.

Now keep in mind, I don't claim to know what I'm doing.  In fact, I'm going about this whole thing on about 99.9% wreckless inspiration from having eyed one too many master rod builder's blogs.  I've read only enough to have a cursory understanding of the basics. I hope to learn a little by doing and reading.  When I get stumped, I'll read some more.  One day, I hope to catch up with one of the master builders and convince them to let me "stage the chef" for a week.  Shane Gray (Graywolf Products and Services), George Minculete (Tight Loop), Dave Lewis (Performance Fly Rods), and Jory Ward (Westslope Rods) would be a few of the masters of the trade at the top of my list.  I'm not really interested in the labor of love that is bamboo at this point in my life.  I have immense respect for it, I'm just not willing to plane off that much of my time.  Fiberglass and graphite, however, are another matter.

Anyhow, I hope to post more on my progress.  If any of you experienced builders out there have some advice for this newbie, I would be appreciative. I expect to mount the fighting butt, reel seat, cork grip, and winding check in the next few weeks.  I can't wait to make that first cast, but I have to tell you, I half expect this trash-can blank to snap in my hands on the first outing.  I guess it will have been worth it to have gone through the process without emptying my pockets.

Cheers - SRM


  1. Very much looking forward to future posts on this....and you'll never regret the process.

    1. Thanks for the words of encouragement, Erin. I have found the experience to be rewarding already! I hope this is the first of many rods to come.