Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fly Rod Build #1 Complete

Now that my first fly rod build is complete, I am anxious to test the rod on the water with a hard day of fishing.  I learned a number of valuable lessons from this experience that, no doubt, I will carry forward.  If nothing else, the satisfaction of building my own rod with relatively low expense has given me a hunger to perfect this new skill.  When I compare the aesthetics of this rod and the cost to many of my factory built rods, I feel pretty darn good.

Given I had no prior experience, I'm pleased with the outcome, although I can think of several "rookie" mistakes I'll be sure to keep in mind for build #2+, including:

- Buy the highest quality blank I can reasonably afford.  It will be worth it.
- Use the best silk thread I can buy like YLI or Pearsall's.  This will reduce the need for sanding and minimizes re-work.  I learned this lesson about half way through this build and it made all the difference in the world!
- Do not use varnish over a metallic thread.  I used a silver thread to tip the wraps, but because the varnish has a tendency to have a shade of color, while it looks awesome on silk, the effect is less desirable on the metallic thread.
- Shorter wraps look better. I had the tendency to make the wraps a bit longer than necessary.
- Use a high quality varnish with a fast dry time and relatively hard finish but not too hard (i.e. McCloskey Man O'War in gloss)
- Use an ultra-fine tip pen (Gelly Roll or similar) to write on the blank.  Also, use a high quality sealer like Deft water based poly over the writing before attempting to coat with the varnish.

I've decided to make an offer to my friends and family that I will build them a fly rod for free; all they have to do is cover the cost of materials.  This way, they get a really nice custom rod for cheap and I get to practice without going bankrupt in the process.  We'll see if I get any suckers takers.

Cheers - SRM


  1. Looks fantastic, Ben! Very interesting points you make -- I noticed the same thing about the length of wraps on mine. Shorter is better and shorter is hard! ;) And that's a great idea for experience in making more! Nice.

    1. Many thanks Erin! I'm wanting to build a small rod in the 1 - 2wt category in the 7ft range next. I catch a lot of really big redear sunfish "shellcracker" and they would be a blast on a small rod. I also need a big rod in the 9/10wt range to cast heavier depth charge line - this rod is more like an 8/9wt.