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
Cheers - SRM