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Old 03-07-2006, 06:50 PM
ruge13's Avatar
ruge13 ruge13 is offline
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Join Date: Before Nov. 1999
Location: Centerville MA
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First Time Rod Building 7wt

I mentioned a while back that I was thinking about building a 14 wt. Still am. I started with some smaller projects first before I build a nicer, more expensive 14wt. I got a lot of excellent advice form other guys on RT who have far more experience than I. I probably should have listened to more of it. But, here’s how it went for me for others thinking of a similar project. The Gist of the story below is if you are thinking about doing it…do it. Its fun, and easy.

My first step was to decide what to build. I needed a light freshwater spin rod and a lighter fly rod so I started with a 6ft spin rod rated to about 6lb test and a 7wt fly rod. The spin rod went fine, easy to build and I made a few simple mistakes easily corrected the next time around. I used a standard Fuji guide and seat package from NetCraft. Also used a prebuilt cork handle. Assembly was fast even with no experience and the single color guide warps were easy. I’ve used the rod a couple times, so far so good for what I am going to use it for. I got a cheap blank from Can’t beat $10 for a cheap blank to practice building with. They are very soft rods though so next time around I would eliminate at least 1 of the guides used. All together it cost me about $35 to build. Add in the cost of materials and its about $75 but much of that includes reamers, thread, home built stand, flex coat, epoxy, exacto knife etc. All of which I will use on future projects.

Anyway, on to the relevant stuff. The 7wt build. I used the same cheap blank, a 3 piece 9ft 7wt rod. Has a forest green finish. Again, a very slow action but I recently used it in Florida for Specs and Snook and have been happy with it and a 9wt floating line (overloaded I know, but the rod is still soft, I took that into consideration). I never cast the full sink that would have no doubt overloaded the rod.

Anyway, this time around I played with components. I ordered a bunch of Nickel silver winding checks, Pac Bay TICH guides and tip top, pack of 10 high grade burl cork rings, and a pack of standard grade cork rings. Putting nickel winding check and TICH guides is like putting a set of 21” chromed out spinner rims on a Dodge neon (way over the top $$$) but I wanted to play around with the type I would be using on a better saltwater rod. I also decided this time around I would shape my own grip and fighting but. Standard Pac Bay rosewood uplocking fly reel seat. Single foot guides (personal preference and less wrapping).

Step 1 - was to spine the rod. I bent it, rolled them around, and was surprised how easy it was to find the spines. I marked them with Masking tape on the tip and ferule on each section separately.

Step 2 - was to assemble the grip pieces and glue them to dry overnight. I got a 2ft length of 1/8 inch threaded wire, a couple of large washers, and some wing nuts. This is my cork vise, about $3 at a hardware store. Works great. The first picture shows the finished grip after assembly and shaping as well as the unfinished fighting butt gluing. I shaped the cork on a Lathe (same I use for plugs) with sand paper. Took about 15 minutes. Easy. I capped both ends of the low grade cork with high grade darker colored burl cork. Looks nicer. Grip is 7” long (pretty standard) and butt is about 2” long.

Step 3 - While that was drying I laid out the spined sections on the floor next to a 9wt. Same length so I used the same guide spacing. Marked each guide location with tape and marked them opposite of the spine. Pic 2. This is not the recommended way of doing this to get spacing matched to the specs of the rod blank, but for this project guessing off an existing rod was fine.

Step 4 – Next I assembled the grip and seat. Reamed the cork and used masking tape as arbors for the seat. Epoxied the whole thing up and was good to go. I am very happy with the way this came out. Scored the blank where I wanted the grips to be so the epoxy holds better.

Step 5 – On to the wrapping. I decided to do 2 colors this time. Cobalt blue and green trim. Slightly harder than the single color obviously but easy after 1 or two guides and I got the hang of it. Wrapped the ferrules as well.

Step 6 – finishing….well…here I learned form mistakes. First I lightly passed the wraps past a heat source. Open flame, to singe off any fuzzies before applying color preserver and flex coat. All fine and dandy until the middle section, which I did last. On the last guide I passed it a little too close and got lazy…put a little pressure on the blank too early and it snapped like a twig. See pic below. Fortunately after a brief temper tantrum I was able to re order the same blank and the middle section fit just fine. Another good reason to start on a few cheap blanks. If this was a $400 Sage I would have lost it!

Anyway, repeated step 5 on middle section a week or two later and was ready to finish. Applied color preserver and 2 coats of flex coat. Let dry and rod is done.

All together I bet it would have taken me about 5 hours (excluding drying time and re wrapping a middle section). I bet it would be much faster next time around which will be a 4wt.

I ordered each guide individually which was an experience of its own. Same for the winding check. I measured the OD of the blank near where the grip fell to order the winding check but apparently was way off so that got re ordered a couple times, as did the guides. My advice if you are not that patient and have never ordered this stuff before, leave a little initial room in the budget to over order parts so you can pick and choose and send the rest back for a credit. Otherwise you will be ordering, returning, and re ordering a few times before you are ready to wrap. Otherwise order a guide set and save yourself the trouble, but its more fun to hand pick your guides and that’s the point right?

Total cost on the 7 wt was a little more. $25 for blanks, about $20 in TICH guides (way over the top), about $10 in cork, $15 in reel seat. Still a relatively cheap rod and as I said, I am happy with the performance after having put a couple fish through it. Craftsmanship was significantly better this time around.

I used size D thread this time as I did last time. Next time around I think I am going to use B or C thread on the wraps for the 4 wt. Lighter and nicer looking I think. I am also going to try a wood handle with the lathe so I will post more pictures of me destroying perfectly good wood blanks trying to get a handle fitted.

Anyway, I am hooked, I am building more.

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Capt. Shaun Ruge
Riptide Charters
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Old 03-07-2006, 07:44 PM
Slappy's Avatar
Slappy Slappy is offline
The truth is out there...
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Arlington MA
Posts: 3,067
One more thing to get addicted to and spend all your money on!

Looks good. With a little practice you won't have to use the heat to melt the thread ends. Hold the razor at 90 degree angle to the rod and slide it between 2 threads.

Good motivation for me to finish up my winter project. I did the caps on the decorative wrap last night. 2 more guides, the ferrule, flex coat and a handle and I am done.

Rod building is certainly easier than fly tying...
Slappy the baitshop boy
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Old 03-08-2006, 05:22 AM
FishHawk FishHawk is offline
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Join Date: Before Nov. 1999
Posts: 469
Working on my winter project as we speak. I'm a little rusty and have had to wrap one of the guides several times. There is always something that seems to go wrong when building a rod. Fun project . FishHawk
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