How we build each rod
Our Rod Building Process
There are many intricate steps involved in properly building a custom graphite, fiberglass, or bamboo fly rod. Each step is both tedious and time consuming and thus, many commercial builders, and some custom builders, take shortcuts by leaving out some of these important steps. However, we feel that in order to produce a superior quality custom fly rod, each step in the building process must be followed precisely and, to the highest standards possible in order to achieve the quality that our customers deserve!
Finding the spine-
Taking the time to find the spine of each individual rod blank is a time consuming but in extremely important process. When all graphite and fiberglass fly rod blanks are made, they are made from triangular shaped peices of resin impregnated graphtie for fiberglass cloth and, the longest leg of the triangle is affixed to a long, thin, tappered steel rod called a "mandrel". Then the rest of the cloth is wrapped tightly around the mandrel to form the rod blank. Thus, all composite fly rods have a "spine" that extends the full length of the rod blank and which is stiffer than the surrounding mateiral. Therefore, when building a fly rod, it is imperritive that the builder take the time to precisely locate the blank's spine and then align the rod guides precisely with the spine so that the spine will be compressed on the back cast and stretched on the forward cast for precision accuarcy. Otherwise, the tip of the rod can twist during the forward cast and cause the rod to be inaccurate.
Achieving the correct guide spacing is imperative to complement the action of the rod. First, the number of guides and the space between each guide is determined by applying a formula that is dependant on the type and length of the rod blank. Next, each guide is placed on the blank and temporarily held in place with masking tape. Then the blank is placed into a special device called a "spine finder" and a Static Deflection Test is performed. This test allows the rodsmith to visually note and correct any misplaced guides before they are permanently affixed to the rod blank.
Wrapping the guides-
The next step in the building process is to wrap the guides onto the blank. First, the exact position of the guides is precisely noted and marked. Next, the guides are removed from the blank and the grip or grips are reamed out to the correct diameter by using a special device made for the purpose and placed on the blank in the correct positon along with the winding check. Then, the guides are replaced and the masking tape is reapplied to one half of each guide foot. Next, the blank is placed on a special jig designed specifically for wrapping fishing rods and a special type of rod thread is wrapped onto the blank and then over the foot of each guide to hold it in place. After each guide is wrapped, we take great care to note and adjust the alignment of each guide so that all of the guides are in precise alignment with each other. This is another tedious and time consuming step that many builders choose to ignore in the belief that their customers will not notice the difference!
Affixing the reel seat and the grip-
Before the stripping guide can be wrapped in place, the reel seat, grip, and winding check msut be affixed to the blank with a two-part rod builder's epoxy and the reel seat properly aligned with the guides. Then, the stripping guide can be wrapped and a decretive butt wrap and the rods spefications and decal can be applied to the blank.
Finishing the wraps-
The purpose of the rod finish is to protect the wraps from abrasion and UV deterioration. Thus, all commercial manufactures and most custom builders like to use a thick, high-build, epoxy finish which they apply in a single coat to cover the guide wraps. However, a high-build finish obscures the fine detail of the wraps, covers mistakes, and hides poor workmanship. Thus, I use a solvent to thin the epoxy before application which requires the application of severl coats but, also allows the details and fine workmanship of the wraps to be seen. Then, after the application of each coat of finish, the blank is placed on a special rod drying device that continuously rotates it at a slow rate of speed so that the epoxy dries evenly on the wraps without bulges or runs. So, while this multi-coat process is far more time consuming than applying a single, heavy, coat, it creates a moderately thick but very clear finish that emphasizes the color of the wraps and does not obscure the fine details and excellent workmanship.