Saturday, February 27, 2010

Building a Fishing Rod

By: Stacy Nitschke, Contributor

Fishing rod building has been a hobby for many people for a long time. Though most people would not really consider the idea because it is easier to go the store and buy a cheap fishing rod to get out by the water and catch some fish, building a rod is very rewarding. Yet for those who like to perfect their adventure, or just like to express themselves through the look of their rod, here is a brief summation of what is involved in the most basic building of a fishing rod.

First of all, one needs to decide what type of fishing is to be done with the rod. For example, pan fish could be the prey to be pursued. So, an ultra light or light action spinning rod blank is chosen. There are several hundred options for a blank from many different companies, whether it be a change in color of the rod or artwork, action, power, length, response, or any other facet of personal choice. Also, consideration must be taken into the guides to be placed on the rod blank, along with the handle, reel seat and fore grip.

A light action blank has been chosen, and a cork handle and fore grip will be placed on the blank along with a reel seat. The handle and fore grip length can be considered regarding the torque of the fish being caught. Since smaller fish are being pursued a lot of torque would not be required, so a shorter handle would work. Perhaps a six inch handle and a inch and a half fore grip would be fine. The reel seat will generally be a standard size.

Depending on the length of the rod, several guides must be placed to keep the fishing line in control. If there are too many guides, the rod may be unbalanced and heavy at the tip. If there are too few, line slap may be experienced which slows down the line and reduces the distance the rod will cast. A good rule of thumb is that the length of the rod, plus one and a tip top are what should work best for any given rod. Since it is a personal preference though, one person may like more guides whereas another person may like fewer guides.

When all the components are ready, the first thing to do it to find the spine of the rod blank. There are many different ways to find the spine of the rod. The final outcome being sought is to find the natural bend of the rod, the outside of that natural bend would be the spine, or spline as some call it. Epoxy the handle, reel seat and fore grip in place on the spine of the rod, keeping in mind the placement of the center of the reel seat for where the reel will be when fishing.

Guides would be placed on the inside of the spine for a spinning rod. Space them out to a comfortable distance overall and then do some test casting with the rod. Securing the guides so that they can be moved while testing things out is easily done with either small pieces of tape, or rubber bands.

After everything is centered on the spine, the guides are tested for placement and maximum casting distance is obtained, it is time to commit to the changes. Using thread specifically designed for building fishing rods, the guides have the thread wound around the foot to keep the placement. After all the guides are wrapped, they can be double checked to ensure they are centered on the spine and straightened if need be.

The moment of truth has arrived. Using a special epoxy over the threads on each guide foot will hold the guides permanently in place. The rod must be continuously turned while the epoxy dries, so it is placed in a rod turner. Rod turners come in many different RPM's. The mid range speeds of about 8-20 RPM's probably work the best. If the rod turns too slow, the epoxy can sag. But if the rod turns too fast, the epoxy may not dry evenly.

Depending on the epoxy used, it may be dry in less than an hour, or it could take several hours. It is mostly a matter of personal preference as to what to use. There are two part epoxies and there are special one part sealers that can be used.

The tip top is attached using a specific tip top glue, or the epoxy used on the handle assembly can be used also to put it in place. The nice part about the tip top glue is that it can be heated and the tip top can be adjusted again if it is not on the spine correctly. But the tip top glue also dries very quickly so it must be arranged quite fast. Heating it up too many times may cause damage to the end of the rod blank.

There is a brief general description of building a fishing rod. There are many websites out there that offer a lot of helpful advice. Two decades ago each rod crafter was basically on their own to find the answers to a lot of questions. Today, there are websites and books and many more people who can give advice and guidance on the different areas of expertise such as marbling, flocking, weaving, wrapping or using lathes to make handles and reel seats. The options are endless when it comes to personalize a fishing rod for someone.

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