Rods & Rod building

Rod building is an interesting hobby and a natural extension of fly fishing and fly tying.  As with other parts of the sport  you can become as involved as your interest takes you.

I made my first rod to meet the needs of small brushy creeks.  I put a reel seat and handle on the mid-section of a 3p 8 1/2 ft. fiberglass rod I'd bought at K-mart.   I replaced one of the snake guides with a stripper guide and was ready to fish.   The rod worked!  It was a real thrill to catch a fish on a rod that I'd put together.   Once I saw how easy it was to actually put the parts together, I bough parts from a catalog and tried assembling my first complete rod. 

Links here and out there
Index  what I have to say about:
- Stuff you need  stuff not  in   many books
-Tools you can make
-Forms Wood, steel, or both?
- Planes New and use 9.  How to tune, judge, sharpen and fix them.
- Re-builling Bamboo rods,  a step beyond refinishing.
-Bamboo Rod tapers  Why a taper. Ways to judge a taper
...and more.
On the Net
Bamboo Rod making FAQs
Tons of  information on bamboo rod building

Rod Builders Home page
lot's of information on bamboo rod building and builders.

Bamboo Rodmaking Tips page
a ton of tips for builders

Jann's Netcraft

Most everything you'll need to build a rod -- and then some.

Anglers Workshop

Almost every thing you'll need to build a rod -- and then some

Charles H. Demarest, Inc.

A second generation supplier of Tonkin Cane, Charles Demarest has live an interesting life

 Hock Blades Sharpening page

Hock Blades Are said to be the best,  I copied my sharpening style from the owner.

Performance Fly Rods

Dave Lewis' web site.  A good man to do business with

Harry Boyd's site.

When Harry isn't tending his flock or building fine bamboo fly rods he's  involve in
The Southern Rodmakers GatheringAt Mountain Home, Ark.

Twin Pines Rod Company
Jon Clark builds some beautiful and pleasant casting bamboo rod!

Scary Sharp FAQ

A way to sharpen plane blades without water stones.

There are many more fine rod builders and suppliers
I wish I could list them all.
The many faces of rod building
Graphite rod building
   It's the place to start.  It may be the place that you want to stay.  There are real masters of the art of rod building who do nothing but build custom graphite rods.   One such person is Dave Lewis.  When I decided that I'd like one custom fly rod (a rod built for me, just the way I wanted it) I chose  Dave. He's also very good at helping answer rod building questions.
      If you're building rods for yourself graphite is great.  You get to do the major tasks such as find the spline, (A topic that is hotly debated among rod builders.) set the reel seat and handle and wrap the guides and ferrule.  You can learn to make decorative wraps and weaves.  Catching a Fish on the first rod you've built is a real blast!

    Mostly done to older bamboo rods, it can be as little as polishing the existing varnish.  It will probably require some polishing of metal parts and cleaning the cork grip.  It may require the old varnish be removed and a new coat of varnish applied.  Graphite rods usually only require cleaning.

    This is done when the threads  holding the components in place are worn. It usually requires the rod be stripped.  It's a task often performed on older rods that are going to be fished.  Older rods that are of historical or personal interest probably should be left in their original condition.  On rod of historic value the rule of thumb is do as little as possible.

    On bamboo rods, re-wrapping usually requires removing old varnish and applying a new coat.  Graphite rods require the wraps be re-coated with protective material, such as Flexi Coat.

    Broken components are usually replaced.  However, in some cases they must be  rebuilt to original specifications.  It's often impossible to find original replacements for older rods, especially bamboo rods built by companies long out of business.  A decision has to be made between keeping the rod original or updating parts.   Reel seats, new cork grips, new guides, new ferrules and even new tip tops can replace older parts.  Care should be taken to make sure the parts are compatible.   A plastic reel seat looks out of place (looks like hell)  on a bamboo rod.

    Actually setting out to change the rod should only be done to rods that are of no historical or sentimental value.  Often parts of rods can be found at garage sales and flea markets.  Parts and pieces can be matched to use on one rod.   If you go beyond simply replacing the reel seat and/or grip with one of your own, or changing the size or location of the guides, you'll need  an understanding of how to set a ferrule, how bamboo rods are originally built and/or how rod tapers work.

Building bamboo rods
    When done by an expert, bamboo rod building is undoubtedly the highest form of rod building alive today.  Hand built bamboo rods are among some of the most beautiful of objects.   The combination of materials and craftsmanship lend to a warm piece of art/tool that's a joy to behold (and hold).   Most bamboo rods are made with six planed strips of "Tonkin" bamboo, each an equilateral triangle in cross section.  These six strips are glued together with the more powerful fibers on the outside.  A special jig, called a planing form, is used to form these strips.  Most builders use adjustable steel forms, while others use hard wood forms.  The other components are a VERY sharp block plane and some way of gluing, binding and  heat treating the strips into a rod section.  (Heat treating is another topic of much discussion among rod builders.)   Learning to set a ferrule on a bamboo rod is important too.  It's the number one place that a rod will fail. Beyond that, assembly is fairly standard.

    If you don't want to build your own rod, but would like a link with the past, you can always buy used rods from such places as E-bay, or from a reputable re-seller of rods.  Unfortunately Dick Spurr is no longer in business

Here's an Index of my rod building pages

Stuff you need