Rod Building Instructions

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It seems like folks are always asking rod building questions on the List. I put together a one page set of rod building instructions to include with the rod kits I sold at shows several years ago and decided to include them on my web site. I'll cut and paste them here for anyone to use or make comments or additions to. If you make additions please note them with your name. Here is the instruction sheet:

Rod Assembly Simplified

1. Put the blank together and check for straightness. I like to put tape around the blank above and below the ferrules and draw a line across them to keep the alignment the same through the whole building process. Draw a line across the top of the tape wraps to locate the straight side of the rod. You can check for the spine if you like by pushing down on the middle of the blank with your hand while resting the butt end on a table top and the tip end in your hand. The blank will rotate to the softest side. I like to put the guides on the inside of the bend.

2. Glue on the tip top with epoxy. Use only high strength, slow drying epoxy. You might have to file the opening of the tip top just a little to get it to go onto the tip section. Some times you have to scrape the paint from the surface of the blank at that point, too. Inexpensive blanks some times need a little beveling on the upper ends of the sections to get them to go together smoothly too.

3. Glue the parts of the reel seat together with epoxy, then measure the length of the reel seat and grip and mark the blank where that length ends. Sand the blank with rough sandpaper to that point, so the glue holds well to its surface.

4. Wrap two bands of tape at either ends of the reel seat around the bottom end of the butt section to bush it and make the reel seat fit nicely. Fill the remaining part with epoxy to glue the seat in place. Make sure you have it perfectly aligned with the tip top.

5. Using a rat tail file, open and taper the hole in the grip to snugly fit the blank. Work epoxy into the grip hole and coat the blank with a nice smooth coat too. Then slide the grip down to fit nicely over the upper end of the reel seat. You can clean up the epoxy with a paper towel and alcohol.

6. Slide the winding check down against the front of the grip with the flat end against the grip.

7. Position the butt guide and snake guides on the blank according to the guide spacing chart for the rod length. Here are charts for the various kits I sell: (measurements from the tip top)

7' 6" - 4 1/2"---10"---16 1/4"---23 1/4"---31"---39 1/2"---49 1/2"---60 1/2"

7' 9" - 4 1/2"---10"---16 3/8"---23 3/4"---32 1/8"---41 3/8"---51 5/8"---63"

8' - 4 1/2"---9 5/8"---15 5/8"---22"---29"---36 3/8"---44 5/8"---53 7/8"---64 1/4"

8' 6" - 5"---11 1/4"---18 1/2"---26 1/4"---34 1/4"---42 1/2"---51"---61"--- 72 1/2"

9' - 4 1/2"---9 5/8"---15 5/8"---22"---29"---36 3/8"---44 5/8"---53 7/8"---64 3/4"---76 1/4"

You might have to juggle the positions of some of the guides a bit to accommodate the ferrules on three and four piece rods. Tape one end of the guide with 1/4” masking tape and do the thread wrap on the other end. Wrap from the end of the guide foot toward the guide loop. The thread will stack nicely on the tapered guide foot that way. Pull the tag end of the thread back under the wrap with a loop of tippet material, that you have wrapped several turns of thread over. Cut the tag end with a razor blade. Check guide alignment and wiggle the guides into aligmnent before varnishing. Be sure and do a 1/2” reinforcing wrap at the bottom of each section to protect the ferrule from splitting.

8. Coat the wraps with four coats of polyurethane varnish. I suggest high gloss Minwax brand. I use it for the writing area of my rods and find it to be very durable. Be sure and let the wraps dry over night between coats.

9. You’re done. Get on the phone right away and order another kit, since this one was so much fun. Take the rod out and go fishing.

Dave Lewis