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Want a nice rod at half the price? Then rod building is for you. First you need to determine the rod you want to own.  Lets assume you have the rod, reel seat, guides and thread color in mind.

Stuff you will need to make your rod

  • rod tying jig 
  • thread (choose color for rod and trim wraps. Smaller Diameter thread finishes nice but requires more wraps )
  • masking tape
  • surgical tubing thinly slice into rubber bands (small guide holder instead of masking tape-optional) 
  • razor blade
  • lighter or alcohol burner
  • writing pen (for marking on masking tape)
  • two part epoxy glue for cork
  • cork rasp or round file
  • sand paper  80 grit, 120 grit, 220 grit
  • Steel wool 
  • India ink
  • rod blank
  • guides  and hook keeper
  • reel seat
  • small metal file (hook file works fine)
  • 2 -20 lb mono line loops
  • two part epoxy rod varnish and disposable brush
  • tension device for thread (I use a thick catalog with a couple spools of lead on top and a bowl to put the thread in) 
  • Barbecue rotary motor (for finishing)


Rod spine

Handle with rod spine on tape

First you need to find the spine of the rod and mark it. Do this twice for a two piece rod. This is the line the guides and reel seat will be lined up on. This step is very important to do before making the handle. To find the spine place the tip on the floor and place the butt of rod in the palm of your hand. Now with the other hand put pressure on the rod so it bends and roll it on floor. The rod will hop or stiffen on the spine of the blank as you roll it . Mark the spine on masking tape above the area where the handle will go.

  Back portion of Handle 

trod building04.jpg (13603 bytes) Handle Kit from Cabelas

(This is for a bait rod) Ok now ream your cork to fit the rod blank. Be careful not to over ream the cork. The cork needs a snug fit, remember the glue helps the cork slide on easier. If you are using a preformed handle you may want to cut the handle into smaller pieces to eliminate hollow space created by uneven reaming longer handles. You can also ream the front cork before gluing, but remember to put reel seat on for the proper spacing on corks. Glue the back portion of the handle in place and wipe of excess glue. Allow glue to dry

Reel Seat

cold spot handle.jpg (17825 bytes) Custom reel seat no trigger

trod building06.jpg (18275 bytes) Custom reel seat with trigger

finger indent.jpg (3319 bytes) Custom reel seat with finger groove

The reel seat needs to be lined up with the spine. Build a foundation for the real seat to sit on by wrapping masking tape around blank. Make the foundation fit snug but not so much that the glue has nothing to adhere to. If you haven't reamed the front cork yet do so now before the next gluing.  Mark on the back handle section the spine for easy alignment when gluing reel seat in place.  You may need to shape the cork for the butt. Time to glue the reel seat, front cork and butt cap in place. Don't skimp on the glue on the foundation for the reel seat. Make sure the reel seat is lined up with the spine (Do I need to tell you again).  Glue front handle in place and wipe excess glue off. Let handle dry.

After handle has dried tape reel seat , butt cap and rod blank to protect during sanding. Sand to shape using the heavy grit sand paper first. Then use the 220 to finish the job. Remove the tape when your the handle is finished.


guide wrap.jpg (8592 bytes) Decorative wrapped guide

guide wear.jpg (8439 bytes) Guide wrap wear

trod building01.jpg (59892 bytes) Simple rod color and highlights

Guides need to be aligned with spine of rod and reel seat. Since the reel seat is glued in place you can use the reel seat as your guide for the guide placement on the back half of the rod.

Prepare the guide by filing the footing of the guides so the thread will make make a smooth transition from the blank to the guide. 

Glue the tip in place using hot glue. Make sure it is in line with spine.

Measure the guide spacing on the rod and mark with masking tape. Before putting on rear guide put finish ring on. Glue it in place after the decorative wrap is in place.

Tape guides in place and remove spacing tape. Now determine the length of your guide wraps. Cut a piece of cardboard  to the length of the wrap length. Use the cardboard to measure wrap length and mark with tape. By premeasuring wraps on the guides your job will be much simpler, by giving your wrap a place to start. Time to wrap guides.

Don't worry if your guides aren't lined up while your wrapping them. Do try to keep them close, but final adjustments will be made before finishing.

Wrap the monofilament into wrap so you can pull thread underneath wrap. I always keep a extra monofilament loop handy incase the first one shows wear or I misplace it. Trim excess wrap with razor blade and singe thread end with lighter or alcohol burner. Align guides from tip to butt using pencil to move guide into line.

Finishing the wraps

deco fan wrap.jpg (5031 bytes) Decorative fan wrap with fish scales

trod building03.jpg (31611 bytes) Ferrule decorative wrap

deco front grip wrap.jpg (25759 bytes) Fan Decorative wrap with fish scales

Deco wrap on wlami.jpg (4166 bytes) Decorative wrap on white Lamiglas moocher

Does the rod look finished before you apply finish? If not fix it now. Put rod into jig and attach barbecue rotary motor to butt of rod. Mix epoxy rod varnish and apply finish. Let barbecue motor run all night until epoxy dries. Be careful not to turn off motor to early or finish will sag.

For a glow in the dark tip, put glow in the dark powder in epoxy mixture before finishing tip.

To add sparkle to your wraps add glitter to the epoxy mix. Use small glitter flakes.

You can test what the wraps will look like on a broken or old rod before applying to your new rod.

Writing on your rod

writing on rod.jpg (11536 bytes) Personalized  rod

Tape off area around blank writing space. Buff the area with fine steel wool to prevent the pen from slipping off the rod surface. Write on blank with contrasting ink and apply finish over writing.