I was looking for a winter project when I found that the Salmon River Anglers Association was offering a fly rod building class. A few weeks before I had spent an afternoon with the SRAA during their Flies and Pies event, so I knew that this was a good group of guys dedicated to fly fishing and the Salmon River.
I had been looking at a course in the Catskills that was $1,350, so the $25 course fee seemed like a real bargain. Andy Manchester, the course instructor, is well known as a craftsman and rod builder extraordinaire. Best of all, the course was one night per week and would be finished by the end of March. My friend Paul was interested in the course as well, so we were able to carpool.
Before the class I chose the rod that I wanted to build – a 3-piece, 10 ft., 5 wt. I was looking for a good nymphing rod, and the 10 ft. rods seemed to be popular according to local fly fishers.
Andy sent me a link to a rod builders web site, and together we chose the components: a dark green rod blank, cork grip, green aluminum reel seat, guides, tip top, and two colors of thread for wrapping the guides, garnet and gold (Go ‘Noles!)
There was also a list of supplies we would need: sandpaper, emery boards,rubber gloves, a mask, razor blades, small scissors, a reading lamp, masking tape and small brushes for applying epoxy. Andy provided a mandrel, practice thread, 2 burnishing tools, a rod holder, and 3 books on rod building. It sounds like a lot, but most of it fit in a shoe box sized plastic container.
In the first class we learned how to find the spine of the rod, which determines where the guides are to be placed. We also began to practice wrapping guides, which takes much time and effort. We needed to do 10 wraps before the first class. I did at least twice that, cutting away some wraps that didn’t look good.
In the second class Andy examined our wraps and showed us how to epoxy the reel seat and cork grip to the blank. He encouraged us to continue our wrapping.
Update 3/28/09 – Over the next few weeks I wrapped the snake guides, ferrules and hook keeper. I applied 3 coats of color lock to the threads, followed by 2 coats of epoxy. Twice I tried to make a rod turner out of a converted can opener; both times resulted in burned up can openers. I finally went on Ebay and found a rod turning kit for $20. Done.
By mid-March I was done with my rod, and since I had some additional time before the class ended, I stripped my bamboo rod and put on new guides. Fun, but not as fun as the graphite rod.
Now I am adding accent wraps to a rod that we will donate to Casting for Recovery.
Took the new rod out on the next two trips to the Naugatuck that I’m about to describe, but so far no luck.