How to ruin a rod...

So I'm interested in building a rod... What dyed in the wool fly head wouldn't be? I have hesitated in the past. Perhaps it's fear of the unknown... I have heard people say how they picked up a book and everything was great the first time out... Color me a skeptic, but I'm sure there a few horror stories out there too.

What all can go wrong? Is it possible to screw the process up to the point that you have to throw the blank away and start over? I'm nervous investing in a blank etc without knowing all the ways I can mess this up.

I always have trouble reaming the cork handle. You must take your time and get an even taper. if you are not careful, you can make the hole big at both ends and small in the middle.

Applying the finish to the wraps also troublesome for me. It is hard for to get the finish to lay evenly on the wraps as I don't have a rod turner. I apply a coat of finish and babysit the rod for a couple of hours turning it a 1/2 turn every 10 or 15 minutes



The dumb kid
as someone who has built alot of rods, i will say 2 things. first, it is as easy as most people seem. second, while some things can go wrong, its VERY hard to ruin a blank beyond repair. as said, you might mess up a cork or 2, i know i have. you might mess some wraps up... so rewrap them. the ONLY spot where you get 1 chance is epoxying the cork and reelseat to the blank. other than that, its cake.. and about that part, just be careful and plan everything in advance. :ray1:
For me the most critical area used to be mixing the epoxy. You can screw this up to the point that it will never harden. Everything else is pretty clear to see. The thread wraps, guide placement, cork, etc.
What works for me is: Use fresh epoxy, intended for rod building. Don't laugh, I once use some five minute stuff that peeled off when it got wet. Had to cut the whole mess off with a razor. Guidebrod (sp?) and Crystal Clear seems to be what I've used most.

The key for me to make the epoxy work is for each epoxy session use an upside down soda can. I find that plastic containers react with the epoxy and can cause it to look milky. Make sure that the can and epoxy is room temp.

Invert both bottles so that there is no air at the nozzles. Pay close attention and count the drops as they fall into the soda can which is now upside down, providing you with a shallow cup. Does not matter if you start with the resin or the hardner. I always add 1 extra drop of hardner.
Using a watch and a toothpick stir for two minutes. I use the throw away water color brushes from K-Mart.
Years ago, I turned the blank by hand. Ten years ago, I bought a $20.00 rod turner from Cabelas, which I mounted on a V cut piece of 2X6 that serves as the holder.

So lots of words I know. But if the epoxy is screwed up, you might have to cut the thread off. Although, there have been times when I was able to cover epoxy that would not cure with another coating that did the job.

Don Brooks
Trevor...get ready for a new obsession! :thumb:

It's actually pretty hard to get into incorrectable problems. I guess if you put a little TOO much pressure while spining the blank... :rolleyes:

You've gotten some great advice, though. Use adhesives and finishes designed for rodbuilding, like Rod Bond for epoxy and LS Supreme for finish (this might be the best choice for a "rookie" as it releases bubbles in the finish much easier/more effectively than most). I'd strongly suggest you measure your finish with syringes (often included with your finish) as the exact 1:1 ratio is essential. Be sure to grind your guide feet so there's no sharp edges or high spots to dig into and compromise your blank, and ask lots of questions on boards like this and There's lot's of great info in the FAQ's and Library sections there, too.

I highly recommend Tom Kirkman's book, Rod-Building Guide as a good one to start with...very understandable, and surprisingly succinct (you can read it in an evening!).

Most of all, have fun! You can build some outstanding performance rods at surprisingly low cost, and have the pride of ownership that comes from hand crafting your own stick.


The Rocky Mountain Rodbuilding Supply Co.
Roper, I will have to plan on doing just that for my first stab at this. :0)

Thanks to everyone for the tips and pitfalls. It doesn't sound near as intimidating as I made it out to be in my mind. Thank you all very much. Perhaps I'll come back to this thread and curse you all in a year after I'm well and truly addicted, but for now, I appreciate all your input. ;)


mike doughty

Honorary Member
Let me count the ways, actually it's pretty easy, but i have had something happen it seems to almost each (5) rods that i have built. one time i had the bottom blank all put together and realized i forgot to put the winding check on so i had to remove the guides, luckily i didn't have the rod finish on yet. i to don't have a rod turner yet, so i have to babysit mine and turn them every so often, went to turn one and found a spider had walked into the rod finish and of course was stuck so i tried to remove it and everything came off except the legs, which are still stuck on my rod. oh well, when building for myself i don't care as much about cosmetics. as far as reaming and seating the cork handle this is where i feel needs the most attention. after reaming a cork handle i applied masking tape to the blank where the handle would be seated i thought it was perfect, but apparently did not pay enough attention, now i have a spot in the the middle of my handle that is soft, meaning i did not apply enough masking tape to the blank to make sure the crok handle was snug all the way around. eventually with all the trial and error i will start to get them just how i want them. good luck and if i were you i would invest in a video for rod building i think they are easier to understand.
Hey Mike, a possible fix for the soft spot in your rod handle. Get a large guage syringe, fill it with well mixed epoxy, and squirt it into the handle either between the winding check or the butt section.


I agree with much of what was said above. The main thing to keep in mind is that your first rod will not be perfect. I would not go out and buy a Sage blank and ceramic guides for the first rod. Start with something relatively inexpensive. I remember speaking with Dave Scadden--the maker of those nice pontoon boats--who said that by your fourth rod, you will have the hang of it. In my case he was right on the money. Although I frequently fish my second and third rods, they are not pretty. (The first was made for my wife, who has never fished it) The fourth and fifth were donated to an auction, and they turned out great.

The trickiest part, in my opinion, is getting the epoxy right. I strongly recommend using DuraGloss LS Supreme. It is VERY easy to work with, and looks GREAT when done. Plus, it is easy to remove if you screw it up. All you need is a hair dryer and a fingernail. I disagree with the advice of using anything but a FIFTY-FIFTY mixture of resin and hardener. I tried this on my second rod, and the thing would probably still be drying if I hadn't put on a coat of Hard-as-nails over the epoxy.

I don't know if you tie flies, but my first few flies were UGLY. I still have one that looks like a deer-hair lint ball. But they all caught fish. An ugly rod will do the same, and you will have the pride of knowing that you caught the fish on something you made yourself. You will also be compelled to make more rods until you get it right.

After building more rods and religiously reading the posts at, I feel like I can make twice the rod the high-end manufacturers make at half the cost.

Have fun, and good wraps,

Andrew Toynbee
aka Riverdog
Thanks to all. I signed up for a rod building class at a local flyshop that will take place in early January. I'm excited. I'm going to build an eight weight for steelhead and hopefully put it to good use in 2005. :thumb: