Regarding Thermoplastic Ferrule Cement

I've built about a dozen rods over the years. Following the guidance of writers like Don McClain ("Fiberglass Rod Making," 1973), I've always used ferrule cement for the tip top and the reel seat. I've been glad that I did, because I've repaired many a grooved tip top simply by heating it, pulling it off, and gluing a new one on with, again, heated ferrule cement. When up-lock reel seats came into fashion (a good idea on lighter rods, anyway, because they give you a short "butt" with which to keep your reel away from your torso) I simply heated up the downlock seats on my old rods, mainly 60s and 70s Fenwicks, pulled them off, turned them around and put them back on using a new coating of ferrule cement. (The Fenwicks had a butt cap that could be pulled out and then replaced once the seat was in the new position.) Once, I had to give up on pulling the seat from a custom-built (circa 1972) Lamiglass graphite because the builder apparently used an adhesive that didn't respond to heat no matter how hard I pulled. Since it was an 8 wt, I solved the problem by drilling into the end of the reel seat and inserting a matching piece of blank on which I mounted a short fighting butt. I don't know what I'll do if that seat ever becomes unserviceable and must be replaced.

Sorry to be so long winded, but that, finally, leads me to my question. It seems that most of what I read on rod building these days instructs builders to use some type of epoxy when installing seats and tip tops. How, then, do you get these off without damaging the blank when you want to replace them? Or, as with my old Lamiglass, are you simply stuck with the hardware the way it is?

I'd really appreciate any advice/comments on this issue since I'm about to build another rod and I'm afraid I'm a bit behind when it comes to modern techniques and adhesives. Thanks!

Roy, epoxy is very strong stuff and most of the time you can remove the part with some heat and cold. Epoxy doesn't melt - you have to break down the bond using alternating heat/ice/heat.

Like you, I prefer the hot melt glues for tip-tops. They're easier to replace, and also to adjust when you're installing them. The gudebrod product is OK, but Bohning Ferr-L-Tite is even better. This is available in archery shops and some golf shops.

I've recently been using Plio-bond for ferrules on my bamboo rods. This is a flexible cement that is stronger than the hot melt glues, but melts easily with some heat. The secret is to "flash" the glue (light it and burn off the chemical that keeps it viscous) before affixing the parts. This works well for metal reel seats as well as ferrules.

One thing to consider is that you can't heat up a wood insert enough to melt the glue without damaging the wood. That may be a reason why people use epoxy.

I used the rod tip cement until recently. On one of my rods, I went to go fishing and the thing was loose. Luckily I had another rod that day, though I don't always bring more than one. Since then I've used epoxy to attach the tip. I wonder if it gets hot enough in the car to loosen that rod tip cement. The day I had that happen I had my rod in the car while I worked half day, and it was a very hot day. I've heard of tips wearing and needing replaced - I can only hope I will ever use any of my rods enough for that to happen. I can see it with monofilament like a spinning rod, but I would think fly line would make much of a groove....

Tom: Fire and ice, two of the ancient elements, and so simple. The best solutions usually are, aren't they. Thanks very much. Your comment about damaging wood inserts is timely, too, because the rod I'm building will sport one. I'll use epoxy for the seat, but I think I'll stick--no pun intended--with the ferrule cement for the tip top. I'll look for some Ferr-L-Tite.

I've heard of Plio-Bond. Been around for some time, hasn't it? Do you take any special precautions to avoid damaging the blank when you set the stuff on fire? Thanks again. --Roy

Wayne: I believe you're right about monofilament being the main cause of grooves in guides. For over twenty years most of my fly fishing was done with shooting heads (I cut DT sinking lines into three heads--very economical) using 20 lb test Amnesia mono as the running line. I had to replace guides and tip tops quite often. When the weight forward tapers came out and it became just about impossible to find DT sinking lines, I got into the multi-tip type (not so economical) lines and my grooving problem ceased. Every now and then, though, I'll take out the one old reel I still keep loaded with Amnesia and put a shooting head on it just to relive the wonderful experience of shooting that stuff a country mile.

On the rod tip cement, I had a tip-top loosen up while fishing just once. Maybe I didn't use enough glue when originally installing the thing, or maybe its inside diameter was just a tad too large. Anyway, some article I read when I started fly fishing suggested carrying a small piece of tip-top glue in your vest, and I've done so most of the time. So I was able to fix the problem in a few minutes and get back to fishing. I think your reasoning is sound about the epoxy, though, and with Tom's heat and ice method, it should be quite possible to replace a tip-top if you ever have to.
Thanks for the response. --Roy