I must say though that I have sworn off using Cabelas for rod building supplies. On my last rod I ordered multiple components for my rod and when they were delivered they didn't look like what ws posted on the website. There is no catalog number on the items, so you can't tell if they sent you what you ordered. I ordered a reel seat made by Struble, and what they sent me was in a plastic bag with nothing that said Struble on it, and it wasn't mortised like the website showed. I sent it back and ordered elsewhere. There was not way of telling for sure if the guides I ordered were really titanium. I'm back to using Anglers Workshop. They have great service.
Not a bad skill to learn and certainly satisfying if you do meticulous work. Not to mention the savings that can be had over just buying a rod outright. On the plus side you can pick and choose your own thread colors, type of guides, reel seat and hook holder. And since you aren't paying for labor that money can be spent on higher quality components if you choose. Few tools are required but a cradle to hold the rod while it is being wrapped is pretty important. If you are handy in the wood shop such a device can be built quite easily. I built a rather fancy telescoping model years ago with a sliding spring loaded bobbin carriage that has worked flawlessly for years. Once you apply epoxy to the threads it is nice to have the rod turning on a very low speed motor in order to get perfect looking wraps. It can be done manually by turning the rod every few minutes but it is a tedious process and you have to stay on top of it until the epoxy sets up. And it sets very slowly. The investment for the motor usually dictates that you build several rods in order to defray the expense.
The down side of building your own rod is that if you break it you have to fix it. The blank maker will usually replace the blank free but you have to strip the broken piece and put the components on the new section. I broke my favorite 5 wt a couple of years back during mid season and knew that by the time I stripped the broken part, sent it in, got it back and rewrapped it 3 weeks would probably have gone by and I just couldn't afford that. As soon as I got home I ordered a new rod with a lifetime warranty and 3 days later I was fishing with it. Two weeks ago I broke that new rod but it was replaced in 8 days and I was back in business.
So there are pluses and minuses to building your own, you just have to weigh them against your own situation. It is an enjoyable mid winter pastime but I sure hate to bother with it when the fishing is good!
A word to he wise, if you use double foot guides, they may stiffin the action of the rod too much, I learned this on an attempted first 7ft 4 wt for my son, I redid it I was so unhappy with the action of the rod, single foot guides worked much better
I've built 5 fly rods over the years. Like my fly tying, each one got a bit better and went more smoothly.
I am cheap - this is a great way to afford a decent or really nice fly rod.
For holding the blank during wraps winding - simply take a sturdy cardboard box, cut off the flaps, turn it open side up, cut out one large side to work through (leave maybe 1" along edges), cut two V's on the sides (maybe 6" deep) that the rod blank can rest in, tape some felt or other soft fabric over the bottom of the V, and you'd got a great, free rod holder that works well.
I've had great luck on prices and quality from Madison River Fishing Company for kits.
I just finished a 11'-6" 7-8 wt. spey today. It's a great feeling to finish one up. If you re just starting a hook and hackle kit is a nice inexpensive way to start. You can always change any of the components if you don't like what is in the kit. I built mine with red thread and white tripp wraps. It's my first Red Sox rod .
The best way to learn is to befriend someone with the knowledge.
Take your time. All the problems I've ever had when building a rod was due to rushing the process. Except that one time when my wife sitracted me during the curing process.
I started building rods about seven years ago. I'm approaching owning 20 fly rods, and only two of them are storebought. The rest I've built. I've lost count of what I've built for myself, friends and so forth these last few years. It is a great hobby, and like has been said, Angler's Workshop and MRFC are great. I deal most with MRFC nowadays. I've never tried a kit. I always like buying stuff individually for myself. I like to oversize my guides, and I don't use hook keepers, so I order each component singularly. You don't need as much of the fancy stuff as alot of the books and catalogs would have you believe. I made my own turner and thread tensioners, and you quickly come to know how you like to do things and you get your own style.
It is very easy. It's just the time you want to put into it that decides how nicely it'll turn out for you.
I agree with the others. Give it a shot. I also used a card-board box to hold my rod at first. Now I just hold in in my hands as I wrap it. It is much easier to get the tension that I want and with a slight tilt of the rod it basically wraps it self as I roll the blank in my fingers. Take your time, do it right or redo it. Don't get frustrated if you mess something up. There is nothing that can't be fixed (for the most part) prior to epoxying. Even then you can correct errors if you need to.
I also don't own a factory built rod any more. I sold them all to pay for more blanks. My only problem now is having a hard time justifying why I need any more rods (which I don't) but I enjoy the hobby.
You also don't need to buy the whole kit if you don't want to. I built a 4wt on a GLoomis IMX blank that I got from Cabelas and it is terrific, and I got the components locally.
I am not sure how much your gift certificate is for... but if you can, order the best blank you can, then get your hardware from a local dealer so you can make sure it is what you want and they are all the right size. Just an idea.
Anyway, have fun. It is a great hobby. When I catch fish on flies that I tied and a rod that I assembled, it adds a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment to the experience.
It is lots of fun to build some of your own rods. Ive's comment about the warranty is a very good point. Over the years the cost of the blanks and the components have gone up in relation to the cost of a finished rod so it isn't the money saving endeavor it once was. You may find it to be a great winter hobby though. Greg's Custom Rods in Lake Stevens specializes in blanks and rod building components. Greg is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. I believe HarleyDeen on this site works there.