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Welcome to my rod shop blog!

I'm a hobbyist bamboo rodsmith. I make light trout rods in the 3wt to 5wt class for small stream and high country fly fishing. This is my blog of what's going on in the shop. You can find pictures of the shop and other rod stuff on the shop gallery page. This page is just for fun.  I make rods for folks I know and fish with. If I don't know you, please don't ask me to make you a rod. Try my friend Erik instead.

If you're expecting a rod, you can keep tabs on it here. Up coming rods are listed in order of production "in the hopper".

 

In The Hopper

I'm currently working on the following rods:
 


Rod
Number*

Taper
1O 215 804-3

* Letter represents year rod is made starting with A = 2001.

Future Projects:

Possible Projects:

Payne 198
Granger 7ft 4wt- GK
Convex 8043
Powell B Taper
HCT 71034 Hollow
Payne 200L 8'0' 4wt
Payne 196 7ft 4wt 3pc
Light Line 7ft 4wt 3pc
Payne 195
Payne 76
 

   

 

05/21/15

 

Wow. It's been four and half years since I built a rod and longer than that since I finished the 215 rod. Where has the time gone? I can't believe I've been fishing that rod, that long. I'm back in the shop and having a rough time of it. I look at the information at the top of the page and struggle to remember what all the nomenclature means. "How did I number my rods?"

 

The "In the Hopper" rods previously on the top of the page mean nothing to me. Did I really plan to make a new tip for the Stairway Creek rod? I'm not sure why. The current tip is pretty good. "What did I mean when I listed the '215 804 H' rod ?" What's "H" mean? Heavy? Lord if I know.

 

The last thing I remember is roughing out sections for a 3 piece version of the 215 rod. "215 rod".... is that really the best name I can come up with? I'm sure it has to do with the stress curve of the thing but given that I haven't looked at a stress curve in 4 years, it doesn't mean much. It has been my go to fishing rod since it was built. (I should definitely think about waxing it this year....)

 

Imagine if rods were named like great swords. The "Trout Slayer" or "Char Clever" sound good but of course I don't kill fish so they really don't apply. I could always refer to it as "you know, the rod that casts like a 3wt" which is how I have to refer to it among the rod builders that have cast it. It's a 4wt by the way and casts in tuned to my style. I'll have to come back to the name thing.

 

I'm back in the shop mainly because I've been fishing two different rods over the last 3 years. The 215 rod and an 8ft 5 inches 5wt 3pc rod made by "myself" and my friend Erik (but really Erik).

 

We'll, I didn't write a chronicle about it but it broke last year and I'm back in the shop to finally finish the 3pc version of the 215 rod but to also make a replacement section for the Lonnea rod. (Ha! Get it! Lowe + Linnea = Lonnea. Erik will love that one.... no he won't.)

 

Anyway, I hope to have the 3pc finished for my first backpacking trip of the season.... presuming I can figure out how all the gadgets in my shop work and remember how to build the thing......

 

 

12/20/10

 

The year is winding down and January is going to be a big rod making month. Up first is the new tip for the Stairway Creek rod, then a rebuild for the 215 8ft 4wt butt section and then if that's successful, a 3 piece version. I probably should come up with a name for the 215 rod. Of course, I've probably said that a dozen times already...... this time I mean it.....

 

10/16/10

 

Iíve got to start making some rods. Thatís the conclusion I came to sitting at my desk at work today. I started making rods over 6 years ago and 20 rods to date isnít very much- especially since I havenít made a rod in over a year. I havenít given up. Life and work have just made me too busy to spend anytime in the shop.

Truth be told, I did do a little rod work this year. My buddy Erik and I were trying to build a rod together for my trip to the Bob Marshall wilderness but, we started a bit late and I took a ridiculously long time to work on the nodes, so we simply didnít get it finished. With the trip come and gone, weíve not really had much motivation to finish the rod. Weíll get it done, Iím sure. In the mean time, I need to spend a little time in my shop.

Iíve had two immediate goals this year- rework the tip on my ďStairway CreekĒ rod. A rod that is misnamed by the way as it was actual Disaster Creek that the rod performed so well on, not Stairway Creek but since the stream stair steps its way down a canyon, itís as good a name as any. Iíd still like to tweet the tip and I have come up with two alternatives. Thatíll make 5 total tips Iíve come up with for this rod. Tip number 3 is well liked, as was proven again at the Easter Sierra Rod Gathering last weekend, but Iíd like the rod to do a little better in the wind so Iím beefing up a portion of the tip a bit and removing a little wood from station 5. Iím hoping to get stronger turnover and a smaller loop.

Iíve also got to balance out the original 215 rod and then make it into a 3pc so those will be my two goals for the winter. Iíve got some bamboo soaking for prep but, itís been soaking all summer so Iím sure itís a molded mess.

 

On a different note, the Eastern Sierra Gathering was fun. I saw some folks I hadnít seen and a while and met some nice new folks. I also did the casting thing as usual but that didnít really hold my interest as it might normally. I liked a Garrison there made by Lisa Cutting but didnít really have an opinion of most of the other rods. Iím not sure if thatís simply because I accepted the rods at face value- some cast well in close, some short, some roll cast better, or perhaps it was because Iím no longer looking to make other rod makers tapers. I didnít come out of this gathering with that ďIíd like to make this rodĒ feeling. The Garrison was really nice, which given my taste in tapers isnít a surprise. What was a surprise is that the Garrison seemed to hold up better in the tip than the other Garrisons Iíve tried.

There were some quads there and some bamboo ferruled rods so all in all, a much broader spectrum of rods than one might normal see at a gathering. Iím still not sold on the bamboo ferrule bit, even after owning and fishing one for several years. I think a good rod is a good rod and the extra wood necessary to build up the ferrule doesnít seem much different to me than a small NS ferrule. Perhaps itís not as stiff but it is still somewhat stiff and you have to change the taper to compensate. Spliced ferrules seem like the way to go if youíre really trying to save weight and maintain a smooth transition of energy through the ferrule. Iím not sold on the taping necessary for spliced ferrules. Iím sure it works fine but I hate dealing with tape in the shop, Iíd sure Iíd hate it even more on my rods. 

 

I had to do a little repair work on the FET rod this year. Bob has been fishing the bejeezers out of it this year and dropped it on a rock. The cap chipped so I replaced it with a small NS one. Not my preference from an aesthetic stand point but it should hold up better on those SoCal boulders. Iíve since been working with impregnating the caps with wood hardener and that seems to work well. I soaked a couple of caps and then took a hammer to them.

 

03/07/10

 

Well, it's finally warming up in the shop and I'm getting excited about rodmaking again. The Fly Fishing Show was in town again and I was able to see my friends Hiroshi and Yukihiro, pick up a good book on high country fly fishing in Colorado and a fly tying book by Charles Jardine that included underwater photos of the flies as well as how to fish them- something most tying books lack.

 

I spent most of the time trying to find extra spools for my new Hardy Tealweight II, which was a limited run reel issued by Hardy for the Japanese market. It's quite the collectors item from what I understand but unfortunately is unique in size and therefore the other Hardy lightweight spools don't fit.

 

I was also fortunate enough to see a rod at Jim Adam's booth by a Japanese fellow named Hashimoto. The rod's were amazing in my opinion and that's something I rarely say of most rods. I can only speak to the aesthetics (http://www.tokachi-rods.com/en/3rod_details.html) because I didn't get a chance to cast the rods but they were top notch.

 

The shop has pretty much lay fallow all winter but I finally cleaned it up last weekend and am ready to make rods again..... at least until fishing season starts.......

 

11/14/09 PM

 

I finally worked on that silk fly line I picked up a couple of weeks ago. It's amazing what a little baking soda and water will do. The old varnish came right off. The line itself broke into about a dozen pieces. That's my fault. It was extremely hard to get of the reel and I appear to have damaged it in the process. With a little splicing I should be able to get 30 feet of workable fly line. More than enough for a small stream line.

 

11/14/09

 

Well, I've been too busy to work on any rods. I was hoping to have tried out my new hollowing jig by the first week of December but that's looking doubtful now. My friend Bob sent me new pictures of the FET rod. He really seems to like it. He compared the rod to his TFO graphite 1 weight and they weigh exactly the same. I bet they feel the same with a fish on too. That's the beauty of cane, you get that light rod fighting feel while having a heavier weight line to present to the fish with. A win-win in my book.

 

Small SoCal rainbow and FET 6'8" 3pc

 

 

11/3/09

Just got back from this year's Great Western Rod Makers Gathering. There were plenty of rods to cast this year but interestingly enough, the standout was a banty rod made from a T&T tip and Monty butt! Nothing else really stood out to me. I don't know if that is simply because there weren't any great rods or I'm simply falling into having a preference for my own tapers. That's as it should be I guess. There weren't any bad rods but I didn't come away this year with a single taper on my "must build list".

My SLT 3wt taper seemed to be welled liked. I had people go out of their way to tell me how much they enjoyed it. I really appreciated that. Folks often tell you they like a rod when you're standing and watching them so while it's nice to have the complement, I'm never sure if it's sincere. The fact that they went out of their way to tell me speaks volumes. It's also interesting because of the trend for faster rods in bamboo; this rod is anything but fast.

The casting line!

I finally had a chance to cast the fabled Young Perfectionist and a Dickerson 8013. The Perfectionist was a 5wt so I don't know how close it was to true Perfectionist taper. It was a nice rod. The word "worker" comes to mind for some reason. It was a solid rod. It did everything but seemed a little mundane. Strange adjectives for a fly rod but that's the only way I could characterize it. A good solid rod but not magic in my hands. Of course, I cast it late in the day and by then I had been under-whelmed by the assortment of thunder sticks. There were mostly big rods in attendance and not really to my taste. That said, I sure did have fun trying hero cast them!

The Dickerson 8013 had been initially loaded with a 6wt line. "This rod will beat you up during a long day fishing" I remember commenting to the maker. Then he went and got a 5wt (the line it was designed by Dickerson to handle) and everything was fell into place. It seemed like a nice all around rod for mid size to larger streams. If I had to choose between a Payne 102 or the Dickerson 8013, I think I'd choose the Payne.

Late Saturday afternoon I went to the local antique shop. They have a South Bend 290 Special that I thought I would buy. I've never seen or heard of another sample of this particular rod. The shop has had it for several years and this year I thought I might pick it up.

Jerry Foster and the FFF Master Caster...

It's a fair casting rod. A deep and powerful 5wt or maybe a fast 4wt if you wanted but the rod is so heavy you wouldn't want to fish it with anything other than a 5wt or above. It's a much better casting rod than the 291 which I believe is mistakenly called a "3 piece 290" by many. The 290 special is a 4pc rod with an extra tip and tip-mid for lack of a better word. It actually cast a lot like the Payne 197 come to think of it.

After taking the rod out and casting it, I decided to pass. I've told enough people about it though that I suspect it won't be there this time next year. Anyway, while at the shop I found an old reel that was in horrible condition. On the real was an old fly line. It was hard to get to, the old reel had been used to spool the line off of another reel so the backing was showing and the fly line covered. It was also virtually stuck together. I worked at it for about 30 min and I was finally able to free the line. I brought it back to the gathering that night and Dave Roberts confirmed for me that it was indeed a silk fly line.

Hopefully I'll be able to restore it. Several pieces have broken off but I still have about 30 feet intact and I just today found instructions on how to splice the broken pieces together in an old fly casting book. I don't know much more about it but will start working to clean it up this week.

On Sunday I managed to get about 2 hours fishing in at the City Park. All in all a pleasant weekend.

 

 

10/12/09

 

Finally finished my hollowing jig. It's designed around a dremel tool and allows me to raise and lower the cutting bit as well as move the cane back and forth. I'm prep'ing cane right now for the rebuild of the 215 butt. I'm going to build the rod butt just as before but then hollow it out. Hopefully that helps to balance things out.

 

9/27/09

 

Well, I delivered the FET last weekend and had an opportunity to do some fishing. I fished my Down and Across Quad on a very windy high country lake. If I had thought it through, I probably would have picked another rod but I fished it on a whim. I haven't fished it in a bit and it's a 5wt so I thought, why not.

 

The rod is a quad version of the Driggs River Special, a 7'2" 5wt, and it really solidified for me that my own tapers are going in the right direction. Of the quad, I once wrote the following:

 

"I walk through the front door of my in-laws and lay a bag in the sink. My father in law looks insideÖĒOnly three?Ē He says. ďOnly three.Ē I say.

 

Only three, a perfect fishing day and a rod whose identity I finally understand. My quad is a rod for playing fishing. My quad is for relaxed casts up to 25ft in riffles, smooth runs and low water pockets. My quad is for fishing in the manner of Skues, Sawyer, Edmonds and Lee. My quad is the jazz of fishing rods."

 

It was great in the wind. The slow deep bend in the rod was able to overcome the heavy wind and punch the line 35 feet into the wind, more than enough for the way I fish lakes.

 

Unfortunately, the same softness that gives it power means it's slow to set up on fish and it also means that it doesn't hold fish well in stillwaters. It's hard to keep good pressure on a fish with this rod, the tip recovery is slow and it doesn't seem to put enough pressure on the fish unless you're fighting from the butt. It's hard to do that with small high country fish. I landed 6 out of a probable 40 strikes on this windy lake and I probably played half that amount of fish.

 

I'm confident that with my 8ft 4wt I wouldn't have lost nearly as many fish or missed nearly as many strikes. It's forgiving but sets up quickly. In part due to it's length but also due to the good tip recovery. The question of course is would the 4wt have allowed me to put the fly in the same places that I reached with the 5wt and that I'll never know.

 

9/01/09

 

I pretty much consider the FET done. I've got to sand some varnish off the wraps and re-coat, but that's about it. I'm not sure what happened but when I sanded the wraps for the last dipping they came out with clumps of lint. I'm not sure how that happened but since it hasn't happened before, I'll chalk it up to an anomaly.

 

I cast the rod. I liked it best with a GPX3 or WF4. I don't have a WF3 but I'm sure it casts fine with that as well. I do feel the rod needs some softening in the butt and not the swell folks like to put. I can understand while they do it. The last 20 inches of the butt seemed like it needed to load a bit better. I guess with a swell you could force that bend in the rod by applying more pressure; the rod stops bending at the swell and so is forced to bend more above it. I'd rather have the entire butt bend more uniformly and therefore would soften it instead.  It seems like a solid rod. I still like my 3wt taper though.

 

8/24/09

 

I actually got to varnish the FET this weekend. I didn't like how it turned out on the tip and butt, so I varnished it again today. Unfortunately, today I got varnish on the cork. Hopefully I can sand it off but I doubt it..... that's the last coat and presuming that this varnish job is better, that does it. Time to make my hollowing jig.

 

8/22/09

 

Haven't had much time to do much of anything but I have installed the ferrule and wrapped the guides on the FET. The ferrule installation went ok but the inner diameter of the replacement ferrule was slightly larger than the original. Hopefully the glue holds up. Time will tell I guess.

 

The rod will likely get it's last coat of varnish next weekend.

 

I've fished the 3wt 215 rod a bit. I've never really thought of 3wts as being practical fishing tools but this one excels as a light, small stream rod. I'm pretty happy with the way it fishes and wish I'd made a 3pc version of this rod instead of the FET. I considered it but thought it better to go with a "proven" taper.

 

I'm still planning on making a few changes to the rod that I discussed with my friend Erik, mainly beefing up the lower tip a bit. I've got the taper worked out, it's just a matter of doing it. The rod doesn't seem like much in the yard, but it's very solid on the water.

 

I've reached a point in my rod making that I'm dismantling all of my old rods. I'll keep #1 and any rods that I'm fishing but destroy the others. Maybe I'll make a proper tip for the Sir D because I really like the handle (the rod in the banner above) and refinish the 97 (it just casts too well to get rid of) but the Payne 100, Sir D 3 piece, LL and any other rods lying around that I don't fish are gone. I'll still have about 8 rods out of the shop that I think are crap but as long as my friends enjoy them, I'm happy.

 

Once the high country season ends I'll knuckle down and start hollow building and working on my taper designs, starting with creating a hollow butt section for the 8ft 215 rod. Everyone says the tip gets overpowered by the butt, I figure if I keep the butt the same and simply hollow it, that might help.

 

 

7/4/09

 

Back from India, have the new ferrule.

 

6/17/09

 

....and now there are 3. RIP ML

 

6/11/09

 

The ferrule should finally be on its way. The mid and butt wraps have several coats and the blue and gold looks pretty good. Definitely looking at late July for completion though. I've never had to

 wait so long between coats of varnish. I think in the future I might go one coat on the tips and two coats on the butt. I've got two coats on right now and it looks like enough.

 

Off to PA, then India, then Raymond, then Emigrant. Hummm..... where will I find the time....

 

6/10/09

 

....and now there are 2...... RIP JRL........

 

06/08/09

 

The rod's been given two coats of varnish and a 3rd coat of finish over the wraps. I'm a bit annoyed about the tip as I can't seem to get a replacement ferrule, which of course means I'll have to do everything twice but more importantly means I won't be able to finish the rod before my India trip. After India I'm extremely busy and won't have much time for rod making.....

 

The blue and yellow wraps look quite nice....

 

 

06/03/09 10:00 PM

 

...And I thought things were starting to go my way. I changed my varnish today and heated it for 2 hours for dipping. I taped on some guides to give a quick test cast and found that the tip ferrule doesn't seat properly. Upon closer inspection it appears I was sent a short male for an extra short female......and the kicker, it's glued on with this super strong epoxy I use so that the ferrule won't come off.

 

If I can get a replacement ferrule, I take the male off tomorrow and hope I can still get a good fit with a new ferrule. The section will be a tad short but that's ok because I probably make my tips longer than most anyway. I like for the eye of the tip top to stick out just a tad.

 

06/03/09

 

I glued the reel seat on last night and I like it! I'm very pleased with the seat. Since it's the first of it's kind, the question is how will it hold up. I might have to come up with a stabilization cocktail of some sort, maybe Mike's Stuff. It would be a shame to add all that weight and I really haven't had any problems with my tulipwood seats. We'll see. I'll fit the guides tonight, test cast and dip.

 

It looks like I've got enough turps to whip up my normal varnish mix.

 

 

06/02/09

 

The butt's still giving me problems. I straightened it and then had a node pop out slightly. Not so much that you'd notice but enough that I noticed. I sanded it a bit but decided to leave it as is. I don't want to dig into the fibers any more than I have to. It's a compromise I guess, function over aesthetics. There are lots of things about this rod I like and lots I don't, I could knit pick forever. My standards have changed since I started making the rod so do I judge the rod on my current standard and or the standards I have when I started it? It's a tough call but I think I finish it and move on.

 

If I constantly judged a rod on my current standards, I'd never get anything finished. That said, the ferrules are installed and the grip turned. I ended up taking a little off the bottom of the grip, which means that my sections aren't the same length. I tried to modify the mid section last night to compensate, but probably should have left it alone as the ferrules where already on and drying!. I'll know better when I fit the real seat tonight.

 

This will be the first rod with a seat made completely in my shop and I found myself tweaking the seat a bunch on Sunday. Unfortunately, I'd already cut the blanks to size. Each time I change the seat or the grip I effectively change the length of the butt. That's a lesson learned.

 

I'll probably change out my varnish tonight as well. I'm not sure why but this latest batch kept giving me little fish eyes. You'd think that the rod prep would be the cause but I prep'ed the rods two different ways with the same results; I'm going to change out the varnish. Whether I try a new "brew" or not will depend on how much turps I still have in the shop. The stuff I use is pricy and I can't afford get any new stuff right now. If I don't have enough, I may throw some spar urethane into the mix. That stuff comes out of the can pretty thin.

 

I'm also going to install a new turning rod on  my motor to slow things down a bit. Overall, I've got quite a lot of new stuff going on with this rod.

 

05/30/09

 

Back from Mammoth. Had a great time with the 215 rod again at Hot Creek Ranch. The new 3wt worked great as well. It has now surpassed the Payne 97 as my favorite small stream rod.

 

 

I sanded and fit the ferrules on the FE Thomas blank. I've got to do some work on the reel seat before gluing the ferrules. The tip and mid on the rod came out well.  The butt not so much. An oscillation test on the tip shows almost no variance from flat to flat, which I find simply amazing. The butt needs some straightening, which is a little strange.

 

 

05/20/09

 

Is everyone sitting down??? I glued up tonight.....I know, I better slow down or I'm going to sprain something. Fortunately, I'll be at Hot Creek and Mammoth for a week so all this rod making won't go to my head.

 

I glued without the walnut powder today for the first time. In theory, this should get rid of my glue lines, which I don't mind but everyone else in fly fishing seems to. I'm not real confident that I did a good job of planing the butt and mid but we'll see. You never know until its all together. It wiggles like a nice rod, so hopefully I did a decent planing job and won't have any gaps.

 

I know I can definitely get rid of the glue lines using my 4 string binder. None of the rods I've bound with it have glue lines, which is a testament to how tightly in binds. I never got the hang of getting straight strips from it though and prefer having glue lines to having to deal with twists and bends in the rod.

 

Pretty much everything after this current rod is going to be experimentation though, perfecting the 215 taper in the 7ft 3wt and 8ft 4wt lengths, hollow building, it will be a perfect time to break out the 4 string again and see if I can get it to work.

 

I'm off to Bangalore again in a couple of weeks. I should be able to sand the blank, install the ferrules and maybe even take it for a test drive before then.

 

05/17/09

 

Final planing on FET complete.

 

04/01/09

 

Wow, March has flown by and I can't say I've gotten much done on the rod front. I'd really hoped to have a new butt planed for the 215 rod by memorial day weekend. There's slim chance of that now. I've finished the hard part of planing on the FE Thomas rod- this tip came out just fine. With a little focus and elbow grease, I should be done planing on Sunday.

 

3/22/09

 

I've always disliked the word "maker", especially as it applies to bamboo rods. In my view, there is only one "maker" and the rest of us are building from the materials He supplies. Still, I go with it because it's the accepted vernacular but it still irks me. I like "rodsmith" better but no one gets that.

 

Anyway, I'm eating breakfast this morning and happened to turn on the local PBS station and there's this "makers" show on. A show about all sorts of folks that make different things. One of the features was about "sculptures" some guy places is streams to help control the run off of cattle waste. They were basically weirs that help control silt in salmon streams. Pretty random.

 

3/20/09

 

I'm over the first hurdle. The spline I chewed up in the rougher planed fine and is just long enough for the tip. Now I have to cut the others splines to the same size and everything will work out.

 

03/18/09

 

Weeeeeell. I should be well on my final planning on the FE Thomas rod but instead I'm obsessing about tapers. The FE Thomas taper to be precise. I've gone back and forth on what changes to make. It's a two piece and conventional wisdom says I need to add some wood to compensate for the ferrules. Then there's that ridiculous swell in the butt that ends in .325.  Who needs a 3wt that swells to .325 under the grip?

 

So I've been playing around with taper programs and just when I think I've got it dialed in, I decide to weight my ferrules. The two piece takes a standard size 11 ferrule. My 3 piece will take a 9 and a 13. It turns out that my super short ferrules weigh as much as a single size 11 ferrule. Throw that into any standard taper program and I actually have to reduce the taper to keep the same stress curve. So, all in all it looks like I'll be staying with the standard taper but lightening it up a bit.

 

03/17/09

 

Wow, the last two weeks have really flown by. I'm working on the FE Thomas rod. I've been giving it a lot of thought actually. The 2pc taper has a pretty big drop over the ferrule. That's something that I can't duplicate in a 3pc, it just isn't possible. So I've smoothed the transition and hope that it isn't a big part of what makes the taper. I'm also making a pretty big change to the butt.

 

A major characteristic of this rod is the huge swell in the last 15 inches. It goes from .226 to .325, most of it under the grip. I'm not sure what the point of having a swell of .015 under the reel seat is, especially when it just gets turned down but since I'm making a 3wt and not a 5wt, a butt that ends in .325 seems a bit much. I've never cast the rod but I'm hoping that paring the butt down to .285 will give it a nice medium action.

 

 

03/01/09

 

I picked up my new net at the Fly Fishing Show this weekend. It was made for me by Japanese net maker Shinichi Tsuchiya (T-Craft). It's made from Karin, which is similar to Amboyna, and Horse Chestnut. It will be a high country net and get it's first use this summer on the Golden Trout of Cottonwood Lakes.

 

 

My 3wt is done. It turned out ok but doesn't quite cast as well as it did pre-varnish and guide wrapping. I'm not really sure why. I'm thinking about picking up a WF 3wt GPX line, which is a half a line heavier than a standard 3wt to see how it casts with that. The 215 rod it was patterned after casts best with a WF4 GPX.

 

Making the 3 different tapers was an interesting exercise. I'm going to break one of the tapers down because I need the extra ferrule. This will give me a good opportunity to practice finish work on the one or both of the tips.

 

 

02/22/09

 

It's amazing what a change of a few hundred thou will do to a rod's ability to throw a line. Tip #3 is perfect or at least perfect for right now. It throws a line just like the 8ft 215 4wt but is 1ft shorter and a full line lighter. The difference between tips 2 and 3 really comes down to .003 in the last 5 inches of the rod but that's all it took.

 

The rain didn't let up today until late afternoon, so this morning I cast as much line as I could from the shelter of my garage. With my back to the driveway, I was able to cast about 15 or 20 feet. That's a lot further than one might imagine and for a 3wt makes a fine test. Really all I needed to see was if I had better loop control with this tip and I did. Hopefully, adding varnish and guides won't change that.

 

02/21/09

 

Success! I barrowed my friend Erik's DT 3wt and tried it on the 215 with tip 2. It's not bad, I'm still not getting the loop control I want but I'm comfortable saying it's a 3wt. Tip 3 was ferruled today and if the rain holds off tonight, I'll be test casting it tomorrow.

 

It's interesting, with tip 2 I actually missed the numbers pretty badly. I've changed a few things in my process, most notably mixing my glue better and putting it on thinner, and I don't have to compensate as much as I used to. I used to half the taper and then deduct .001 to compensate for the glue when setting my forms. Normally, this would put me within .001 of the taper. With tip 2 I was as much as .004 off. This time I didn't do my normal compensation and I'm within .0005, which to me means I've pretty much hit the taper spot on because .0005 could be simply measuring the rod a tad to high or too low.

 

Ironically, tip 3 is pretty close to tip 2 in terms of measurements. After casting tip 2, I reworked the taper so that it was a tad lighter than the original, which put it at just about the same thickness as tip 2. The main difference between the two is that it looks like I hit the turnover point at 10 inches that I wanted. On tip two I didn't. Otherwise, the only other difference is that station two is .003 larger, so the drop from station 5 to the tip is greater. It will be interesting to see the effect.

 

02/16/09 3:00pm

 

"You never have time to do it right but you always have time to do it over." That's what my dad used to say, so I split, prepped and roughed a new tip for the 215 3wt today. If I work at it, I could be gluing up by Thursday, which means dipping again on Saturday. I could wrap both sections on Sunday and theoretically have both fished by the following Saturday.

 

02/16/09 Midnight

 

I've had two rather discouraging realizations last night. The first , I missed the tip on the 215 3wt rod yet again. This time the forms were set up correctly, I just missed the taper. I didn't miss it that badly but I missed it where it counts, stations 10 through 20. So I guess I've got to make yet another tip. Frustrating but all part of rod making I guess. For the rod itself, it casts ok. Not really to my liking, a little like a Payne 100. It throws an unusually accurate line though, very straight, dead on accuracy without really trying. That's a plus. On the downside, loop control isn't what I want it to be and it throws a very distinctive wave in the line, which I guess means I'm getting a lot of tip bounce. Once I get the rod varnished and the guides on, I'll compare it to the first tip. I'll keep whichever is better and break down the other so I can use the components on yet a third tip.

 

On the reel seat side, I'm happy with what I've now got but have realized that they're all basically up locking, which is normally fine because that's what I like. The FET rod needs to be duel slide band seat so its back to the lathe......

 

 

02/14/09

 

I had a pretty full day in the shop today. I put the ferrule on the new tip. I'm trying to use pliobond yet again. Hopefully  I've done it right this time.

 

For the first time I gave my ferrule station cutters a try. They didn't really work out. The ferrule station seemed to be a bit too small. Fortunately, I did some testing and found I simply needed to use a cutter one size larger than the ferrule and then do a little sanding or filing. I got a pretty snug fit.

 

Since I had the lathe going I decided to round out some more of the amboyna blanks that I have lying around. I also decided to finally work on a butt cap style for my reel seats, it took me all afternoon but I've finally got something I like.

 

 

 

02/10/09

 

The tip is now in the drying box to cure. It hung long enough to dry straight, now I'm just making sure everything is completely dry. I'll leave it in the drying box until tomorrow night, then I'll remove the binding string and see what I have.

 

I started working on the second tip for the SNP rod tonight. It's a bit of a mystery, I didn't take any notes and the section has been lying in the shop long enough that I don't think it was part of the big batch of cane I cooked the year before last. I was looking over the sections when I noticed a node that looked like it had a crack in it. Sure enough, a little pressure and pop. It split, not splintered, split. I then bent the broken section and had the distinct impression that it wasn't heat treated.

 

My notes didn't say, so I put it in the kitchen oven at 350 for about 16 min. (The rod is a 7ft 3pc and I have a professional cooking oven.) I then bent the broken section again and it had a little more resistance and good springiness to it. It's also splintered after a little too much pressure. It may be slightly over cooked. Time will tell.

 

I'll have to pull a replacement strip out of my stack of pre-cooked cane and work the nodes and rough this weekend.

 

02/09/09

 

I decided to glue up the lone section last night. It's sitting in the garage drying. It too long for my drying box, at least initially. The shop hasn't exactly been warm lately, so it'll probably take that section a while to dry. I'll let it sit for a couple of days, maybe the weekend, before removing the binding thread. In the mean time I'll start working on the extra tip for the SNP and start working on the FET.

 

02/08/09

 

The ferrules came in and I'm planing away. Its amazing how quickly planing goes when you don't have that middle step between roughing and final planing. With  any luck, I'll be through the revised tip on the 215 3wt and into the FE Thomas by Monday night. I'm not sure if I'm going to plane the FE Thomas and then glue all 4 pieces at the same time or glue up the new tip and then worry about the FET.

 

There are pros and cons of course, and the one con that I just now thought of is that I'm only set up to glue 3 sections at a time. So I guess that settles it. I'll glue up the new tip and then start work on the FET or perhaps the replacement tip for the SNP rod. I should really get that done. Since I'm doing replacement sections, this would be a good time to do it and I could conserve glue.

 

01/25/09

 

We've had some nice days and evenings and I've been able to spend some time in the shop. I've finally finished installing the door on the bench, so the bench is officially completed.

 It's a push to open door and the latch is strong enough that it doesn't open why the lathe is running.

 

 

I've spent most of the month making reel seats and have created a new mortising jig. Things are coming out ok. I'm burning through nickel silver though and still haven't come up with any hardware fittings I'm fond of.

 

 

We've had a couple of rainy days this week and the inserts have swelled a bit. I need to come up with a stabilization process that I feel comfortable with. I've read of one using Minwax wood hardener in a double broiler type set up. I've got some lying around the shop, I'm not sure why, it's probably 20 years old. I'm not real comfortable about putting the wood hardener over a high heat source so I've got to figure out some other method.

 

I did some roughing yesterday and nearly destroyed the tip of the FE Thomas rod. Fortunately, the section only has to be about 26 inches and after the rougher fiasco I still have 28 inches to work with. I made the sections extra long in case I had problems with the rougher. I'm glad I did.

 

I've ordered some new ferrules from Japan, so with any luck I'll have them by the end of the week. The USD to Yen exchange rate is killing me though......

 

01/03/09

 

I've been working on reel seats and coming up with a hollowing jig.

 

 

 

 

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