Wednesday, 9 November 2011

This winter's project: total re-build!

I have an old, half-wrecked 3-piece Orvis travel spinning rod.  It lasted for a couple of seasons on the kayak, before the cork handle started to rot and one of the rings slipped in its wraps when I tried to take it apart.  But that was just the start.  The butt of the handle came apart last year, which lead to the quick erosion of about an inch and half of the bottom cork ring.  Worse, the cork that disappeared left the bare blank exposed, which lead to cracks developing up the blank.  A quick horrible fix was required.  Step forward that man!
Bodge time!  Yep, couldn't be arsed to fix it properly, so just whipped the end to stop the cracks getting worse and shoved in a little brass handle to protect the end of the blank.  Note state of ring - they all need replacing!
I quickly made one of my last minute repairs jobs: I got a cheap brass cupboard handle to wedge in the blank and then whipped up the exposed blank with 20lb braid.  That repair has held over time.  But the final straw came when the real seat twisted and buckled under load, eventually losing the nylon inner lining.

Ruined reel seat is a nightmare to try and use, jamming and twisting after the inner lining disintegrated and dropped out.  Note how the varnish over the rings has cracked, leaving the ring loose in its wrap.   
So that was the end as far as I was concerned.  I got a new rod.  But I didn't throw away the old, thinking that one day I might have a go repairing the handle... and the rings, and oh well, how about the whole thing?

Voilà, this winter's project!  To help me build up enthusiasm (I have nowhere dust free and warm to build a rod - my toddler takes up all the space in our home!) I went in search of a book to read about how to do it.  The idea was to gauge how much time it will take, how difficult it would be and how much stuff I would need to buy.  Let's face it, if you're planning to build half a dozen rods you would be prepared to invest a little.  If your just tackling a minor repair job you won't be.  I fall into the latter category!

My first purchase was the Advanced Custom Rod Building by Dale Clemens.  From first glances, it's a bit of mixture and gallery of various styles or solutions people have come up with to building rods.  Seems rather long winded in places, but I guess it's got most of what you need in there.

I'll post my review of the book later next month, in the meantime I discovered an excellent, and far more practical "sticky" thread on the World Sea Fishing forum by Stan of Alba Rods fame that takes you through some of the steps of building a rod from scratch.  Of course, there is also the excellent forum and online resources of

Won't start the project until after Christmas, during that depressing tail end of winter.  I'll post a whole series of pictures and articles that document my progress along the way.  If anyone has recommendations for any other books or online resources please let me know.

Tight lines for those of you braving the winter storms!


  1. Hello Kester.

    What can I say? When one gets old we winkle, crack and eventually fall to pieces! I’ve seen people with the reel held in place with miles of insulation tape!

    When one gets fond of something it’s difficult to throw away (at least that’s what my brother tells me about marriage!), I hope his wife isn’t into blogging.

    It’s a good project to take in hand and I look forward to reading more.

    Rod building is something I’ve thought about but find that good Carbon Blank is so expensive that I might as well back away and give in to the big firms and stick to just being a consumer.

    I have a follower called “Jed” from Japan ( who is a custom rod builder (professional). He seems a good bloke and his English isn’t bad. Maybe he can help.

    All the best and as I said I look forward to reading more (unless Santa pays you a good visit LOL). Frank

  2. Hi Frank

    Yes, good job our wives don't read these blogs too closely!!

    I know Jed from a while back when he used to work for an online Japanese fishing store. Didn't know he built rods too.

    Anyhow, made a start already and blanks are pretty much ready. Thing is, I can't decide whether I want to change the rod or not. Thinking of extending the handle...

    Will post an update soon. :-)

    Take care.


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