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Rod Building – Guide Placement

Here is how-to series from Salty Dawg Bill with Salty Dawg Custom Rods. Bill demonstrates how he lays out the guides and tests them when he is building up a custom blank.

I first start with a couple sizes of surgical rubber hose that when cut into small bands will fit snug on the blank you are building.

Next, I place the guides in their approximate places on the blank.

After all the guides are banded in their approximate places, I chuck the rod up in my lathe. It is a big plus to have a chuck with locks on 0, 45, 90 and 180-degrees.

Clamp a reel of similar size to that which will be fished on the rod in the reel seat, and adjust to 0-degrees top-dead-center.

Tighten up the chuck and glue on your tip-top, sighting down by eye and making sure it is aligned with the reel at 0-degrees.

Rod Building Guide

Now you should have the reel on and all the guides attatched temporarily with the surgical bands. Take the rod out of the lathe and pull some line off the reeel and thread through the guides and top, hang a weight on the end of the line to keep it taught (I use a metal spring clamp).

Rod Building Guide

Now I have an old rod harness lag bolted to the wall of my shop to put the rod in for static testing, with a strap that holds the fore grip simulating where your hand would be and giving the correct fulcrum point.

Rod Building Guide

With the weight of the clamp keeping the line tight, grab the rod by the tip and put a bend in the rod, and adjust the guides by just sliding them up or down to follow the bend of the blank and keeping the line from touching the blank, , I do a fine tune with a full bend in the rod.

I find this method much faster and easier than taping the guides on, and from this point, put back in the lathe and start laying out your under wraps.

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How the seed was planted: My Step grandfather first taught me how to hand wrap rods in the late 60′s, mostly bamboo rods on a notched cardboard box and a phone book for a thread tensioner. I would do my own repairs and build an occasional rod over the years. Went to work as a sign painter working for 2 different uncles who were master sign crafters. When the computer industry started taking over the sign business I went to work as a cabinet finisher until the doctors told me after 25 years of breathing lacquer and other exotic finishing fumes I should quit or die young. I started a painting contracting business in the 90s, but really missed doing something creative. In 2004 I saw some pictures posted on bloodydecks.com of a few guys that were wrapping some really nice rods and decided to pick up where I had left off. The materials had all changed since the last rod I had done, but with my background in exotic finishes it didn't take long to get up to speed. I've found I can take a little bit from all my sign painting and cabinet finishing knowledge and incorporate it into design and building custom fishing rods and restoring and repairing old rods. So there ya have it. So check out my site and order your custom rod today! Hope to see ya on the water sometime.