I just received a new shipment of 9mm and 10mm Agate Stripping Guides for my bamboo fly rods from Joe Arguello. I use only premium quality Agate Stripping Guides with black nickel finishes on my rods, and Joe’s guides are some of the best around. The Green/Olive/Brown guides are for rods with Olive wraps and the Banded Dark Amber guides match a lot of other wrap colors very well.
We got hit pretty hard with an early winter storm for the past two days….temperatures in the teens and 18″ of snow at the house. So, we’re not planning on going anywhere for the next couple of days. I had to shovel my way out to my workshop this morning:
But, my shop is heated and it hasn’t slowed down my rod building. I put on a 4th coating of varnish on a 7′ 6″ 5 wt. rod I’m building for Rudy H. from Eugene, Oregon. Here is the rod hanging up in my drying cabinet. It will get one more coating of finish, followed by a hand polish, and then gluing on the reel seat.
I’ve been working feverishly on several new bamboo fly rods over the past several weeks. Here are two nice one’s heading out the door this week to customers. A beautiful 7′ 0″ 4 wt medium fast action rod built with tiger maple reel seat, classic reel seat hardware, and wrapped with highland green and black wraps. This rod small stream rod is heading to Idaho. And, a second 10′ 6″ 5 wt hollow-built progressive action switch rod. It’s built with figured English Walnut reel seat and butt cap, a black banded agate stripping guide, and wrapped with black silk thread and straw and claret tipping. This rod is headed to New Mexico. Here is a photo of both rods:
I’ve been making good progress on my hollow-built bamboo switch rod. The next step was making a custom winding check. Bill Bennett at Bellingers made a few of these for me last year and has inspired me to build my own. I machine small pieces of nickel/silver for the winding check, and then machine and polish black acrylic as the trim piece. They look pretty nice on my switch rods.
Then it was time to blue the ferrules. I use Brownells Oxpho-Blue liquid gun bluing solution on my nickel/silver ferrules. First, the areas I don’t want blued get masked off with tape. I then wipe a cotton swab drenched in the bluing solution over the ferrule, always making sure I move over the entire surface that I want blued. It takes about 30 to 45 seconds at room temperature to get the desired effect. Here is what it looks like:
It’s important to rinse the ferrule very well in running water to remove all the residual bluing solution. Let it dry, and then spray the blued surface of the ferrule with a clear lacquer to protect it. I use Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Crystal Clear Gloss in a spray can, but any good clear lacquer should work fine. Then it was on to wrapping the guides. As with all my switch rods, I use black thread with straw and claret tipping on my wraps. I use Pearsall’s Naples thread on the ferrules, and Pearsall’s Gossamer thread on the snake guides. The Stripping Guide is a 16 mm Black Banded Agate guilde.
Finally, after coating all the guide wraps with 8 coats of Varathane 900 Gloss, the rod was ready for finishing in my dipping tube process. I put on 6 coats of polyurethane on my rods, using a dip tube filled with finish. Each rod section is dipped into the finish and slowly pulled out. The finish just runs off all the guides. It takes about 2 hours to dip an entire rod.
It’s a slow process…kinda like watching paint dry! After a day of drying time, each section gets a thorough sanding with 1500 grit sand paper, first the flats on the thread wraps, and then the flats on the bamboo.
Finally, after six dips and a final 48 hours of drying time, the finish gets rubbed out with a polishing compound. I use Meguiars Mirror Glaze 83 as a polishing compound and a small felt pad. This process helps take out any dust particles that have made their way onto the finish coat.
And that’s it. After doing a final fitting of the ferrules, the Hollow-Built Switch Rod is finished.
And of course, I had to do a little casting down on the river this afternoon….
After seeing my wrapping video, William (from Tennesee) ask me for a few more details on my rod wrapping stand. I built an oak support stand 36″ long and 12″ high that support the rod sections when I wrap guides. The center support can be moved laterally by loostening a wing nut and sliding the support to one side or another. This helps to accommodate the cork/grip on a butt section or to give additional support near the tip-tops on tip sections.
I put groves into the upright supports that can hold two rod pieces and covered them with painter’s tape to prevent any scratching of the bamboo. I hand wrap everything using just a Dr. Slick Bobbin to hold the thread, holding the bobbin in my left hand and turning the rod with my right hand. I wrap all rods with Pearsalls Gossimer silk thread.
When wrapping a guide, my typical wrapping process is to wrap 6 times, then pack the thread with a plastic packing tool (used for modeling clay) that I bought at a crafts store for less than $1, then repeat. It’s the yellow tool you see in the pictures above. The video pretty much shows it all.