Router Bit for Cutting Reel Seat Mortices

Hi Everyone,

I often get the question of what router bit I use to cut the mortices on my wood reel seat inserts on my bamboo fly rods. I’ve found one that works pretty well from Rockler (, a Convex Edge Rounding Bit…Item No. 22597. I also had another question about how I hold the reel seat insert to make the router cut. I’ve come with a simple solution….I’ve routered a 5/16″ slot in a piece of melamine, and then notched out the area where the insert is held. I put the insert on a 5/16″ threaded rod, which then fits down into the slot in the melamine. The edge of the melamine can then slide on the router table fence to make the cut.

Convex Edge Rounding Bit
Finished Reel Seats
Reel Seat holder for cutting mortices on a router table.

Making wood reel seats for bamboo fly rods

I make all my own reel seat inserts for my bamboo fly rods. You don’t need an expensive lathe, I just use an old craftsman lathe. But, if you’re going to put a mortise on your reel seat, I’ve found that you need a good router table. The precision of the mortise cut is very important or you’ll ruin the insert. I make my cut on a Rockler Router Table with a convex edging bit, sometimes called a finger nail bit ( After final sanding, I put two coats of shellac, followed by 8 coats of a high quality tung oil finish, and then a couple of coats of wax. Here a little video of my building process..I hope you enjoy it: