I have decided to attempt to build my first fly rod. I will be fishing mainly for smallmouth bass, and panfish. I think I want a 6wt rod with slow to medium action, and an 8ft length. I want it to be a 4pc rod because I enjoy hiking to the fishing destinations.
I have watched some YouTube videos, but was hoping to get some insider info from you guys. Information like where to start, mistakes to look out for and such.
It helps if you ask specific questions. There are so many options when it comes to blanks and component selection that generic questions can be too broad.
And then to top it off with a question about mistakes to watch out for.... well let's just say that all of us have made too many mistakes to list
First off the blank: You mentioned a slow to medium action. That points you toward a blank with a lower modulus. Something like an RX6. Batson makes an RX6 called a Forecast. A great blank without the big ticket price. Typically the higher the modulus the faster (quicker recovery) the rod.
Practice your wraps over and over, with a guide in place, until you feel comfortable. The best place to do this is on the butt section so any scratches from the guide feet will be covered by the handle and seat. Yes, you can scratch the blank due to a burr on the bottom of the guide. That's why you always do a bit of inspection/ preventive maintenance, even on the best guides on the market....Snake Brand.
Angler's Workshop does carry a lot, other shops include: J Stockard, Mudhole Custom Tackle, Acid Rod, Ye Olde English Fly Shop, the Angler's Roost, Dave Winslow Custom Rods (great price on reel seats with large selection of wood insert which he turns in his shop), and Proof Fly Fishing.
+1 for Pete's recommendation of Snake Brand guides. you can get them from their site directly. I usually order them from Proof Fly Fishing since I can also order my cork for the grip, finish, thread, epoxy, and different tools from the same site. Matt's great to work with. Snake Brand guides really don't require any work to prep and the thread climbs up the feet easily. Their stripping guides do require some work but they match the finish on the snakes.
As for advice, yes practice, practice, practice. Wrap a guide and if you don't like anything about it, cut the thread and rewrap it. A lot of rod building problems come when you try to rush things. Take your time. Be sure things are line up right, look closely at wraps for thread gaps or other issues. Go slow and light when you apply finish to the wraps. It is easy to put on too much and end up with a 'football' effect. Two or three very light coats are better then one that is too heavy.
I found two or three rod building books through my local library when I started (inter-library loan is a wonderful thing) and read them. That was very helpful. I'm glad I didn't buy them but they gave a good overview of the whole process and some good tips during my first build.
Why not look for a local rod building class at a Fly Shop, school etc that has a qualified instructor for your first build. Some mistakes can't be redone and you are less likely to make them with supervision. After the first rod is completed,
you can strike out on your own and as others have said, plenty of practice, Anytime things don't seem to be going the way you want them to, shut down and walk away for awhile until you feel like you have thought it out enough to continue. . Best of luck and post a few pix of your rod under construction and completed.
One thing I did when starting was to visualize the whole process from beginning to end, including how I would do each step and wanted the completed rod to look. Seemed to give me a goal.
Petee, you mentioned RX6 referring to the action of the rod. Is that th same as the IM numbers I have been seeing?
Here are some comments by Gary Loomis, one of the early Graphite rod builders.
"Loomis began by explaining that the identifiers IM6, IM7 and IM8 are the trade numbers used by the Hexcel Corp. to identify their product and is not an industry quality or material standard, although the Hercules Fibers produced by the Hexcel Corp. are the benchmark that most companies use to compare their materials. The confusion is compounded because a number of rod manufacturers use materials produced by companies other than Hexcel and yet identify their rods as being IM6, IM7 and IM8, which by itself means nothing."