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notes on fishing & travel

Archive for the ‘Rod-Building’ Category

Updated Scott 1409 Rod Handle

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As noted before, I like to choke in my handle grip on a two-handle spey rod – whether I am scandi or skagit casting, versus the traditional long arm extension of a long line. As such, my fit on some production rods is poor. So to match the handle to me and reduce weight, I took my original Scott 1409 and did the following:

  • Sanded the upper grip down to a smaller diameter (from about 1.2″ to 1.0″), and removed the upper hand finger notch.
  • Remove 1.5″ off the lower handle and add a new butt fitted in a double tenon onto the rod and then cork.
  • Add a 1.3 oz lead bar into the lower handle.
  • The butt is constructed from African Blackwood and a Raspberry Rhino-Plastic Turning Blank. The pieces where independently turned, but turned to be a tight and adjoining fit. There is no varnish and relying on the properties of the material for protection. The African Blackwood was finished with 600 grit, while the plastic was finished to 6000 (wet mesh). The red was chosen to match the Scott writing above the handle.

This has allowed me to remove weight off (T17) the reel, and the balance point is now 16.5″ from the butt.


I use this setup for Skagit casting, deep plumbing off pools in the winter. I am still debating what line I like the best with it.

I have been too busy to keep up with posting. I have not been tying flies for the past 4 months, but been working on several projects, which I will update in the near future.


Written by raspberryfisher

2014/05/10 at 21:42

Pen on Epoxy, Rod-Building

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Short Summary for writing on Epoxy

  • My standard is Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen S (0.3mm), F (0.5mm) and M (0.7mm) for a thick line.
    • Good Alternatives: Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.5 to 0.7, Copic MultiLiners and Testors Black Enamel
  • After applying, allow a week to dry (maybe 2 days is good), but I am allowing the pigment a week to set in my dry box.  As I am not a production house, I can wait.

Discussion – General and Procedure

As noted earlier, I been experimenting to reduce variability and problems with my rod-building. I was getting inconsistent results, so I started to take a step back to do some testing and set some standards.  My standards for epoxy and CP have become:

  • Epoxy: ProKote – 2ml CC of A and B, plus 0.5ml of Acetone.
    • Given Acetone is an agressive solvent, it is important my tests also include my complete finishing formula
    • Alternate Epoxy: Flexcoat Lite, plus Acetone – small quantities.
    • Aside, I have since acquired some DNA (hard to find in Canada) and it works fine witk ProKote, but keeping to Acetone, given difficulty to locate DNA.
  • Color Lock: Al’s Color Rite
    • Alternative:Flexcoat Color Preserver.
  • For a Traditional Finish use U-40 Perma-Gloss Urethane Varnish, but please note that the pen-ink below are tested for ProKote Epoxy. It is likely that Flexcoat will provide simialr results, but Urethane will not.

Now, it was time to test writing tools.  First, I note for writing on dark rods, Testor’s Silver Enamel has always worked for me, but not all Testor colours (which led to my frustration to start experimenting); so the challenge was finding a tool that worked for yellow and light coloured blanks, where the ink should be dark or black. My procedure was simple:

  1. Pick up a collection of pens and inks that are available (18 in all).
    1. The collection were available to me already or references in rod building forums as good instruments.
    2. Please note in other tests, I did find a pen of the same make in different colours did behave differently. Yes, there were several experiments before this, trying to get a handle on some of the variables.
  2. Paint a wood dowel white and let it cure for a month.
  3. Apply a thin layer of ProKote and let it cure for a week.
  4. Write on the test rod and let it cure for a week.
  5. Apply a think layer of ProKote and let it cure for a week.
    All curing was done in my Epoxy Box with a temperature around 80F (26C).
  6. Examine, recommend and play around with the recommendations.

Illustrated Records

Some pictures, but please note that the one pass of Epoxy meant the epoxy got dirty across the whole blank.





The Pens in the same order as displayed above:


and the inks, used with a Speedbal Calligraphy Pen


Quick Summary on and in ProKote Epoxy

  1. Staedtler Permanent S Blue – high bleed – fail
    1. Note in preliminary test with Urethane – Blue passed, but black failed.
  2. Staedtler Permanent F Black- high bleed – fail
  3. Sharp Permanent Ultra Fine Point – fail
  4. Copic Multiliner Black 0.1 – smears easily until cured, but with patience is good. 0.1 is a litttle too fine.
  5. Copic Multiliner Red 0.1 – like red, but tint is weak.
  6. Copic Multiliner Red 0.1 – like black and like black worthy of consideration.
  7. Uniball Signo 0.7 Gel – works, but was difficult to apply. Move on.
  8. Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.5 – application is fair-good, dark and permanent once cured.
  9. Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen S (0.3) – application is fair-good, dark and permanent once cured.
  10. Copic Multiliner SP 0.3 – application is fair, 0.3 is a little to fine, but permanent once cured.
  11. Pigma Micro 0.5 – application is fair, but permanent once cured.
  12. Koh-i-noor Ink – Calligraphy Pen – difficult to apply and flow, might be ok with a better pen.
  13. Winsor Newton India Ink – Calligraphy Pen – fair application, a little weak, but permanent when cured.
  14. Liquitex Arcylic Ink – Calligraphy Pen – will not adhere – fail.
  15. Speedball Calligraphy Ink – Calligraphy Pen – flows and permanent.
  16. Coodlers Ink – Calligraphy Pen – will not adhere – fail.
  17. Testor Black Enamel – Calligraphy Pen – flows and permanent.
    1. Note another Testor colour failed an earlier experiment- Might be procedure or colour.

After which, I did some “fooling around” as illustrated in the following image and and note


  • Test Group 2 – Clean your sample with Alcohol before you start. Staedtler Pigment appears to more suscpetible to running from the dirt and grease we transfer by hand.
  • Test Group 3 – The impact of a marker size varies from manufacturer to manifacturer, but you are looking at 0.3mm to 1.0mm depending on effect.  The Faber Castell S (0.3) appears to be deeper and darker than Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.5.
    • Copic Multiliner is probably a fine choice and may be disadvantage in my test by using the 0.1mm nibs.

What if I was going to play with different colour?  I would look at Copic, assuming I can get the pens at 0.3 or 0.5mm thick or Testor’s Paint Enamel, but I would test first.

Last note, there is a reasoned argument on a RodBuilding Forum (Link – Post 13) that the current and common use of Acetone or DNA does not serve the chemistry well and suggest a Sherwin-Willians product Polane (r) Reducer K54.


Given ease of application and permanance once cures, for black use Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen S (0.3mm), F (0.5mm) and M (0.7mm).

In addition:

  • The first alterntive is Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.5 and 0.7mm.
  • Second alternative is Copic Multiliner.
  • Testors Black Enamel Works with a Calligraphy Pen works.
  • Always cleans area with DNA (Alcohol)
  • Always give the pigment a week to cure.
  • With every change, test it out.


Written by raspberryfisher

2013/12/26 at 20:52

Last – compare guide guidelines to some production rods.

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So how does my new guidelines compare to some factory built rods:

  • Scott G905-4  –   actual diameter: 0.200  vs Snake Brand Size 1 at 0.180
  • Fenwick HMG 7wt – actual diameter 0.170  vs H&H Size 1 at 0.210
  • GL3 9′ 7wt 4pc – actual diameter 0.213 vs H&H Size 1 at 0.210
  • Meiser 1264  – actual diameter 0.245 vs H&H Size 1 at 0.210
  • Sage Z-7136 –  – actual diameter 0.245 vs H&H Size 2 at 0.230
  • GLX 15′ 9wt –  actual diameter 0.310 vs H&H Size 3 at 0.250

Q: Does this change any of my new guidelines for the top guide?  A: No

  • 3 to 4 wt Traditional Fly Rod:  Snake Brand Size 1/0 maximum (0.160).
  • European Nymph Rod: REC Recoil Single Foot Size 2 (0.235).
    • Also exploring Hopkins Holloway Single Foot.
  • 5 to 6 wt Traditional Fly Rod: Snake Brand Size 1 maximum (0.180).
  • 7 to 9 wt Traditional Fly Rod: Hopkins and Holloway Size 1 minimum (0.210).
    • Alternative in Single Foot: Fuji TLSG 8 (0.213) or REC Recoil Size 2 (0.235).
  • 4 to 5 wt Spey Rod: 0.210 minimum, such as Snake Brand Size 2 or H&H Size 1
  • 6 to 7 wt Spey Rod: 0.230 minimum, such as Snake Brand Size 3 or H&H Size 2
  • 8 to 9 wt Spey Rod: 0.250 minimum, such as H&H Size 3.

Whats next?  Nothing, enough analysis and get back to doing.

Written by raspberryfisher

2013/07/26 at 20:27

Guides – Single Handled Rod – 7wt+

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As a continuation from my last post, lets look at a single handed fly rods designed-built for streamers, such as that I use for Pike and Streamers. Though these fly lines are larger than those associated with trout, like trout lines, the fly line diameters (ranging from 0.052″ to 0.070″) are smaller than any guide.  But unlike a trout line, the need to pass a thick junction associated with multi-tip lines and shooting head will often be a frequent event, id est during a cast setup or in the moment of trying to land the fish.

If you know you will never use a shooting head or multi-tip line, use the smallest guide you are comfortable with.  Otherwise, you need to plan for the junction, which I have measured from 0.100″ (using my nail knot) to 0.160″ (an Airflo 7wt Multi-tip).  With a little experimentation (casting on the lawn), I am comfortable using the Airflo on guides with an inner diametere of 0.210″ (but no less), which then leads me to the following recommendations:

  • 7 to 9 wt Traditional Fly Rod:  Hopkins and Holloway Size 1 minimum (at the top).
    • Alternative in Single Foot: Fuji TLSG 8  or REC Recoil Size 2 (at the top).
  • 5 to 6 wt Traditional Fly Rod:  Snake Brand Size 1 maximum (at the top).
  • 3 to 4 wt Traditional Fly Rod:  Snake Brand Size 1/0 maximum (at the top).
  • European Nymph Rod: REC Recoil Single Foot Size 2 (at the top).
    • Also exploring Hopkins Hooloway Single Foot.

As far as Spey Lines, the line diameters range from 0.084″ (SGS Trouter 324 gr) to 0.103″ (Airflo 570gr Skagit).  But again, it is the junctions that drives the need given the use of shooting head, running lines and multi-tips. What is the heaviest junction in my collection? 0.190″on a Airflo Delta Spey Long, 9-10 Multi-Tip. This being the case, what would I plan on using the following guides on a spey rod.

  • 4 to 5 wt Spey Rod: 0.210 minimum, such as Snake Brand Size 2 or H&H Size 1
  • 6 to 7 wt Spey Rod: 0.230 minimum, such as Snake Brand Size 3 or H&H Size 2
  • 8 to 9 wt Spey Rod: 0.250 minimum, such as H&H Size 3.

Whats next?  How do my new standards compare to some production rods that I have in-house.

update line junction_4319 2


Last why am I doing this?  Answer: the lack of a singular unified “driver” from rod manufacturers, guide suppliers and builders has resulted in some diverse recommendations and me trying to define what is right (or best). I think this diversity illustrates there are many good answers, a few bad ones and maybe an occassional excellent answer.  So, I need to spend some time to decide what I believe is right – by collecting some hard data and thinking about it. In this way, I am consistent for a reason I can understand and articulate – I want a light guide that will not inhibit the use of the backing, line and leader.


Written by raspberryfisher

2013/07/24 at 18:35

Guide Sizing – Inner Diameter

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In earlier postings,  I documented my understanding of the static weight of affixed guides on a fly rod blank (top) and determine there was a point of diminishing returns.  Also after some experiments, I have decided to move away from the 90’s wisdom that larger guides are better for shooting line and created a baseline for guide size selection.

I continue reading and came across a couple of articles-discussions from one of the old masters – Tom Morgan – who advocates for the smallest guide possible – weight saving and better directional control (reduce wobble-vibration) on the cast. On the Snake Brand’s website Tom recommendations were finer than mine.

Having never seen a guide fail, I asked when is a guide to small?  My answer became, when it is too small to “freely” pass a line.

So I started measuring some lines and using Al Buhr’s Line Design Book as a reference, here are my observations:

  • The fly line is not the big object to get through the guides, but it is the junction between leaders, multi-tip loops if you have them and the connectionn to the backing. The importance of these junctions is dependent upon the application. Examples:

Starting with Trout Rods and Lines

  • In trout fishing, rarely do you get into the backing and with the exception of European Nymphing Techniques, the leader is usually fully extended beyond the rod. As such for a traditional trout rod, you are only concerned with the diameter of the fly line.  Typical maximum diameters on a specific plastic fly line  (from measurements) being:
    • 3wt: 0.039″ to 0.043″
    • 4wt: 0.043″ to 0.49″
    • 5wt: 0.044″ to 0.050″
    • 6wt: 0.052″ to 0.060″
  • It was noted the thickest lines were Wulff TT and Airflo 40+ Tapers (no surprise).
  • Silk Lines are reported to be finer.
  • Given all these diameters are much smaller than any snake guide, there is no such thing as too small of a guide for  a traditional trout rod!  The only consideration-exception is some European Nymphing Technicques, such as the French Leader, were the leader to line connection is often in the guides, so here we need to consider the impact of junction.
  • How big is this junction? Having measured my many lines, I notice the variance in the diameter of these loops was substantial, from 0.090″ to 0.165″ (excluding Spey Lines). Admittedly some of the fat connections were ones I created, so I set off to  create the best junction with the resulting construction being (as illustrated below):
    • Maxima Chameleon 25 lb Mail Knot onto to a fly line with a prefection loop f0r the leader. The resulting maximum diameter being 0.090″ to 0.100″ – matching or better than the best OEM Loop (a RIO Trout LT 5 over 0.100″).
    • If you are trying to pass OEM loops, be prepared loops as large as 0.150″ on a trout line. If the OEM loop is bulky (greater than 0.150″) replace with the aforemention nail knot 25lb Maxima Chameleon loop.
      • Sidebar, I was once advised to use Mason Hard 30lb for this connection, but I found it too stiff, in that it harm the even energy transfer from line to leader and tied bulky nail knots.  After some experimentation and casting, I settle on Maxima’s 25 lb Chameleon to transition from line to leader.

loop connection_4314

How does the opinions of Tom, my measurements and reflection influence my line guide selection (at the top)?

  • 3wt & 4wt Traditional Fly Rod: Use  Size 1/0 Snake Brand Guides.
  • 5wt  & 6wt Traditional Fly Rod: Use Size 1 Snake Brand Guides.
  • An European Nymph Rod: REC Single Foot Recoil – Size 2.
    • Also exploring the Hopkins Holloway Single Foot Guides to.
  • And if I (you) fancy a finer rod, then go one size down!  But for now, I will keep a little more space to pass through the leader knots.


Some guide inner diameters to help me reaffirmed matching “line size” to the guide.

Please note the measurements were not with the best tools (to counter the twist), so my estimated accuracy is +- 0.01″. And yes, Snake Brand Guides are smaller.

inner loop diameter

Next posting(s), measurements as it pertains to Bass, Pike and Spey Rods.


Written by raspberryfisher

2013/07/24 at 05:11

Guides – resulting actions

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So how does this recent published work influence my actions?  When building an:

  • ultralight rod where flexibility is important, use REC RSF2 on the top section. Example would be a 3wt 10′ nymph rod and will note this is how Grey (of Hardy) builds their light nymph rods to.
  • a traditional 4-5 wt trout rod, such as a Bamboo 4wt 7’6″, use Snake Brand Guide Size 1 on the top.
    • for 3wt or lighter, consider Hopkins and Hollway Light Series, such as HSSGL1 or a 1/0 Guide.
    • remember to touch up the feet, so the thread transition from rod onto guide is fine.  There will be a same weight savings, but more importantly you are able to reduce the amount of epoxy and stiffening effect that results.
  • a traditional 6wt or greater rod, use Hopkins and Holloway Standard Guide 1 on the top. Example would be G-Loomis GL3 7’wt 9′ for Smallmouth Bass fishing.
  • a 7+wt rod where flexibility (but not necessarily weight) is important, such as a 12’6″ 7wt Spey, consider the Fuji TLSG8 guides.

I re-look at some reference material I have collected over the years. Recommendations for bigger guides, lighter guides and many different sizes. I do not think there is “the right answer”, so it is up to what one feels is right.  Larger guides are not necessary and once we get to Size 1 the differences in weight are lower in priority. Of greater significance is Single versus Double Foot, placement and selection of flyline.  I will post later some additional comparative pictures with the REC single foot guides, but it is time to move on.

The pictures below illustrate, though the guides all state “Size 1”, the differences in weight are achieved by the obvious – using smaller wire and loops.





Written by raspberryfisher

2013/07/06 at 22:56

How much does an affixed guide weigh?

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Graph 1 – Weight of affixed Guides

affixed guide weight

In my previous post, I note different weights of a guide, but how much does an affixed guide have on a rod section, relative to the section.  So using a sample from the damage SAGE RXPLXi 9wt rod, I affixed 5 guides in a small section to measure the impact of

  • Guide
  • Thread – Small Silk
  • Colour Preserver – Al’s – 3 coats
  • Epoxy – ProKote – 2 thin applications (using acetone to thin)

On a 5″ section to a typical rod top.

From this measurements, I also been able to create a model that assumes when all is equal (rod section, size of wrap, et cetera), provide a comparative look  of the guides static relationship to a fly rod top.  So what is the relationship …..

Graph 2 – The original measure-calculated static weight model – Hopkins Holloway Large Standard Guide – HSSG 2


The HSSG2 is the heaviest guide I would use and reflects the common recommendation in the mid-90s to use larger guides for shooting line (which I no longer agree with). Clearly, the greatest weight is the rod blank (or a fly line), but it s the guide that has the greatest impact.

And yes, the colour preserver had no measureable weight.


Graph 3 – Using my old standby H&H, but a size reflecting my standards today – HSSG1.


Not as obvious in this page, but moving from a Size 2 to Size 1, the guide itself is 25% lighter.

Though, I have to ask, why not a smaller or lighter guide. Need to think about this, but I am incline to believe we get to a point where the impact of the guide weight is not as significant relative when we include the fly line (or how the guide is attached -double versus single foot).


Graph 4 – Getting lighter – Still with H&H, but using a light Size 1 Guide – HSSGL1.


And now we weight of the thread and epoxy exceeds the guide.


Figure 5 – Changing to Snake Brand Size 1 – SBSG1


A good standard for a like double-foot snake guide.


Figure 6 – REC’s RECoil Titanium Snake Guide – RSN1


Ligther and finer, but if you really want to save weight, eliminate some thread and epoxy and go to a single foot guide.  Note from the datasheets from REC, RSN1 has the same loop diameter as RSF2 (and the same weight too).


Figure 7 – REC’s RECoil Titanium Single Foot Guide – RSF2


So, if you need the lightest rod, yes, go with the RECoil RSF single foot guides, otherwise, my emerging standard is likely to focus on Snake Brand Guides, Size 1 at the top (or maybe smaller).

What about Fuji Ceramics?  Nothing wrong with them (as clearly proven on my Sage RPLXi 9wt), but as illustrated below with the light TLSG8, the static impact is higher.


Figure 8 – Fuji’s TLSG8 on my model for a 5″



Written by raspberryfisher

2013/07/03 at 06:15