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Archive for the ‘Rod-Building’ Category

Winston BL5 9wt

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I have had this rod blank for a long time, a rod I got to be able to cast large flies at Pike.  With my re-emergence and trying to up-my-game, this was the second rod I built since starting up.

  1. UL St Croix Spinning Rod – for Summer Bass with small lures (yet to be posted)
  2. Winston 9′ 5wt BL5 for Pike (below)
  3. Sage 10′ 3wt ESN for French Leader Fishing – Posted earlier on May 13th.
  4. Reworked Scott 1409 Handle – Posted earlier on May 10th.

I am currently working on some fiberglass rods, including:

  1. James Green 7wt 10′ – need to create handle and reel seat from some Quilted Maple that I have.
  2. Kabuto 805 Yellow, 663 and 662 in White – Testing One-Part Urethane for non-yellowing.
  3. Morgan 804 – no action taken yet.

For the BL5 below, I used the following:

  • Butt – Cork-Synthetic orginally purchased from Hunters a long time ago.
  • Reel Seat – Struble (UL7 I believe), but I errored in not securing the hardware when I turned the cork with the reel seat mounted, so I do damage the reelseat finish. Listen learnt, before turning, if reel seet is on – tape or shrink wrap the reel seat hardware in place.
  • Cork Handle – Rings glued in placed with Rod Bond Epoxy and shaped on rod.  The epoxy creates hard lines between each ring, making handle firm-hard and complicates shaping.  Will be going to TiteBond III on future builds.
  • Maker’s Mark – Testor’s Silver Paint with a Speedbal Nib.  This is my goto for dark rods.  I did experiment (bought) some decals, but I prefer a hand-written mark versus a custom decal.
  • Silk Thread – Green with Yellow and Orange Trim Bands, with Al’s Color Rite (4 applications) plus 3 light coats of ProKote Epoxy.  As with the ESN Rod, on graphite rods, the use of the dual trim bands is part of me new standard.
  • Guides Fuji Single Foot Ceramic 7x LSG8 + YSG8 and YSG10.  As noted in previous work, I limited Fuji Ceramic Guides to “fast” 9wt or greater single handed rods, given they are the heaviest option.




Reflecting a discussion on a fly-fishing forum.  I have always prefered large diameter handles on Single Hand Rods, such as the BL5, for a relax closed fist firm grip for casting; but rods where I am mostly managing the drift or swing – such as in Spey fishing (the modified Scott 1409) or a French Leader (the previos 10′ 3wt), I prefer a fine grip, where a balance rod just sits in my hand.



Written by raspberryfisher

2014/05/14 at 21:58

Sage ESN 3100 4 – my French Leader rod

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I am making this transition from “assembling” rods in accordance to the manufacturer’s recipe to configuring rods to my preference. In this, I am using some older stock parts (such as the grip).

So what is unique to this Sage ESN 3100-4 build?

  • Guides – Single Foot Recoil 2 – As it is the lightest guide available.
  • Strippers – Actually using Spinning Guides – Recoil RSN 8 and 10 to transition to the reel.
  • Guide placement reflects static & casting.  It is a little wider spacing than Sage’s and one less guide.
  • Japanese Silk in Black with Red & Green Trim. With graphite builds, I am doing dual trim bands.
  • Thinned ProKote Epoxy, applied in 3 coats.
  • No “custom” builders mark, so as to keep forward weight down.
  • Black Aluminum Winding Check.
  • Stock Cork Handles – Fine. From this point on, I will be turning my own handles.
  • Pac-Bay Black Reel Seat, in Powell Style.
  • 1.1 oz lead in butt, to move the balance point onto the handle with a Hardy Princess Reel. There are many long rods, with the new reels, where the balance point is above the cork, so you are always having to think about keeping the tip up. I rather concentrate on the line and leader, than be concerned with the rod tip.

As suggested in the title, I intend to use this rod with a long french leader. As you can see below, the blank itself can look “black” to “dark olive”, depending upon the light on it.




Written by raspberryfisher

2014/05/13 at 00:34

Handscrew Wood Clamp

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The traditional handscrew wood clamp is very flexible and can be a good jig, but there are several improvements I have always wanted to incorporate into it.

  1. Weight – there is no substitute for a high mass tool to secure an object. Provides rigidity and dampens vibration, as you work on a piece.
  2. Square Jaw – The traditional bevel jaw works well when clamping wood for gluing pieces, but not as a jig, where you want to secure the assembly to another surface, such as a work-bench, drill-press, et cetera.
  3. Flat Space – More flat space to bind the object.
  4. Adaption – Notches to hold pieces or the ability to add another form-jig to secure complex shapes.

To this end, I create, using a Lee Valley Jorgensen-Dubuque kit, I created the following woodscrew clamp, which has performed well for me.


  1. Using 3.5″ square hard maple, with a long extended jaw, I have a massive clamp-jig with a large mating surface.
  2. I have included 2 notches and there are 1/4″ centered holes through the jaw that allows be to secure another jig to the clamp if need be.


Written by raspberryfisher

2014/05/10 at 23:12

Posted in Rod-Building, Tools

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