Making A Rod From A Carbon Fibre Blank

By Stephen Hastie;

First things first who am I? Well my name is Stephen Hastie; Vigiles for those of you who visit the Anglers Net. I have been a keen fisherman since childhood, my Grandad introducing me to the sport at a tender age. My main interest has always been coarse fishing and in recent years I have begun to specialise in Barbel and Tench, becoming an active member of The Barbel Society (including the role of co-ordinator for the South West Region) in the last few years.

The reason that I am writing this article is because of a gentleman who was well known to many of us, Gordon Scott. I know he was thinking about completing an item on this topic himself but unfortunately for him, and us, he passed away before he could do so and has gone to join all those other good Anglers in the sky. Say hello to my Grandad for me Gordon; he is up there with the rest of the gang, hopefully still fishing! Therefore, I have taken the task upon myself as, after all, it was Gordon who gave me the inspiration to have a go in the first place, so although this item may not be as good or as knowledgeable as one by the man himself, I felt I owed it to him to try.

With regard to making my own rod the first thing that I did was log on to the internet using various websites and begin to search for help and ask for information on how to begin making my own rod and back came the replies. Gordons was the main one, supplying lots of useful information, including a few web site addresses. (I will include all the addresses at the end of this article).

The next thing that I did was check out the web sites. The best one that I found was Harrisons of Liverpool. I then telephoned Harrisons and got into a long conversation with one of their consultants who helped me make my choice of blank, their being several to choose from. Harrisons will not sell to you direct so I then went to their dealer list and found a tackle dealer who just happens to be a friend from my days in the Royal Navy. Again if you are not on the internet Harrisons will tell you who your nearest dealer is over the phone. The supplier I contacted also helped me with things like glue, varnishes, rod guides, reel fittings and thread, unfortunately for me he did not sell any cork handles, just Duplon, so I had to go somewhere else for the cork guides. In addition he advised me to send for the Hopkins and Holloway Catalogue as they had many items I may need (again Hopkins and Holloway prefer you to go through a tackle dealer but will sell to you direct with a little bit of persuasion).

With regard to the cork handles I finally managed to obtain them from The Norman Agutter Catalogue, they also deal with more of the traditional rod fittings for the old split cane rods.

You can also of course salvage some bits and bob’s from old or broken fishing rods.

Below is the list of items that I bought through my tackle dealer.

Rod Blank Harrisons Triptych 12 ft ( you can buy this rod with the handle fitted if you want )

Rod guides (eyes) Fuji type SVSG

5 x No 10 * 1 x tip guide * Craft knife

2 x No 12 Reel seat Fuji Dps 18 Seymo Pro Bond

2 x No 16 bobbin of whipping thread Seymo pro gloss LS kit

1 x No 20 Stick of hot melt glue

I like my rod guides to be quite big thats why I choose the above size guides. As you will see if you get the catalogues there is a wide variety of things you can choose from.

As for the * tip guide you have to get the right size internal diameter. You can buy a guide for this, but if you have a good selection of drill bits from 2mm to 3mm you can make your own, by using some thin metal plate or plasti card or other suitable material. Drill a series of holes, making sure to mark each with the correct size, then place your rod tip into each one in turn until you find the right size for your rod and that should give you the correct diameter. If your tackle dealer is good he should know what size is needed to fit your rod.

As for the reel seat this is optional. The one I used was the Fuji Dps 18 this is ideal for most reels including the Shimano bait runners and Centre Pins.

The whipping thread I used, was quite a thick diameter one, you can get different thicknesses and colours.

THE MAKING OF THE ROD

The first thing to do is find the spine of the rod, this is the softest part ie:- where it bends the most. The opposite side being the side that bends the least. (There is controversy over the correct definition of ‘spine’ but I am sure you will know what I mean.) Firstly I put the rod together, then I tied a large lump of lead to the tip of the rod, leaving it hanging about 6" from the ground, the back of the rod was held in my work mate but not too firmly as you need to be able to rotate the rod. I then started to turn the rod through 360 degs watching the lead weight and marking the opposite side to where the lead weight dropped the most. I did this with each section of the rod marking where I found the softest part. When this was done I checked it again to make sure I had got it right. It is worth spending time on this proceedure as it is important for the action of the completed rod.

I then started to mark out where the rod guides needed to go. Harrisons gave me this information as it was one of their blanks. However, if you use a different manufacturer you will need to ask them for the spacings of the guides.

Handle

The amount of cork or Duplon you need depends on the length of handle you require. I used about 30 cork guides, 1/2" by 1" putting 27 behind the reel fitting and 3 in the front. The guides come with a small hole in the centre. You can bore the holes out to the required size with a drill bit and a small round file, fitting then to the rod as you go but do not glue them at this stage. When you have all the guides bored out and fitted to your rod and you are happy with how it looks, number the guides and remove them. Now you can replace them and glue (pro bond) them in position one at a time, by putting a small amount of glue on the rod handle then sticking your cork guide in place then do the same with the next one and so on until all the cork guides are in position. Leave over night to set.

The reel fitting

This is the next item to be fitted in front of the cork guides that where finished yesterday. Using masking tape, build up the rod blank in three or four places where the reel fitting is to go, until it fits snuggly. When you are happy, take it off and apply lots of glue (pro bond) to where
the reel seat is to go, then fit the seat in place.

Glue the rest of your cork guides in front then leave over night to set. Then sand down the cork; shaping it and getting rid of any excess glue.

The end cap that I used to fit over the butt of the handle was salvaged from an old broken rod but you can buy end caps or use cork.

The rod guides (eyes)

I whipped my rod guides on to the soft side of my rod, (the side that bends the most). The way I did this was to tape the guide in to the correct position. Then start on the opposite foot at a given point near to the rod guide foot and work towards the rod guide.

The way to do the whipping is as follows.

Get you thread lay about 3"to 4" of thread (loose end) and lay this along your rod towards the rod guide, then start making the turns around the rod and trapping the loose end under your turns, working towards the loose end. (see fig1). When you are about 8 to 10 turns from the end get the loose end make a loop and lay it over the turns you have made. (see fig 2) Carry on making the rest of your turns trapping the loose end under your last 8 to 10 turns. When you get to the end of the turns cut off the thread from your bobbin and thread the end of it through the loop. (see fig 3) Holding on to the end from the bobbin pull on the loose end trapping the end from the bobbin under the whipping. (see fig 4) Then cut any excess thread off the bobbin end and the loose end. Your first whipping done, next remove the tape from the other foot and start on this one. When done, get a match or lighter and lightly singe the whipping, this will burn off any loose fibres and leave you with a neet and tidy finish. Then start on your next one, repeating the process again until you have completed all the guides on your rod.

The next thing to tackle is the tip guide. To do this get your hot melt glue stick, melt the end with a lighter and then apply some to the end of your rod. Place the tip guide over the top before the glue sets. You can then put a whipping at the top of your rod overlapping onto the tip guide.

The finishing touch

The final thing to do is coat your whipping with Pro Gloss resin. This must be done at room temperature, following instructions on the label. Then put your rod section between two "V" blocks made from wood, one at each end of the rod section. This is so you can rotate the rod section as the resin is setting and get an even finish to the whipping. This needs to be done every 10 to 15 min for about two hours or more.

In conclusion

Please bear in mind that this is the first rod I have ever made and the first article I have ever written! It is meant for those of you wishing to take the plunge and have a go at this task for yourself. For those of you more experienced in this area who may find I am telling you how to suck eggs may I suggest that if you have any further information or additional help for budding rod makers that you write your own article. Perhaps the advanced guide to rod building.

Hope Gordon approves!

Useful addresses

Rod blanks

Bruce and Walker Ltd. Huntingdon tel 01487 813764
www.bruceandwalker.co.uk/

North Western Blanks., Middleton, Manchester tel 0161 6533500

Harrisons Advanced Rods., Liverpool. 0151 7095981
www.harrisonrods.co.uk

Catalogues

Hopkins and Holloway Ltd, Brickyard Lane Industrial Estate, Studley, Warwickshire B80 7EE Tel 01527 853822
E-mail
sales@hopkinsholloway.demon.co.uk
www.hopkinsholloway.co.uk

Agutters, Marionville, South Stour Avenue, Ashford, Kent TN23 7RS Tel 01233 626748
E-mail
home.supplies@virgin.net
www.norman-agutters.co.uk

Stephen Hastie