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Building Your Own Custom BFS Rod
If you find yourself stuck for choice or are confused by all the jargon , you can use this quick guide to help you narrow down your options until you have the perfect rod for you! Most top end rods will state that they have a blank the main body of the rod that is manufactured from high modulus carbon fibre. Modulus is a stiffness rating, so if carbon fibre has a high modulus rating then it means it is a stiff rod that can perform well under pressure.
Different manufacturers will use different methods to ensure that their rods perform well under high-torque rotation , too. These techniques can vary from super heating the blank to placing the blank under extreme pressure during the construction phase. Cheaper rods might use a slightly lesser quality of carbon fibre or will be made from a composite material that combines carbon fibres with others to give their desired action.
Cork is the traditional material used in rod manufacture and old school anglers will always claim its superiority to EVA.
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Much tougher than cork, EVA is long lasting and will take a lot of use before it begins to show signs of wear. Its main purpose is to protect the blank from damage. The rod will then be furnished with guides and a reel seat.
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They will start with a larger size at the butt of the rod and will gradually decrease in size until they get to the tip. Whether you're looking for traditional style components or those on the cutting edge of technology, there's a good supply of them out there to choose from.
One company at the forefront of it all is Fuji. They offer an extensive selection of rod-building components which encompasses more than 30 years of development.
You want a traditional short handle grip? They've got it. You want to try the latest in micro-guide technology? They have that too. In fact, most rod builders, big or small, look to Fuji for their components. They pioneered most of the modern rod building concepts. About the only thing they don't offer are blanks. Those you'll have to source elsewhere. I suggest a quicksearch throughGoogle and you'll turn up plenty of reliable sources — not only for blanks, but for the other materials you'll need.
Let's assume you know what type of rod it is you intend to build, and you already have a blank picked out — its material type, length and action, all ready to go. The next step is to pick the right guides, reel seat, and handle components so that the rod suits your specific needs. And believe it or not, much of that is decided by the brand and model reel you plan to pair to the rod when it's complete. To make the selection process easier for spinning rods, Anglers Resource developed a computerized program to help you make those choices. It's also free. The results are instantaneous, so you can play with different guide types just to explore your options.
The animated software moves the guides you choose into the correct position based on the reel type and blank specifications. It's that simple.
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With GPS to position the guides for you, now it's only a matter of assembly. You can start this by using a small piece of tape to hold the thread to the blank while you wrap over it. Use moderate tension on the thread while winding the guide on. Tension can be provided by running the thread through the pages of a book and stacking some books on top to add weight.
The whipping is completed by using a tie-off loop to pull the tag end back underneath the wrapped threads. After the guides are wrapped onto the blank, you will be able to reposition the guides to get them aligned. This may take a little pushing and shoving, depending on how much tension you achieved when binding them down. Brush on a few coats of color preserver, flooding the surface of the thread, then allow it to soak in. Wipe away any excess with a paper towel and allow it to dry.
After two coats of color preserver have completely dried, mix up some thread finish as per the instructions on the bottle. Make sure that your mixing container, stirrers and working area are free of contaminants oils and silicone are the worst offenders and apply the finish to the thread with a brush. Small acid brushes are good for applying the finish as they are cheap and disposable. Apply a liberal coating, but make sure to brush away any drips that form on the underside of the rod.
The finish will self-level during these rotations. Allow the finish to cure for 48 hours before using the rod. Beyond replacing a broken guide or two, an older rod can also be completely stripped and rebuilt. Removing old grips is pretty straightforward, and reel seats can be spiral cut with a Dremel tool and removed—just be careful not to cut into the blank!
Blanks can be sanded down, painted and finished so that when all of the new components are mounted, the entire rod looks brand new. Sand the blank carefully, using a grit or finer paper, being careful to sand only the outer finish and not the fiberglass or graphite material underneath. For paint, a friend in the auto body business can spray the blank with flexible bumper paint or you can get good results using Krylon spray paint. Apply a flexible clear coat over the paint either by spraying it on or using a foam brush to apply polyurethane spar varnish.
Some consider any rod built by hand to be custom built, but the truth is that most of the rods on the racks of your local tackle shop were built by hand. The first step in custom fishing rod building is in determining which rod blank to build on. There are many items to consider just in choosing the blank alone, such as the manufacturer, the material fiberglass, graphite or a composite , length, action and rating. Trying to decipher the various ratings and descriptions on the blanks is somewhat of a skill in itself. The best bet is to either find a local retailer with a selection of blanks that you can pick up and feel for yourself or to consult with another builder with experience using a broad selection of blanks.
There are online retailers that cater to builders calling in and asking for information about blanks, and their businesses depend on offering good advice. There are numerous online discussion boards that cover rod building ranging from local to national posts. Snoop around on these posts and figure out which of the builders sound reputable and learn what you can from what they post—just remember that anyone can post information regardless of skill level. To guide you through your first foray into rod building, pick up a comprehensive book on rod building.
The book is a valuable resource for any rod builder. Once you have decided on a blank to build on, you need to determine what components to use for the build. There are decisions to be made about the handle, reel seat, guides, tip and thread colors. Handle components run the gamut of composition and configurations, from aluminum unibutts to lightweight cork rings and everything in between, each with their own set of pros and cons.