Sunday, August 23, 2015

Rod building links and a lesson on reel seats

Thought I'd drop this on here today.

Have seen some video's lately of the rod building process.  The first here is an interesting video from Cousins Tackle. I found the part showing the building of the blank very interesting.  I have not been to a rod building factory, but would absolutely love to.  Maybe one day St. Croix will have me come up there for a visit.  After all, I've been building and using their rods off and on for over 25 years!

I also found another video about a so called "Renowned" rod builder and was appalled at the process he used to install his reel seat!

I find it amazing that so many people do not know the correct way to glue a reel seat to a rod.  Sure, the method this guy uses will last for a while and who knows but that it would outlast the blank as I do not know the quality of the blank he is using, however, putting a reel seat on a St. Croix blank like this would be like using wood screws to mount wheels on a car.  Sure it will hold for a while and sure it's possible to line it up and get it to look pretty, but when the day comes that the rod is really put to the test, that reel could easily rip loose and ruin someone's fishing trip.

First, he did the tape rings correctly, but he only put a minimal amount of glue on and completely cleaned the glue off the ends of the reel seat.  He essentially was only gluing the reel seat to the tape rings.  This is completely wrong.  Why?

A reel seat should be glue to the ROD, not the the tape.

When building a reel seat, the tape is solely for the purpose of creating a proper concentric gap so the reel seat is perfectly centered on the rod. There should be enough space between the tape spacers to fill with glue.  When applying the glue, the gaps should be completely filled with glue including both ends of the reel seat. As the handle is slid into place, the as much glue as possible is forced into the area between the tape spacers.  Then as the reel seat is slid into place, the rod is inverted and glue is pushed into the space between the butt grip and the reel seat.

As the foregrip is slid into place, the excess glue that is pushed by the grip is allowed to settle into the space between the foregrip and the reel seat. If the space is not filled sufficiently, more glue should be added. The the reel seat should then be set to the spine, taped into place (it can move!) and then the rod should be stood on it's butt until the glue hardens.

Why why why?

The reason is that inside the reel seat the glue will settle down against the spacers and against the top end of the but grip.  This creates rings of glue that join the rod directly to the blank. This joining of the rod to the blank is required to make sure that you feel every movement of the fishing in your reel hand.  It's required to make sure that the GLUE is fully concentric around the rod which incidentally - glue is much stronger than masking tape!

Which would you rather have?  A ring of hard yet flexible epoxy between you and the blank or a ring of masking tape?  Have you ever seen what masking tape does after a couple years?  The glue hardens and the tape becomes brittle. Epoxy lasts for many many years and if done correctly, it may take more than a lifetime to come loose.  Reel seats made the way this guy made his come apart and many fail much earlier than they should.

How do I know this?

Look closely!  That's cardboard!  The reel seat was glued to
cardboard and the cardboard was glued to the blank.
Needless to say, that reel seat came off SUPER easy.
I rebuild fishing rods on a regular basis.  Part of the process of taking a rod back to the beginning is removing the handle. Many times I have taken the reel seat on a $100+ rod that was 3-4 years old and put pressure on it to attempt to rotate it on the handle.  You would be surprised at how often they break loose.  This of course makes the rebuild easier.  But what if this happened with your Blue-fin Tuna on the line?  Or that 13lb bass you've always dreamed about?

No way!  Not gonna happen on my watch!

Conversely, the reel seats that give me the most trouble to remove are the ones where the epoxy has created a ring around the blank and is touching the inside of the reel seat all the way around.  These reel seats are insanely difficult to take off.  It can take a hour or more working with a dremel and pliers to get these reel seats off and I've wrecked more than one rod because the task was so difficult!

Where did I learn this?

From my mentor, Rich "Junior" Heron in Bridgeton, Michigan.  He was a wonderful teacher and many times he told me ways to do things that as a young teenager, I had no idea why he said it.  Years later when I was reading the OLD books, I found out why he said what he said.  Then I actually tested his methods and found him to correct, every time.

Yet it still ceases to amaze me how many of the so-called "masters" do not know this method.

That's your rod building lesson of the day!

Tight Lines Y'all!


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