Monday, December 23, 2013

Most Valuable Rod Building Tool

The most indispensable tool in our shop is the dial calipers. I use it to measure winding checks, tip tops, butt diameters, reel seats, wood inserts, etc. It is the one tool that makes any rod build or repair go smoothly. Just think if you didn't have some way to measure different points on a rod blank; you would be guessing and collecting parts that may or may not work. We'll you wouldn't be alone. There are rod builders that have collected parts over the years just because they had to guess or let the vendor guess for them. By having an accurate measurement, you will take the guessing out of the project. Don't get me wrong, I have a collection of parts too, but imagine if we just guessed at the tip top size or guessed at the winding check. At CFRC we always take the time to check with the customer to see if they want us to 'fit' their parts and more often than not, we get a message asking us to make sure the parts fit.

I prefer the dial caliper over the vernier calipers only because it's what I'm used to. Digital is the easiest way to go, and either style will do the job if read properly.
Dial Calipers
Digital Vernier Calipers

Caution! When using the steel calipers,
be careful not to scratch your blank.
Carefully close the ends onto the blank
and don't run the calipers down to the
blank to find your measurement.

If the calipers are not your thing, I would highly recommend at least the tried-n-true 'Tip Top Gauge'. This is an easy, inexpensive tool that do 90% of your rod building work.

The Tip Top gauge will also measure inside dimensions such as winding checks and hosels. This is basically a 'Go-NoGo' gauge and we have one of these by our order processing area. It's quick and if you drop it, it won't get tweaked like the dial calipers. Good quality dial calipers will range from $30 to $100. The Tip Top gauge is less the $5.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Redington Butter Stick Fiberglass Rods

Redington Butter Stick Fiberglass Rods

Since the Butter Sticks are not available as blanks, we have decided to offer the factory Redington Butter Sticks through the CFRC webstore.

The Butter Sticks have received many positive reviews including ourselves. When I first handled the Butter Stick, the tip seemed a bit softer that I prefer but under the normal load of a typical 30' cast; the rod really loaded well into the lower half of the rod and it feels nice and smooth. The model I first cast was the 7'6" 4wt but all models follow suit.

So if you're a Redington Butter Stick fan; check them out! And only $249.95 with a lifetime warranty; includes rod sock and cordura case.

And don't forget about our Butter Stick reel seat upgrade.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Those #$%&@^* Cork Glue Lines!

Dealing with visible cork glue lines.

When gluing up your own grips using rings, have you ever ended up with unsightly glue lines? They are caused by uneven cork rings that have not been cut properly. Here are some tips to avoid/prevent ugly, noticeable lines between your rings. We found a very ugly cork ring to illustrate how to eliminate the glue line or at least have a very acceptable one. One of the first problems you may encounter is that some cork rings come bleached and you may have a thin glue line but it's white compared to the rest of your grip. Don't be afraid to use the bleached rings just follow these extra steps and they will disappear too.
Very ugly cork ring
High quality or expensive cork rings do not necessarily guarantee a flat or square ring. It's best to check before mixing your glue.

First, we sand the cork ring flat, either by using our 1/4" sanding arbor (see the image) using the lathe or the old fashioned way of just using a 220 grit sandpaper on a flat surface. Most cork rings you buy will have a 1/4" hole.

Sanded cork ring ready for gluing
After we have sanded all the rings we need for our grip, we use slow set epoxy and glue them together on a threaded rod with the specified bore. For this particular grip we needed a 5/16" bore, so we reamed the rings after sanding and glued them together on the 5/16" threaded rod.
After 12 hours we remove the glued cork from the threaded rod and push onto our 5/16" smooth arbor and then we ready for shaping.
Depending on the style we need, we sand to the desired shape, this grip is going to be a preformed western or reversed half wells ordered by a customer.

We start by sanding off the excess glue and then shape the cork grip.
VoilĂ ! Grip is ready for filling and final sanding. Taking a little bit of extra time you will be able to see the difference in the glue lines and you won't have the white lines either! Your custom rod doesn't deserve any less attention!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Additions To Epic Blank Line-3 wts!

Just a quick note to our Epic fans.

We recently ordered the new 7'6" 3wt; that's correct, the new 3wts from Epic. Communicating with Carl from Swift/Epic they should be arriving in January. The first run of 3wt blanks will only be in brown color but Epic may offer the standard colors in the future depending on the popularity of the 3wt blanks.

We have also ordered the new brown Epic blanks in the 8'0" 4wt and the 8'0" 5wt models, they should also be arriving sometime in January. The 480 brown blank we had, garnered a lot of attention with very positive comments from rod builders who saw the brown color in person. Adding the brown will bring the color choices to seven!

CFRC has received numerous inquiries into a 3wt glass blank and this will certainly fit the bill. We will notify everyone as soon as the new blanks arrive!

Don't forget that with every Epic blank purchase, you get a Free cloth rod bag!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sage Method Blanks Are In Stock!


We just received our first order of the new Sage Method blanks. These blanks are geared towards the expert caster and are very fast with long distance casting in mind. The faster line speeds result in being able to deal with wind conditions and can carry a heavier fly or flies to greater distances.

These blanks replaced the TCX fast-action blanks, but we have found these to be smoother with the same power curve as the TCX. Go and cast one and you will be wowed!

  • All-water capable
  • Ultra-fast action
  • Konnetic technology
  • Magma red shaft color
Sage Method blanks come with a Free aluminum rod tube and cloth rod bag; starting at $400.00; plus Free Shipping (in the US) for all Method blanks!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Little Bit of Our History

New Mexico fly fishing business on the move since 1980   
This article first appeared in the Outdoor Reporter, the quarterly newspaper of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.        

The biggest names in fly fishing – Sage, Orvis, Winston, Loomis – are well known among anglers, but in New Mex­ico there’s another name that ranks right up with the rest: Los Pinos. Since 1980 Los Pinos Rods has built thousands of custom graphite fly rods for angling aficionados as well as for small shops in New Mexico and elsewhere. Owners Bob and Lee Widgren made some 600 rods a year during their hey­day, even as Los Pinos branched out and began making wooden landing nets, rod tubes, fly-tying tables and other fishing equipment. Along the way they moved from San Antonio, N.M., north of Tres Piedras, to Albuquerque, opened Los Pinos Fly Shop, then got out of the brick-and-mor­tar business and went online.
 Now they’re entering yet another new phase, focusing less on building custom rods and more on helping others create their own. As Custom Fly Rod Crafters (, Bob and Lee provide the blanks, handles and other components to anglers worldwide. You don’t hear any complaints from the Widgrens, however. “We’re two hap­py campers,” Bob said recently as he and Lee put the finishing touches on another order. “We started out with absolutely nothing,” he said, and built it into a thriving business known for high quality and personal attention.
 Bob began fly fishing in the early 1970s when the main decision was whether to buy a bamboo rod or a Fenwick fiber­glass. “I always had a ‘how-things-work’ type of mentality,” he said, and after the first graphite rods came out in the mid- 70s, he decided to make his own. Friends then started asking him to make rods for them, too.

  At the time he and Lee were living on San Antonio Mountain. Undaunted, they formed Los Pinos Rods and started building custom rods using top-qual­ity blanks from Sage, Scott and others. What made their rods stand out was the overall quality topped off by a phenomenal finish, they said. Building a custom rod consists of three phases, according to Bob. Assembling the pieces, handle and hardware is what Bob called “the blacksmithing.” Next comes the process of wrapping the guides with thread. Last is the finish work. Before ep­oxy, Los Pinos would give each rod up to 10 coats of varnish. Before the last coat, Lee inscribed each rod in fine, hand-painted lettering. Her lettering was among the details that always set Los Pinos Rods apart, they said. One recent customer had his rod in­scribed with his name and the fishing trip he had it built for: “Alaska 2013, 9-foot, 9-weight.” She also inscribes the rod’s serial num­ber. In June they built rod No. 5615. If the owner of No. 2 or 2222 were to call the shop and need a replacement part, Bob and Lee could check their files and know everything they needed: what blank was used, the length and weight and even what type and color of thread. Repair has become a major part of the busi­ness, they said. “The more rods you have out there,” said Lee, “the more you’re repairing.”
     Fly shops in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona as well as Atlanta and Chi­cago eventually began stocking Los Pi­nos Rods or having them built specifically for the shop. At one time 32 dealers carried the New Mexico brand. “Nobody bought a ton of them,” but from the mid- 1980s to the late 1990s Los Pinos was producing an average of 600 a year. Like a tiny stream feeding into bigger creeks and rivers, Los Pinos Rods has been part of a major industry. The number of fly anglers is estimated at more than 3.8 million, according to a 2012 re­port prepared for the American Fly Fishing Trade Association by Southwick As­sociates Inc. Together those anglers spent almost $750 million in just small to medium size, mom-and-pop stores. That figure excludes sales through the large national chains such as Cabela’s. As the Amer­ican industry grew, so did Los Pinos. Sensing demand for high quality products, they began making their own wooden landing nets – Lee hand-tied all the net bags while Bob bent the wooden frames. They also got into rod tubes after their supplier became unreliable. They start­ed a new brand, Black Guard, building and powder-coating aluminum tubes in Albuquerque. Initially the rods were only for Los Pinos, but they eventually began supplying for Scott, Winston and several smaller companies. At its peak, Black Guard built about 15,000 rod cases a year. “That’s probably the only way we survived,” Bob laughed. By then they had moved their operations to Albuquerque. They soon saw the need for a storefront operation, and in 1988 the Widgrens opened Los Pinos Fly Shop. Business was booming, but between the shop, rods and tubes, “We were working 24/7,” Bob said. That pace eventually took its toll, however, and in 2008 they sold the fly shop to Mark and Cindy Sawyer. They also closed down their tube business, even as they established their online operation. They still build custom fly rods, however. “We’re down to a couple dozen per year, but that’s great,” Bob said. While many small businesses have suffered as the result of the Internet, Bob and Lee said they could see change com­ing and went with it. And now they’re part of the global supply chain, shipping everything needed for do-it-yourself rod builders from Deming to Dubai.
    Bob has been teaching rod-building classes for many years and continues today, passing on his passion for fine­ly crafted fly rods to anyone willing to make the same effort he did nearly 40 years ago. Perhaps one of them will take it as far as he and Lee have.

This article first appeared in the Summer 2013 Outdoor Reporter, the quarterly newspaper of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. Other articles in the issue focused on hunting and fishing equipment made in New Mexico. To read more, go to Story by Joel Gray.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Custom Fly Rod Crafters Cyber Sale!

It's that time of year again! Already! It's hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner. If you want to build a rod before Christmas, this is the perfect time to get all the parts and components you need.

Custom Fly Rod Crafters is running a Cyber Sale starting Friday and running through Monday with 15% discount code on everything in the store.

This sale includes the Swift Fly Fishing Epic blanks, Lemke hardware, and the recently added Redington Butter Stick and the Redington Dually Switch fly rods and also Sage Reels & RIO Products fly lines.

Use the promo code CBS during checkout to take advantage of the 15% off.  This code is valid from 29 November 2013 to 2 December 2013 and limited to the stock that is on hand.

If you have any questions feel free to email us at

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Redington Butter Stick Upgrade

Okay; you just decided to spring for the Redington Butter Stick but you're not quite sure you like the slide band reel seat on the lighter models.
Well... we got that fixed for you.

We made the Butter Better......

 We replaced the factory cork grip with one or our standard 6-1/2" cigar grips.

 The cork slide band reel seat was replace with a Lemke LC14 and a very nice
 maple burl insert.

This upgrade is available for Butter Sticks that have the cork and slide ring reel seats and only if purchased through CFRC. This is a direct link to the upgrade.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Welcome to our New Blog

Since this is the first parts of our newly formed CFRC Blog; what better way to start than at the beginning.  We've had many requests for a simple, straightforward outline or building sequence for beginners.

Simple does not imply a lesser quality of craftsmanship. The quality of work depends on the rod builder. Paying attention to the details and having the patience to take your time and do the job to your satisfaction is all that matters. We having a saying in the rod shop; "Simple but Elegant".

Follow this link to our 'Rod Building 101' page and you will notice that one of the required items in our list of supplies is 'Patience'!

Thanks! The rod builders at CFRC.