Friday, January 31, 2014

Rod Tube Labels

A quick and tidy way to label your rod tubes.

Now that you own more fly rods than your wife owns shoes, you need some way to identify your rod cases more than just a crayon on masking tape.

Custom Fly Rod Crafters offers a very neat and cool peel and stick label for rod tube end caps. You lift the cover flap and simply fill in the blank portion with the rod model, brand, whatever and then you peel off the self adhesive end and smoothly press down on the label. The label diameter is 1-1/2".


  • Lift peel & stick label (bottom half of label)
  • Write your information
  • Remove backing from peel & stick label
  • Press clear label over your specs
  • Apply to your rod tube cap

There you are! Perfectly identified and ready to go.
We recommend using a permanent marker with a fine tip.

Each package of 'Peel & Stick' labels has 6 stickers for $5.99.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ask Flyrodcrafters - Trimming a Graphite Tip Section

How to trim a carbon fiber/graphite tip section:

Trimming or cutting a graphite/carbon fiber tip top is sometimes necessary if you don't want your tip section taller than your mid or butt sections of your rod. We recommend that you trim the tip section so that it is a bit shorter than the mid/butt section. This will help prevent a broken tip when your favorite rod is stored in the tube but is inadvertently dropped on it's head and all the weight of the rod with rod bag may shatter the tip top right at the base of the metal tip top tube and the rod section. If you tip section was a bit shorter than the mid/butt section, they would take the brunt of you unintended abuse. Over the years we've had fishermen tell us that; "It was like that when I took it out of the tube, nobody touched but me, I don't understand how it could just break. Is it a manufacturing defect? Is it the rod devil?"

Probably not on either account. It may be that the tip section took the fall for the rest of the rod. Anyway, when you receive your new section either a replacement section or a brand new blank, check to make sure that the tip is shorter than the mid sections. Most of the rod blank manufacturing companies cut the blank to compensate for the tip top when installed. Sage is a good example. Not only is the tip section trimmed shorter than the mid(s), but the butt section is also a bit shorter than the mids to allow for solid butt plugs on reel seats.

Untrimmed tip top section

The extended length with tip top dry fitted

Tip top and butt section shorter than mids

Before you glue on the tip top of your new blank, dry fit it and make sure that it is shorter. If you need to trim the tip top a bit, DO NOT USE ANY BLADE WITH TEETH!! This is guaranteed to ruin your day as the teeth of the blade will fracture the graphite as the blade goes through and may even strip carbon fibers down the blank. ALWAYS USE A ROTARY CUT OFF TOOL!! A dremel tool or something like that will work just fine. We use a cutoff wheel at high speed not only to cut through the carbon fiber but also we can chamfer (bevel) the edge to help prevent catching a loose fiber when assembling the rod sections. If neither of these methods are available, you can use the edge of a file and score into the graphite while rotating the section. Be careful not to apply too much pressure as to crush your blank. After you have scored (going through the outer fibers) all the way around the graphite you will be able to snap off the small end piece.

Our cut off wheel that has seen many sections

If you have any rod building questions, send them to us and we will try our best to help you out. Email me at

Friday, January 24, 2014

"Different Strokes for Different Folks"

There are many ways to apply rod finish, from brush to spatula to darning needles to fingertips. Over the years we have tried all the different methods and we decided that brush application works best for us. Brushes come in a variety of different shapes and quality. From expensive sable brushes to the very inexpensive one time use application brush, the purpose is the same, but the ease of applying your finish may vary with quality. The throw away brushes are great for a quick repair or a small project such as a guide replacement. The high quality sable and the Flyrodcrafters' acrylic finish brush make the job easy and you have complete control over the edge work and be able to help the finish coat your wraps evenly. If you are interested in a high quality brush go to your local art supply store and check out the section of 'flat' brushes. You will see brushes called 'fans', 'filberts', 'rounds', 'sash' or 'mop'.  For some reason mop and fine rod finish don't go together.

From left to right: acrylic, sable, 2 acrylics & 2 disposables

We recommend you stay with what we call 'flat' as it easily handles all types of finish materials. The size we use is around 3/16"-1/4" wide at the tip. A good sable brush will cost around the $8-$10 mark, whereas a synthetic one will cost $3-$4. With any finish brush, the key to extending the life of your brush is to take good care of it and clean it well.

We recommend the Flex Coat Epoxy Brush Cleaner to clean all your brushes. We pore a small amount into a glass jar to clean our brushes, that way we don't contaminate the entire container of cleaner. This stuff is wonderful! It doesn't have any odor and it doesn't evaporate like some of the harsher cleaning chemicals.

Watch for our upcoming YouTube Videos on rod building tips and techniques, including one on the proper way to clean your rod finish brush.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

On The Go - Quick Rod Repair

How many times have you wished you could fix your broken tip top or replace a broken guide on site?

Well, if you're in a hurry to repair your rod and want to get back on the water fast, this kit uses Flex Coat's Five Minute Epoxy to finish your guides. It is not intended to be a final finish, but will get the job done. Most often your tip top breaks just below the tip top tube and you are missing only 1/2" or so, and you remembered to bring some extra tip tops on your trip and Voila! Even if you break your tip section down to the first guide, you can replace the top and still have a somewhat functional rod. Not the original action, but something to get you through the trip.

Your rod will be ready to fish in a couple of hours as opposed to 24 hours using standard epoxy finishes and this fix will last for years.

You can use this Flex Coat Quick Fix Kit to repair almost anything!

Kit includes:
Tip top adhesive disks (2)
Quick set finish
Mixing sticks and application brushes (2)
Instructions on repairs

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thanks For Asking! - Three Tips on Rod Finish

Jim, a custom rod builder asks:
I heard that you apply a varnish coat on your wraps before the epoxy finish. How many coats of varnish and epoxy do you apply to your thread wraps? What is the drying time between the varnish coat(s) and the epoxy coat(s)?

Tip 1:
At CFRC we use one coat of exterior gloss spar varnish on our thread wraps followed by 2 coats of light epoxy finishes such as Flex Coat or RodSmith. The 3 reasons we varnish for first coat are:

1. The varnish is thinner and has great penetration to the rod blank.

2. It provides an even color coat, sometimes the epoxy finish will start to set up and it won't penetrate as well and you won't have an even color. Your tip wraps may be darker than your butt wraps!

3. It gives the epoxy finish a smoother surface to evenly flow and it makes applying the finish easier and quicker.

Tip 2:
We allow at least 12 hours between coats of epoxy finish, but we feel that 24 hours is best. You only have to rotate your rod for 2-3 hours. The finish is not ready to touch, but it won't sag after a few hours. Another good thing is that you don't have to rotate your rod with just varnish as you do with epoxy.

Tip 3:
We use and recommend McCloskey/Valspar spar varnish #7505 Man-O-War. There are other good brands but this is what we have been using for many years without any conflict with epoxy finishes.

If you have any rod building questions, send them to us and we will try our best to help you out. Email me at

Friday, January 17, 2014

Selecting A Fly Rod/Blank

Which is the right one for me?
Custom Winston

     Are you looking to build your first fly rod, upgrading your present rod, or seeking a new rod for a special kind of fishing you want to try?
     From a bewildering array of lengths, actions, line weights and brand names, we can help you choose the rod/blank, which best suits your fishing needs, casting style and budget. Remember, no one rod will do it all! The choice of your new fly rod depends on the type of fishing you want to do with it.
Let’s start by understanding the different line weights a fly rod will carry. Many fly fishers do not realize that rods and fly lines should balance each other. A rod that is designed for a 5-weight line may not perform as well with a heavier or lighter line, although a very fast action rod can benefit from a line weight heavier than the line designation. This will be up to the caster and is not a set rule.
     Line weights range from the lightest 000 through a big game 12 wt. Rods for lighter line weights give more delicate presentations to spooky fish in clear water. They make playing smaller fish more exciting and challenging. And when you do hook into that really big fish, their shock absorbency helps keep big fish from breaking light tippets.
     Rods which carry heavier line weights are more powerful for longer casts, windier conditions. They handle heavy flies and sinking lines in deep water. They have the backbone to control large, powerful fish in fast currents.

     The trade-offs are delicacy versus power, in presentation and landing fish. Factors to consider in deciding what line size you need are: 
  • Size and species of fish
  • Size and type of water
  • Size, weight and style of flies
  • Strength of tippet
  • Wind 
     Rods are built in lengths, which commonly range from 6 to 10 feet; spey rods can reach 16 feet. The rods at the extremes of this range are very specialized. If you want a rod for a small brushy stream, a short rod works best in tight situations, both for casting and for playing fish.
Longer rods keep back-casts high, for instance, while float tubing. They control line better on larger waters, they maintain tension while playing larger fish, and apply more leverage to land fish. Long rods typically perform roll casts better.
     Consider these factors:
  • Type of fishing (e.g. wading, tubing, etc.)
  •  Casting obstacles
  •  Size and type of water 
     Other important features of rods are performance and action. Performance is the ability of a rod to work effectively under a wide range of fishing conditions. The best rods cast accurately at all ranges, mend line easily and present your fly whatever the situation demands. They combine the best attributes of both sensitivity and power.
     Rod actions are classified as moderate, fast and very fast. Moderate actions give more delicate presentations and cast without amplifying certain casting flaws. They load efficiently and are often the best action for beginning casters. Fast to very fast actions give greater power and accuracy for longer casts or windy conditions.

     When considering performance and action in your new rod, these are important factors:
  • Ease and accuracy of long and short casts
  • Power and casting range
  • Shock absorbency
  • Delicacy and sensitivity
  • Your own casting style 
     High quality rods/blanks cost more for a variety of reasons. The graphite itself is an expensive material. High performance Graphite or Graphite/Boron combinations are more expensive than earlier generations of the same material. Design of a quality rod is a process of refinement that requires building and discarding many prototypes before the optimum design and materials are found. The quality of the components, the grip, guides and reel seat, and the workmanship contribute to the cost.
     Better quality rods/blanks are simply going to cost more. It’s up to you to decide the best value and price for your individual needs. Buy the best one you can afford. Its versatility and your enjoyment will pay off!
     Just in the last decade or so, two important new developments have entered the world of high quality fly rods. They include higher modulus graphite and tip over ferrule design, resulting in high performance travel rods. Up until a few years ago, rods of more than two pieces were significantly heavier and stiffer than two piece rods because rod makers had to reinforce the ferrules. Now the standard of performance in many three, four, five and even seven piece rods equals that of two piece rods. Yet these rods fit in tubes half the length, making them so much easier to store and transport. We predict that in the very near future, 2 piece rods will be a thing of the past.
     For your new blank/rod purchase consider:
  • Convenience of a shorter tube
  • Rod security for air travel
  • Fitting into your gear bag
  • A single tube for multiple rods
  • Likelihood of fishing different types of water on the same trip 
This is one of my favorite ultra-light fly rod fishing spots!
Posted by Bob W.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rod Builder Showcase

Custom builder - Bob Silver, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA

  • Blank: Mystic Reaper 9'0" 6wt
  • Grip: Full Wells burl cork grip
  • Reel Seat: American Tackle AW12, Titanium color
  • Insert: Coral-wood
  • Guides: TiCH
  • Thread: Gudebrod #1892 Olive w/Sulky Metallic #70003

Bob Silver Says: 'The Mystic Reaper is not only a great value, but a real pleasure to cast and fish. I really enjoyed building this rod and look forward to my next custom build".

Friday, January 10, 2014

Kim Wipes

Kim Wipes - what a great invention!

Just the right size for most clean-up projects whether is be cleaning your brushes, wiping off excess glue, or just to clean the area where you are writing on your blank. We use and sell the small size wipes (4.5" x 8.5") and a box holds 280 1-ply sheets. They are LINT FREE which is a wonderful thing when you are trying to keep as much tiny fibers off of your rod build.
 Kim Wipes!

I keep a box on my finishing table and Bob has one where he does his gluing, we both keep a small spray bottle with denatured alcohol which is a excellent cleaning agent to use for epoxy glue/finish. I also use them to clean the ink off my inscription pen nib. The uses are endless and because they are lint free you know there won't be anything to contaminate when you apply your finish.

There are a lot of things I can make do without, but I hate when I run out of my Kim Wipes!
Submitted by Lee W., the rod finish guru...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Flex Coat Epoxy Finish Pumps

For years rod builders have struggled with measuring the right amount of epoxy rod finish, using syringes or guessing on how much finish is in the mixing cup. Perfect for the prolific rod builder and even for the occasional hobbyist, these rod finish pumps measure exactly 1/2 cc per stroke. And you do not have to clean any finish from the pumps like you do with syringes; there is no fuss no muss!

The set comes with two pumps and are long enough to be used by any size of finish container as long as the top fits. They can be used with any Flex Coat rod finish sized in 2, 4 or the 16 oz. finish bottles, although we recommend using the larger containers as the smaller 2oz. bottles won't stand up on their own with the pumps, whereas the 4oz. bottles are perfect. Depending on the size of epoxy finish you're using, you simple cut the pump stem to fit.

Direct link to CFRC; Flex Coat Pumps

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Epic Rod Bag

New from Custom Fly Rod Crafters is an addition to our Epic Blanks line. A high quality embroidered rod bag perfectly sized to fit the Epic 3 piece rods. This sock will certainly add to any Epic custom build.

High stitch count embroidered with the 'Epic' logo. Priced at $16.99. All three lengths are available: 7'6" - 8'0" - 8'6". Direct link to the Epic Rod Bag.