So, I figure I can post this here to help some one who might be thinking about starting a rod build, and to help give them some pointers. Maybe this is just me rambling, but hopefully I can help someone...
I just wrapped up my first rod build, and it is something I definitely am going to do again. I was fun, and my first rod had a pretty steep learning curve. Granted a lot of my mistakes where from rushing, but I think I have learned the lessons in hindsight.
So, I built SC3SK-14-SG, a 7' St. Croix ML Spinning rod kit, with split grip:
I also picked up a rack/drying motor kit
and this supply kit, because the two above don't seem to come with thread? I figure I'd be building more rods, and could use the extra epoxy and stuff
The rod kit was great except for two things: the reel seet for spinning rods is not comfortable in my hand, and I think it could use one extra small guide. But I didn't want to do anything outside of what came in the kit, as this was a learning experience for me, and I wanted to keep some boundaries, just to get started and learn the process.
The kits claim to have everything you need to build rods, but you will need to also get/have:
- Flat file (Bonus: Also have a chainsaw file)
-Needle nose Pliers (Most all fisherman have these already, but I'm just being thorough)
-Mixing sticks (For the epoxy) (Bag of small mix sticks at walmart ran a buck fifty for two hundred count)
There is a DVD that comes with the kits above that's pretty good, it's made by Mudhole, but there is no mention of how to figure the spacing of the guides. This seems like a pretty big oversight for a beginner's rod building instruction DVD? The book that comes with the kit is terrific: I highly recommend that if you buy items individually and are learning to make rods, get it. It's very, very helpful. Available here:
On to the build: I really wanted to do some sort of walk through with photos as I was building the rod, posting here with questions as I had them, but A- That book listed above had pretty much all the info I needed and 2- I was so busy focusing on the build that I couldn't spare the third hand for taking photos. So ya'll get some finished shots on things to watch out for with your first build:
When setting the handle, one of the steps is to wrap the handle with making tape to help prevent epoxy from smearing on the handle. I didn't use enough tape, and have a nice big smear down there on the end of the handle. Here's a close up:
Honestly, I kind of like it, it's like a bit of armor for the corner, but it looks sloppy, and wasn't the goal when I was building.
Two is to trim down loose ends on your thread wraps before putting flex finish on the threads. Otherwise you wind up with sharp edges like this. I'm told there is a way to file these down, this is something I need to look into for at least two wraps on this rod.
Two things in this^ photo: The first is I didn't bother wiping away the china marker before wrapping the guide, so I am stuck with these big white marks on the rod. While they don't affect the performance of the rod, they look ugly. Two, this photo poorly shows it, but I used too much flex finish on this guide, causing it to ball up and look sloppy. Here is another guide where I made the same mistake:
Take your time with the flex finish! Multiple applications and touching up is easy, but it is also easy to put too much on at first. I learned to err on the side of too little.
Some other mistakes that I can't get good photos of:
- The bottom (end) grip of the split grip isn't quite in line with the rest of the rod. I imagine that this is because I set the rod up in a corner to dry when I set the handle, because I know I set it straight. Lesson: Don't set the rod up in the corner to dry if you have a split grip.
- My reel and guides aren't lines up properly. Somehow, when wrapping, the guides all moved to the left of the line of the reel. I don't know how I made this mistake, but make sure you're checking to see if everything lines up as you're wrapping the guides, and definitely before flex finishing them.
- Speaking of guides: My guides aren't lined up perfectly with each other. This was simply me being rushed and trying to get the rod done as quickly as possible (I wanted to fish it up here where I'm working), instead of taking a long while and killing time with it, as I planned. Take your time, make sure the guides are all in a line with each other (And the reel! see above) for best performance.
All in all, it was fun to do, and I will definitely do it again. I recommend that people get one of the cheaper rod kits to start off, so you see what parts are needed in full, spending $130 for a high end kit was a waste for something that has this many mistakes, IMO. I would rather have messed up on a cheaper build, and saved my money for more experience. But hey, I make these mistakes so you don't have to! I paired it with a Shimano Ci4 2500, with 10 lbs braid. I do recommend you get the reel you want to use ahead of time to help line up guides for optimal efficiency. Most importantly: Take your time!! This is a great time killer, rushing with just lead to the mistakes I made here.
All in all, watching the movie, reading the book, and fixing mistakes, I figure I spent about 15 hours (might be high? I didn't' actually clock it) building this rod, not counting drying times, but I think I can cut that time by over 75% with a little practice and experience. This afternoon, I got to put the rod, mistakes and all, to the test, and it worked well. Nice blank, very sensitive, but those guides out of line are incredibly annoying.