For the past few weeks I’ve taken on building my first fly rod. The blank and almost all essential elements are from a company called Swift Fly Fishing in New Zealand, who will sell their gorgeous fiberglass blanks to you as is or, as I’m doing, in a kit with everything included. Of course you’ll need a few other things, but those are easy enough to grab at your local hardware store.
I’ve put the reel seat, grip and end cap on—a pretty straightforward process—and have moved on to doing my first couple wraps. There are a few things I’ve noticed that have helped me quite a bit. These little tips are applicable for both the kit from Swift or if you’re putting together your first build with pieces sourced from other suppliers. Take ‘em or leave ‘em:
- Read the directions very carefully, and do so past the step that you’re about to complete. I almost screwed up my reel seat as I thought I was done, but in reality had a step or two more to complete.
- Don’t be afraid to ask others who’ve built rods questions. It helps, a lot.
- 15-minute epoxy sets up quick. Make sure you understand what you’re doing before mixing up a batch and diving in.
- Don’t over think your wraps. I looked at mine for days wondering what to do. Just start doing them and see how they look. You can always redo them before you lay down epoxy.
- Practice your wraps. I’ll be honest, while it’s not brain surgery, getting wraps to look good requires skill and practice. I would recommend doing them when you have time to burn. Trying to rush them is a bad move.
- Make sure you have a good work light. Mucho important.
- Get a six pack of beer or whatever you need to calm those nerves. You’re going to want one. Or two or three, after realizing there’s a reason fly rods are so expensive. It’s truly an art.
Swift Fly Fishing also has a page with helpful hints and tips from the pros that should make your life a lot easier.