You have chosen your blank (Make, colour, weight, length, sections), your reelseat, grip, guides, tiptop, winding check and hook keeper, thread colours, and obtained all the tools required for the build. Now let’s put your new baby together.
Test fit the reel seat components as shown above, to ensure everything fits together properly. Also test fit the grip to the reel seat hood, to ensure the pre-cut hole in the grip is the correct size to the reel seat hood’s outside diameter.
Find the “Spine” (or “Spline”) of your blank sections, as shown above. Put a section of masking tape around the blank. Roll the section of blank on a flat surface with your right hand’s fingers, and support the blank’s thinner section with your left thumb. You will feel a distinct “jump” every half turn. One of these jumps will be more pronounced than the other. This is the spine. Mark it on the inside curve of the blank. Our guides will go on this line (Opposite the spine). This will mean the rod will play fish easier and protect the tippet better, and give you power in the back-cast. If you place the guides on the spine, you will create a rod that has more power in the forward cast. Neither way is more correct. The most important aspect of the guide placing is that they must be in a straight line and spaced correctly. Even if you skip this step, do not worry too much…your rod will still perform as it should. There has been much debate about the “spine” of the rod, some companies do not even spine their rods anymore. For all intent purposes, we will spine this rod…the traditional way. (Even if it is more mind over matter, and will give you more confidence in fishing the rod).
Find the spine on each section of the blank. It will be more difficult with the thicker sections. Just do your best there and move along.
Insert the tip-top onto your top blank section, to ensure proper fit. It should slide over easy, but not be too loose. Slide it all the way on, and put a piece of masking tape on the blank to indicate the depth. Scratch the inside of the tip-top with a bodkin or needle, and lightly sand the tip of the blank. Just slightly, you only need to remove the shine.
Measure the distance that the reel seat and grip will occupy on the blank butt-section, and put a piece of masking tape on the farthest point. Then lightly sand the blank. Again, you only want to lightly scour the blank and remove the shine. This ensures proper cohesion between the reel seat, grip and blank by the epoxy glue. Do not sand further than the cork grip’s end! If you are unsure, leave 1cm in front un-sanded, that the grip will go over.
Lightly sand the area on the reel-seat where the threaded hood will go. Then put the reel seat hood on the insert as above in the second picture, and mark the position with masking tape. Lightly sand the insert in front of the masking tape as well, where the hood will go. (Third Picture).
Again put the reel seat hood on the insert, and mark the area where the reel foot will go. This area will not receive any glue. Then scratch the inside of your reel seat threaded hood.
Mix up a batch of epoxy (don’t try to skimp…rather mix too much than too little, to ensure proper mixture of the resin and hardener components of the epoxy) as per the manufacturer’s instructions. I like using slow cure epoxy, as it gives you more time to line the parts up and to clean excess glue off.
Put a thin layer of epoxy on the area’s that the metal parts will occupy on the wooden insert, on the inside of the threaded hood, and the inside of the reel-foot hood (remember NOT to put glue on the inside of the part you marked on the reel seat hood, where the reel’s foot will go. Also put a thin layer of the epoxy on the blank’s tip section, and put epoxy in the tip-top with a needle as much as you can.
Assemble the parts and clean up the excess glue that will ooze out with 70% alcohol. MAKE SURE all the excess glue is cleaned up! Line up the parts properly and let it stand overnight to cure properly, where they will not be bumped or disturbed. Make sure the tip-top is aligned with the spine we marked on the blank. (See the last picture above)
The blank’s O.D. is (normally) a lot less than the reel seat insert’s I.D., which means we have to create “bushes” around the blank’s butt section to center the blank properly in the insert. This we do with masking tape. As shown above, build up two “bushes” of tape around the blank, more than the reel seat insert’s inner diameter. (It’s easier to remove a little tape at a time, than trying to add it).Then try to fit the blank into the reel seat. Remove a little tape at a time, until the “bush” and the blank slides snugly into the reel seat insert. Do the same with both bushes, until the blank can slide in all the way.