Custom Fly Rods - How I build 'em & materials I use...!
The Fly Rods shown on this site were created by me with what I feel are the best high quality components to have on a custom fly rod since that is what the customer expects. Most customers will have no issue with purchasing a high quality product at a premium price because . . . . .,
------- It's the poor quality rods that cause the issues!--------
I do not have various levels of builds for the customer to choose from as I have only one...the best of what the customer wanted. I have had this option for years and it seems to work quite well. I prefer to set the basic design and construction standards and let the customer give me the other details that they would prefer for the purpose at hand that are personal to them. . .then I make it all happen!!!
The Rod Blanks, both Fiberglass & Graphite that I use for the builds on this site are from highly reputable manufacturers such as EPIC & CTS of New Zealand along with another supplier here in the USA from Bellwood, PA, Mike McFarland, who is well known and respected as a fly rod designer in both fiberglass and graphite. Other high quality blanks can be used for custom builds upon request - North fork Compposites, Diamodback Rod Co., etc. . . .These manufacturers take great pride in their craftsmanship and are willing to guarantee its quality to be the best they can produce.
The FLOR grade cork for the grips is purchased in bulk and then hand selected from the lot for the specific build. The cork grip is assembled with epoxy adhesive, shaped by hand on a lathe to the customer's specifications.
Cork that is the best for high quality fly rod building is getting to be a rare commodity this day & time due to so many other uses for the same natural products. Thankfully, cork is a natural wood product, actually the bark of the Portuguese Cork Oak tree, and is a renewable resource, even though a rather slow one!
NO WATERBASED ADHESIVES or THREAD FINISHES are ever used in the construction
of the fly rods that I build.
I don't build them to come apart!
The Reel Seats made by Joel Lemke are the primary models used for all of my designs and, as you can see, look like jewelry once on the rod. They are available as anodized aluminum in various colors as well as nickel plated in Bright and Dark plating. The reel seat is then coupled with a piece of solid figured or burl wood that has been turned in a lathe and hand polished to a high gloss or sometimes in a satin finish to see the burl wood details even better without all of the shine. The wood and metal combination is as beautiful to look at as it is functional.
On occasion for some of my builds, I will use a STRUBLE reel seat. STRUBLE seats are also high quality and as I understand it, Joel Lemke was one of the design engineers for STRUBLE many years ago before he ventured out on his own. ALPS (Batson Enterprises) also makes a great line of triangular aluminum reel seats that I use on the heavier fly rods such as the EPIC 888, EPIC BANDIT and any of the heavier line weights in graphite designs!
The Snake Guides and standard tip tops used are made by Snake Brand and are the most consistent in manufacture, sizing and finish compared to other brands I have used. Snake Brand guides are 100% what I use on all my fly rods! AGATE inserted stripping guides can be also be ordered as an added design element instead of the "modern ceramic" stripping guides. Fly rods with line weights of #6 and above will be built with a ceramic tip top due to the increased line wear from the heavier lines. However, regardless of the line weight, dirty fly lines are very abrasive and can reduce the life of the running guides and definitely the tip top.
We can't forget the WOODS that are used with the Reel Seat hardware. Each piece of wood for an insert is vacuum stabilized with resin prior to turning and fitting to the hardware. No factory made wood inserts are ever used as each one I make is custom fitted to the hardware I have in stock before it gets installed on the blank.
Domestic hardwoods such as Oak burl, Cherry burl, Maple, Maple burl, Spalted Maple, Desert Ironwood, Bocote, Buckeye burl and some Spalted Alder from the Mt. Saint Helens area. The exotic woods, as I call them, are African Rosewood (Bubinga), Indian Rosewood, Honduran Rosewood, Zebrawood, Cocobolo, Goncalo Alves, Honduran Cherry, Brazilian Cherry and Indian Sheesham just to name a few.