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Fly Rods

Unless you're buying a car from the showroom floor or a rod from existing inventory, there are decisions to be made.


There are hundreds of tapers, hundreds, ( but first you'll need to consider these variables - the taper possibilities will follow:

Length - 7' 0", 7' 6", 8' 0", longer and shorter

Line weight - 3 wt up to 9 wt

Pieces - 2 or 3, with or without extra tip section

8' 0" is probably the maximum length you'd want for a two piece rod.

Sidenote: I was asked about a 6' 6", 4 piece, 3 wt for backpacking. What you'll end up with is a reel seat, grip and four bits of cane separated by three ferrules, basically a stick. I have an Echo graphite with those specs for that purpose.

Action - slow/medium/fast - subjective to a point.

Look at  if so inclined. It does present good info (with stress curves) and endless cocktail conversation.

Not that modern rod makers haven't developed some great tapers and not that popular tastes define greatness, but there's a reason a handful of tapers have been around for 70 or more years. 

Decide on the above specs and we'll figure out a good taper for you.

Bamboo Color - Flaming

Flaming the the outside surface of the bamboo - the enamel - will change the rod color anywhere from the blond or straw color of unflamed bamboo to a darker color approaching chocolate. It also drives out moisture and natural oils which will lighten and strengthen the power fibers. Or not. It seems to be less science and more art and opinion.

While flaming, water can be sprinkled on the bamboo to give a mottled or brindled look. Sometimes it looks great, sometimes not so much.

Look online and see what appeals to you.

Rod Finish

I use a Helmsman Spar Varnish - Semi-gloss.

Typical procedure:

Protect the male and female ferrules with electrical shrink wrap, double over the tail end of the shrink wrap and wind electrical tape over that.

Dip the rod blanks in the varnish filled tube, let it "soak" for a couple of minutes and withdraw at about three inches/minute. Then let the varnish cure 48 hours in the dust-free enclosure above the dip tube.

Lightly rub the blanks with steel wool which scars the varnish a bit and allows better purchase of the next coat.


Now comes the guide wrapping and adding the fancier wraps. See below.

I dip three more times with a 48 hour cure time and steel wool rubs in between. 

After the last dip I puzzle over whether I like the rubbed or glossier finish.

Your choice

Reel Seat

Google "fly rod reel seats" and you'll see more images of various combinations than should exist. Point out a style you prefer.

I'm making some mesquite seats for that Texas thing I suppose. Polished mesquite is fetching and that's what it's all about.


Cork, of course.

There are many forms (google "fly rod grip styles", I'm certainly making you do all the work here) to look at and then you decide on small/medium/large diameter. This can be gauged by glove size, but who knows their glove size?


Ferrules, guides, tip top, hook keeper

Size and quantity are determined by rod length for the most part. The options kinda come down to shiny or not shiny (ash).

I like hook keepers, but I seem to be in the minority.

Many people don't like agate stripping guides because if they crack or splinter, it can pretty much destroy your fly line.

You tell me.

Wrapping Thread

I use silk because that's what one should use.

Color? Signature trims? Transparency (being able to see the guide feet or not)? Color preservers?

The Writing on the Rod

Let me know what you want written. It usually includes rod spec and "Grassland Fly Rods" (of course).

When you contact me to take advantage of my Going into Business prices, I'll send a checklist with all of the above.

We can review it. 

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