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Purpose-built Rods Part 2 c) Binding and Finishing


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Following on from part b) Guides- OK we now have the butt end with cap, grips and reel seat (winch fitting) on, plus our tip has been glued on and our guides taped on in the positions we are happy with, now to attach our guides.

When building your own rod, it always pays to do 'under-binds' for your guides- which is simply doing a bed of binding thread for the guide to sit on, providing a small buffer between the steel feet of the guide and the blank's material. The thread-bed provides both protection for the blank material and also a sturdy 'gripping area' for the guide foot, not to mention aids the general aesthetics/look of your build by providing a natural area for contrasting thread colours to be used.

Measuring under-binds is a simple matter of just adding a few extra mm in length to your binding distance each side of your guide's foot, as a general rule, if you add about 10mm each side of the toe (the end of the guide's foot that is to be bound over) you'll have left enough length to leave say 3-4mm exposed and the remaining 6-7mm to bind over the top to secure the guide.

Mark the under-bind lengths with either a small strip of masking tape, a 'china-white' marker, pencil (if you can see it!) or even liquid-paper.

Next thing to do is to make several 'pull-through' loops, which will be used to bind over and pull your cut off thread back underneath the bind, which hide the ends of the thread and locks it off securely. These are just a piece of thread about 12-14cm long that's then folded over to form a loop- I always tie a simple overhand knot in the centre, which gives something to grab hold of and prevents you from only pulling one side under if you lose grip on it. Never make these pull-through's of thinner thread than you're binding as you don't want one to break while pulling through to lock the thread off. Make a few spares of these.

There are many ways to start off your binds, but the simple way is to use a small piece of sellotape, which locks the thread underneath and is invisible to the eye once bound over, so for first attempts, my recommendation is to use the tape. Place the thread end under the tape and do just over one revolution of it around the blank, with the thread under the tape pointing in the direction you are going to bind, then commence your bind by revolving the blank, binding over and along the tape.

There's no need to apply heavy pressure to the binds and having an even pressure provides the best result both functional and colour-wise. A simple way to apply a consistent pressure to the thread is to run your thread through the pages of a closed book with a weight on top of it. A basic 'jig' to hold the thread bobbin can be made by using a piece of timber with a bolt through it, you can make it fancy by placing a spring/spring washer and a wing nut above for tension control if you want to also.  When you are about 5-6 revolutions from your chosen end length, place one of your pre-made pull-through loops on the blank and bind the last 5-6 revolutions over it, before cutting the thread and inserting the cut end ('tag end') through the loop and pull the loop out, bringing the now locked-off thread with it. Neaten-up the now locked off thread and then you can cut the thread- straight downwards towards the blank.

Do all the under-binds and then seal with a single coat of thread sealer or 'filler' as it's also known. For this process I've always used a finger tip- just make sure your hands are clean. The sealer dries in about ten minutes. 

Now that the under-binds are done and sealed, the guides can be sat in place. It's best to only position one guide on the blank at a time and I always work from largest to smallest (tip end) Simply use the masking tape over the guide foot on one side to keep the guide in place while you bind the other side on. Again, using the sellotape is a simple and effective method and makes the transition from on the blank to the slightly higher guide foot relatively easy because you have created a 'bridge' between the two heights by using the tape. Make sure the guides align with both the tip and hoods of the reel seat.

Without using the tape, most guides need some slight modification of their 'feet' which is done by grinding/filing an angle that provides more of a slope to bind up on. It's something I've always wondered about- why the majority of guide manufacturers don't produce guides with a more realistic angle on the foot? When buying guides from the large American tackle suppliers, they usually come with 'pre-ground feet' (done by the retailer not manufacturer) however, some of the most modern guide types are finally transitioning to producing guides that actually do have an angle to bind up on.

Always bind towards the guide from the blank and once you're up and over onto the guide, the pre-made pull-through loop is placed on when you are about 6-7 revolutions from finishing. Only bind to the end of the level section of the guide foot and finish your bind before the foot framework starts going upwards. Cut the thread, insert tag end in pull the pull-through loop and pull loop under, locking the thread. Cut off the locked under thread after both sides of guide are bound on, then coat with one coat of thread sealer/filler. Once all guides are bound on, I normally do two more coats of filler, waiting about an hour between coats is plenty of time. Leave the rod to dry for about 8 hours/overnight.

The final stage is to apply a coat of epoxy over the bindings, which seals and strengthens the bindings, effectively toughening up the attachment and making it permanent. There are several factors to consider when applying your epoxy coating:

1) Ensure that the bindings are completely dry and free of any impurities like dust, fluff or any small particles which may have attached to the sticky filler.

2) Mix absolutely equal parts of any two part epoxies (most are two part) or the hardening process may take far longer than it should. Many epoxy brands come with measuring syringes for easy mixing of exact equal parts.

3) DON'T ATTEMPT TO EPOXY ON DAYS OF HIGH HUMIDITY/RAIN- because the epoxy may attract moisture which can affect hardening times and also make your finish look 'cloudy'

4) Without a purpose-built rotisserie or drier the epoxied rod needs to be turned regularly to prevent the heavier epoxy sagging to one side (the under-side). Generally this just needs to be done during the first hour or so after the epoxy has been applied, as this is the time that the epoxy still has some 'flow' to it before naturally beginning to harden-up in the air. Always keep an eye on this and rotation of the rod 180 degrees each time will have any sag counter itself until the 'flow' has subsided. A light coating of epoxy is all you need, if you want a thicker coating, do another application after the initial coat has been totally dry for a few days.


Guides are constantly evolving to become lighter, stronger, more flexible and as friction-free as possible, with new materials for both frames and their inserts. There are new frame shapes, flexible guide legs, super-hard guide inserts- including 'cut-proof' materials and space-age advancements in technology. One of the most interesting advancement's I've come across are the new (new to Australia anyway) 'Microwave' guides. These guides are revolutionising fishing rod ideas, based on several factors. 

Firstly, the largest guide or 'stripper guide' on these new guides has a dual ring configuration, with a slightly smaller ring attached to the larger ring on your guide. The purpose of the secondary ring is to change the shape of line travelling out during a cast, by containing the travelling loops (from the reel) as they spiral outwards. This reduced diameter line-loop means a straighter trajectory from the reel along the guide-train, resulting in less 'line-slap' on the guide rings and therefore longer and more controlled casts. This in turn allows the use of smaller guides (due to smaller spiral needed to control outgoing line) which results in a reduction in size needed of your guides that equals lighter weight/better feel.

Another benefit other than improved casting distance/control and lighter weight, is by using smaller guides you can keep the fishing line closer to the blank, therefore utilising the blank's taper/action to the utmost. This translates to more exacting use of line class-to-blank by actual line strength being utilised to the maximum rating for the blank as you have the full benefit of the taper/curve.

One of the factors I haven't mentioned previously is that the amount and weight of guides you place on the rod, has a direct bearing on the action of the flexible end (tip end)- too many or too large a set of guides and the rod has the possibility of becoming tip-heavy or 'sloppy'- by using the Microwave guide system with far smaller guides (they use one larger stripper guide, a 'transitional' guide, then the remaining guides are all the same small size) this factor in relation to weight is also removed.

In my opinion, in the future, most rods will be being built along this 'Microwave Principle' with reduced weight, better line management, better casting and full exacting use of rod blank tapers. I first built one for a good mate's 50th birthday several years ago and if Australia wasn't still a fair way behind in some fishing tackle advancements, I reckon we'd see them used here as a standard thing. Just food for thought when building.

Microwave guides pictured below are relatively inexpensive, light weight and probably the future!DSCN6119.thumb.JPG.dd9650fcdfded7ca44bf74d1b6adfd37.JPG

I hope anyone who's followed this post and is interested in building their own rod has a go, you end up with your own unique creation.


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Great write up Wazza. Thanks for taking the time putting it all together.

I first saw Microwave guides back in the early 2000's and like you, can't really understand why they haven't become more popular.

Edited by Green Hornet
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