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so haaad

Cheaper steelie rod

30 posts in this topic

I'm looking to build another 9ft 8wt or 7wt steelie/St. Croix River fly rod. DinkADunk, I know that you've used the Rainshadow blanks. Does anyone out there have any recommendations on a CHEAP yet quality blank that I can use to build a rod for steelies or fishing bronzebacks on the St. Croix?

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you need to define "cheap" better, as it can be subjective, relative to the user tongue.gif. For fly rods, I consider cheap anything under $200. I would reccomend an Avid blank. If you're looking for something under $100, I think those rainshadow blanks are a good deal for the money. You might want to look at the Hook and Hackle blanks too, if your trying to stay on a budget.

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How much do you want to spend on a blank and how fast an action? If you want a fast action rod that will reach out and touch things try a Dan Craft Five Rivers FT blank, in a 7wt that would be a FT907-4. I have the 8wt version of that blank and it rocks on Steelhead. Anyhow, that blank is around $125. Decent single foot ceramic running guides (size 7) or Recoil single or double foot guides would work great.

If you want a moderate-fast action, 4pc, 7wt, that should cast nice check out the Forecast F907-4 (9ft, 4pc, 7wt) which is around $50. It's RX6 graphite. I built a 9wt for my wife and it test casts real nice. It looks fantastic with light TiChrome frame, blue zirconium ring Batson (Forecast) guides. If you want to move up to RX7 graphite then check out the IF907-4 (9') or IF967-4 (9'6") which are around $100 and come in green or matt clear. If you want an RX8, real fast action blank from Rainshadow then check out the XF907-4 which is around $115. It should be similar to the Dan Craft but the Dan Craft has a very nice reputation with pacific northwest custom builders.

Besides Batson's Forcast/Rainshado blanks they make real nice guides. I'm using a mix of guides on my various rods, either Fuji (especially the silicon carbide rings), Batson, REC (Recoil guides work great and are very, very lite), or H&H. I've also used a couple of the Batson reel seats (aluminum one on my wife's 9wt, blue/sliver ones for a couple of trolling rods I've built) and they're very good. Most of my fly rods have REC nickle/silver seats which I think are better looking than Struble. Check out Fish Sticks 4u if you want a good deal on Batson products.

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DinkaDunk and Deadhead, great recommendations. I just built a 9' 4wt Avid trout rod with Fuji silicon carbide guides that turned out very well. I'll post some pictures one of theses days.

This next rod that I want to build is a steelie rod in the price range of "less than $100" for the blank. It can't be too nice or expensive, or my beat up river boat will get jealous the next time I'm on the upper St. Croix. smile.gif

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Last year I built a 9' 5 wt Rainshadow and the blank was in the $45 range, I get real good prices on rodbuilding supplies though.

I am not anthing resembling a pro at fly fishing, but I brought it in and showed one of the guys I work with who is a very avid fly fisher and he thought the rod and the action were outstanding. I don't think you would go wrong with a RainShadow blank.

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So I've decided on the Rainshadow RX7 9ft 7wt (IF907) blank in the grey matte. Now I need advice. I'm thinking of either the RA7 or RA8 (grey graphite insert) reel seat. Is there any real difference? Also, any preferences on either the RECoil single foot guides, Batson TiCH single foot or the Light PVD TiCh Plated 'F' Fly Rod Guides w/PVD TiCh coated Zirconium Rings?

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I built my very first fly rod on an 8wt version of that blank. Great value for the money IMHO. I went with a black A8 uplocking seat with a graphite insert. Looks very good with the matte blank. Not 100% sure, but the A7 and A8 reel seats from Pac Bay are different sizes I believe (but don't quote me). What type/size reel are you going to use. That may make a difference. Also, if you're adding a fighting butt, especially the removable ones, make sure the reel seat can accomodate the screw in end cap.

I LOVE the recoil guides, mostly because I'm a klutz and don't want to worry about breaking/bending a guide. I've always gone with double footed snakes on anything bigger than a 6 wt, but that's the beauty of building. You get to pick what YOU want, not what someone else wants. Hope it brings you as much joy fishing a rod you've built as mine have.

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I have Recoil's on my 8wt and they are very lite. If you want to shoot line far then go with guides with inserts (alconite, silicon carbide, whatever), they will be heavier but they shoot line better. If you're building a steelhead rod you're going to use it in some fairly bad weather, weather with icing problems. With a 7wt or 8wt rod you're also going to pass some fairly large knots or loops so make sure you don't go small on the guide size. I would go with 8mm single foot guides after the stripper and first guide, this will be large enough to pass knots and loops yet not too heavy. Icing will be a problem but you can learn to deal with that. Snake guides by their design are easier to pass loops and knots through. With the extra weight of insert guides you will probably notice a change in the rod's sensitivity - this may or may not be an issue for you. I would tend to go with a bit faster blank.

Anyhow, the RA7 reel seat would work well with that blank. I used an RA8 on my wife's 9wt, the RA7 should work well on the 7wt. I would probably go with a RA7L2-SG reel seat.

As for guides I would probably go with a 16 and 12 double foot or 12 and 10 double foot stripper guides and then run 8mm single foot's out to the tip with an 8mm tip. The Batson Light PVD TiCh plated guides look great and would match the reel seat. Either the plated zirconium (gold or TiCh plated) or H rings would look good and perform well. So you could use a LTCUDCG16 and LTCUDCG12 stripper guides, a LTCFCG10 as a transition (or use an 8), and then LTCFCG08's (qty 7 or 8 ) out to the tip. The tip would be an LTCPCT08R05.5

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Something I don't think everyone takes into consideration when comparing single foot guides to snake guides is that any double foot or snake type of guide will also have twice the amount of thread and epoxy on them, and yes it does add up. Your weight savings may either not be there or they may be pretty darn slight.

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It also depends where that weight is. Double foot strippers next to the handle aren't a problem, lot's of weight further out towards the tip is. When I use single foot Recoils I also like to use a thin finish and only one coat (maybe two if very thin).

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I was thinking out towards the tip, but didn't put into words.

I purchased some lite/thin epoxy just for fly rods/ultra lites/ice rods, just for the purpose of keepting things a bit lighter and still use epoxy. I did try some of Gudbrods low build no mix and I just don't care for the looks of it when it is dry, just too shiny.

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I built a 1wt and used the Gudebrod Rod Varnish (one part) on silk wraps. Looks pretty good and really lite.

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One of the guys at work builds high end bamboo rods and he uses just polyurathane on his silk wraps and he says that works out great, light and stays flexible. You want to talk about time consuming? He usually winds up with something like 60 to 70 hours in each rod.

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Wow! Excellent info guys! I still put myself in the "novice" category in terms of rod building experience. I built my first, a Thorne Bros ice rod, this past winter. That immediately snowballed into building two more ice rods, followed by a 9' 4wt fly rod. It's been really enjoyable. Thanks again for the information/advice.

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Quote:

As for guides I would probably go with a 16 and 12 double foot or 12 and 10 double foot stripper guides and then run 8mm single foot's out to the tip with an 8mm tip. The Batson Light PVD TiCh plated guides look great and would match the reel seat. Either the plated zirconium (gold or TiCh plated) or H rings would look good and perform well. So you could use a LTCUDCG16 and LTCUDCG12 stripper guides, a LTCFCG10 as a transition (or use an 8), and then LTCFCG08's (qty 7 or 8 ) out to the tip. The tip would be an LTCPCT08R05.5


DinkADunk, UpNorth,

Thanks again for all the info. I have decided to follow your recommendations and go with the RA7L2 reel seat and LTCUDCG16 and LTCUDCG12 stripper guides. I have three more questions:

Will the LTCFCG Light PVD TiCh Plated 'F' Fly Rod Guide w/PVD TiCh coated Zirconium Rings and the LTCPCT08R05.5 top be significantly heavier than say snake guides (or 'XTCSF' 316 Stainless Steel Wire w/PVD TiCh Plating single foots)and an oversized standard fly top? Also, will the LTCPCT08R05.5 top react any different than a standard fly top? I have never seen this style top being used on a fly top before, so I thought I would ask.

Also, do you prefer the full wells or reversed half well for "heavier"? I have both...just curious on your thoughts.

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My WAG about weight is that a single foot ceramic ring fly guide (Batson F guide) once finished will weight roughly the same as a double foot wire snake guide once finished. And that's wrapped with nylon A thread and using one or two coats of FlexCoat lite. The F guide will weigh a little more but the snake will have more thread and finish. As for tops, the traditional loop tops are fine but the ceramic shoots better. A couple of builders I've come across use double foot wire snakes, double foot ceramic stripper, and a ceramic ring top on large spey rods. Of course you're generally not shooting line on Spey rods (depends on your spey cast style). I suggested that you go with a P series top since you want to target Steelhead and size 8 guides are a bit better for this application (in my opinion of course). If you went with size 7 guides (which will work but may have issues passing though some rigging and iceing up) then you could go with the fractionaly lighter L size tip top. Of course if you really want to save weight go with the Recoils and give them a minimal finish (one of flex coat light, no CP), you will suffer somewhat on distance. The best of course is to buy the two style of guides, use static distribution for the guide spacing and then test cast the rod to see what will serve you better. I used the ceramics I suggested to you to build a steelhead rod (blue Batson blank 9wt) for my wife and am able to shoot the whole line and into the backing on a cast.

As for grip, I would go with a full wells grip ( or reverse half wells) as that thickening at the end of grip gives you a nice place to place your thumb to give that kick at the end of the stroke. I would also look at adding a fighting butt too.

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Dinkadunk covered the bases pretty well so I don't have much to offer. I prefer the single foot guides mainly cuz you will never wear them out and they cast better than snake guides. If you were building a rod for a purist he would probably cringe at the the thought of single foot guides but if you are going for performance....

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Quote:

I would also look at adding a fighting butt too.


I see that the Batson fighting butts (detachable; with inserts;) are designed for the RA8 reel seats only, not the RA7 seats. Any thoughts? Maybe upgrade to the RA8L2, or possibly a different fighting butt? Like one those that directly connect to the blank?

One last question...I was thinking of adding a Brass/PVD TiCh Plated winding check. Is it possible to order the correct size without knowing the diameter of the blank at the top of the cork?

I think I'm placing my order through Fishsticks tomorrow!!! smile.gif

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Go with a fixed fighting butt like the CEVAFB-1 and match it up with a PW7.35CS-340/.850 cork handle. If you're buying your seat, grip, fighting butt, and blank from the same source they should be able to match up a winding check for you. If not then wait until you have everything and then measure. Don't forget the hook keeper. I would also suggest some rod bond to glue the cork to the blank (great stuff, forgiving too).

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Well, I finally got my blank in the mail this week, and immediately went to work. I put my reel seat together last night. Tonight or tomorrow it's the cork and then I'm off and running.

Question: What are your thoughts on aligning your guides along the spine vs. opposed to the spine 180º?

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Go with the straightest axis and put any curve facing up. Spining doesn't do anything for you. Spend your time doing a static distribution test and get that first stripper guide placed so that it's comfortable for you.

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I've read up on the static distribution test compliments of rod building and Tom Kirkman's article. As far as locating the spine and guides, what do you mean by saying to use the "straightest axis and put any curve facing up. Spining doesn't do anything for you." I always thought you should bend the rod to locate the spine, then mark and located guides based off the spine location. In advance, thanks again for your input.

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Spining was thought (at one time) to have some benefit because of torque. However, if you think about it, it's bunk. If you have a load on a real rod then typical fly and spinning rods will be loaded properly when fighting a fish and casting rods (guides on top) won't, which will lead to twist in your hands. You can combat this by doing a spiral wrap on your rod to get the guides to the bottom. Also due to the nature of manufacturing a graphite rod the spine is more likely a spiral and what your measuring is sort of an average. Anyhow, if you read back issues of Rod Maker or search the rod building site you'll get a lot of information as to using the straightest axis. It's part asthetic and part practicle in that you're trying to get your guides in a straight line relative to the blank to improve castability. The static distribuition test (attach tip, load rod from tip and run a separate line throught taped on guides) allows you to run a guide spacing to minimize weight while still alowing the line to approximate the curve of the rod. For spinning rods and casting rods you are also able to choose the proper size and spacing of your first guide to work with the specific reel you plan on using with the rod.

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I believe that I found the straightest axis. The tip piece had very little curve, so it's been challenging. I think I found it, and it turns out to be pretty much in line with the spine. So "old school" methodology was in line with "new school" methodology. I'm doing my static distribution test this weekend, then if time permits it's on to wrapping. Just curious, do you use epoxy or heat-and-stick glue for your rod tips? I've done both.

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I use the FlexCoat glue stick. Haven't had any problems with it yet. 5 minute epoxy would be ok too, I would avoid the very long cure epoxy as you can't reset them with heat if needed (you can use steam or a heat gun to loosen a tip fastened with 5 minute epoxy).

There is nothing wrong with spining it just doesn't have any benefits. I spine too (it's quick and easy to do) and often it lines up with the straightest axis but if it doesn't I ignore the spine and go with the straightest axis.

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