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I want to share with you some improvements I had made in my Golden Witch wrapping machine that let my work with a lot of more control over the silk and over the rod. First I put more weight over the up rollers that control the rod, this let me move the rod every way without having to touch the screw every time. Second I add to steel wires to control the thread of each spool of silk. This also gave me a second tension control in the thread.  Take a look at it here.  (Marcelo Calviello)

    Be careful with the spring wire on the thread. While this is a very useful addition and makes wrapping easier, if you're using silk thread the wire will probably cause the thread to fray or fuzz. Will show up when you apply varnish. I suggest you test it, and examine your thread very closely, before wrapping a whole rod.  (Rick Funcik)

      Thank you for the tip but I have in both wire tips, a tip top and I don't have any trouble. I used to wrap Pearsalls Gossamer and YHI and don't find that the silk fray or fuzz.  (Marcelo Calviello)

    Nice modifications to the wrapper.  I notice you also use flip down magnifiers for seeing the tiny stuff...  ;^}  A  few years ago, I wouldn't have needed them, but now it seems I  can't wrap, or tie flies without them.  It sucks getting older...  ;^}  (Mark Wendt)


I am looking to make a basic rod wrapping device this week.  Does anyone know at what height I should make the bottom of the Vs?  My thought was to use the height of a commercially available drying motor/stand(measured from table to center of chuck), as I may buy one of those.  Are these things of "standard" height?  I would welcome any thoughts on this.  (Matt Fuller)

    Your idea of the height of the commercial drying motor is OK, but I don't know if they are standardized.  One thing that you most definitely will want is sufficient room for your hands under the rod.   I know that this is not where they should be when wrapping, but believe me there are times that you need to get under and cramped space makes WRs say bad things.  (Ralph Moon)

      If you are going to make your toys errr... tools, slice a couple of v's into a couple of pieces of cardboard and practice. Get a dowel rod and make a couple of wraps. I think it's a combination of chair/stool height and bench height. Ralph's point is well taken too, it can get ugly fast if you don't have ready access under the rod. FWIW, the bottom of the V  between my rollers is  7" off  the bench,  with about 5-1/2" of clearance to the base of the wrapper.

      I don't know that I'd worry to much about the motor height. If you want to direct couple it, you can raise the drying motor. If you use a couple of pulleys and a belt, you can put the motor in the next room if you choose to, in addition to being able to have a bit of control over the speed.

      I'd approach it this way; your goal is to wrap rods, make the tool to serve that purpose, and then put a motor on it.  (Larry Blan)


I have a Golden Witch master rod wrapper, and the O rings will continually dry out and crack.  I've tried my local Ace hardware store for replacements, but they seem to be an odd size.  I know that I can get them through Golden Witch, but is there another source?  I would like to purchase a bunch to always have extras on hand.  (Walt Hammerick)

    Same problem here, and GW wants a buck an O-ring to replace them.  I started putting a couple of wraps of tape around the Plexiglas wheel with 1/4" vinyl auto-shop masking tape and that seems to work just fine.

    When   I   had   that   problem   with  my  old  Dale  Clemens grip-turning-lathe wheels I did an on-line search and  found  an O-ring supplier with zillions of options and got a lifetime supply for about  $20. Can't remember who the supplier was, that was several years ago.  (Henry Mitchell)

    You may want to check with a local auto parts store for neoprene "O" rings. They usually have a wide range of sizes that may work for you.  (Don Schneider)

    Try an Industrial Bearing Supply house. Or someplace like McMaster-Carr or Grainger. They might even suggest something with a better material for your application. They will also have enough in stock so that you can get a supply.  (Dick Fuhrman)

    When you search McMaster-Carr, look up round drive belts, polyurethane, and the diameter of belt needed [1/8"]. you can buy a long belt or a non-welded length. To weld it together I use a utility blade held in vice grips, which is held in my vice so I can heat with small torch. Heat blade to red and touch ends of poly to each side if blade for about 2-4 seconds, then hold together till cooled. It will make a small blob that can be trimmed down smooth. I use the belts on my Four String Binder [see contraptions] and it doesn't crack. You can cut belt shorter and reweld too if needed.   (Chad Wigham)

      Can you tell me how to weld a rubber belt where it's about 1/2" longer, rather than shorter? <g>

      I know, I know, measure twice, cut once.  (Harry Boyd)

        If I'm reading you correctly, I just use a razor and cut square just behind weld on both sides, then reweld. The poly has a good 5% stretchability. Practice the welding if you have extra belting, for heat time & cooling time, and holding it together.  (Chad Wigham)

          I got a type of poly belt from McMaster that is hollow. It came with  small "joiners" that are plastic with six ridges. You warm the ends  of the poly belt and push in the fasteners, let it cool. Then it is  secure. After a while the belt stretched so I need to shorten it  and  repeat the exercise.  (Sean McSharry)

    I just started building a new rod wrapper. I used solid rubber with a bearing sleeve that someone on the list sent to me about 4 years ago. I wish I remembered who so I could say thanks. I made the adjustable stands from oak similar to the Golden Witch wrapper. I think it looks better than plastic. I will post pics soon!  (Bill Tagye)

    I have that same Golden Witch wrapper and experienced the same dilemma.  Golden Witch suggests storing the O rings in plastic bags between uses, but that is pretty much a pain, so I went looking for  a more reasonable source of replacements than Golden Witch as well.  I found an O ring assortment at Harbor Freight on sale for less than ten bucks that has hundreds of O rings that I will admittedly never use, but a good supply of the sizes that fit the Golden Witch wrapper, so I bought it.  (No financial interest in Harbor Freight Etc, Etc, Etc) Maybe that will give you another possible source.  (Jim Rowley)

    O rings are just about a science. They are made from various materials depending on exposure to their application. Here is a general guide to what is what.

    Some of the O rings are effected by Ozone or UV. They degrade fast in atmospheric conditions.  (Don Anderson)

      Great chart, Don. Thanks!

      Of course, as the materials become more exotic, the price increases accordingly. Viton is probably the best choice with cost as a consideration. They are also common enough that it should be easy to find replacements for existing O-rings, and cheap enough that a useful stock can be kept on hand. What the chart does not show is that many of the O-rings can be purchased in varying degrees of hardness as well.

      My Clemens/Renzetti lathe/wrapper still has the original O-rings on it, and I bought it in '82 or '83. I've power wrapped, used it to turn grips, both foam and cork, and sundry other tasks. It has never been babied, but it has never been exposed to sunlight or high temperatures either. It's a cave dweller.  (Larry Blan)

      Indeed, for I seem to remember that one of the space shuttle launches exploded due to faulty O-rings.   (Paul Franklyn)

    I just want to thank everyone for their responses.  I've gone to the McMaster-Carr web site and it looks as if I will be able to find what I need there.  For those who are having a similar problem, I will be ordering some O rings, making sure they fit, and will post the part number -- if anyone is interested.  (Walt Hammerick)

      I had that problem and found out some information that will be useful to all. I got mine at a place that sold them for hydraulic equipment but it took some hunting and here is what they told me:

      1. Once you find them they can be bought for way under a buck a piece! (My wife says we paid twenty cents or so?????)

      2.  Take em off between uses if you don’t use them too often  and slip em in a plastic baggie till needed.

      3. Drop a drop of oil on them to help keep em fresh. The oil gets absorbed & you can wipe off excess.

      4. They go on a lot easier if you do one or both of these things;  either prestretch them several times and/or buy one size up. They still hold snug and are an awful lot easier to work with.

      5. Make sure you get the big fat ones  for hydraulics (Dick Steinbach)


I'm getting started in bamboo rod building by first finishing some blanks.  I wish to buy a lathe and a guide wrapping tool.  Which ones are recommended?  (Louis DeVos)

    As far as guide wrapping tools are concerned, people like different things. In my case all I like to use is a set of rests for the rod and a tensioning device.  You don't have to go out and buy one - you can make the rests out of scrap wood in a few minutes, and any shop which sells sewing machines will sell you a tensioner which will work about ten times more efficiently than you actually need for this job.

    I do have a pedal-operated guide wrapper attached to my drying setup.  A friend of mine built it for me using an induction motor and variable controls, so I have full variability in speed from dead slow to WOW! in both wrapping and drying modes;  but in fact I never use the wrapping function. I think that it is a lot more satisfactory to use the power wrap on tubular graphite than it is to try to get it to wrap as evenly on hex sections.

    I had huge difficulties in getting my wraps to look anything for a couple of years after I started to build, and for a long time I was building perfectly good, functional rods that looked like a whale spewed on them !

    But some perseverance and a good quality pair of magnifying spectacles did right the problem in the end.  You tend to have good control of the thread by hand.  That, at any rate, is what worked for me.  (Peter McKean)

      Good advice.  I don't even use a set of notched rests.  I hold the rod shaft in my hands, and allow my hand-eye coordination to work in my favor.  I wrapped 30+ rods in a couple of different stand apparatus (apparatii?)  before I tried just holding the rod in my hands.  I can't see myself going back to a stand of any kind.

      I use two of the "Ott" type fly tying lights, and a strong pair of magnifiers for these 47 year old eyes. (Harry Boyd)

        Yes, I agree;  what I use the rod rests for is when the telephone rings,  or I  drop the pull-through, or I itch, or I have to blow my nose!  (Peter McKean)

    When I started refinishing bamboo rods I didn't have a rod wrapper and wanted something that I thought would be easier than the method Garrison wrote about in his book. I used my fly tying bobbin and being a OF that is pretty "set in my ways" I still wrap rods with a fly tying bobbin. Probably not the best way to do it, BUT it works for me. (Will Price)

    I use a fly tying bobbin too. Guess I am in the OF club as well.  (Bill Bixler)


I was hoping someone could provide some reviews and recommendations on purchasing a rod wrapper machine.  Of the two rods I built, I used the fine gossamer silk. I love it to death but I am not very consistent with the wraps.  Fine silk, inexperience, bad posture, chubby fingers make for lots of do-overs.  So i am thinking I may be happy with a contraption. So can anyone provide some reviews for me.

I am thinking a wrapper may go on my list for Santa but I want to be sure I steer her in the right direction.  (Matt Baun)

    I use the Flexcoat wrapper.   I also  have a combination magnifier - light that can be purchased from most arts and crafts stores.  It provides plenty of light directly over my work and if I need it a magnifier works great. The magnifier really comes in handy when you varnish so you can look for bubbles.  I use size 00 silk thread and do not have any problems.  One tip is I use a dental tool that allows me to rub the silk flat and kind of even it up before varnish.  I also use the Flexcoat rotating dryer that allows the varnish to dry evenly.  After about 3 - 4 coats it creates a deep clear finish that I like.  (Doug Alexander)

    I would highly recommend JW's wrapper.

    It took me a little time to get used to it, but I can use any brand of silk line on it, including the finest gossamer silk.  I would give JW a call if I were you.  (Larry Tusoni)

      I've seen the JW wrapper, or something very similar, at the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo.  Kind of reminds me of a 4 string binder... Seems to work very well, I just can't justify over $400 for it.  If I were a professional, where time is money, I'd definitely consider it, but as it is I only make one or two rods a year.  Kind of hard to get that much money past SWMBO.  My 2 cents.  (Neil Savage)

        I think that you wrap best with whatever machine or method you are used to. I don't think that there is any one machine or setup that gives better wraps than another- it is mostly technique adapted to fit the conditions in your shop, and practice.

        Wrapping may be unique in that respect.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    Try 2.0x or 2.5x magnification if you are not doing that already.  (Jerry Drake)


I'm thinking I need to build two devices, one for wrapping and one for turning the rod as it dries.

My questions should have been, plans and ideas for the wrapper IE. length, with, and type of wheels/rollers with or with out bearings? For the drying can I use a sewing machine motor or is it's RPM too high for applying and drying of epoxy/spar varnish?  Can I get the motor to turn slow enough? If not where do I find a low RPM motor? How do I, or what do I build the chucking (3jaw/4 jaw) device from?  I do have a good wood turning lathe with a 3 jaw chuck to make the cork, handle, seats etc. so I think I'm all set there I hope.  (Ethan Feinsod)

    Pac Bay sells a replacement set of jaws that pressure fit into a hole in a rod. The work very well and are not very expensive as I recall when I bought a new one. Easy solution.  (Gordon Koppin)

    Get hold of a bar-b-que motor and mount it on a stand.   Get a 1 1/4 poly end cap.   Drill and thread four holes around the side.  Fit in four bolt.  Fix the end cap to the motor and let her go.  I think you can find some ideas on Todd's Tips (check here).  (Ralph Moon)

    I made a rod wrapper on my own and would be happy to send some pictures of it if you like.  It basically is 4 supports made out of wood that run along 2 pieces of 1/2" electrical conduit so it is adjustable and I can attach a 4 RPM motor on one end for applying finish to the wraps, which I purchased on eBay for a few dollars.  There is a small platform in the middle of the holders that has the thread and spring tensioners on it.  Very cheap if you have the wood.   I made mine out of oak so it would not warp, but you could probably use any kind of wood.  (Scott Bahn)

    You can do that if you wish, but there is really no reason to turn a bamboo rod while the wraps dry, even if you use a first coat of epoxy, you don't want to have the wraps more than just wet with it anyway. As for wrappers, V-grooves cut in the uprights lined with felt work very well and aren't as complicated to make yourself as wrappers with wheel.  (John Channer)


I'm building a rod wrapper and winder, and looking for designs, ideas and advise.  I have an old New Home sewing machine with a foot peddle I can cannibalize  for the motor etc., but I’m not sure how to go about making it all work.  I was wondering if there is  a workable  design I might use?  (Ethan Feinsod)

    Look at the Pacific Bay wrapper.

    It uses a sewing machine motor and it works very well. (Gordon Koppin)

      I have the pac bay wrapper as well, but I bought it a few years back when I really started cranking out the graphite. The only thing I would use the high speed motor for now would be to turn cork handles. If you have the do it yourself attitude, you can make it for a heck of a lot cheaper than you can buy it. There are several pictures here for inspiration.

      Since I recently bought a lathe I will probably never use the motor ever again and would build mine just like Tony Spezio's. I don't want to contaminate the same area I am adding wraps with cork dust and there are lots of cracks and crevices for the dust to sneak into. I would also say that I think my wrapping has improved since I took the motor out of the equation.  (Scott Bearden)

        I note on that page there are rod Wrappers and rod Binders all together, there is a difference. I mention this as not to confuse a newbie.  (Tony Spezio)

          I think those are all wrappers.  There's another page just for binders!  (Todd Talsma)

          My mistake, went back and looked at the page again. All are wrappers, I had assumed that a couple on that page were Binders. Todd brought this to my attention.

          Sorry for the confusion.  (Tony Spezio)

          I mainly posted that link to show your wrapper. That's how the Pac bay wrapper works without the motor. I think the motor can add too much torque to silk threads to be viable, and this is not an area that I rush through. I admit it takes me longer to wrap threads, but I am packing and burnishing as I wrap, not just after the wrap is completed. At first I doubted the viability of wheels on a wrapper with hex rods, but I have been pleasantly surprised. I might change my mind with quads though.  (Scott Bearden)


I have always just wrapped my guides just by holding the rod in my hands and turning it in my fingers.  However, it occurs to me that there must be a better way, and hopefully one that is not quite so sensitive to one's mood and how one is feeling on a given day.

So I made a fairly simple wrapping jig, and it works so-so, but have some difficulty keeping the slide positioned so that it feeds the thread at the right angle to keep the wraps close.  Some wraps are near perfect, but in some I am having to do damn near as much thread packing as I did before!

Does anybody have any experience with the wrapper that I have seen on this list from time to time - the one with the big perspex discs that makes me want to say something like "Beam me up, Scotty"  every time I see one. Seems to me there might be some advantage in a machine that orbits the bobbin rather than turn the rod, and it looks to me as though that is what this one does.

Any opinions? Any other thoughts on wrappers?  (Peter McKean)

    No experience with that, though the advantage of turning the rod is you how see all sides of the rod so you see a problem immediately.  (Henry Mitchell)

    I built a powered wrapper that can rotate a section at any speed between 5-60 rpm. I have a sliding bearing support for the outboard end and a sliding carriage that holds the thread and tensioner. The thread goes through a guide which is directly below the wrap you’re working on.  I position the guide so that it is slightly behind the wrapping point.  As the wrap progresses, I move the thread carriage along to keep approximately the same “lag” distance.  This gives a tight wrap with no need for packing.  It takes a few tries to determine how much lag you need.  And it varies with speed, whether you’re on a flat section or going up a guide foot, tension, etc.  You quickly find a set of conditions that works pretty consistently.  (Al Baldauski)

      Obvious question:  Any suggestions on a suitable variable speed motor and controller?  (Ted Godfrey)

        Here's the controller I would use if I was going to make some kinda wrapper. Like John Channer I built the v block holder and I put some pegs on the back with sewing machine tensioners. Works so good I have no desire to change it. Just turn the rod by hand. A good light and a visor and even I can do a good job.

        I think you can go to a sewing center or sewing machine repair shop and buy a motor and controller or buy one on  eBay.  (Joe Arguello)

    You're talking about the JW wrapper, I've seen it on Jerry's web site but never used one, by all accounts it works very well. I made a wrapping stand years ago and it works good  enough that I've never had the urge to replace it, other than the normal tool envy when I see a better looking one. Mine is just 3 boards with a V notch in them lined with felt that attach to a base with a slot in it so I can move them around. The center one has the thread spools and tensioners on it, I only use 2 colors so I just have dowels for 2 spools. The thread comes from behind and over the top of the rod and I just move the rod slightly out of square with the thread to get the wraps to lay close to the previous turn. A rubber band holds the rod down snug in the grooves so I can let go of it without loosing tension and having the wrap unwind. Low tech, but works for me.  (John Channer)

    This one is worth a look.  I saw it and tried it a few weeks ago, and if I were in the market, I would buy it.  (Harry Boyd)

      I have the Eco-wrapper Harry recommended. Clyde, the maker, lives about 15 minutes south of me. I've used his wrapper for over a year and it works great. I particularly like being able to unwrap a few wraps without backing up in my chair.  (Dennis Higham)

    If you are referring to the JW wrapper, I have had one for quite a few years now and like it very much.

    I did make a couple minor mods to it, one to tension the thread spool vs. the thread itself.

    What I like most is that the rod section does NOT turn, the thread is wrapped around the rod, I also like the hand crank so I can precisely control the speed vs. a motor and petal. You can also backup quite a few turns if necessary.

    As to turning the rod sections, hex rods are obviously easier to turn than penta and quad rod sections.

    I make mostly Pentas so I prefer to not turn or rotate the rod sections.

    I have also heard good things about the Golden Witch wrapper but have no direct experience with it.  (Larry Tusoni)

    If I didn't already have a pac bay power wrapper I would have bought or built one like this.

    I have looked at the JW wrapper and have heard nothing but good things about them. The Winston rod shop used one just like this made out of bicycle parts, but when the Boo Boys started up Sweetgrass they appeared to go to a very basic rod wrapper that only held the spool. They held the rod in their hands, or at least it was depicted that way when they were on the TV show Fly Fish America a couple of years ago.

    The pac bay power wrapper I have is way overkill for what I do now and I don't use the power wrapping function. I want something closer to what I linked to above, but I want to use the large 1000 meter spools simply because if there is a color I really like and I plan on using frequently it is much cheaper in the long run.  (Scott Bearden)

      If you really want luxury and convenience in a rod wrapper and if your looking to make perfect wraps quickly, simply and effortlessly, buy a Renzetti Rod Lathe. Yes it's expensive but you get a lot (especially if you get all the add-ons like I did). I've had one for a long time and use it for all sorts of things. I use two 3' bed pieces with the thread carriage and a couple of rod supports to wrap rods. I can wrap without it but I don't want to and you can't make me!!! Mounted on a separate bench, I use another 3' bed piece with the headstock and a turning motor to shape grips and to do ferrule work at times when I don't want to use the metal lathe. I can drill, turn, and do anything a wood lathe can on this piece of equipment plus it is bulletproof. I've basically abused mine for years and have never had a problem. You can even save a little money and purchase just the components you want like a 3' bed piece, 2 rod supports and the thread carriage if all you want is a great wrapper. It is the ultimate cool tool as far as rod wrappers go!

      I have no financial affiliation of any kind with Renzetti (too bad) but on the off chance that any of you buy one, it would be nice if you told them about my recommendation.  (Jeff Fultz)

    I use the Golden Witch wrapper.  After several versions of homemade contraptions, I really have gotten comfortable with this one.  I especially like the thread feeding from the top.   I seem to see what's happening and get better control that way.

    Just my two cents, no financial interest, tho I wish I did because it seems a little pricey for what it actually is.  (Jim Rowley)

    Peter, I use one from Cabela's.  Not expensive and does a good job.  At least Darrol Groth told me so.  If you have access to a catalog you can look at it and probably build one like it yourself.  You can get them with double or single spools.  I have the single spool.  (Grant Adkins)

    If you are referring to the "plastic" wrapper sold by Golden Witch, I cannot say enough good about the basic design. I first saw this wrapper at the San Mateo International Fly Fishing Show in the 1970's when it was being made and sold by the guy who originally designed it. I made a few rough sketches and came home and got the quadrille paper out and began to draw. Soon I had a set of plans that should work. Next stop was at a lumberyard that sold some nice redwood. A couple of days later I had mine ready to "roll". I used redwood bender board for my wheels, which I cut from the plank with a hole saw. I capitalized on the 1/4 inch center hole made by the saw, put a 1/4 inch machine screw through it and locked it down with a washer and nut. I chucked the  machine screw into my drill, which I mounted in my bench vise. With this rig, I was able to cut beautiful grooves in the edges of the wheels with a rat tail file to accept the O-rings.

    They are simple enough to make, and should you be interested in making your own, I will be happy to send you a copy of my plans. Just PM me.  (Frank Schlicht)


I recently viewed a Winston style rod thread wrapper on one of the sites - but now can not find it.  can anyone help me locate a picture of this device?  (Jim Macy)

    JW has one, good luck trying to contact him.  There was also a picture on Clarks in the rodmaker and repair section.  (Scott Grady)

      Maybe you saw it on Todd's Tips site here. (Neil Savage)


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