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Here's another question for you.  Suppose you swell the butt on a rod to .375" just in front of the cork.  To save a little weight, and make fitting the components simpler, do you turn the bamboo down smaller than that under the cork?  Under the reel seat?  If so, how far do you turn it down?  .300"?

I've been turning the reel seat end to 5/16" on all my rods, but it seems to me that if I turned down another 5"-6" of the bamboo that fits under the cork, I could save quite a little weight.  And since the swelled butt stops the action above the cork, there's little stress on the rod at that point anyway.  Just curious.  Any and all advice appreciated.  (Harry Boyd)

    I would do what is more convenient. what is under the cork is in the hand and balance is a big factor in perceived weight. How much difference will that little bit make? Will it really make any? What is your take on this?  (Timothy Troester)

      I'll go with Tim on this one, I just turn the reelseat portion down to the diameter I want, typically 3/8", I think that weight under the hand doesn't hurt, it helps keep the rod from feeling tip heavy.  (John Channer)

    What you suggest is perfectly fine.   I've been doing this for years. There's simply no reason to carry all that weight and bulk under the cork. I begin to taper the cane in the grip area down to 5/16" right under the first cork, and carry this dimension all the way through the reel seat.  (Bill Harms)

    I reverse the taper and take it down to the reelseat diameter before the start of the reelseat.  So, I get a "bulb" right in front of the handle.  (Jerry Madigan)

      I once had an occasion to do a major repair to an old Payne which involved, among other things, making a duplicate reel seat and cork grip.   When I removed the original cork grip I found that the butt section had been turned down to a uniform 5/16" diameter to within about 1 1/2" of the front of the grip.  I suspect this was a manufacturing "thing" which permitted them to make and install the reel seat  and grip separately.  (Ted Knott)

    I keep the taper the same as the last # under the cork and when I get to the reelseat area I turn the cane down to fit the inside diameter of the seat.  This is what I have found on rods like Heddon with swelled butts.  (Bret Reiter)

      You're correct. I have a "new" Heddon blank I bought from June Hills after Bernard's death. It swells to a dimension just ahead of where the cork would begin and then maintains that dimension all the way to the bottom of the butt, except where it was turned down to accept the seat.  (Winston Binney)


Has anyone had any experience with Dave LeClair's new version of his ferrule station cutters?

Would there be any advantage for a part-time (4-8 rods a year) maker?

I've used Dave's stuff before, and it's all top notch, just wondering if the improvements would be worth the higher price. I appreciate hardened cutting edges and micro tolerances, but is there much of a design difference with the original cutters which are still available?  (Bill Hoy)

    I have recently received the new ferrule station cutters from Dave LeClair, and have just completed my latest article for Power Fibers which is about the Ultimate Ferrule Station Cutters.

    Even at 4-8 rods per year, I think it is well worth the investment.  (Joe Byrd)


What is the correct or accepted practice for fitting the reelseat and cork handle. Do I leave the taper on the blank at its prescribed diameter and drill the cork handle and wood reelseat to that diameter. Or turn down the blank? Thanks in advance for the help. Have a great day. I am heading to the Martin Guitar factory today instead of the river!  (Ron Revelle)

    I leave as much bamboo intact as possible, going on the assumption that bamboo is stiffer than both cork and wood.  I also predrill the cork rings to fit the blank then wrap a mandrel with tape so that the ring slips on it and then glue them on the mandrel.  I then turn the grip and when taken from the mandrel the ID is tapered to fit the blank.  (David Van Burgel)

      Interesting, I do just the opposite.  I turn the reel seat area down to either 5/16 or 3/8, depending on the rod, and knock the corners off the lower 5 inches of the area where the cork will fit.  I turn my cork on the rod rather than a mandrel, though.  I usually drill the last couple of cork rings out only slightly, forcing them on to the rod section.  Doing so insures there will be a tight fit with no gaps to be hidden by a winding check.  My theory is that cork is lighter than bamboo.  (Harry Boyd)

      David's method is certainly fine, and his rods are both beautiful and beautifully built.  But I work with a somewhat different set of assumptions -- neither better nor worse perhaps, just different.  In rods of 7 1/2 feet and smaller (for 5-weight lines or less), I regard all unnecessary weight as THE ENEMY to optimum casting action.  While David is surely correct that "bamboo is stiffer than both cork and wood," it is also much heavier.  Also, I don't think that in ordinary trout rods a great deal of strength is required in the area of the grip and reel seat.

      In these somewhat smaller rods I assume that, because the area from the grip down to the real seat is essentially a pivot-point or fulcrum when casting, the relative stresses in this area must be very low.  (Also, I assume that, because I always build a swelled butt, the flexing action essentially stops at the grip.)  For these reasons, I taper the shaft immediately under the first cork down to a diameter of 5/16" and ream both cork and reel seat wood to fit this diameter.

      Larger rods may bring a different set of needs, but I would surely encourage you to do everything possible to reduce the weight in these smaller cousins.

      Just another view...(Bill Harms)

        I'll go with strength.   I say this having broken a few rods at the point I turned them down to fit a ferrule that was too small.  (lot of stress where the rod goes into the ferrule.  I'd assume the same applies at your hand.)  That's why some of the old timers made swelled butts. 

        I like Harry's idea of forcing the last ring over the rod.   I often force a preformed cork handle on the rod. 

        I build my butts by first seating the ferrule, then measuring, including the butt cap, then cutting.   Next is the reel seat, then the handle.  It will almost always fit over the ferrule and still be snug at the butt.   I've never been able to figure out the exact length in advance, so this allows me to have sections that are closer to even...(Terry Kirkpatrick)


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