Bamboo Tips - Tips Area - Restoration

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I have an old Folsom (Heddon) rod I would like to restore.  I need to completely strip the old varnish off, but I would like to leave the inscription intact.  Does anyone have any suggestions about how to do this or what kind of stripper wont remove the ink inscription?  (Jeff Ferguson)

    Remove all the varnish with the stripper but stay away from the writing. Use Alcohol on a  Q tip to remove the varnish over the writing. I forget who on this list posted this tip but it does work (at least most of the time). I tried it on 3 different rods and it worked perfectly once and fairly well the other 2 times. If it does not remove all the varnish you can still get great finished results by sanding the remaining varnish as flat as possible and staining some varnish to blend the color so the change by the writing is not to drastic.  Work slowly with  the Q-tip and alcohol and try not to rub but use it in a rolling fashion.  (Marty DeSapio)


I'm working on an old rod that the butt ferrules are a little loose -- they fit snugly, but I'm afraid that they will not hold when the rod is cast -- any ideas on how to snug up the female without removing it from the butt section?  I'd like to avoid doing that if I don't have to. The ferrules are NS, if that helps.  (Greg Kuntz)

    If the fit is tight, are they loose on the rod? That is do they need to be reglued. Do they rattle? If a ferrule rattles I pull pins if present, heat and pull ferrule and reglue. If the male is worn down, I will be interested in some of the metal working responses to this but I always replace. I have a collection of old ferrule parts, some useless until I shave the male down a 64th on fit them to a  unpaired female; for this very purpose. I usually give them away as they came off H-Is and Montagues. Where you located?  (Rex Tutor)

    A temporary fix is to put just a small drop of super glue on the male slide and wipe it off (let it dry before slipping it into the female).  it isn't permanent but it will last a long time and it is invisible.  (Timothy Troester)

    I have done this on some older rods and the cheap ferrule I used on my first rod.

    Wrap a layer of masking tape on the ferrule. I used a large drill chuck and tightened it on the female, Rotated it 1/3 of a turn and did the same once again. Keep doing this and fitting till you are satisfied with the fit. I have to do this once in a while on the cheap ferrule I have on Rod # 1. I should get around to changing it some day. I am sure there are other ways.  (Tony Spezio)

      I too have done the chuck trick on a number of rods and it works well but it's one of those things that needs doing really carefully.  Although it means taking the male off the rod I have grown them but getting very fine sand, filling the male, finding a pin punch tat is as close to the ID of the male as possible, standing the ferrule on a drill plate and giving the pin punch a sharp accurate hit into the sand.  If you have a problem on a restoration job it may be possible to do a bit of both and bring back the ferrules to a good fit.  (Tim Watson)

    One thing I've always wanted to try, but don't have the resources for:  Take a tubing cutter and change the cutter wheel to a flat roller like the other two. Then you would be able to tighten the female side of the ferrule by tightening the tool on it, roll it around, tighten a little more, roll it around, etc. Just like you would do to cut a pipe, but with three flat rollers it would crimp the female down, tightening it on the male side. I think it would work......(Darryl Hayashida)

      Your post got me thinking - I do some handloading, and I looked at the chuck for my case trimmer.  It  looked like one of the steps would be close to the OD of the female ferrule.  I took the cutter and pilot out of the handle side, and threaded the rod section through the handle, set it in the chuck, and tightened the chuck.  Since it's meant for the rims of centerfire cases, it left only small, buffable marks on the rim of the ferrule, and it tightened it enough so that the male doesn't slide out now. 

      I'm also going to look for a roller to cannibalize one of my tubing cutters in case I don't have the right size chuck for my case trimmer.  (Greg Kuntz)

      I made a cutter just as you described, it does work, but can fatigue lighter metal, like older cheaper ferrules. Haven't used it on anything modern.  (Chad Wigham)

    Ray Gould's first book has a short section on "snugging" female ferrules. He uses two cold rolled mild steel bars, with a hole drilled between them of the appropriate size, to uniformly squeeze the female around her circumference.

    Its clearer if you see the picture and the text at the  same time.  (Chris Obuchowski)

      I have only have to do this once, but had a toolmaker friend of mine make up a Ray Gould type ferrule "squeezer", and it works very nicely. I fiddled about with it a bit before I used it on the loose ferrule that I wanted to fix, and I would  have to warn anybody who is going to use one for the first time that this little gadget produces a HUGE amount of pressure, and you have to be VERY careful not to overcorrect.  (Peter McKean)


I have acquired a Heddon-built Webercraft 9' 3 piece with dry, fraying original wraps that need replacing.  This rod was a budget model, so there are relatively few guides (eight plus tip top; only three on the mid) and the spacing is rather odd around the ferrules.  The question is whether to be true to history and replace the guides where they are, or to lose some history by adding a few guides and spacing them accordingly.  Aside from the fraying wraps and some marks in the varnish, the rod is in good shape and will be used for fishing.  Obviously, changing the guide spacing will require more refinishing work, but I'm more interested in hearing the list's opinions on the philosophy of changing the guide spacing.  (Terry Finger)

    I did a Weber/Heddon last year. I thought the guides were sparse but I stuck with history. It cast real nice, loaded lots of line.

    I would remove the guides in question. Tape them back on in the new arrangement. I use a 1/8 masking tape I get from automotive paint shops. It comes of with no problem but holds well enough to lawn cast. I would test my theory out before I resigned myself to the historical spacing.

    If you are going to do some wraps you might as well take em off and do them all.

    I have changed guide spacing and sizes to upgrade a silk line rod to modern lines with success.

    Good luck and let me know what you do.  (Rex Tutor)

      I'm pretty much in agreement with Rex on the 'how' he suggested and can only add a comment about my perception of "your" words. First, it would seem right to decide whether you want to 'refinish' or 'restore'. You have indicated that the rod is unlikely to be of significant value and not worthy of a restoration job. So, since this has been determined, what do you want to do with the rod? "Fish it or Sell it? If if is a "Fish it" all that is really necessary to do is examine the guides for rust and replace them, revarnish the frayed thread works and go to the creek. However, if you might ever decide to sell it, or want it to 'look like a fishin' tool", you will have to do a little more to it. Consider this; If one guide is rusted and one wrap is frayed, it implies that the rod has suffered some water damage because the varnish has failed and these things require replacement. This says 'strip the rod'. Some guys say they can replace just one guide and make the thread  colors match the remaining original colors, but not me. Now that you have the guides, ferrules and varnish off, look at the cork and reel seat. This is the ideal opportunity to replace either or both with a minimum of effort. Replace the 8 guides with 9, wrap it with 3/0 silk, script it with "CUSTOMIZED by Terry Finger", varnish it and take it to the creek. Now it will sell, should you ever decide to get rid of it.  (Don Greife)

    Even some of the better "production rods" are short of our modern standards for number of guides. I do not think that the makers were necessarily wrong in the placement of guides. I think that Rex has a point. I have a 7'6" Edwards that I restored. It had 7 snakes and  a striping guide. I tried more guides and moving them around and I determined that the manufacturer's original guide placement was about the best. I did, however, increase the guide size a bit for modern lines. I have always been curious about the effect of guides on the stiffness of the action of a rod. Also guides contribute moments to the stresses on the rod. Is less really more?  (Doug Easton)

      Heddon rods often only really differed between grades by the color of reel seat insert, color of wraps, and # of guides.  # 20 had more guides than # 14, but the cane work looks pretty close.  Sinclair states that Heddon used better looking blanks for # 20 and above, the higher the # the better, but sometimes it's pretty hard to tell any difference.

      If casting performance is your goal, add guides and adjust the spacing, you can even use the right color thread and almost no one will notice. Historical accuracy in a $200 rod seems kinda pointless.  If they wanted to make a better fishing rod in the old days, they would add guides and charge another $2.50 to  the price.  (Brian Creek)

      Interesting question, Doug.   The added mass of the extra guides indeed increases the moments acting on the rod. Increased moment will mean increased stress to the rod.  On the other hand, the wire will act as a stiffener, thereby decreasing the stress on the rod at that point.  (Claude Freaner)

        Just my $.02, but I believe the weight of the snakes and their wraps is a far more significant factor than their stiffening effect.  Try bending a snake guide by hand.  Easy right?  Now try bending a hexagonal rod section the same length as a snake guide.  Not so easy.  A double foot stripper might be stiff enough to make some slight difference, but it is placed at the strong end of the rod.  (Harry Boyd)

          I messed with an oldish 7' English rod with many intermediates once by casting it before removing the inters, then cast after the inters were removed and the rod was completely different to before.  With the inters the rod was reasonably quick and not too bad surprisingly without them it was terrible. Not only slow but just gutless.

          To extrapolate this to a normal rod without gadzillions of inters I'd think the binding used to hold the snakes would make a difference but the snakes themselves would be approaching zero effect.  (Tony Young)

            I'm wondering if it's safe to assume that a larger number of guides necessarily stresses a rod more than would fewer guides.  It's true, of course, that each guide (its wraps and varnish) adds just that much more weight, but it's also true that, when casting, a larger number of guides (up to a point that must be determined for each rod) helps to distribute the stress of a rod and to transfer the power of the rod appropriately to the line.

            As an  absurd  example,  placing  just five  guides on an eight-foot rod (say, for a five weight line) would minimize weight, and thus also minimize moments of stress.  But this would be applicable for a static flex-test only.  In a more realistic scenario,  if one were actually to put this rod to work, casting a line 40-50 foot distances, I believe you would be  inducing unacceptably high stresses at the guide locations -- not because of the guides themselves,  of course, but because only five points along the eight-foot shaft would be asked to do all the work in transferring energy to the line.

            Conversely, if (on this same rod) one placed, say, nine guides plus the stripper, weight would be increased, causing a proportionate increase in moments of stress.   So, in theory, this would seem to be the wrong thing to do -- but, of course, it's not.  The problem is that the theory, as far as we have considered it, is incomplete.

            Upon actually casting our hypothetical eight-foot rod (now, with the nine guides) we see, instead, that because stresses are now distributed proportionately along the length of the shaft, the rod performs nicely and is able to do the work for which it was intended.

            It is only BEYOND an optimal point in adding guides that the increased moments of stress can become a negative factor, but how many guides that will be depends upon the rod, line (and fly), casting distance, and caster.

            I only offer this because I began to worry that the thread was working toward an idea that, because of induced moments of stress, fewer guides is always better.  Guides do not "stiffen" a rod, though wraps themselves may. Neither do guides (and wraps) necessarily "soften" a rod's action upon actual casting.  All this needs to be considered in the context of what the "optimal" number of guides would be for a given rod and caster.  The fewest number of guides that will allow a rod to perform properly will minimize unnecessary (and detrimental) weight, whereas the greatest number of guides (short of  "bogging" down the rod) will transfer the rod's action best to the line.  Ideally, in both cases this number, for a given rod, will be the same.

            I also offer my thoughts with apologies to those who actually understand physics - which I really do not.  (Bill Harms)

              I think you're right but again I say this because of what I found with the before and after experience of that little rod with the inters. It was a much better rod with them than without. This was an old English rod so is a slow action. Maybe a faster tapered rod wouldn't have the same effect with more wraps.

              The extra varnish soaked up in the wraps must have some effect to the inertia of the rod and it'd be interesting if somebody with the knowledge and spare time to do it could define just how much say 7 inters between guides would affect a rod's inertia.

              My thoughts are the extra wraps would speed the action due to controlling the sliding of the splines that seems to take place more than the inertia slows it.  (Tony Young)

          Last spring I built a nodeless rod on Wayne C's "Sir D" taper. At glueup I had some sort of brain fart and got the strips out of order somehow, so instead of the splices being staggered as they should be, several splices met together.  Both tip and butt. So I added about a half dozen reinforcing wraps at these points in addition to guide wraps that covered some junctures.

          I don't show this rod to people that know what a cane rod should look like, but it really casts like a little demon. Even zippier than my other Sir D.

          The more I think about it (often a dangerous practice), the more reasonable it seems that extra wraps more than guides stiffen the rod.   When the rod flexes, the cane must compress on one side and/or stretch on the other, and become deformed from a hex in cross section to something more oval. A small wrap well varnished may add enough stiffening to make a difference, by resisting these movements.  Also if you use a glue that allows any "creep" the wraps would limit this.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

            I had some experiences related to the effect of guide wraps. I used to make nodeless rods and had chronic problems with scarf joint failures. I won't go into the whole saga but my conclusion was that the only way I could make nodeless rods that did not eventually fail at the scarf joints was to use the strongest of glues - URAC or Resorcinol, I didn't try epoxy - for the sections. Titebond II (as the main glue for the sections, not just for the scarfs) and Poly-U's didn't do the job. I THINK what happens is that the really strong glues hold the scarf joints in place by binding their non-scarf surfaces to adjacent strips, since no glue I ever tried could consistently produce scarf joints that did not fracture initially along the glue line when tested as separate strips - many fractured partially in the bamboo, but the break always started at the glue line, and it's the beginning of the break that seals the joint's fate. I think Titebond and other glues are fine for rods with no!

            Des, they just (at least for me) couldn't add the extra strength required to keep the scarf joints together. And yes I tried every method known to rodmakers to make good scarf joints (sanding with various grades, planning, various kinds of clamping, etc.), and several different glues including PU and URAC as well as TB II.

            Anyhow this is a long way of explaining that I've had too many rods that became kindling, but before burning them I broke them up to see how they fractured. Some of them had clear silk reinforcing wraps at various places, and of course there were the guide wraps, which I did not fully cut when removing the guides (I'd cut one foot loose but pull the other out from under its wrap). I was really impressed by the way the reinforcing wraps (or guide wraps when they happened to reinforce a scarf joint) kept those joints together. When they didn't break at scarf joints, the rods tended to break at the edge of wraps. To me this says that the wraps add a really significant amount of strength, but also that they produce an area of extra stress at the edge of the wrap, much as a metal ferrule does with its sleeve.  (Barry Kling)

              How tight the wraps are plays a big part also....(John Channer)

            There's no question the lateral fibers are sliding along one another some in compression some in expansion no matter where they are on the rod continually altering so if you're constricting how much these fibers can move with binding it has to stiffen the action to my way of thinking.  (Tony Young)

              Those ol' intermediates were more useful than we thought. Have you ever noticed that most rods with intermediates had an increased frequency as they approached the tip, this couldn't have been for cosmetic reasons, (and certainly not because of impending glue failure... an old wives’ tale) but rather to modify the action. It makes you wonder when modern makers might try using intermediates to add yet another arrow to their quiver.  (Reed Curry)

                Most interesting!  I just finished a second tip for a rod I'd made a few years back.  The "old" rod was a 7' with 8 guides including stripper.  The new tip, like the old one,  was as close to specs as I could make it.   However, I made the new tip with an extra guide so that there were 9 guides  on the old butt + new tip.  Did the extra guide add stiffness or weight or nothing (as Garrison says)?  Weight was the dominant factor!  The second tip moves more slowly through a wider arc.  The difference is noticeable, but not dramatic.

                That experiment was suggested by a previous occasion.  I jointed up a partially wrapped tip; it had all the guides installed except for the lowest one.  The wraps were sealed, but not varnished.  When I gave that rod a flick (no line), the tip vibrated like a tuning fork.  It had the worst recovery I have ever seen.  The greatest vibration was in the tip; the area where the guide was missing was not 'noticeably' vibrating, although it must have been.  Installing the last guide restored the recovery action to normal.  (Grayson Davis)

                  I'll repeat this again, since we need to hear it now and then: The plastic guys are way ahead  of us on guide placement.  (Martin-Darrell)

                I am inclined to agree with you, but I would think that the establishment of any kind of standards might be an exercise in futility.  For me, I like the look and if it improves the action Hey win double.  (Ralph Moon)

                  I think you guys may be on to something here. The thought occurred to me, "If we have a formula to determine where to place the guides, them why couldn't we have a combined formula that would determine where the guides and intermediates should be?" Of course, we could all come to an agreement to where those places should be. (Don Schneider)

                    For intermediates (Which I love BTW), I find the middle mark. I place a ruler next to the blank and mark off 1' marks. I wrap the intermediates there. To me, it may be unorthodox, but it is easy to figure, and it looks really nice.  (Bob Maulucci)

                      Spacing the intermediates as you said, mid point and then every inch, sounds like a simple way to go about it. It would also make a easy way to measure the fish :>) I'm putting together a Trout/Light Salmon wet fly rod and think I'll give it a try.  (Don Schneider)

                        That's something I hadn't thought about. Maybe because I never actually catch that many fish.   (Bob Maulucci)

                      That's how I've done them and it looks pretty nice if you're into fly rod bondage, sometimes I am.....heh heh   (Tony Young)

                        Do you mean that you make a mark midway between two adjacent guides, then go 1" each way toward the guides from that  center point?  And then do that between all the guides?  (Troy Miller)

                      Yep. I stop before they get too close to  the guide wraps. Usually get 7 wraps between each. I think it looks nice, and it is easier than doing a straight seven wraps dividing each section into halves. I really started doing it because I was unsure what to do on the butt section between the stripper  and signature wrap. 1" seemed like a good compromise. I like it, but must admit I have never built two identical rods to compare its effect. I like the action of the 6'6" Hardy rod from Bob Milward’s book. That rod kicks butt. It worked nicely on a 209E I did for TU this spring as well.  (Bob Maulucci)

    Every older rod that I've refinished showed "ghost" shading where the guide was located.  I suspect that this was the result of less UV light reaching the wrap-protected bamboo.  If you use a different number, or spacing, of guides, these "ghosts" are quite visible.  (Ted Knott)

      One of my students did his own strip of a South Bend and brought it in. I happened to have a South Bend and we compared. He had no ghosts at all. They were about the same age but they may not have been exposed to as much UV. I reviewed his strip process. He uses Orange stripper. He clops in on and repeats application every 10 minutes , 4 times or so. He leaves it on an hour. It all wipes off after that. He doesn't scrape in any way. I think it is possible to remove ghosts as I have removed them to a great degree. I  think some part of ghosts is residual varnish around the wraps. But I am still  working on it.  (Rex Tutor)

    I have a custom Leonard tournament rod of my fathers that he ordered from 1928 to 1932.  Just not sure.  9 1/2 ft. plain red wraps, no tipping and no intermediates.  4 1/2 grip, English snakes.  Didn't notice an invisible wrap of 1 1/4" in between the first and second snake guide on the dry fly tip.  Some where I have read that early tournament Leonards were test cast and sometimes tuned before they were delivered to the customer. M. Keane's book maybe.  There was no damage to the rod under the wrap.  Cast his 9 ft. Tournament model both before installing the intermediates and after with a King Eider silk line.  The difference was noticeable.  (Jerry Young)

    How this particular situation turned out may also be of interest to others.

    I received a number of responses from the list; most leaned toward adding guides to make a better fishing rod (this was not a vintage Payne or Gillum, after all), but several warned that the old guides would leave dark footprint marks that would be revealed by new guide spacing.  I mulled this for a while and then compared the spacing on the 9' Weber/Heddon to a 9' F.E. Thomas Browntone that had an abundance of guides (five on the mid).  It turned out that the three guides on the Weber mid lined up closely to three of the guides on the Browntone, with the Browntone having two more guides in between.  So, I wound up with a way to add two guides to the mid while keeping the original guides in the same location.  If a rod has bad guide spacing, I guess it pays to have it be really bad so you can just add guides in between.  I should add that the spacing on the tips was a little sparser than I would like, but not too bad, so those guides will stay in their original positions.  (Terry Finger)


I recently ran across this strange little piece of advice in the Herter's "Rod Building Manual" (1949).   I have never heard of this, and I am wondering if any of you might know anything about it.  Personally, I think it's bogus, or we would have been doing this all along, but Herter seems quite positive.  Here goes:

"Soft rods can usually be stiffened by the following method.  Hold  the area  of the  rod section  you desire  to stiffen  over [an] electric plate until it is so warm that you can just barely handle it.  Now take a brush, dip it into household ammonia and run the brush quickly over the area of the rod you wish  to stiffen.  [...]  Let the ammonia remain on the rod section for five minutes; then wipe off any surplus.  Let the rod section cool, assemble it [...] and try it for stiffness.  If it is not stiff enough repeat  the  process  until  the section  is as  stiff as  required." (p.92)

What's up with that?  (Bill Harms)

    While I have no idea what effect might be induced by the aqueous ammonia, or ammonium hydroxide, upon the bamboo itself, I do know what happens to anhydrous ammonia when added to water -- ammonium ions and hydroxide ions are formed, thus no more water, though the reaction doesn't go to completion. It would seem that to have heated the section as hot as is given here that we would have driven out quite a bit of moisture, since we all know that what we want to do is heat the section through, and not merely get the outside so hot that we can't hold it.

    Another thing unclear is whether, or not, the aqueous ammonia is penetrating the varnish and even reaching the  bamboo itself. I am doubtful that this is occurring, so am doubtful that any browntoning effects are had. It may be that with the section heated to such a temperature that the a. ammonia as it evaporates helps to pull the moisture from the section, though we still have that problem of the varnish. The boiling point of anhydrous ammonia is roughly -28°F, and for a. ammonia is roughly 214°F, so I can't imagine what they are talking about when they say to wipe off any surplus.

    Ethanol is also fully soluble in water, and might work as well as ammonia, though I wonder about the effect on the varnish. I think that might be disastrous.

    So, maybe there is actually something going on with the bamboo itself. Not ever having attempted something like this, I have trouble seeing how any effect is achieved through the varnish.

    Word of caution: When using ammonia, in any form, NEVER mix with chlorine bleach. This produces a highly toxic and carcinogenic mixture.   (Martin-Darrell)

      Thanks much for the info.  I should have included, when I quoted George Herter, that the whole procedure is applied to a rod section which has been stripped of its varnish.  I guess I was just thinking about the effects of Herter's technique if we did it PRIOR to varnishing.  (Bill Harms)

    Back in the early 70's, based on Herter's book, I suspended the bamboo splines in a tube with a pan of aqueous ammonia fastened to its bottom. After a week the splines were a deep, almost chocolate, brown.  Only fished the rod twice before losing it, so have no recollection of its characteristics.  Couldn't have been much good since I never made another with ammonia.  (Ted Knott)

      I have had some recent experience, though minor.  Glued a small glass bottle onto a plastic tube, poured in some blueprint ammonia (from blueprint supply house < $5/gal) and suspended unvarnished blanks into.  Over a period of a couple of days in summer, the blank took on a darkening browntone color, nodes included.  Sections from different culms had different effects, from deep brown to more copper colored.  Not sure if it changed the modulus of the cane, but should be fairly easy to do a before/after flex test to find out.

      Note: do not try this with copper tubes.  The ammonia affects the copper and if the cane touches the affected area, a black staining results.  I have a nicely mottled blank to prove it.  Can assume n/s ferrules would also be affected.

      Note: also do not use plastic fluorescent bulb covers for a tube; the ammonia eats it.  The rigid, almost clear plastic tubes for shop vac systems is ammonia proof and works very well.  Got mine from Home Depot.  Friend Joe Byrd made a really spiffy setup using those tubes with plastic plumbing parts that can be kept in his basement shop while the ammonia works it's magic.  (Richard Tyree)

    I've done this. Soaked a unvarnished blank in household ammonia in a PVC pipe. Got a nice even brown color, didn't notice any stiffening though.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      How long did you soak it?  (Tim Stoltz)

        24 hours (Darryl Hayashida)


I need your help with something.  A friend of mine has asked me to refinish a rod of his.  The kicker here is he just had it refinished about a year ago, and at the same time had new tips made for the rod.  The reason he wants to refinish it is that the person who last finished it and made the new tips did not take a good look at the color of the cane in the butt section, and made and finished the tips blonde, whereas the butt is almost blonde but not quite.  It is like a honey color.  Anyway it kills my friend every time he puts the rod together to see the  difference in color from the butt to the tips.  My question is, what way can I darken the tips of the rod before varnishing so as to match the butt?  I was thinking possibly chemically, in my oven, but then it occurred to me that removing more moisture from the tips may affect the action of the rod adversely or in a way that  would not be  appreciated by the owner.  Anyway any help you may be able to provide would be, as always, greatly appreciated.  (Robert Cristant)

    Use wood dye on the tips. Try to get them the same or a shade lighter. You can always add some dye to the varnish. You match the color by progressively increasing the dye concentration in the medium. It takes two people to do this job: one to do it and the other to tell the first when to stop.  (John Zimny)

    I've always used Potassium Permanganate to color cane when doing restorations.  You can adjust the shade of the cane by the number of applications (one quick wipe for honey-color). With a few coats you can turn out some nice browntone colors. You might be able to just scrape all the sections down and then stain them all at once (if your friend is really that concerned with matching shades). Wear gloves when using the Pot. Permang. it will leave purple stains on your fingers that will only wear off with time.  (Jeff Fultz)


    Use a Pantone marker, wipe on, wipe off, dip and collect the $$$. I suggest you refinish both the butt and tip. Using different shades of marker you can make it look any way you want.  (Adam Vigil)

      I have had luck in the past by just adding oil based stain to the varnish and applying with my fingers. When first applied it may the appear varnish is not dark enough but when the solvents evaporate the color will darken. I do this on the first coat and the second if needed. The third coat is dipped in unstained varnish.  (Marty DeSapio)


I have another Heddon to restore. The last one I told the client that the rod was going to be lighter and he accepted that. I didn’t like that but I knew I would have another chance to duplicate the stain.  What did they use? I took off the thread at the hook keeper and the bamboo is dark but much lighter without finish so it isn't the the ammonia treatment that I have heard of here and read of in Sinclair's book On Heddon. Anyone have any ideas how to darken a rod without heat? Has anyone ever mixed stain with finish?   (Rex Tutor)

    The darkness just comes from age and the kind of varnish they used, by all accounts, Heddon's varnish was the worst thing about their rods. It is an old painters trick to mix stain with varnish to tone wood, just be sure to use an oil based varnish, Minwax will work well. Rather than tint the whole dip tube, just tint a small amount and put it on as the first coat with  a brush, naturally, after experimenting on scrap first for proper color, then sand it smooth and dip the rest of the coats with your regular varnish.  (John Channer)

    I once used water based stain to darken a rod that was being refinished. It had little value and just looked better that way.  Don't know how resistant the stains are to sunlight.  Could do some testing as I have a lab with about a half million dollars worth of colorfastness test equipment.........should be used for something really interesting.......(Carey Mitchell)


One question on stripping, are there any aversions to using "Paint Stripper" on an old rod if it is cleaned very carefully with acetone afterwards? This was suggested to me and I was just wondering about possibly damaging the  glue joints or anything.  (Jimi Genzling)

    I recommend using 3M "Safest Stripper" paint and varnish remover (semi-paste) and final clean up with a water dampened stripper pad.  No problem with glue harm using this product. Both items are found at your nearest Home Depot, Lowes, etc.  Then I'd wipe down with mineral spirits.  (Ed Riddle)


I have a very early Leonard-Mills trout rod (9'0". 5.5 ounces, probably 1915-1920 vintage).  The guide wraps are red (kind of an orange-scarlet) tipped black.  It has 50 intermediate wraps in the orange-scarlet.  The reel seat is a full nickel-silver slide band.  I have two problems.

1.  I need to replace one guide wrap and the stripper guide.  Does anyone know what shade thread was used on the early Leonards.  The black should be no problem but this scarlet may be hard to match and I don't want to replace all of these wraps.  Also, does anyone have any suggestions on where to buy a stripper (preferably red agate).

2.  There is a small dent where the butt cap attaches to the reel seat barrel.  Weren't these butt caps soldered on the barrel and could I use a soldering iron to remove the cap so I can repair the dent.  (Bob Murphy)

    I have no experience on this particular model but due to age, the current exterior color of the wraps are not going to match the original color on this rod.  If you want to replace only one wrap, I suggest you do the old "trial & error" on a dowel until you're satisfied with a matching color.  I'm flat out of surplus agate strippers, Golden Witch has new ones.  Sufficient heat will undo solder.  (Ed Riddle)


I have a rod that I am refinishing for a customer and was hoping that there is a way to remove and existing reel seat without "trashing" it.  It appears to be attached with wood glue.  I have been able to remove the end  cap and sliding band with no problem.   The insert is actually nice but it needs to be removed in order to put a new handle on. 

Recommendations?  Could I soak or steam?  Any advice will be appreciated.  (Doug Hall)

    Heat and pressure  is the cure. Make sure there are no pins or nails. Try a dry heat source first like a hair dryer or heat gun. Use a leather glove and pull or make a puller out of wood.  I have seen lots of kinds of glue including   Elmer’s white wood glue and they all come apart if you heat evenly and not too quickly.  (Rich McGaughey)


I bought an old rod at an auction yesterday, $10. It was marked Spalding ????????????? made by Heddon. It is a 3 piece, 8 ft. It had been stored in a hot attic for many years and the finish was all bubbled up very badly. Missing 3 snake guides and has a slight bend in each section. I am now working on restoring the rod.

So far, I have taken measurements of the guide placements and wrote those down. Also marked each flat that the guides are wrapped on. Soaked each section in a alcohol saturated rag. This dissolved the old finish and with a little elbow grease and some fine sandpaper the old finish is now removed. The guides and stripper were soaked in alcohol also and the old stuff came right off. I'm thinking of rebluing them with Super Blue liquid gun blue (because I have some here).

A Dremel with a wire brush really shined up the ferrules nicely.  Sandpaper did a nice job on the cork handle. The reel seat was made of plastic and was badly damaged. A 5 minute soaking in hot water and it came right off.

Questions for the list.

1. To straighten the sections I was thinking of heating them  with a hot air gun and then  pressing them in a vise with long wood jaws.  How long should I leave them in the vise?

2. The Tip top was loose. Can I use an epoxy to reattach?

3. The reel seat is a problem. It has to be replaced. The butt is 7/16 in diameter. I have the old butt cap and ring and the down locking knurled screw. Where can I find a replacement reel seat either plastic or metal or wood that is threaded on the cork end?

4. I need an inexpensive thread to rewrap the guides. Any suggestions and how much should I buy for this rod?

5. To revarnish this rod I need to make a dip tube. I cannot drill a hole in the basement floor so I have seen plans where there is a bleeder setup on the bottom of the tube. Anyone know the URL of those plans?

Any other suggestions?  (Randy Tuttle)

    I always recommend guys do some restoring. It makes them better builders.

    1. To straighten the sections I was thinking of heating them with a hot air gun and then pressing them in a vise with long wood jaws. How long should i leave them in the vise?

    I rarely use a vise. Use your hands to bend against the set as you wave and rotate the rod through the heat. 

    2. The Tip top was loose. Can I use an epoxy to reattach?

    Epoxy will work but is not recommended. It is really hard to get off but I have done it. I recommend you get some tip top glue or ferrule glue which is like hot glue but has a higher heat resistance. If the tip breaks you can get your tip top back allot easier with this type of glue.

    3. The reel seat is a problem. It has to be replaced. The butt is 7/16 in diameter. I have the old butt cap and ring and the down locking knurled screw. Where can I find a replacement reel seat either plastic or metal or wood that is threaded on the cork end?

    You can buy these from If you live in Denver you can come over to my shop and have one. Allot of guys like me turn them, and use a router to mill a flat section.

    4.I need an inexpensive thread to rewrap the guides. Any suggestions and how much should I buy for this rod? Anglers Workshop has silk and nylon. I recommend you get someone to teach you this. In between wraps and finish this is where rods look bad. (tip top glue available here).

    5. To revarnish this rod I need to make a dip tube. I cannot drill a hole in the basement floor so I have seen plans where there is a bleeder setup on the bottom of the tube. Anyone know the URL of those plans?

    McGaughey, Rich Dip Tube SpigotDip Tube Spigot

    McGaughey, Rich Dip TubeDip Tube


    other tips here.

    Good luck, have more fun and don't be afraid to ask more questions.  (Rich McGaughey)

    Your straightening method would frighten me if I were doing the work. It is like taking a D9 Cat to till your rose garden.  Get an alcohol lamp, and find some old bamboo pieces and practice using the lamp and your hands.  Far better.  But even on an old Heddon I would be cautious. You can do more harm than good if you get to reckless.

    2 do not use epoxy.  Ferrule-Tite or some heat sensitive adhesive should be used.  Any high temperature glue for a glue gun should be good, but beware the low temp sticks.

    Your best bet on the reel seat is to ask the rod list.  someone may have what you want.

    Thread is not terribly expensive.  If you want nylon, most fly shops carry it.  Silk you may have to order but splurge

    As far as the dip tube.  You don't have a problem.  Just get some PVC pipe and end caps.  You have less than three feet to dip and therefor any area with an 8 ft ceiling can be used.  I do it in my bathroom. Less dust.

    Finally the Hippocratic oath contains the most important words for anyone working on old cane rods.  "First do no harm"  Go to it and have fun.  (Ralph Moon)

    Just an after thought on the straightening.  You want a source of low temperature heat. hence the alcohol lamp.  You want to confine the heat on the rod shaft to an area not much more than four inches long.  and you want to start at the beginning of a bend or set and work very slowly up the through the bend.  as I say 4-6 inches at a time.  Then you may have to do it again, and then perhaps even one more time.  Don't be concerned if it takes several hours to do the job.  See sawing the set through a strong heat source and trying to get  straight in one pass is the very worst way to do it.  No heat guns- no electric toaster, no electric stove burners or gas either.  Remember if you have heated the bamboo so hot that you can not keep your fingers on it -- you have probably ruined it.  (Ralph Moon)

    I too have a Heddon made Spalding. You can straighten in a vise but it will work much better just flexing the heated section with your hands. You have to slightly deflect the heated section in the opposite direction of the bend. Use 5 minute epoxy to install the tip top (5 minute can be removed easily with heat). Rewrap with size 00 or even A. You only need about 40 yards. Silk thread is pretty cheap.  (Marty DeSapio)

      I want to again mention that 5 minute Epoxy is a good choice for installing tip tops. It softens with about the same amount of heat as Ferrule-Tite and is easier to use .  DO NOT USE SLOW CURE EPOXY FOR TIP TOPS!  (Marty DeSapio)

    I agree with most of the other suggestions , certainly do not try a vice and keep the heat slow and gentle.

    I use the device that Max mentioned some time ago , it has a Japanese name I cannot recall, to assist with straightening. It is very simple , get a piece of old 4" by 2" about 3' long ( it could be much shorter)  and cut three groves in it. The groves need to be about half an inch deep and U shaped. One should be about a quarter of an inch wide, the next half an inch and the other in between.

    once you have heated the cane you slide the heated section into the groove and maneuver it so the cane has a curve that you want.  IE: the curve to straighten the section. It is easy to hold the angle , and to adjust it by using the different grooves and hold the angle for several minutes while the cane hardens. You can hold the strip well away from the heated section and get a very stable hold.

    A very simple device that is so simple it is hard to explain.:))  (Ian Kearney)

      Although not a museum piece, the rod you describe (8 ft) should be a really nice rod to fish. When it comes time to start putting everything back together, you should be aware of some things I think are important. The reel seat you removed is probably "Pyralin" a material that sometimes disintegrates. However you can often find Heddons that are in bad shape and make a reel seat transplant. This would maintain the appropriate look and improve the value of your finished rod. Also there is a tendency of Heddons to snap off at the ferrules. You should carefully check the ferrules for looseness where they seat to the bamboo. also check very carefully for small delaminations of the strips. Fixing these things is not rocket science but I think it would be good for  you to invest in Michael Sinclair's book, Bamboo Rod Restoration" Centennial Press. I think you can get it from Cabelas. Yes, and do have fun.  (Doug Easton)


Anybody out there ever strip a rod with that orange gunk and save the wraps? I have a buddy who's rebuilt a tip about a 4 times now, and just discovered that the varnish didn't stick to at least one inter-guide region. He's stripping it as I write, but we're trying to decide if it's worth trying to keep the wraps or just use a scorched earth policy on the infernal thing.  (Art Port)

    I've had success saving wraps using 3-M's "Safest Stripper".  Clean up inter-guide area with mineral spirits or denatured alcohol.  (Ed Riddle)


I've got a question for those on the list that have done several restorations. I've got a rod in for refinish that has had varnish applied to the grip. My question is this: what's the best way to remove it without changing grip dimensions any more than necessary? Does anyone know if a chemical stripper, such as 3M Safest stripper will work without damaging the cork? The old varnish looks like c*#p.  (Kevin Little)

    Any stripper that is safe on wood is safe on cork.   (Marty DeSapio)

      I've done it with lacquer thinner, takes very little mechanical action, but keep it off everything else - also keep it outdoors!  (Carey Mitchell)


Courtesy of my dad, I now have myself a beautiful Pezon et Michel 9'6 parabolic rod. Its in terrific condition, but the guides could do with a bit of a clean. It looks as though they have a little varnish on them, as well as dirt. What’s the best way to get these guides back to a clean condition?  (Ken Birney)

    I use a tooth brush to clean up guides.  (Tony Spezio)


Recently, Tom Smithwick gave me a lovely, 8-foot, steel, fly rod made by "American Fork and Hoe."  Now, regardless of materials used, you just GOTTA love a fly rod made by a company with a name like that!  Actually,  the rod handles a 7 weight line beautifully, and, surprisingly, seems to feel a great deal like bamboo.

I want to refinish the rod as the paint is chipped in  several areas, but in doing so, I will need to replace the decal.  Does anyone on the list happen to know of a service capable of doing this?  I know model railroaders often have special decals made, but I have no idea how it's done or who does it.  (Bill Harms)

    If you'll ease over to, you'll find one of their sponsors is an outfit known as "Decal Connection".  From what I hear, the good folks at Decal Connection will make up small orders of decals at reasonable prices.  Lots of graphite rod makers use decals instead of writing on the rods.  If there is a way to scan the current decals into .jpg files I suspect you can get it done.  Decal Connection is a good place to start.  (Harry Boyd)

    Plastic model airplane, ship and car decals are available.  Form them through a printer and spray with several light coats of clear paint and you've got as many decals as you can use.  (Good for the outside of rod tubes, or for the rods themselves, if you don't have a steady hand.)  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

      Let's just get down to it shall we.  Try this link.  (Shawn Hawkins)

        If you want decals let me know, I make them.  (Dave Henney)


I have a rod that I want to refinish (poorly wrapped guides and old, chipped varnish).  The ferrules are in good shape as is the handle and reel seat (I've replaced those already). 

What is the best way to remove the varnish (I don't know what kind it is, but it's clear and hard like a Varathane or like product).

I was leaning toward sanding without chemical intervention.  (Scott Turner)

    Dip it in denatured alcohol -- it will soak the varnish right off it and in some cases will leave all the wraps intact. Stay away from any writing or labels you want to preserve -- go over them lightly with a wet Q-Tip. Citristrip also works.  (Larry Puckett)

    Rather than learn over the Internet, why don't you give Dwight Lyons a call at 760-3933.  He is in Portland.  He restores rods for a living and  has done so for an awful long time.  You can probably make arrangements to go over to  his house and watch him do it.  (Chris Lucker)

    I too refinish and restore rods and the alcohol is a really good approach to removing old varnish.  I have never favored a dip process for soaking the rod to remove a finish because of fear of saturation. That sounds like a good process and I will need to try it.  I use a spray varnish remover that I  pick up at my local Wally-World for about $6.50, and that will do probably twenty rods.  I spray each section then using rubber gloves and a 3M pad I remove the old varnish.  After removing the varnish, I use alcohol on a soft cotton cloth to remove any residual that may remain from the stripping process, then 0000 steel wool to buff the cane and prepare it for the work I intend to do.

    That alcohol stripping in a dip tank sounds interesting.  Have you experienced any ferrule problems from that process, or any problems with glue joints from dipping?  (Leo deMonbreun)

    Scrape with a single edged razor blade. Or apply 3M "Safest Stripper" and then scrape with the razor blade. You run the risk of rounding by using sand paper. 

    I should add that it's easier on the fingers to use a narrow, 2" or less, paint scraper on all but the tip section. Don't be heavy handed, let the blade do the work.  (Ed Riddle)


Is there any easy way to remove ferrule pins?  I have a rod that I'm restoring.  The ferrules still fit well but they have a click inside the ferrules.  It appears that the glue has failed and the only thing holding on the ferrule is the pin.  Which seems pretty useless to me.  Can I drill out the pin, or knock it through?  (Lee Orr)

    Easiest way to remove ferrule pins is with a pin punch, one that has a punch tip of .039".  You can get them at Golden Witch.  Most of the other ones I've seen have 1/16" as the smallest tip.  (Mark Wendt)

      Mark's suggestion is probably the best, but if you're not wanting to invest in yet another tool, I've always been able to do it by taking a finish nail and modifying the tip to make my own punch and it worked just fine. All I did really was dull the point a little and while using it mount a magnifying glass over the bench and carefully tap the pin into the boo. If its two sided you'll have enough sticking out the other side to use needle nose pliers to pull it out. If its one sided you can just push it in far enough to clear the ferrule wall and allow you to get the ferrule off.  (Bill Walters)

    One other thing I may recommend is to take a piece of wood, drill a hole in it the size of the ferrule then cut it in half so that you have a "channel" in which to lay the ferrule before taking the pin out.  Then drill a hole into the channel to allow the pin room to come through the ferrule if the pin goes all the way through the ferrule, some don't. 

    This prevents the flattening of the ferrule on the supported side as you drive the pin out.  I have had that happen and had to replace the ferrule and when trying to maintain the originality of the rod, that can be fairly difficult.  (Leo deMonbreun)

      Discarded dental drills work wonders on pins.  Select one that has a diameter slightly smaller than the size of the pin , put the ferrule in a padded drill press vise and with a drill press with a 0 gap in the chuck when closed, carefully drill out the pin below the level of the ferrule. Any remaining metal left from the pin will not hamper the removal of the ferrule.  It is not necessary to drill out the  whole pin.  Go see your favorite fly fishing dentist.  (Ralph Moon)

        If those are not available just use pin vise drill bits. They are available in a large variety of small sizes and you can get them at your local hobby shop for much less than the cost of a visit to your dentist.  (Larry Puckett)

    I've taken several pins out with a end of a drill bit held by a pair of hemostats.  You want the bit slightly smaller than the pin, grind off a section slightly longer than the  ferrule diameter.  Be careful though, sometimes the pins are swaged on.  (Ron Larsen)


I've just stripped the finish off an ole’ bamboo to rewrap guides etc.  Since just hearing a post about ambient moisture getting back into the cane even after varnished, I'm thinking maybe since a hefty coating of "whatever" finish" one chooses won't stop the moisture why don't I wipe on a few very thinned down coats of shellac??  Might have a chance of soaking in a little and not be just a "chip prone coating" of varnish.   I mean that would probably be enough to stop the moisture and water while fishing? If nothing is going to stop the ambient moisture anyway why would or should I heap on the finish?  I like the feel of the rod without the varnish also, so the less the better as far as I'm concerned from that standpoint.  Any pros out there with a opinion or advice?  (John Silveira)

    I would recommend a simple wipe on varnish. The General Finishes Arm-R-Seal is a good one or you can make one. I use equal parts spar varnish, pure tung oil, and turpentine. Wipe on, wait five minutes and wipe the excess off. After three or four coats you get a really nice semi gloss finish, very classic looking.

    Mike Brooks had some nice stuff available for doing this stuff, but I don't know if he still has it for sale.  (Bob Maulucci)

      I'm still a strong advocate of Birchwood Casey's Tru-Oil.  You can put on about 3 coats a day,  just rub on with your  fingers or a paper towel.  Usual polishing techniques work fine after you build up a few coats so as not to break through the film.  It's available in small bottles so less waste if you don't make a lot of rods, and it has worked on gun stocks for a long time.  Just my $.02.  (Neil Savage)

        Do  you use  something else  on the  wraps, then  rub down  with Tru-Oil between the wraps?  (Chris Hei)

          I finish the rod blank, then wrap the guides etc.  I've been using Varathane 900 on the wraps.   All I can  say is,  "It works for me."  (Neil Savage)

    Your thoughts are good, but the choice of product may not be so great.  Shellac makes the best possible barrier coating against water-vapor exchange, but it doesn't do well in holding up to heat, abrasion, chemical solvents and (over time) water.  Plus, it has poor shelf-life, so to get good results you need to mix fresh batches each time -- not much of a problem, but surely something to pay attention to.

    Please understand, I would never criticize shellac, because, for centuries, it's been a wonderful product in many applications.  It's just that, like any other product, it has its "pros" and "cons" and should be used accordingly.

    On the other hand, giving your  rods a coating of dewaxed shellac, followed by top coats of lightly wiped tung oil just might produce excellent overall results.  For any product to yield its best results, however, a certain film thickness must be present.  So, wiping on an initial, thinned-down coat of shellac would be fine for penetration, but won't give the protection you want until a few such coats have been built up,  then the top coats.

    As yet another consideration, each fresh coat of shellac dissolves the previous coating, making a superb bond throughout.  The downside, however, is that when rubbing these additional coats, application techniques need to be learned to control the rate and degree of interaction (or you'll begin to build a sloppy mess).  You can do this, of course, it's just that it isn't "quick-and-easy."

    Lastly, since we know that no product can stop the migration of water-vapor, our objective can only be to use the ones that perform best in retarding that process.  The feel of a rod is greatly affected by the amount of finish that's on it, so in this regard, less is surely better.  On the other hand, the thinner the finishing film, the less the protection against moisture (water vapor).  So, it's a tradeoff that each of us must determine.

    In the end,  shellac may be best at preventing moisture migration, but it would need to be applied as an undercoat.  And, since subsequent coats of another product need to be applied, I just don't know if the whole "system" would yield appreciably better results than our more conventional methods. Maybe yes, maybe no.  Someone should mess around with this a little, and then figure out some way to test the results.  (Bill Harms)

      Your thoughts on shellac are interesting.  I have a rod I made for my wife over twenty years ago that was finished with primarily shellac, and the finish is as good today as when  it was  first applied. I used a modified French Polish technique in which I mixed equal parts of fresh shellac and pure tung  oil and emulsified it well by shaking.  A little on a lint less cloth rubbed on the rod vigorously does the trick. If enough friction and built up heat are applied the finish dries almost instantaneously.  It takes about 10 coats, but is easy because it is so fast.  One coat can be applied almost immediately after the previous coat.  The luster is a little lower than varnish, but it looks good and I think has provided good protection for the rod.  My thanks to the Powell for the tip.  Walton and Press especially.  (Ralph Moon)

        I've done some French polishing on furniture and have wondered how it would do on a rod.  The time factor that's involved always steered me away -- plus my questions about durability in an outdoor environment.

        Mixing tung oil directly in with the shellac is a curious idea.  The two aren't compatible, of course, yet the repeated rubbing and polishing may have allowed each product to "do its own thing."  The traditional French polishing technique uses the pad you refer to, plus a touch of mineral oil and alcohol.  This kind of oil provides nothing more than a touch of lubrication for the pad, however, and is a different matter from your tung oil idea.  Most interesting.  I knew that Powell used shellac of some sort, but never before heard of the tung oil.  (Bill Harms)

        I saw Zinsser (sp?) French Polish in a bottle at the Detroit woodworking show this month.  No idea how it would work though.  (Neil Savage)


A mate of mine has given me a nice 4-piece South Bend, still in its original cloth sleeve and its cardboard outer tube.  The rod, while not really much of a rod, has the great advantage of being pretty well mint; except for a marked sweep to the near side in the second section from the tip.

My brief is to straighten the thing, and I thought I would try to tap the accumulated wisdom of you coffee drinkers on the subject of the type of glue used in South Bend rods.

Is this rod able to be straightened using gentle heating, as I would quite cheerfully straighten, say, a Phillipson?

Any clues?  (Peter McKean)

    I have rebuilt a couple of South Bends, and have never had any ill effects from heating the tips to straighten them.  I have only had to do the tip sections, so do not know how much heat it would take for a heavier mid section, but I cannot believe that it would damage the section if care is taken.  (Denny Reiter)

    Yes the South Bend rods are easily straightened. I've done a bunch of them with zero problems. I heat the rod section over the electric heating element of our kitchen stove by holding it about 2" or so above the hot element and rotate it while it's warming up. Just proceed slowly and don't get it too hot.  (Ray Gould)

      Before heating try straightening it by just bending other direction and hold it there a few seconds or a minute. I have done this many times and have had very good luck. If set doesn't come out then you have good bamboo.  (Dave Henney)

    I have successfully straightened the mid section on a South Bend and, I believe, a Heddon, using heat.  Use patience to get the cane warmed throughout without the outside getting too hot.  No ill effects noted.  (Carey Mitchell)


I usually try to solve my own problems, but I'd like any suggestions or fixes from the list.  A gentleman brought to me a 8 1/2'  Granger Victory is great condition except for one thing.  The mid had been broken clean in half.  and a small segment looks like it never had any glue,.  Anyway, Granger used a non serrated ferrule and crimped the metal on the rod shaft.  I cannot break loose the shaft from the ferrule because of the crimp.  I have two ideas neither of which are not too appealing.  I can cut off the ferrules and drill the wood out, or I can burn it out.  Any help you have would be great.

Incidentally those Granger people sure put out a fine piece of work.  The measurements on the three flats of the mid were identical except for the two lower stations in which one flat was .001 oversize.  (Ralph Moon)

    How 'bout putting the broken ferrule section in the freezer for several hours?  (Ron Larsen)

      How about heat treat: 400 degrees for 2 hr?  Just make sure you turn on the exhaust fan.  (Robert Kope)

        If you have no intention of saving the bamboo, just prop something soft (that you don't care much about) in front of the ferrule as you hold it over your heat gun, it will blow off in due time. Safety glasses and gloves are a good idea! If you wind up deciding to just get a replacement ferrule, Ricks Rods in Denver has them.  (John Channer)

    I think I'd cut the ferrule off, put it in a lathe (assuming you have one) and drill it out nearly to the metal, then use a small chisel to remove the rest of the cane.  You could make the chisel from a small screwdriver. You will need to figure a way to expand the ferrule a bit to fit on the new section.  Maybe you could turn a rod with a bit of taper and just drive it into the open end of the ferrule (verrrry carefully!)  Hope this helps.  (Neil Savage)

    What about using a Dremel with  one of those fine cutting wheels.  Make real light passes laterally along the ferrule then just pry it off when you get through the metal.  It might take a while, and, of course the ferrules will be toast, but it seems like it would be better to spare the blank and replace the ferrules.  I'm sure I have seen Granger ferrules for sale before.

    Otherwise, if you're going to splice in a new section of bamboo rod, then what does it matter if you trash the top part of the section?  Just cut off the ferrule and ream it out.  The tough part will be re-crimping it onto the blank, I think.   (Jason Swan)

      Don't forget to look for the pin, and knock it out first.   (Sean McSharry)


I have received a SB 291 in need of repair.  After stripping off the guides I have found that there is a "ghosting" effect on the bamboo, where there had been wraps.  Any suggestions on what to do to the bamboo to get the surface back to the original natural color that was under the thread?  (Denny Reiter)

    Why not put the new wraps where the old ones were and cover the ghosting?  (David Matthews)

      I plan to rewrap over the ghosting area, to put the rod back to original.  I guess my question should have been "How do I remove the darker color that is now the majority of the rod?"  I would like to get the rod back to the natural color of the bamboo.  In Sinclair's book, he says that the rod should be a MB (Medium Brown Stain), however, this rod was not stained, it has the full natural color of bamboo on all non-exposed areas.  (Denny Reiter)

        After removing the guides most people use a varnish stripper or paint stripping chemical to remove all the varnish from the rod. After doing that the color left is the color of the rod. Sometimes there is slight discoloration (ghosting) where the old wraps were. Wrap over these with the new wraps.

        I have had good luck impregnating rods by striping away the old varnish and using Mike Brooks impregnating solution, rewrapping, then revarnishing using marine spar varnish.   (David Matthews)


1st question: I don't have a lathe yet, I would like a good source for mortised wood reel seats either finished or ready to finish (I already have the cork checks and cap and rings).

2nd question: I have a 9' Shakespeare that is 60% delaminated. The center portion of the butt, mid and both tips are completely delaminated with only the approximately 6" on each end still tightly glued. All hardware has been removed including the cork grip and reel seat. I've soaked in a bathtub with 6" of extremely hot water not once but twice, subjected it to steam from a Scunci Steamer with high pressure and even held the butt section where the reel seat had been in a pan of boiling water. I just can't get this @#%&%%# rod to delaminate the rest of the way!  (Will Price)

    Re: #2, how about following the suggestions for a broken tip, spread the strips as much as possible, squeeze glue in and bind, then finish.  It doesn't sound as if the ends of the sections are apt to delaminate any time soon.  (Neil Savage)

    Several companies made rods for Shakespeare, what to do with it depends on who made it. If it is an Edwards made or upper grade Heddon made, then try to reglue it, if it's one of the South Bend or Montagues, I wouldn't bother. REC makes very nice reel seats and inserts, but you will have to see if the diameter of the hardware you have will work with the sizes of inserts they sell. The best source would be the maker of the hardware.  (John Channer)


What is the best way to remove old varnish so I can revarnish the rod? Are chemical strippers to harsh? Will they attack the glue? Or should I just sand or scrape it off?  (Paul McRoberts)

    Strip, don't sand. I like Citristrip as a stripper. The most pleasant of the strippers to work with that is fast. 3M safest strip is OK to work with, but slow. I have yet to see glue affected by the stripper. If it delaminates, it was probably already delaminated or about to. 

    But before you strip the rod, make a "paper doll" rod by tracing the position of guides, wraps, and trim wraps on a long piece of paper. I use rolls of paper from old adding machines that I find at garage sales. And take off one of the wraps by slitting it and peeling. The inside of the wrap should give you the correct color of the thread match. Tape it to the paper doll rod so you won't lose it.

    Don't put stripper over the signature or decal. Remove the finish  in  that  area  with  a  Q-Tip  soaked in alcohol.  Roll the Q-Tip, don't rub or brush with it.

    And once you get all the old finish off, be prepared to find other problems such as cracked ferrules, rust stains from guide feet, and the like. Inspect with a magnifier so you can fix those problems before you put it all back together.  (Jeff Schaeffer)


So I am up to the stripping stage of my HI-Spinner refinishing. I put on some CitriStrip and rubbed it down as per the instructions two or three times, got all the guides off, and then I rubbed it down with alcohol.

My question is:

What exactly am I trying to take off with the stripping? Do I want to rub it down all the way to bare wood (take all the stain off) or am I just trying to strip off the plasticy top layer (which I am assuming is varnish)? As you can tell I am clueless, and I am learning by doing and  asking  you  guys  (thanks  so  much).  (Evan ???)

    You want to get to bare bamboo, get the goo off.

    From there, there are two schools of thought on refinishing. Some like to wrap guides and then varnish, others varnish and then wrap. With the latter, you need to wait for rthe varnish to be completely cured so the wraps will slide and pack in next to each other. Wraps should be tight enough to to hold on the guides and allow for some adjusting for centering on the flat.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    Some of the coloration maybe flaming of the bamboo. This will not come off with stripper. Nor do you want to sand it off. The maker intended the rod to be this color. Also, if there are any markings on the rod, try to leave them for identification purposes later on. Hope this helps.  (Dick Fuhrman)

    Good sound advice from both Pete and Dick. To take it a little bit further I'll add my 2 cents worth. I've done several dozen H-I's and even though they might exist, I've never seen a blond H-I. They are usually a nice even browntone or flamed with some areas being almost ebony colored. If you haven't done so on this rod, tuck away for future reference: the decal and writing on rods should be preserved if at all possible. To do this tape off that area before applying the stripping agent for the 1st time. After the rest of the rod is stripped to your satisfaction ,remove the tape and take a Q-tip that has been dampened(not saturated and dripping) with acetone and gently roll it back and forth over the decal and writing. If done properly you will seethe Q-tip picking up the color of the varnish. It's not necessary to remove all the varnish here, just the top layer or two. The other flats in this area that have nothing but varnish on can be scraped with the backside(top) of a knife to get rid of almost all the varnish and then you can feather any residue with 800 grit or finer sandpaper or 0000 steel wool, making sure to stay away from the decal and inking. When done dampen a clean piece of rag with mineral spirits and wipe the entire rod down. This will evaporate within minutes and you're ready to varnish.  (Will Price)

    One more thing to remember. The bamboo on an HI will be a very dark brown because HI rods were impregnated.

    They were also varnished, so when stripping stop as soon as you get a surface that is smooth enough to accept varnish well. There was no stain applied to HI rods.  (Don Sargent)


I need to replace a few guides on a Granger Aristocrat.

Sinclair's book calls for beige wraps with brown tipping.

After looking at these threads and the existing wraps, I cannot imagine the colors coming even close as the rod's wraps are of a copper or antique gold color, even over the ferrules.

So I was wondering if anyone has any experience rewrapping guides on a Granger Aristocrat.  (Larry Tusoni)

    I refinished my 7', 2 piece (Wright & McGill) 'Granger Aristocrat' with tan wraps w/dark brown trims. Looked the same as the original wraps.  (Vince Brannick)

    The original thread is Rice's Tan, I don't remember the number right now. Rick’s Rods in Denver owns what's left of all the Wright & McGill/Granger stock  including a good quantity of thread. You might have to play with different color preservers such as lacquer and shellac to get a good match. Also, the thread color was not consistent from batch to batch, so there might be some slight variation between what you get and what you have.  (John Channer)


As my first attempt at clear repair wraps failed, what is the best way to remove them? As I did with the original wraps, cut and scrape with a razor blade?  (Chuck Pickering)

    I have had good luck just sliding a blade down the guide foot and then just peeling it off the rod. Usually comes off in a couple of big pieces. Hope that helps.  (Barry Janzen)


I am getting ready to embark on my first rod restoration.  It is a Heddon #60, 9' 3 piece,  that needs a some work.  Grip/Reel Seat/and Ferrules are all fine.  I am planning to strip the varnish, rewrap all the guides and ferrules, and replace a missing guide.

I believe this rod was made between 1934-38.  According to Sinclair's rod restoration guide it should have used Brown #27 for main wraps and Dark Brown #30 for tipping.  But when I look at the thread chart on page 63, it lists #27 as Beige.


What color are the main wraps on a Heddon #60:  #27 Beige,  #28 Medium Brown, or #29 Chestnut Brown?  I think it is probably #28 Medium Brown.

Next, any of you experienced Heddon guys know what brand/colors I should be looking for?  Gudebrod? YLI?   Best Sources?

The tiptop, ferrules and reel seat hardware look as though they were painted.  Anyone have a good recipe to match?

Finally, the upper most guide on the mid-section (7th guide down from the tiptop) is not original.  The bend goes in the opposite direction.  Anyone have a Heddon guide they want to part with?  Or know of a good source?  I am not sure how to measure the size (I do not have a box of guides to compare it to).  (Matt Fuller)

    Take a dowel and stain it about the same color as your rod. Wrap it with Mike's thread  color and the color you think is close. Varnish the wraps and see which one looks like a match. You should be looking for a final color a bit lighter than the color on the rod. This is because the varnish darkens and makes the wraps look darker than they did originally.

    That's one way to go at it. Heddon used color preserver on their wraps. This means that when they were finished they were not translucent and the ferrule tabs and the guide feet didn't show through. Color preserver can be a nightmare. The main problem is that if you don't saturate the wraps and seal the little tunnels that form near the guide feet the varnish will leak in and cause blotches. If you decide to go the authentic way then your wraps will come out pretty close to the thread color. You want to use a thread that is pretty close to the original wraps. Many guys use Al's color preserver from Angler's Workshop. I think that they find the non water soluble type to be the best. I really hate color preservers and have tried a large number of them with variable success.

    You may say, "why buy all that thread?" If you want to do much rod making and restoration you are going to need a thread box with a myriad of colors and weights. This will be a valuable collection. Silk thread isn't very expensive compared to other materials and contraptions you will accumulate.

    As for the guide, you need to figure out what size you need. Although Snake Brand guides are probably the best you can buy, they do not look right on  an old rod.. The older guides are made of heavier wire and have bigger feet. Some of the Hopkins and Holloway guides are a pretty close match to your tungsten wire guides. You can get them at Angler's Workshop. Finally the non matching guide is an English  twist. The Brits seem to have a lot of things backwards :)

    BTW: you're going to need a guide collection too!  (Doug Easton)


I have a Heddon 35 that needs a new grip, reel seat is fine as are the wraps. It has been my experience that heating the Heddon Pyralin is a bad idea as it warps before the glue lets go, any ideas on how to get the reel seat off so that I can replace the grip??  (Chuck Irvine)

    As you might have guessed, yer screwed <g>. Unless you can find another seat (hard to do these days), then you'll have to go the other way and strip the guides, winding check and hook keeper, unless your customer will stand for having you split the rings and just gluing them back together around the rod. I've never done that, but it sounds like a very possibly ugly fix. I would rather try to match the thread and redo the rest of the butt myself.  (John Channer)

      John suggested -"will stand for having you split the rings and just gluing them back together around the rod. I've never done that, but it sounds like a very possibly ugly fix."

      I have replaced three to five rings on a cork reel seat using the "ring splitting technique" that works fairly well. A great amount of care is required in cutting the rings (I use a single sided razor blade) and making sure one matches the ring parts. One must be sure to bind the split rings that are glued together (I use Titebond II) and let the glued rings dry for 24 hours - I usually use masking tape to tightly bind the rings together. After that one must shape the added rings carefully to match the original cork grip. Sometimes one also has to use a half ring (1/4") to make the grip come out ok. I have not replaced a complete grip, so if you can not salvage some of the cork grip (most times that is possible) then the approach that John suggests of taking off the guides and redoing them may be your best approach. Hope this helps.  (Frank Paul)

    I have never done it, but I have heard that you can cut off the grip by slicing the corks. You can glue new corks on by cutting them in half and gluing them on the rod using Titebond. Make sure that when you reunite the halves that the seams are staggered so they don't line up  You can turn down the cork to shape the grip to match the old one and none of the seams will show. I think I am about to try it on one of my rods  because the grip has worn down and ridged so much that it looks ugly and feels terrible in the hand. The only thing you will damage doing this is the bad old grip, so if it doesn't work for you  might go from the other end by removing the striping guide and the hook keeper. I agree that trying to remove the pyralin with heat would be risky.  (Doug Easton)


I have recently come across several older bamboo rods where the ferrules have no welt. Initially, I thought maybe they were cut off by the previous owners, but now that I have come across several, I am wondering if that is how they were made. None of the rods had labels. Any ideas on which companies may have used these? Possibly import rods?  (Paul McRoberts)

    I have seen them on quite a few rods, all of these rods were American made. I've seen them on Montagues, South Bends, H-I and even one Heddon. Most were chrome plated brass tube but some were just brass.  (Will Price)

      Usually on cheap rods.  (Doug Easton)


I have been a subscriber and reader for a while but have not joined in. I am a beginning rod builder and recently acquired a bundle of bamboo fly rod and boat rod parts from a friend who'd bought them to restore.  The collection has only a few entire rod sets. It appears that most of the individual sections are odd pieces from other rods that don't seem to match up to one another.  Here's my question.  Is it possible to create a nice functional rod from the odd pieces if they were not part of the same blank to begin with?  If so, what suggestions would you fellas have for matching sections so that they will assemble to a nice rod?  Thanks for your wisdom.  By the way, I really have enjoyed reading your creative solutions to numerous challenges.  And thanks for the occasional chuckle as well!  (Ed Gamble)

    Even if you don't get a good rod out of these pieces don't underestimate the value of practice. I made my first 9 rods out of "junk" cane and learned the basics of blank construction at a very low cost. Now finishing has become my biggest challenge so I am stripping those 1st nine rods and using them to work on my finishing skills. Hopefully, some day I'll get it all right.  (Jim Healy)

    The problem is, it seems to me, is that as your finishing skills improve, your expectations get ever higher; so the struggle never ends!  (Peter McKean)

    Measure them and run the numbers through Hexrod, RodDNA, or any of the other programs.

    It will be good practice and you'll learn a bunch. Maybe, even find the "Holy Grail" of rods!  (David Dziadosz)

      Actually, if I had a stack of old rods, I'd hope they were delaminated so I could just take them apart and replane the strips to a better taper.  might try putting a little heat to some of them.  The hide glued rods would delam pretty easy under a heat gun.  I've "cleaned off" delaminated strips in the planing forms before regluing and I don't see any reason you couldn't take one of the older, slower, heavier trade rods and replane the delaminated strips to whatever taper you want and make a good rod from them.  May not be a great rod, depending on the condition of the cane, but it would certainly be great practice and experience.  (Bob Nunley)

    Since it is likely that these bits of rods  even if they where complete blanks where not made from the same culm you would be matching sections just like the factory did. It not a bad project to undertake you may even surprise yourself with the result. Just one word of caution a 2 dollar rod tends to stay a 2 dollar rod. You may have a couple hundred into it before you find out its not going to work. All is not lost you can always strip the parts for another rod. (Gary Lohkamp)

      That is how I got fishing rods when I was a kid. If the ferrules fit together, the rod will at least sorta work. Tape enough guides on to try it out and see if it's worth finishing. Like Gary said, it ain't going to be a Dickerson (unless it was) but you just might be able to salvage them... of course it is probably a good idea to make sure none of the parts are desirable collector parts.  (Larry Lohkamp)


A buddy has asked me to refinish his post-1951 9' Wright & McGill/Granger Favorite.  I see from Mike Sinclair's book and the Gnome's book that the primary thread wraps call for White and Black Jasper.

I see Golden Witch has Orange and Black in Pearsall's, but I don't seem to find White and Black.  Any suggestions?  (Jim Rowley)

    Try this for Rice’s silk  (Brian Morrow)

    Try here.  (Marco Giardina)


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