It's really easy to wrap intermediates........

  1. Whip/wrap the rod rings etc. as usual.
  2. Mark on the spacing for the intermediate wraps with a light pencil.
  3. Start off the first intermediate as you would any wrap, I use 6 turns of silk per wrap but onus is on the individual and the thickness of thread one uses and ones personal preference!
  4. Then using the same spool of silk continue spiraling/rotating the rod until the silk is at the pencil mark for the second intermediate wrap.  Then do another 6 turns of silk and continue to the third wrap etc. etc. etc........At the end either finish as usual or just put in a few half hitches after the last intermediate.
  5. Coat each intermediate with say two /three brushed coats of varnish applied with a fine brush.
  6. After the last coat of varnish has dried remove the unwanted lengths of spiraling thread with a sharp scalpel blade.
  7. Dip / finish the rod as per ones usual method i.e. dip, spray, brush or poured!

Now that should explain how it's done ?  (Paul Blakley)

I finished cutting off the in between wraps today, and I must report that the technique Paul posted worked fantastic. I did not lose a single wrap. A few notes on what seemed to work for me.

I put 45 intermediate wraps on the 6'6" rod I did. I used a 1" spacing and spaced them out evenly between the guides. I have done 7 and 3 wrap intermediates before, and the 1" spacing was easier to do than 7 wraps, and looks better that the 3 wrap style. I like the even look, and strangely there are no big gaps anywhere. I know this is not the traditional way, but it worked. I simply used a ruler, shifted one way or the other to center, and I marked off the wraps at the inch marks with a pencil. Took just under an hour for the whole shebang (guides were done prior to this). Most guides had four or five wraps between. I also did one inch spaced intermediates from the stripper to the signature. Green guide wraps with navy blue intermediates. Looks nice, IMHO.

Use two to three coats of Man-O-War spar, thinned slightly. I used three quickly over the last day and a half.

I applied the spar with a Stim-U-Dent toothpick. Because they are small and the ends are tapered, they work great. I also used them tonight on the previously unvarnished guide wraps. No bubbles and even coats. I will use them from now on for all my wraps. They are 150 or 200 a pack. $1.59 at Target. They work way better than the $5-8 brushes I bought.

When cutting the extra thread off, don't make your first cut at the intermediate. Cut the thread in between the varnished wraps you want to save. Work the thread around the blank towards the now varnished intermediate. Lay your scalpel down at the point you want to cut.  Apply the smallest pressure and pull the thread upwards to make the cut. Even if you over did it with the varnish, you can easily cut the thread neatly. If you try to use the scalpel to "saw" off the thread at the point you want, it will leave a really nasty edge.

I made the mistake of doing the wrapping over the already varnished blank. This works when you are just doing guides, but not with this technique. The thread tension left fine marks in the varnish between intermediates. Maybe it will work if the varnish is cured for a few months, but not after a week or two in the drying cabinet.

I think this technique is one of the most useful I have come across. If you watch the Winston Waters video, you will see Glenn Brackett wrapping like crazy down the rod using his ingenious wrapper (I believe this was JW's inspiration). I bet he is doing all the guide wraps in this style. I cannot figure out why else he would do this. Could one do a whole section worth of wraps with only one cut and tie off point? Anyone familiar with the video?  (Bob Maulucci)

Does anyone have any opinions on how much using intermediates on, say, 5" centers is going to slow down your basic 7' 4 wt. rod?  (James Piotrowski)

In my experience (I have compared all of two identical rods with and without intermediates) the difference is not discernible.  (Paul Blakley)


I know lots consider intermediate wraps to be nothing more than cosmetic. However, my subjective feeling is that they also cause a change in the rod action on otherwise similar tapers. My thought was at first this was do to the additional weight, but I'm not so sure that it also doesn’t add some stiffness to the rod. I sometimes like the look on a light colored rod, so  I do it once in a while.  (Randy Zimmerman)

I seem to remember a thread on this topic that related to a very old rod.  I don't remember what type of glue had been on it, but it was pointed out that the rod cast completely different when the intermediates were removed. Something to the effect of it felt like the individual strips were sliding was the rod was cast.  I found this to be an interesting twist on the use of intermediates as I had originally thought their main purpose was in case of glue failure.  I now believe otherwise, and this example was one of the main reasons.  I don't remember who posted about this rod on that topic, though.  (Carl DiNardo)

For info on the virtues of intermediates read "How to Improve the Fly rod" under "Extracts" on  (Reed Curry)

I was looking through Sinclair's book, "Fishing rods by Divine" last night and read about the use of intermediate wraps in the portion of the rod from the tiptop down to the first snake guide only. No other intermediates on the remainder of the rod. From reading Reed's reference to "Improving the Flyrod" c.1911  from his Overmywaders site it validates the use of these wraps to alter the action of the rod.

The Divine Celdimoc had intermediates in that upper portion of the tip only, and another photograph of a Divine Tournament rod in the Sinclair book also shows intermediate wraps in just the upper portion of the tip.  In this case it also reveals an uneven distribution of the wraps, as if there was some fine tuning going on in order to perfect the tournament rods efficiency.  It clearly wasn't sloppiness in spacing, but intentional offset placement to affect the action.  (Chris McDowell)

I think that was me, I sent a message to the list just now. The rod in question was a 7' #4 or so rod made by Pape. Nice little rod, a little slower than most would like now though it would be good for nymphing but only after the inters were replaced.  There is a Taswiegan on the list who may pipe up and tell what it's like to fish with.

I think the inters were intended to hold the rod together when it got wet, the inters held things together while the glue and bamboo dried again. It must have been a hide glue of some sort for it's age. I know the English were using casein glue made from milk. It's a protein glue which is actually a form of UF and is a white powder mixed with water. The English boat builders used to call it cold water glue just in case you ever see that name given to glue.

I have used casein quite a bit with dingy building and it's good enough to be considered almost water proof, at least as much so as Titebond II. My dingy Son Of Sonnet is a ply wood lapped clinker built exclusively with it including the laminated keelson.

I used casein on a rod nodeless rod (epoxy for the scarfs) last Winter just to see how it would go and I couldn't tell the difference between this and the usual UFs we use from a two part can but it cures even when I sat the glue pot in iced water so fast it's not practical for rodmaking IMHO.

So inters would not have been required to hold this rod together if casein it was used. The only other glue they would have used was some kind of animal based glue like rabbit skin, fish or horse glue.

I've never used these last three on a rod to know what sort of action you'd get from them. What I'm trying to get to is inters do make a difference but I can't say absolutely how much so with modern glues, I'd bet the same difference because you still have fibers moving over and under each other regardless of the glue used which must also be taken into account.  (Tony Young)

I wonder how tightly spaced the inters need to be before one notices the "stiffening" effect.  You talk about 180 of these nasty little buggers, so I am assuming that if one were to space, say, just five of them between each guide for the aesthetic effect, this would make no noticeable difference. Yes?  (Bill Harms)

The Pape I did has inters every couple of inches or less.

The Para 15 had seven inters between guides evenly spaced. Presumably the more inters the stiffer the rod which was certainly the case with the old Pape but the only way you'd really know is put a few on then cast and put a few more on etc.

7 inters between guides looked OK and did make a difference though like I wrote it was a couple of weeks between casting with and then without the inters.  (Tony Young)

They most definitely tighten the action. It's very noticeable when you cast a rod with inters then remove them and cast again. You could do it the other way round of course but when you remove them than cast you can feel the difference within 15-20 minutes while when you cast before the inters you'll have likely forgotten just what the action was like.

I refinished a rod with 178 inters on a 7 foot rod. It was an old English rod that before I cast I was expecting a real buggy whip but it was surprisingly nice to use and I'd happily fish with it.

After I removed the inters I cast it again and it literally felt as if the glue was soft and the splines would delaminate, that's the only way to explain it. The glue was fine of course but it sure showed the difference the inters made. Without the inters this rod was pretty much useless as a fishing rod for modern tastes even in the bamboo set.

If you were to use the taper without the inters you'd have created a terrible rod though maybe not so much with modern glues, this was likely rabbit skin glue or something. Nevertheless it was a very good demonstration of the difference they made.

The extra weight is negligible compared with the crisper action you'll get with inters.

Don't forget when you cast there is a lot going on, the fibers of the bamboo are sliding over and under each other in compression or elongation depending on their positions in the rod and what the rod's doing at the time, there is also the glue which allows some movement, something else you notice when using different glues, UF is the crisper that I've found while epoxy the least so with resorcinol in the middle.

The inters reduce a lot of this movement and it is noticeable. They weren't used for that when they were required to hold the rods together way back when but they serve the purpose nevertheless of stiffening the rod. They are a hassle to put on but if you want to speed up a taper just a little without increasing the dimensions inters are not a bad way to do it.  (Tony Young)

I do not know why but I agree that it seems to stiffen a rod.  (Marty DeSapio)


There doesn't seem to be too much info in the archives on Intermediates - I checked "inters" also and nothing there.

Wondering how acceptable intermediates are in general. Are they something frowned upon and wondering if for example one wanted to stiffen up a tip section could would one just put inters on the tip section?  Also seem to remember hearing something about a continuous wrap,  any opinions? Suggestions? Help? or otherwise?  Advantages or disadvantages?   Acceptable number of wraps per inter? Typical effects on the rod?  (John Silveira)

The continuous wrap method is very easy. There is a description of the way I do it and several others at Todd's Bamboo Tips Site. It can stiffen the tip to an extant, and it can also deaden a rod as well, I have found. There is a fine line between the stiffening and the extra varnish that could really end up killing a rod.

It really does look nice, but I have limited myself to doing very few that way anymore. I encourage you to give it a shot, and maybe limit the wraps to three turns at three places between each guide. I simply find the center between guides and then half that to get the wrap on each side of that. I keep meaning to do an article on this in Power Fibers, but I have not been good at getting to that particular one. Maybe now that I have a better digital camera I will.  (Bob Maulucci)


I was wondering what the  standard # of  intermediates is on a rod.  I know that the # of course changes with the length of the rod, what I mean is, do you decide on a number (say 5 intermediates between each guide) and then divide evenly as you make your way up to the tip?   (Robert Cristant)

I have done this on several rods, but I am not sure what the classic rods used as a  general rule of thumb. My schemes have been one of the following, and they are easiest to do because they are more visual in nature and always work from the center line:

1. Find the center between guides. Wrap there and then find the center between that intermediate and the guides on each side to make three wraps total. Like this.


2. Do as above but split those once again to make 7 wraps total. Like this.


3. Find the center of the two guides. Using a ruler, find the center and them mark one inch slashes from that point until you come close to the guides. The nice thing about this way is that you get the tapering number of intermediates as you go up the rod.

However, BE CAREFUL. Adding intermediates can change the feel of the rod completely. It can deaden the rod's action in some cases and should be used sparingly. I would use 3 wraps unless you are looking for a specific more busy look that is more important than how the rod will cast.  (Bob Maulucci)

I'm working on a 9 1/2 foot FE Thomas Special right now.  The intermediates start at the signature wraps and are 7/8" apart.  They get closer and closer, all the way to the tip, where they are 3/8" apart.  Yuk!  187 total wraps, not counting guides, ferrules, signature wraps.  (Harry Boyd)

The FE Thomas I am doing is only 9' (about 180 intermediates) and most of the butt & mid intermediates are OK. I must say that FE Thomas  did a fantastic job of wrapping. I stripped the old finish off with Citristrip and didn't lose a single wrap.  (Doug Easton)

I would like to ad a couple of things.

1. I applied Citristrip generously with a soft paint brush.

2. I washed off the remover and the old varnish with water and gentle brushing with the same paint brush.

3. I rinsed the rod with spray-on remover neutralizer (After Strip by  Back to Nature Products).

4. I repeated this process very carefully several times until all the varnish was removed from the bamboo. I did not try to remove the varnish that had penetrated the wraps.

5. I rinsed with cool water again and dried the rod by gentle blotting with a paper towel.

6. I allowed the rod to dry out for more than a week

7. I refinished all the old wraps with 2-3 coats of Minwax fast drying poly varnish

8. Final finish was with two coats of Helmsman Spar.

A picture of the result is here.  (Doug Easton)

When you do intermediates, how many turns of thread on each? Just wondering  (Bill Bixler)

I'm not particularly experienced on intermediates.  This is only my 4th rod with intermediates.  Their width will be determined by what thread I can find to match the deep red original wraps.  If I can use Pearsalls Gossamer, probably 7-8 turns.  If I have to use 2/0 thread, probably 4 turns.  (Harry Boyd)

The last rod I repaired/restored that had intermediates, I used three wraps.  (Mark Wendt)

I made intermediates in all my Hollow Build Series. I made them with 6 turns of Pearsalls Gossamer and use the system that Bob Maulucci explain in his post.  (Marcelo Calviello)


I want to wrap intermediates on a rod that I am finishing.  I've looked on the Rodmaker's archives and there is a description of wrapping intermediates by spiraling the thread down the rod from wrap to wrap without whipping or knotting,  Am I to understand that the varnish is what prevents the intermediates from unraveling?  Is this how it is recommended that I try wrapping the intermediates?  (Gabe Batson)

That is the easy way of doing it works OK. YES THE VARNISH STOPS IT FALLING APART. After one coat cut of what you don’t want.  (Gary Nicholson)

You can do as you describe but the ruse can be spotted on close inspection. Yes it is just the varnish holding the thread in place.  None of the classic rods of the past were whipped in this way to my knowledge, leastways I've never seen one.

Tedious though it is, doing them properly is better.  Hold the pull through loop on the shaft whip over about 5 turns and finish pulling the ends tight and snugging up the turns.  Cut off the two ends leaving around 1/2" projecting then varnish the wrap.  When the varnish is dry cut off the ends with a scalpel.   (Gary Marshall)

Yes Gary if you look real close you can spot it it true. But If you use fine tread is hard to see if it done with some degree of care.

It's also best to point out with modern glues it really not needed and is only done for cosmetic reasons.  (Gary Nicholson)

The posting on wrapping intermediates via the spiral technique was first made public I believe by me several years ago.  This technique works and is a cost effective use of one's time. I have trouble trying to sell rods as it is (for a reasonable price) and if I was to charge for putting individual wraps on a rod I would be losing money (or even more money than I already am) for sure or even more likely not selling rods at all because they would simply be too costly in the eyes of the average buyer. 

All of which leads me to selling rods and the rod market in general.  I am now convinced after almost giving away a few quality rods (at very very low ebay prices) that the market for modern cane rods is decreasing and that the buyers of the last few years have all but disappeared and are not being replaced by a new generation. I suspect this is because the new generation have been brought up totally on carbon and as such have no affinity towards cane ?

The only UK rod maker I know who is now making a full time living out of cane is Chapmans who machines blanks for the rest of the world to finish (and there are some big named rod 'makers' using Chapmans blanks and selling them as their own but my lips are sealed on this one).  I am reasonably sure Barder is no longer 100% making rods and if he can't make a full time living at it who is left here, answer no one.  I guess what I am trying to say is that even as a recreational/hobby rod builder I am accumulating a stock of well made and well finished rods that I can't shift and that I don't think the market is ever going to be there to enable me to sell them at what would be a reasonable or even a break even cost.

What are your experiences, are any of you hobby builders recovering your costs or are you happy giving the majority of your time away for free?

All comments welcome.  (Paul Blakley)

I'm sorry to hear that the market for quality bamboo rods is so poor over there. I don't sell many rods a year, but I do manage to stay as busy as I want to making rods part time while I work a full time job. I've talked to a few rodmakers here and they all seem to have quite a bit of business, it seems a web site (which I don't have) helps quite a bit.  (John Channer)

The B. James MK fours were quite excessively whipped, about every 5/16 of an inch with 4 turns of what I take to be Elephant silk of about 6/0.  They were not tied off in the samples I've been able to check. I was once told that the silk was excessively waxed and therefore stuck of its own accord. You can just about do this but the result is extremely unrobust until varnished!  I've got to do one soon, too, and I don't know how I got into this, but I'll probably use Gossamer claret and tie them off, you can do this quite quickly with four turns, it's two that gets the expletives going.

A reliable source tells me that even at £650 or so for a rod he is not exactly turning away orders.  (Robin Haywood)

You are certainly right about the fact that they are basically just aesthetic.  The coarse fishing fraternity remain wedded to the look however and like to see them in the hundreds.

I tried the continuous wrap method on a test stick once and was not keen on the result so I would never use it on a rod for sale or a restoration. Having restored dozens of old rods, frequently being able to strip the varnish and yet retain the intermediates I quite like the idea of someone in the future being equally pleased when they strip one of my rods.

As a point of interest several early rods I have worked on were found to have delaminated despite a positive plethora of intermediates.  (Gary Marshall)

Probably a result of the dreaded Cascamite.  It's been the ruination of manty an Aspindale, Allcocks and 60's Hardy?  (Paul Blakley)

It sort comes under the same classification as doing the colour tips on wraps by using a Sharpie - it's easy, it looks OK to the untutored eye, but it's not the best way to do it.

And with a little practice, doing it the "tedious" way is really not so tedious after all once you get your hand in.  (Peter McKean)

I make fishin' poles. I don't sell rods, though once in a while when a rod case does collect too much dust I might put it up for sale as a well used rod at the Little Lehigh Fly Shop.

I can still tie and fish with size 26 Tricos, but years ago after fooling around with intermediates for about five minutes I decided that they are not needed on my fishing tools. I love Garrison's stark minimalized cosmetics.

Correction: as my signature wraps I  do put coarse intermediates at the twelve, 14, 16 18 and twenty inch stations of my rods  measured, as all proper measurements should be made, from the butt end. The purpose of these wraps is to measure my trout so that in my heart I know just how large they are truly are. Then of course I rejoin the catch-and-release world of immediate and exaggerated growth.

I guess that in terms of priority I'm a fishin' rodmaker rather than a rodmaking fisher. Are there any others like me out there?  (Bill Fink)


Intermediates, intermediates, intermediates .... Oh how I hate intermediates!!

Sorry for the babbling.  I am doing a complete rewrap on a very nice Cross rod with full intermediates.  Wes Jordan must have been nuts, what with tipping each guide wrap at both ends and a gazillion intermediate wraps.  Can someone give me a tip on making sure the intermediates are square on the blank.  I wrap and adjust each until it is square, but it is taking forever.  If anyone has a method you can offer I sure would be grateful.  (Jack Holton)

Naaaaa, Wes wasn't nuts. Remember in these production companies, once the rod was made they handed it over to women and/or girls who did all the wrapping. And most of them did a remarkable job for pay that wasn't all that great. I'll bet if any of them were around today they could show us more about how to wrap a rod than most rodmakers could. I hate the damn things also and it seems like 3/4 of all the restoration work I've done over the last 3 years had full intermediates. The only advice I can offer is to just keep plugging away and eventually it will get done. Like you I'm hoping someone will offer some surefire tips to make it easier.  (Will Price)

Years ago someone posted to the list their way of doing intermediates.  What they did was make one wrap, then instead of tying off, they would spiral up to the next location and wrap.  This would continue up the section.  Then varnish was applied to the intermediates only.  After the first coat was dry, they would use a sharp razor and cut the spirals off.  Then the wraps are finished as usual.

Sounds like it might be a bit easier, not necessarily faster.  If you try it, report back so others can learn from your experiences.  (Scott Grady)

I had never thought of doing intermediates but this sounds doable for me if I ever want to add or replace them, good idea!  (Mike Monsos)

That is the way I do it.  I do two thread width tipping that way also.  (Timothy Troester)

A lot of the English rodmakers in Redditch and even Ealing did it this way, it causes a lot of head scratching when innocents inspect the wraps under a magnifier!  (Robin Haywood)

I did this, building on Dave Norling’s technique of spiraling off the guide wraps and sealing with Flex Cote, rather than pulling the end under with a loop.  I started an intermediate with three turns, spiraled up, another three turns, etc., and taped the last spiral.  Not only is it very fast, the consistency gets you pretty close to even spacing and perpendicularity (!) on the first run-thru.  The obnoxious part is spreading any kind of finish — even pine tar — on a wrap that thin.

Just shows t’ go ya — nothing new under the sun!  (Steve Yasgur)

I think that the "train up some needy woman and reward her generously" solution is, in the end, the least painful.  (Robin Haywood)


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