Is it me or is it the silk? Working on wrapping rod #2 with silk. I have three coats of spar thinned, to 70/30 and they look fuzzy or there are definite visible wrap lines. Getting frustrated with trying to get it to look good.

I burned off the fuzzies as much as I dared with scorching the silk. Looked clean and smooth before adding the varnish, have tried letting a section  dry  for a couple of days, and just adding a second coat couple of hours after first coat, still doesn't look good to me.  (Peter Van Schaack)

What I do is apply a heavy first coat of varnish, let it soak in. Before it sets up, the varnish is wiped off with a paper towel as the rod is turning. I use Brawny brand towels.  Do a couple of wraps, wipe, then do a few more. Have had no problems with any fuzz from the towel sticking to the wraps. I find that the wraps come out nice and smooth.  (Tony Spezio)

Good silk thread (IE: Pearsalls, or even YLI) shouldn't leave noticeable "fuzzies."  If you definitely have them, it's either due to poor quality thread or a "handling" problem.  If you're thinning 70/30, the consistency of your varnish is very close to that of water, and your wraps will need MANY, MANY more than three coats to look good.  The object of using a thinner is to help the varnish penetrate the fibers of the thread, but very little thinner is needed to change the viscosity enough to accomplish this. Also, once the first two, thinned coats have done their work, you can return to full-formula for the remaining coats.

I always apply two coats a day over a period of at least three days.  Then I allow the varnish to begin curing a little (three more days) before sanding off all those inevitable little imperfections.  This is followed by two more coats of varnish.  Again, the wraps are sanded or steelwooled and then the entire rod is varnished.  It takes time and careful attention to get nice looking wraps, and three coats of thinned varnish JES AIN'T GONNA CUT IT!  (Bill Harms)

I added a full strength coat of varnish - Looking much better!!  (Pete Van Schaack)

You might want to gently sand the wraps when they are good and dry. I use 400 grit on a flat stick. This will flatten out the bumps and dips. Coat again. You think they look good now, they will look even better. I use 3-4 thin coats after the original penetrating coat with sanding in between coats. Just take care not to cut into the thread.  (Doug Easton)


I do not know if this thread is already going, but I need help with this $%&#! silk.  All my experience with wrapping has been with nylon thread, and I am struggling mightily with "fuzzies" and tags.  Hitting the wraps with a lighter doesn't seem to do much.

Now I did experiment with one technique that seemed to work but it might get a little hairy.  I hit a wrap wet with urethane with a lighter and blew out the flame the instant it flamed up.  This seemed to take care of the problem, but will it damage anything?  (Lee Orr)

First trick is to use the best silk you can get, my last rod I tried to skimp pennies on cheap silk and redid with nylon I had left over from another rod. The current rod I'm building I bought Pearsalls silk and no fuzziness. The next trick I learned from the list is don't run it through your fingers to tension, I use a fly tying bobbin, seems to have enough tension. I also use the edge of a credit card to pack the wraps together. The flat edge keeps the thread edge straight.  (Pete Van Schaack)

That's a gutsy technique!

I don't think you'll damage your blank if it's only a quick flash, but if for some reason, it doesn't go out right away, I just have this vision of the dummies that did flaming shots when I used to tend bar.  Like Peter said, use god silk and try to have the thread run off the spool and right on to the rod.  Tension the spool not the thread.  Don't have the thread running through a tensioning mechanism like a set of washers.  The ware on the thread will cause a lot more of "the fuzzies".   And don't use too much tension either, it will also increase the fuzz.

I have not had a problem using the dry singe method. A new single edge razor blade works well for me to trim. Hold the thread out taught and straight from the rod. Position the blade perpendicular to and against the thread right on the wrap. Angle the thread towards the blade while you maintain the tension on the thread against the blade, and the thread should cut cleanly.  Much harder to describe than to do.  Good luck.

FYI: English Angling Trappings now sells Pearsalls Gossamer silk. The 45 meter spools @ $3.00/spool or all 20 spools for $55.00. No interest. I had to get all 20 because their catalog is in black and white...

FYI #2: I miked the Pearsalls when I got it to compare it to the YLI 3/0 I currently use. The Pearsalls was .003" while the YLI 3/0 came in at .0035.  I'd be interested if someone could be more accurate than my cheap calipers.  (Brian Smith)

Rich Margiotta did a thread comparison a while back. What he did was to count the turns of each size that it took to cover 1/2" of rod, I think the results were Gossamer as the  finest then  YLI 3/0, 2/0, Naples, and Gudebrod. You should do a search on it though rather than trust my weak memory.  (John Channer)

I did the same thing a few years back.  The post should titled something like "thread size experiment" or some such.  Can't remember the brands I had then.

John's memory looks about right.  (Jerry Madigan)

You should probably use an optical comparator for measuring nonworking thread and wrapped thread as well.  I don't have one of those dealybobs, though.  (Chris Lucker)

Fuzzies don't really matter, you're going to cover them with enough coats of varnish to smooth the wrap out anyway. What's more important to the final look of the wrap is getting the threads all to lay snugly against one another with no gaps or color striations, which can prove to be much harder than it sounds, a perfect looking dry wrap can turn into your worst nightmare when the second or third coat of varnish dries (they always look fine after the first coat).  (John Channer)

Wraps 0.5"
Index 1
Index 2
YLI #100 (3/0)
Rice 00 (old stock)
Belding Corticelli A
Tire #50
YLI #50
Janome #50
Gudebrod 00 (modern)

(Nick Kingston)


I'm trying to get away from the dreaded  'fuzzies'.  I'm spending more time dealing with the fuzz than wrapping and  varnishing.  What's your experience with CT or YLI?  (Ed Berg)

Don't know about CT, 'cause I've never used it.  But I've been wrapping with YLI (both sizes) for several years now, and have had no difficulties.  For me, most of the "fuzzies" have come from too much tension on the thread, causing me to work too hard with the burnishing stage in order to pack properly.  Relax the whole process, and you'll have better results.

But another thing I've discovered is that ultimately the fuzzies don't matter.  After you've applied, say, five or six coats, you let the wraps begin to cure for a few days and then simply sand the flats (800-1200 wet-or-dry).  All the problems disappear, and then you just apply a couple more light coats.   (Bill Harms)

I've used only YLI and have never had a problem with fuzzies.  Your problem may be the tensioner you're using.  I use the cheapest rod wrapping system I've seen.  It's a C-clamp in which the handle was replaced with a machine screw.  A couple of plastic washers and a nylon cored wing-nut provide tension by putting pressure on the ends of the spool itself, so there's nothing touching the thread at all.  I wind the thread directly form the spool onto the rod, without going through any guides or tensioners.

Most of the fuzzies I've ever seen are from flaws in the thread.  In those cases there's a big gob of loose fibers, and the only thing to do is remove the wrap and redo it.  The only other time's I've encountered fuzzies resulted from trying to tease apart crossed wraps due to my own lack of care in wrapping.  Again, the solution has been to remove the wrap and do it over. (Robert Kope)

Thanks for all the info.  Sounds like:

1. Back off on the tension and apply it directly to the  spool 

2. Avoid contact with anything between the spool and the rod  

3. Bury the little buggers in varnish  and sand  them off.  (Ed Berg)


Are there people who use YLI silk for wrapping their guides?? and what are your experiences with it.

I've seen wraps made with Pearsalls silk and I like these very much because when you use a lighter color it become a little transparent. What is your advise about YLI silk before I buy it. Else I go looking for a Pearsalls supplier.    (Jaco Pronk)

Golden Witch is one suppler both brands. Both are very good and have their devotees. (Timothy Troester)

I like YLI better than Pearsalls. YLI flattens when you burnish it and seems to be easier to get the winds tight to each other, I have much more trouble with light and dark bands in wraps done with gossamer than YLI size 100.  (John Channer)


I did a search on the archives and did not come up with anything. I am wondering if anyone has ordered thread from Red Rock Threads.  I'm looking at the YLI thread.  The price is right and they claim free shipping.  They also carry the 50 wt Tire thread.  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.  (Garrett Scott)

I found this company also a few weeks ago and ordered a spool of YLI. Shipped immediately (free) and arrived from NV in about 3 days.  Very pleased. Especially to not get hit on $6.00 shipping for a $4.50 item.  I'd have no problem recommending them.  I've actually enjoyed the YLI thus far (I've been using Pearsalls exclusively) I may begin experimenting w/ a few others of their threads, and for the price it can't be beat.  (Matthew Leiderman)

I've purchased YLI from Red Rock for that past 3 rods.  Quick delivery.  Great price.  Excellent thread.  Someone posted a comparison of various wrapping threads last year (I think).  The density of YLI 100 was somewhere between Gossamer and Naples as I recall.  Might find that post in the archives.  (David Bolin)


Where is everyone buying their thread from and why?  I have only used gossamer so I would be interested in opinions on other threads as well.  (Ralph Tuttle)

I use YLI that I buy locally at a sewing store.  I also buy some Gossamer that I buy at Little River Outfitters.  You can find them online I think.  (Hal Manas)

Try  (Paul Blakley)

Thanks for the link.  However, I have never been 'into' needlepoint or tatting so I am a little lost since none of the information charts have a 'suitable for' category for fly rod wraps.  Would you like to enlighten me as to which type yarn of theirs that you use?   (Ralph Tuttle)

If you send 'Pipers' a sample they will color match and size match exactly what you want. If you tell them for example you want 'Gossamer' size then Gossamer size you will get. That said I have a rod restoration friend who uses 90/2 for rings,90 floss for intermediates and 90/3 for ferrules all supplied as 'Cops' which is circa a 75 yard spool.  (Paul Blakley)


I am looking for a silk thread that gets mustard colored after application of spar varnish. No color preserver. Any recommendations?  (Tom Simarud)

Would that be brown or yellow mustard? Or speckled like Grey Poupon?  (Will Price)

I understand I have to be more precise..

What I am after is a yellow color with a hint of olive. And all this after the wrap has been varnished!

Antique gold is too brown and doesn't have the olive.  (Tom Simarud)

Sounds like a good time for some color preserver experiments.  (Harry Boyd)

Color preserver doesn't bond good enough to the blank, otherwise that would have been the solution. I have sent an email to Golden Witch..

Maybe Darrol solution with tinting the yellow thread with Primacolor artist's marker?  (Tom Simarud)

Gudebrod has a NCP color that would be good.  If you can't find the number, I will check when I'm home.  (Scott Grady)


Has anyone had experience with silk from Tire brand?  I was in The Big City last week (OK, Edmonton Alberta - not that large, but larger than Whitehorse) and trolled through some quilting, fabric and Couture shops and came across the above brand of silk.  I guess I looked like an anomaly in those stores, but that's another story.  I came away with a few sample colors to sample both weight and color under varnish.

The spools were in a display with the "Fujix Ltd." of Japan brand on it (as did the color sample chart they had), although it also seems to be sold as "Clover" brand - at least the color numbers of Clover seem to match those that I have.  I think I have the 50-weight - the labeling is primarily in Japanese script.  The only English shows "TIRE Sewing Thread" at one end of the spool and "100% Silk", "100m" the lot number and the color reference number on the other end.  I think this is their "50" thickness.

The thread seems to be a little thicker than Pearsalls Naples.

I was wondering if anyone has used this threads and, if you have, what you think of it?  (Greg Dawson)

I've used it a couple times and it is of very good quality with a nice, tight weave and few fuzzies.  It was size 50 and heaver than I like so I don't use it much any more, but it is good thread if you like heavier silk.

If I remember correctly, Jeff Wagner sells Tire silk.  (Chris Carlin)

I've used Clover/Tire, which I imagine is the same stuff. I like it a lot and have it in several colors that I use now and then. It's typically size 50, but I think thinness in thread is much overrated anyway.  (John Channer)

I used some TIRE Clover brand thread once that was a nice green that I wanted.  It worked quite well.  (Hal Manas)


I need a good source for Pearsall's gossamer.  (Tom Key)

Bellingers among others.  $2.50 a spool for more than 12.  (Wayne Thompson)

I forgot to mention I'd like to try my hand at achieving clear wraps (it looks really cool) - any tips?  What color thread - I didn't see the color "clear listed.  (Tom Key)

Use the white thread to get a clear wrap, no C-P.  (Henry Mitchell)

This is not quite as simple as it looks. Two important things.

1. Use spar varnish thinned way out to start your finishing (no polyurethane)..

2. Do not brush in the first coats. Completely soak the silk using a toothpick or bodkin to put on the varnish. Bubbles will give your wrap a "frosty" look.

There are some other methods using epoxy which give beautiful results. Check the tips site for discussions.  (Doug Easton)

I've found that not all makes and spools of white silk give as clear a wrap as you might like. Check them out on a dowel or something before committing.  (Bill Fink)

I got mine off eBay.  (Joe Hudock)


Considering that the great Masters of the past never used Gossamer, Why today there are this love for the Gossamer?  How start this trend? In my young years the use of Pearsalls Gossamer was only for building flies and for the embroideries made by ladies.  (Marco Giardina)

Just take a look at a rod wrapped with it and you'll get your answer. Properly wrapped and varnished the small diameter thread blends together almost seamlessly and give the appearance that the wrap was actually poured on as one seamless layer. They pack tight and lay almost flat without the bumpy appearance even when a minimum of varnish layers are used. And if you start wrapping with Gossamer you never miss the bigger stuff. I rarely have thread break and because Pearsalls uses very long filaments you get less fuzz. Try it you may love it. (Larry Puckett)

I'm with my friend Marco on this one.  While gossamer thread makes a beautiful wrap, so do larger threads.  I suppose you could measure a few clear wraps and possibly determine which ones were gossamer, and which were size A.  But I'm not so sure you could tell only by looking.  Let's play a game:

What size is this thread

How 'bout this?

Or this?

I keep pretty good records.

The first is white Gossamer. Second is old size 00 Gudebrod natural, not white silk.  Not sure how old, but old enough to come on wooden spools. Third is older still size 0 Gubebrod silk that's just barely off white.

The older Gudebrod silks in 0 and 00, and even in size A, are my current favorites.  Got a spool or two of old Gudebrod silk on the wooden spools that you want to let go?  Drop me a note.  (Harry Boyd)

The true test would be to put them in a side by side comparison - ie, the same picture.  Were those three pictures all taken at the same time, with the same amount of light, from the same angle, the same resolution, and with the same camera?  The first one has the focus on the agate guide, and the wrap itself is quite out of focus.  The third one is taken from a greater distance than the first, and the second one from further away yet.  Kinda difficult to make a decent comparison between the three that way.  (Mark Wendt)

Kinda hard to re-photograph those rods Mark! <g>  Only two of the three are still here.  In a few weeks at SRG maybe we'll play "Guess what thread this is" as part of my rod wrapping demonstration.  (Harry Boyd)

That might be kinda fun!  Glad you volunteered, my friend!  I'll set out some of my rods too, all of which are wrapped with Gossamer.  (Mark Wendt)

I'm not going to argue with Harry, I've learned more from him than all others put together. Back in the monkey days I did some graphite rods using Gudebroad nylon or whatever it is and covered it with epoxy and it came out OK. However when I went to wrapping cane I started with Gossamer and have stuck with it. Maybe one day I'll buy some larger stuff and give it a try but right now I have a system that works for me on a regular basis. I think we all know that there are a lot of things done these days that are basically the "new traditions" that may not be what the "old traditions" really were and heaven only knows how they got started.  (Larry Puckett)

"beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Johann Wolfgang Goethe"

I start my rodmaking adventure using Pearsalls Gossamer and I have made a good number of rods with this type of silk, probably under the influence of the Cattanach book.

But after same years, I realized that wrapping with Gossammer is more a Zen exercise then a wrapping necessity.  I switched to YLI and the aesthetic results are not changed, but the time table of the works is certainly changed.

Today I am arrived to the same conclusions of Harry Boyd - Hello Harry! - and I use the 0 and 00 silk, old stocks.

By the way, during the last Italian Gathering I had the opportunity and the privilege to admire the rods made by the Boo Boys an in particular a rod made by Tom Morgan Rodsmith: large size threads, but really a sublime work!   (Marco Giardina)


Does anyone have a link to what the various colors of Gossamer look like wrapped with varnish applied?  (Matt Fuller)

On a flamed rod or blond?  (Dan Zimmerlin)

Good point.  I would like to see either or both.  (Matt Fuller)

I believe Russ Gooding has charts for both Gossamer and Naples as well as the YLI colors.  (John Channer)

With or without CP -- makes a big difference!  (Larry Puckett)

I don't think you can rely on colors viewed on a computer monitor. There is too much variation from one monitor to the next on how they render particular shades.  And we are dealing with pretty subtle differences in shades here.

If you have a graphics card & monitor optimized for this kind of work maybe its possible.  I'm sure someone with a photography background could explain it better.  (Frank Stetzer)

Yeah I had seen that but I was hoping someone might have a sample stick photographed.  One that had varnish on the wraps.  (Matt Fuller)

As I asked in an earlier message -- with or without CP it makes a big difference! CP done right (and if you're real lucky) looks just like the original colors in the catalog. The color you get without CP will differ depending on the color of the underlying cane, the color of the varnish, and  the type of varnish used. There are just too many variables for that one. I made up my own color stick by wrapping short sections of garden stakes with a few different pairs of Gossamer silk and then treating them with and without CP and MOW. So get out the silk you are interested in and give it a whirl, that's about the only way you're going to really be able to see what it will look like under your own conditions.  (Larry Puckett)

Chris Carlin did an interesting comparison on various ways to preserve the colors of gossamer silk on the Rod Building Forum.  Here's the link.   (Ken Paterson)


So I know silk shrinks when it dries after getting wet. Does anyone know if it shrinks as varnish dries?  I have been using Gossamer Silk and some YLI 100 but am frustrated by fine gaps that appear after the varnish dries when I would bet my mother in law's shoes that the wraps were snug and gapless before varnishing them.  I'm about ready to try some nylon, but want to keep the translucent effect.  (Pete Bates)

I had similar problems with both nylon and silk. The problem seems to revolve around tension and packing. On my most recent rod the wraps came out almost perfect using just enough tension so that when I let go of the rod while wrapping it rotates back just one flat and packing the threads about every 10 turns. Light, gentle burnishing after the wrap is finished completes the process. (Jim Healy)

I know that you can have this particular problem if you wrap too tight. (Timothy Troester)

Do you lightly "singe" the wraps to remove silk fuzz and tighten the wrap before applying varnish ?  If not you might try  using only an alcohol lamp (as it makes no "smoke" that can blacken your wrap); by holding the wrapped rod above the blue flame and slowly rotating the rod it will smooth the wrap and remove the silk thread fuzz  - give it a try as it works for me, but do it carefully and slowly. If you can not touch the wrap with your fingers you got the wrap too hot. (Frank Paul)

Just a note that nylon will also go translucent (and transparent if white or natural thread is used) by the same means.  But silk colors tend to retain a kind of 'glow' somewhat lacking in nylons, but that's just my opinion and I'm kind of crazy.  (Bob Brockett)

If you're wrapping over varnish the little buggers nestle into self made grooves  in it and are almost impossible to burnish together.  (Art Port)


I have wrapped a few rods, and just finished my first bamboo blank with Pearsalls Naples silk.  It was a challenge to say the least. I was wondering what the majority of you use as far as thread size and type. Does the Gudebrod size A look significantly different than Naples once you are finished?  (Scot Lewis)

I started with Pearsalls, went to Gudebrod's and ended up going back to the Pearsalls.

I found that even though the Gudebrod's was easier to work with in the beginning, the overall look to the Pearsalls was much, much nicer.

I find that the transparency of the threads, once varnished, was also much nicer looking; it also lies flatter.

May I suggest that you make yourself a "wrap stick" with different colors of both type threads and see which you find more pleasing to your eye. I did not do this in the beginning because I was hung up on using the colors of my family's "Coat of Arms" colors...well I made the damn stick, put my ego aside and since that time, have come up with a color combination that I truly admire.  (Ren Monllor)

Gudebrod "A" thread leaves a thick wrap, I prefer not to use it. I was using Pearsalls but my  yes are not that good anymore. I have gone to YLI, it is about 2/0 size. I find it pleasing to the eye and translucent with Helmsman varnish.  (Tony Spezio)

I have seen Tony's work and it is quite nice. It is one of the reasons that I mostly use YLI-100 silk. If they made small diameter nylon, I'd use it. I find nylon easier to start, wrap, and pack than silk, but size A looks like rope after using silk. The smaller the diameter, the more translucent the wraps will be, simply because there is less thread blocking the light. I have mostly made peace with silk. I lick the first few inches before starting the wrap and that has helped get me back to single turn starts; I finally have my tension set right so I don't get huge color variations; and I have gotten enough magnification for my old eyes so that I can see the thread going on.

Danville does make 6/0 nylon, but the color selection is limited and you have to order a box from Danville to get the unwaxed thread... but they do have fluorescent colors.  (Larry Lohkamp)

How was it a challenge?  Just curious.  I do 99.9999% of my wraps with Pearsalls Gossamer, and for the first time, I have two rods on the wrapping bench that I'm using Naples on.  I find the thread to wrap quite easy.  What difficulties are you having with the thread?  (Mark Wendt)

Maybe just inexperience on my part, but the thread kept crossing over itself, was hard to count wraps, and if the transition between ferrule or guide was not perfect gaps occurred.  (Scot Lewis)

Ah, I understand now.  Yes, you do have to be a little more careful using Naples and  Gossamer if you're not used to them.  The threads being skinnier than most of the others, and having a smoother finish to boot, do tend to do those things to the unaware.  I gave up counting wraps a long time ago, hence my post a few weeks back about the squirrel. Gossamer and Naples are just too damn fine of a thread to count wraps if your memory sucks like mine.  I use a machinist scale, and measure the wrap length on either the 1/32" or 1/64" scale.  That way the only thing I need to remember is the wrap length, not whether I had 45 or 55 wrap turns...  (Mark Wendt)

Pearsalls makes three grades of silk, Marabou, Naples and Gossamer.  Insofar as I am able to find out, YLI make 2 - their #50 and #100.

The #100 seems to me to be about equivalent to Pearsalls' Naples, the #50 quite a lot thicker.

Gossamer, at least of the silks that are available to me, is in a class of its own - the finest I can get, in fact.

What is difficult about wrapping Naples? Is it that you are having difficulty in packing your wraps up close, or that you are breaking it, or getting dirty colors or mottled colors or what.

If any of the above is the problem, the "fix" (one man's fix may turn out to be another man's disaster) may well be as simple as (a) wearing some magnifying spectacles, making sure that they are comfortable, convenient and have a decent eye relief distance and (b) reducing your thread tension, sometimes quite a lot.  I am continually amazed at the tension some builders use on their silk.  You don't need much.

Also helps a lot, IMHO, if you use a tensioner that does not have the thread running through a device that puts direct pressure on the thread itself.  This seems to me to be especially important with the finer silks.

You need to give your tensioner a bit of thought to ensure that it can be set where you want it to be, and so that it does not readjust itself when the spool turns.

Between my adjusting wing nut and the teflon washer that sits against the spool, for example, I Place an approx 3"  diameter ring of light spring steel, drilled so that it sits in contact with the washer and the nut  and so that any increase in tension that is applied at the screw is transmitted to the spool via the lateral squeezing of the ring.  This tames the acuity of the screw adjustment and in my hands at any rate, makes finer adjustments possible.  (Peter McKean)

I had a lot of trouble wrapping my first two rods with silk.  The key for me was that on my first two rods, I had dip varnished the rod before wrapping.  On the third and subsequent rods, I have wrapped unvarnished blanks.  Made all the difference in moving the silk around to where I wanted it to start and to pack the wraps.

Just another factor.  (Dan Zimmerlin)


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