Fly Rod Building Made Easy by Art Scheck
Reviewed by Terry Lawton
Fly Rod Building Made Easy, A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making a High-Quality Fly Rod on a Budget by Art Scheck is a thoroughly practical book that lives up to its somewhat lengthy title. The book is very nicely designed and presented although I thought that the rather grey rendering of the black and white photographs (most are shot against a grey background) makes them look very flat. All the photography is by the author and the photos cannot be faulted for failing to illustrate all the steps in rod building.
For anyone who has read the series that we published on fly rod building and has been inspired to have a go, this book will be a big help as it brings together everything that you need to know in one book with hundreds of step-by-step illustrations. This book does away with much of the mystique of rod building. This does not mean to say that it contains nothing technical, for example there is plenty of 'math' on guide spacing. You will need a calculator! For those who don't want to do the sums themselves, there are lots of recommended spacings for blanks of different lengths.
One area that cannot be rushed is wrapping a rod and the rod rings. As Art Scheck writes: 'Wraps are perhaps the most obvious evidence of rod-building craftsmanship (good or otherwise). Your friends cannot see the bushings for the reel seat; they cannot tell by looking if you made a good, full-length glue bond between the grip and the blank; many of them might not recognise the superiority of the guides you used. But they can tell at a glance if you did a good job wrapping the guides.
'Take your time, and you can do a very good job.' Too true.
In the first chapter, Getting Ready, Scheck encourages the would-be rod builder to go through the whole book before ordering a blank or components as they will then have a much better idea of exactly what they want. There are separate chapters on blanks, reels eats and handles, guides, wraps, finishes and finally odds and ends which includes information on labelling your newly-completed masterpiece. The two appendices cover suppliers and guide spacing math, or maths as we would say in England.
Criticisms? Just one or two. There is no information on making a handle using cork shives, or rings. I know the book is written for the budget rodmaker who may not have access to a lathe which is essential for shaping handles, but I do feel that it is an omission for anyone who either owns a lathe or can borrow one. Also I thought that the list of suppliers of everything you need to build a rod was on the short side. That said, companies listed do supply everything you need.
I can recommend this informative and very readable book to the keen rod-builder and give it nine and half marks out of ten - it would have been ten out of ten if it included building rod handles, rather than using only factory-made ones.
Fly Rod Building Made Easy, A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making a High-Quality Fly Rod on a Budget by Art Scheck. Published by The Countryman Press in paperback, 190 pages, at US $24.95.
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