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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Isle of Lewis

    Default Re-working an Old 11'4 S-H into a Double Hander

    Some years ago I picked up and old rod on eBay built by Alan Riddell in 1994, a 3 pc named 'Sea Trout Special, HMG' with no line rating. Now, there was nothing objectively wrong with Mr. Riddell's work but at 6 oz it was more weight than I could comfortable swing for an evening, let alone a whole day.

    Re-working an Old 11'4 S-H into a Double Hander-1-p1030255-jpg

    Re-working an Old 11'4 S-H into a Double Hander-1-p1030258-jpg

    Back in Feb. I was looking for an old rod to rework and took a new look at The Beast. What was the blank and what might I be able to do with it? A short Spey/Switch, perhaps? I took it outside and tried it as a double-hander ..... ''Maybe!'' I thought .... and put it on the to do list.
    By chance, I found myself working on the River Thurso this year. It isn't a big river compared to my last, the Spey, and I felt that my 14/15 foot #10s were too much for my new home. Time to get that Riddell on the worktop!

    All I needed to do was to remove the two stripping rings on the butt section and add a longer bottom-hand cork, replace the reel seat and the upper cork grip, then replace one stripper where the second once sat. A 'decorative' whipping over the first ring's original position to mask the loss of paint/varnish and bob's yer uncle.
    So I did, and on as tight a budget as I could manage.

    There was no urgency on my part so I ordered a bit of cork for the bottom grip from China for under a fiver. Well, it looked like cork but turned out to be a rubberised material. Never mind, it would still serve its purpose. I then ordered a 14" length of parallel cork for the upper grip from a UK supplier for a mere tenner, though I'd never tried to fashion cork before and don't have a lathe ..... I can't recall quite why I didn't re-use the original reel seat but instead employed one with a woven carbon insert I'd salvaged from a bad buy I'd once made - an alleged Winston which turned out to be a unexciting Rainshadow blank, I think. I had snapped the top section reworking it and then stripped it down for parts. Waste not want not, as they say.

    It wasn't as straight forward as I'd hoped. I'm currently in a cold, rented flat and it was either insufficient temperature or inadequate mixing on my part, but the first application of epoxy never hardened and remained tacky. A second lick of hardener didn't set it so I tried w&d to sand back to the whipping. This produced an uneven first coat. I cracked on regardless and applied a second coat, but it ain't my prettiest work!

    As for the upper grip, I set about it with a file, sandpaper, then w&d, working by eye and by feel. The shape kind of developed organically, work at bit, hold a bit, work a bit more and, although I ended up with an unorthodox shape it's actually comfortable and serviceable for me at least. Here it is:

    Re-working an Old 11'4 S-H into a Double Hander-1-p1050236-jpg

    There's a three pics per post limit, so I'll continue below.
    Last edited by Lewis Chessman; 09-09-2019 at 10:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Isle of Lewis

    Default Re: Re-working an Old 11'4 S-H into a Double Hander

    After I'd set the handles and seat but before I got to the whippings & epoxy I got the chance of a morning on the river. I taped on the stripping ring and took the rod for a trial cast.
    I ought to say that by now I felt I knew what the blank was ..... a 2nd Gen Fenwick HMG in their 'Chameleon Brown' paintwork. Now, the first Gen HMGs from 1974 on were black/slate grey and pretty fast. The 2nd Gen rods attempted to be closer in action to glass, then Fenwick's speciality, and are much, much softer actioned rods, and so this is. I matched it, at a guess since no rating was given, with a Barrio short Spey #8 on a Bloke #10 reel with oodles of backing. It worked fine but, man, I had to slow down in the Spey cast! As an overhead caster, the bottom grip really helped take the strain off my right arm (upper hand) and that worked nicely, too.

    I fished for about an hour without a take and was just about ready to leave the pool, now almost static in flow, and abandon the Arndilly Fancy I'd been offering when, as I lifted for a final cast the line went tight! A good fish surfaced angrily below me and I was in! The fish immediately ran upstream into the current and headed for the rapids above, taking me to the backing in seconds. I glanced up to see the rod curve beautifully into the straining line and the fight was on!

    I was able to turn him, bringing him back into deeper water, and set about bringing him to the net. Success! Although the rod bent deep into the cork I always felt in control and eventually slipped the bag under a well-coloured cock fish of about 15 lbs, maybe a tad more. The fish recovered well and kicked off nicely after a wee rest. Job done, and sweetly done, too. I'll have no qualms fishing this rod again and rather enjoyed the relaxed tempo of the cast, let alone its responsiveness in the fight.

    That was incentive enough to complete the job with, as it transpired, a poor epoxying job - but I'll happily re-do that when at home over winter.

    Re-working an Old 11'4 S-H into a Double Hander-1-p1050237-jpg

    Re-working an Old 11'4 S-H into a Double Hander-1-p1050238-jpg

    Re-working an Old 11'4 S-H into a Double Hander-1-p1050239-jpg

    The two upper sections are Mr. Riddell's original work which I aspire to equal when back home in Lewis.
    So, job largely done and I'm very happy with the practical result if not the cosmetic finish. It's been very satisfying to take something I couldn't use and make it into a tool I'll look forward to fishing again, and to realise I can trust my own judgement as to what a stick might be capable of, even if designed for another purpose.
    And that, my friends, is my story tonight. Whisky in glass. Cheers!
    Last edited by Lewis Chessman; 20-09-2019 at 08:07 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Co. Armagh.

    Default Re: Re-working an Old 11'4 S-H into a Double Hander

    Great stuff and an excellent report to boot. Kudos.

    Not only am I a master of suspense, but I

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008

    Default Re: Re-working an Old 11'4 S-H into a Double Hander

    Nice work. I'm sure many of us will have old rods like this which can be easily rejuvenated as a switch rod. Mine was a David Norwich M400 10'6" 6/7/8. It's my favourite night time seatrout rod but a bit on the tiring side. I cheated when I extended the top handle.... I simply split a preformed cork section, glued it on and used a bit of filler on the seam. No need to strip off any eyes. It is now my favourite rod for the spare rivers as well as the seatrout.c

  5. #5

    Default Re: Re-working an Old 11'4 S-H into a Double Hander

    my fishing lathe is an old black and decker drill mounted onto some ply with 4 casters as stablilisers at the other end. Works well for shaping cork. I experimented with a wider diameter of handle but have come around to the idea that rod makers have got the shape and size pretty much right.
    I too have a David Norwich 11ft M400 which will be turned into a switchy rod. If my bi ceps were like my hamstrings it would be fine,but it's too heavy for anything more than a couple of hours now.

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