Getting Ready to Roll.

liphook

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Sorry to be picky but yes the stripper guide you've shown in that last post could have done with a bit more grinding/filing to my eye
 

Lewis Chessman

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Not at all picky, mate! I agree, looking at it again. There is quite a step, isn't there. I'll see how I feel about it tomorrow. Cheers. :)
 

Lewis Chessman

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Hi, Pete, it's Fish Hawk Dark Green 896 Grade A nylon.
I'll put up some photos when it's finished but as you might expect it is somewhat darker without any preserver being used. Still nice to my eye, though. :)
 

Lewis Chessman

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Here's a photo of 2 sections of this XT rod including the 2nd guide, now with 2 coats. I purposefully set up the shot to show the step up at its worse - honest I did, guv'.
I think this gives as close a representation of the deep green colour as I'll get. Whilst one can just see the single gold loop it has got lost amidst the now very dark green whipping. I think I'll try some c/p on the gold thread next time - or they're barely worth the time adding!

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I'm going to leave this rod for a few days now and then return with a refreshed eye - and maybe some p1000 w&d!
 

Lewis Chessman

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I won't lie - I've had trouble with this build.
First of all the Striper's Co-Polymer I was sent had a faulty bottle of adhesive. Somehow it had set inside the bottle. Most of it was rock hard but I managed to get a little glob of gloopy fluid out and, foolishly, hoped it was enough. I wasn't and never set.
I contacted John, the seller, and he was good about it. Said it was a first for him and sent out a replacement bottle post haste.
In the meantime I decided to remove as much of the tacky residue as I could with IPA then got out my dreaded FlexCoat Lite to continue the job.
I'm sure I got the 1:1 ratio right as I'm now using graduated 3 ml pipettes to measure, however whether I didn't mix well enough / whether it didn't sit well on the sticky undercoat / whether the room temp was too low I don't know but that too didn't harden totally.
The new bottle of c-p adhesive arrived and I have now applied that. It is definitely easier to work with than the FCL, thinner and a slightly longer working time. I now have a hard, glossy finish to the whippings.

Nevertheless, the end result is uneven and unsatisfactory, if functional. I don't have any 1200 w&d with me and am reluctant to use the nail polishing tool I have as I don't want to scratch the paintwork. I'm going to set this rod aside as it is fishable, just not as well finished as I'd like it to be. I've just had a wee grass-cast with a #3 Lee Wulff TT which sang out nicely enough. No doubt a #4 will perform even better - I'm just looking for a nice reel to crop up on eBay to carry a Cortland 444 #4 DT I have waiting - and lockdown to end, of course!

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willie_r

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I won't lie - I've had trouble with this build.
First of all the Striper's Co-Polymer I was sent had a faulty bottle of adhesive. Somehow it had set inside the bottle. Most of it was rock hard but I managed to get a little glob of gloopy fluid out and, foolishly, hoped it was enough. I wasn't and never set.
I contacted John, the seller, and he was good about it. Said it was a first for him and sent out a replacement bottle post haste.
In the meantime I decided to remove as much of the tacky residue as I could with IPA then got out my dreaded FlexCoat Lite to continue the job.
I'm sure I got the 1:1 ratio right as I'm now using graduated 3 ml pipettes to measure, however whether I didn't mix well enough / whether it didn't sit well on the sticky undercoat / whether the room temp was too low I don't know but that too didn't harden totally.
The new bottle of c-p adhesive arrived and I have now applied that. It is definitely easier to work with than the FCL, thinner and a slightly longer working time. I now have a hard, glossy finish to the whippings.

Nevertheless, the end result is uneven and unsatisfactory, if functional. I don't have any 1200 w&d with me and am reluctant to use the nail polishing tool I have as I don't want to scratch the paintwork. I'm going to set this rod aside as it is fishable, just not as well finished as I'd like it to be. I've just had a wee grass-cast with a #3 Lee Wulff TT which sang out nicely enough. No doubt a #4 will perform even better - I'm just looking for a nice reel to crop up on eBay to carry a Cortland 444 #4 DT I have waiting - and lockdown to end, of course!

Is the Stripers Co-polymer easier to use than Sensei epoxy? Lovely rod, too!
 

Lewis Chessman

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I don't know, willie_r, I haven't used Sensei - it's on my to-try list, though. Prior to the co-poly I've used Flex Coat Lite but always struggled with it. It goes tacky too quickly for my pace of working. The easiest I've used has been plain old rod varnish but you're not allowed to use that on carbon. ;)
I have found the co-poly easier than FCL, thinner and with a longer work time but ..... there always seems to be a but .... you must mix the correct proportions of adhesive to resin, e.g. 0.6 mls to 1.5 mls resp. To achieve this accurately I bought a bulk lot of 3 ml disposable pipettes (£8 for 200, eBay).
If you want to try it, buy the £10 co-poly set from Stripers or the £15 pack which includes a few blades, brushes, pipettes, colour sealant and co-poly. I think he says this will cover 24 eyes.
However, I don't know if that's one coat or two on the two dozen guides stated.

I try not to waste the stuff (any epoxy/co-poly) as it's not that cheap but the less you mix at one time the more accurate you must be with the ratios. When I've mixed larger amounts I have tended to try to use it to finish a full rod single coating - say 12 whippings. Given 30 mins work time that means 2 1/2 mins per eye or 90 seconds per snake whipping, less time still if you are covering a long decal too.

If/as I am trying to be neat and precise I do find this a difficult schedule to stick to, particularly when having to hand turn finished sections as one works on the next. Add to that the recommendation with the co-poly that each section be held upright for one minute on completion, then inverted for one more minute before being laid horizontal ..... well, time ticks away. It's like a plate-spinning act juggling at the same time!

Now I just accept the wastage and the cost be damned. Otherwise I waste so much time later sanding a bumpy wrap smooth if I try to use over-gloopy resin that it just isn't worth the bother.

I know one can warm the pot to make the mix runnier again but then find it goes even gloopier very quickly when it cools after warming so I gain very little work time from doing so.
I have tried a night lite burner to warm the pot but one must be careful it doesn't over-cook and boil - and I won't try it with the Roddancer plastic mixing trays I'm currently using as I think they'd melt, only with aluminium foil cups.
I have tried floating the plastic trays in hot water but the advantage has been short-lived and unsatisfactory. There are pot-warming gadgets one can buy but I'm reluctant to throw money at one, preferring to keep trying different makes until I either find the right one for me or speed up my technique.

As I mentioned earlier, the issues with this rod were of my own making - I should never have put that first coat on when unsure the mix ratio was correct. John (Stripers) swiftly posted out a replacement bottle of adhesive so I hope to get a better result with it on the next build, a Taniwha SXT 11 ft #6/7. That is also the same dark green coloured blank and I'm using the same green thread but with a darker, brassier gold metallic thread. I intend to use colour sealant on this next build as I like the look pre-epoxy (see earlier pic) and the lighter 'old gold' thread hoops got lost on this one above.

I know what I'm like. Once I can get some fine grade W&D I expect I'll set about smoothing and re-finishing this one but after the problems we've had I think it best if we spend a month or two apart just now. ;)
It's certainly fishable though as it is so I will take it fishing once we're allowed to play out again.
 

liphook

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Mar 23, 2011
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I tend to mix my required amount then decant half of it into a separate container, cover in clingfilm and stick it in the freezer. This extends the pot life
 

Lewis Chessman

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Liphook, thank you. That sounds like a totally viable solution to my issue. Can you elaborate a little?
I'm envisaging it working over one session of application - but can it be actually frozen overnight, rather than chilled for an hour or so?
Cheers,
James.
 

willie_r

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Mick at Bloke incudes bottles of the Sensei epoxy with the kits. No point in spending more money if I don't have to!
I think (hope) that I've learned from my first build. I'll thin the epoxy a bit more, and try to do more, thinner coats.
I've dug out a very old Abu spinning rod which is from the pre-epoxy era. The whippings are okay, so I'll clean off the varnish, and coat them with epoxy. See how that turns out before I start on the Bloke kit.
 

Lewis Chessman

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Aye, Willie, quite right. Let us know how you go.
I'm still on the learning curve with the 'dressing' aspect but I did find a lick of the co-poly on damaged old rod varnish improved them very neatly and inconspicuously. And I agree, three thin coats of epoxy will give better, more level results than two heavy ones hoping to get the job done more quickly.
 

liphook

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I'm not familiar with the resins you've mentioned LC so you'll have to try it and see how it works for what you've got. Here's what I do ;
Thoroughly mix a minimum amount of 6cl - 3 of each part, from syringes - in mixing cup then spread out what I think I need plus a touch more onto an old saucer covered in tinfoil. The cup then gets a cover of cling film and shoved in the 'fast freeze' draw. Using the resins I have and at the temperature of my room, that will give me 10 to 12 mins working time with the saucer and brush/applicator aided by the heatgun. Once done I bin the foil and replace it with fresh, and pull out the cup from the freezer, blast it with my heat gun, pour it out onto the fresh foil, blast it again and get to work. If I've done a bigger batch then I may blob a bit out, recover and put the cup back in the freezer. I know I've had over half hour with it in the freezer as I mistakenly answered a phone call (bad idea - ruins your resinous karma) and almost forgot what I was doing!
I like a heat gun for working with epoxy but you've got to watch for blowing dust, offcuts of thread etc on to your work - my room is kept clean! Others like alcohol burners, tea lights etc but I don't like naked flames anywhere near wet resin.
I hope that explains it? I'll add that ambient temperature of the room should be consistent and in the mid 20s deg C - the kind of heat where I like to wear shorts! Id say never mix in smaller batches but then I've usually got other projects on the go as well as saltwater flies, wooden lures, wading sticks etc to coat with the excess. If resin is in short supply then wait until you have enough jobs to do a full mix, small batches are where problems begin. I'd rather have too much than too little as it's the last but equally vital step in that builds journey.
 

Lewis Chessman

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I'd rather have too much than too little as it's the last but equally vital step in that builds journey.
Aye, that's the very crux of it right there! :)

Thanks very much for elaborating, liphook. I will try it when I get back home to my heat gun - or see a cheap hair drier in Lidl. You're so right about 'dust-free'. I hoovered the flat I'm renting before doing this last rod and set it to dry in a convenient spot beneath the window. Fine. But when I closed the curtains that night I knew too late that I'd be sending dust into the air and onto the sections below, and I did.
I know now it's not an area to skimp in for purely financial reasons - it' a false economy and can lead to great sadness after so much effort.

Interesting that you say you get 10-12 mins of work-time per batch. I reckon FCL is similar but the co-poly definitely gives more time. I'll pay close attention next application but reckon about 20 mins for a 2 ml serving and no reheating.
Thanks again!
 

liphook

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Thats 10 - 12 mins easy working time but you want it all on in the right areas in that time. Once its getting towards 12mins it will only get heat and never actually touched with a brush/ tool.

Dust can be further excluded with a drying box or carefully covering the work in a 'tent' or 'lean-to' of clean cardboard, plastic sheet etc.

Like many things there's a few ways of skinning the cat but here's a summary of what I do once the mix is ready and the rod is turning
1st coat goes on with a disposable brush - working it thoroughly into the threads and any tunnels and defining the edges. You're building a base coat that won't dry looking perfect so don't be tempted to look for anything like a finished job. Aim for a fully covering foundation layer for....
The 2nd coat (next day) I put on with a bit of the stainless wire used for grip leads - you could use a bigish needle, dental pick etc, some will use a brush. I don't mess about putting it on! You've got the base so build directly on top of it. The great Stan Massey uses the term "slaver it on" and that sums up my approach nicely. It's self leveling remember so it will drip directly off the bottom unless you wander out of those strictly defined edges!
I always apply it from the top and then take the excess off from underneath. Control your lateral movements to keep edges crisp and work in towards the middle. Dont fiddle too much! When it looks about right give it some heat from a distance - you're not trying to move it with the airflow but apply heat to the area to get it really thin. Let the liquid roll around the blank and remove the excess that will form underneath in the middle of the whipping or wrap/decal/area to be covered. Do it again and it's done! Stop right there! Let the dryer do its job.
Doing it this way for me means that 3rd coats are rarely necessary on light builds like a fly rod. Maybe on a decal or extended area to be covered like say a butt/stripper guide that transitions to a spigot wrap. More coats obviously add more resin and this makes things overly thick/heavy to my eye. Less is more!
 

Lewis Chessman

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Onward goes the rolling. Yesterday I finished the Taniwha SXT 11 ft #6/7 and I took it for a grass cast today with a #7 line.
I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand it's my cleanest build yet with no faults or niggles yet noticed. On the other, it's too heavy for me for a day or a week's fishing loch-style. The finished rod weighs in at 4 5/8 oz, more than half an ounce heavier than I wanted. What is more, I think the tip is too stiff for the kind of fishing I am trying to design for - sea trout and grilse from a drifting boat.

I'll give it a trial with a #6 at some point but my intuition tells me this blank would be better built as a switch rod rather than a single hander. It has good recovery and a strong back bone - but I'm looking for something a bit slower, more yielding in the tip.

Still, it's a bit too pretty to just strip back and start again as a double-hander - I'd rather start anew as Mark (Taniwha) does sell decent cork grips and it'd be a shame to destroy them.
Time for a few pics. The reel seat is one of Mark's 'private label' range, a UL6 in black, the stripping rings are PacBay Minima, the eyes are TiCH black snakes:

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The green thread is the same as on the last Taniwha rod (above) but this time colour-sealed and with a metallic gold thread. I think it works much better with the sealant than before where the darker green was almost black - and may as well have been.
On this rod I have kept the co-polymer to the very edges of the whipping rather that try to create a margin beyond. I actually prefer this minimal, precise approach visually - and also found it easier than being marginal.
The whippings above have had two light coats of Striper's co-poly. This time I added no IPA, had the room temp at 23 degrees C and got 30 mins work time out for the first 2 x 2 ml mixes, taking 30 mins to do each pair of the four sections. The second coat went on faster - the leg pockets taking more time on the first coat and by warming the plastic mixing tray on the storage heater I got 40 mins work time and every guide covered with another 2 mls.

So, there it is, bitter-sweet. In my opinion it's the tidiest rod I've made and the one with fewest problems - none, in fact - and I do like the single gold band in a green or claret setting and the thread-only epoxying. However, it'll take a stronger man than me to wield this rod all day on a loch. My search for the right blank goes on.

Meanwhile, I've already attached the seat and grips to my unknown 12 ft dark blue blank and will mark up the spacings this week then set about that one. Nothing fancy, I think, no gold bands just dark blue thread on the dark blue blank. Will it be finished by the time Scotland can fish? Probably! :)
 

codyarrow

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I'll lend you my Norwich 11ft M400 that will make a man of you! Been thinking of sticking a 2 ft extension handle on it and turning it into a beachcaster.:giggle:
 

Lewis Chessman

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Ha! I tried a 13 ft M400 once - a d-h-er - and that was too heavy for my tastes! Have you considered shortening it instead? I have an M500 8'6 #5 which is very sweet. :)

This one will be what I rank as an 'evening rod', fun enough for a few hours but not for a week's holiday afloat. I have an 11' 3" B&W Powerlite #6 (#7, really) it'll be interesting to compare to, another 'evening rod' but one I'm rather fond of as we have a bit of history together - a 9 lb sea trout on the Spey which must have run 200 yards in the fight. I can still see the curve of that rod silhouetted against the dying light of the day. :)
 

Lewis Chessman

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I managed to finish the last of my current new build projects on Thursday, just in time for Scotland's limited release from lockdown. This is a curiosity I picked up in early March, advertised on eBay as a 12' 7" blue fly blank. Maybe that unlikely ''7 inches'' put others off but I suspected the seller had just measured one section and multiplied by 4 so bid. £39 incl. p&p, bag and hard case. The seller then contacted me to say she'd found a reel seat and a set of guides for a 9' #4 which she would throw in gratis! :) I love a bargain and even if the blank was rubbish I'd got my monies worth, I felt.

Yet again I've had trouble with the epoxying. This time, the Stripers' Co-poly let me down. To explain, the kit includes 1 x bottle of adhesive + 2 x resin as it requires a 1-3 ratio mix. First, the adhesive was off - rock hard - so Stripers sent me a replacement, no hassle. I finished my last rod (above) with it and one bottle of resin and I felt it worked a treat, the best finish I've yet achieved I think. So I embarked on this rod full of confidence only to find that the second bottle of resin turned into a milky-white, sticky, fudgey sludge. I doubted myself, figuring I'd got the mix wrong, cleaned it off as best I could and tried again - carefully!
It wasn't me. It was the 'resin', if that's what it really is. I reckon that somehow I just got a duff pack as I've not had problems with any Stripers' product before, but it has dinted my confidence, I admit.
So, it was back to the Flex Coat Lite for me as I still have some left, though I'm not fond of it. It's done a reasonable job but not perfect, I know.

The hardware is from Hi-Level - Switch grips and a sturdy black Alps seat, TiCH winding check and TiCH PacBay guides with a simple monochrome Navy Blue whipping, no colour sealant. I intended this one to be stealthy!
A wiggle and curve test in the garden showed a full-flexing blank with good tip recovery, just my cup of tea. I guessed it was an eight weight and fitted it up with a Barrio Switch #8 accordingly.

I took it to the river on Friday and again this morning to try it out and it really is sweet - whatever it is!??!
It overheads very well and at 7 1/2 oz I can just about manage with one hand on occasion, but need two for power and control. I'm still working on the single Spey with the Barrio. It feels a tad light but when I get my timing, head length and anchor correct it just sings. I'll need more time yet to get the best from the #8 line but any limitations are in me, not the rod.

I'm delighted. This rod fills a gap in my rack and is ideal for my current water, a medium-sized salmon river. I've yet to hook up but have no fear this rod will cope with whatever I connect with and, given its softer nature, it'll be great for tentative takes from summer grilse and a forgiving rod to teach newcomers with. I can see this becoming my go-to rod for much of (what's left of) this season. :)

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