Finishing the Fly Rod – Step 13

Applying Epoxy Finish to the Fly Rod

Kaylin Finish

Kaylin Making a Fly Rod!

 

Applying finish to the fly rod wraps is the last big job on this rod building journey. Finishing is usually broken up into 3 or 4 sessions depending on the number of rod sections. Have a half hour or so available to apply finish to the first section of the rod. Usually this section has a single guide and the winding check so it eases you into the finishing procedure. Kaylin and I are both applying an epoxy finish to our rods. The thread is NCP (No Color Preserver) meaning the thread has a color preserver built into the thread color. NCP threads tend to be brighter after the finish is applied.

Items you’ll need for this step:

  • All the wrapped fly rod sections
  • Finish (I’m using an epoxy finish)
  • Mixing cups and mixing sticks
  • Brushes or a “blunted” nail
  • Wrapping stand to hold the rod
  • Rotary drying stand
  • Clean up rag and solvent

Summary of the Steps

  1. Mixing the Rod Finish
  2. Applying Finish to the Rod
  3. Curing in rotary drying stand

Mixing the Rod Finish

If you are using an epoxy rod finish please remember two things, use equal amounts of the epoxy components and mix it thoroughly. Kaylin and I are using Flex Coat High Build Polymer Rod Finish which needs a good 24 hours to setup. Varnish is also used for finishing the rod wraps, but I have no experience with it.

Measuring with small syringes is the most accurate way to measure the components. I use a “dipping” technique for measuring. I’m sure it’s not as accurate as syringes but it has worked for me. I dip the mixing stick into the component and transfer a small amount to the mixing cup. So for the first section of rod I will dip three times into A component, then wipe the stir stick well and dip three times in the B component.

Dip and mix epoxy finish

Mixing Finish Before Applying

Finishing Rod

Applying Flex Coat Finish to Fly Rod

With equal amounts of epoxy components in the mixing cup it’s time to stir. Strip for a minute and a half to two minutes, be careful to mix/scrape the side on the cup so all the epoxy is thoroughly combined. If you’re using syringes mix .75 cc of each component for the first batch. The finish has a longer pot life (Cures Slowly) so you don’t have to be rushed like with the 5 minute epoxy. Mix the finish slowly, so you don’t mix bubbles into the finish. I had to keep reminding Kaylin to slow down.

Nail Tool

Close up of application tool- blunt nail in a dowel

I use the wrapping stand to hold the rod while applying the finish. I’ve also used a shoe box with notches cut in the ends. Instead of a brush I use a dowel with a blunted nail to apply the epoxy finish.
Slow and easy is the name of the game. I only apply finish to the thread and not onto the adjacent rod. If you ever have to repair a guide it’s a lot easier to cut the threads off. I’ve learned to brace my hand against something to steady it. If you get a little too much finish on the wrap try transferring it to another guide wrap. If you mess up and get a little on the rod blank, quickly wipe it up with your clean up cloth.

Finish Fly Rod Video

Video of both Kaylin and I Applying Finish to the Fly Rod

Kaylin Video and David Video

Kaylin Finishing

Kaylin Finishing Her Fly Rod

As always if you see something that is wrong or you’ve learned a better technique please send me an email at david@rivertraditions.com. I am doing this instructional blog to help folks get into this wonderful sport!