Attaching the Handle / Grip – Step 4

To me attaching the handle is a milestone, after this step your fly rod starts looking like something. Kaylin really got a smile once we got to through this step. This step makes a little dust so reaming outside is suggested.  Testing the fit of a reel with the handle on!

Items you’ll need for this step:

  • Cork Handle and Butt section of rod. I suggest buying a pre-made handle.
  • 3/8 inch rat tail file.
  • Rat Tail File in Drill
  • Optional – drill motor, this will definitely speed up the fitting process.
  • Grease pen or crayon.
  • Optional – fine steel wool.
  • Epoxy, cup and stir stick (I use glue and epoxy interchangeable)
  • Paper towel and alcohol for clean up.

Summary of the Steps

1. Ream the inside of handle.
2. Mark the blank and dry fit.
3. Attach the handle with epoxy.

Reaming the handle

The inside diameter of most handles are too small. You can buy special reaming tools, which work fantastic. A popular reamer is called the “Dream Reamer” made by Batson.  This is a nice tool, but it costs over $50.00. To save a little money, I use a 3/8 inch rat tail file. I priced these out at the local hardware store for $2.99.

The most important tip is – Don’t over size the hole! So take your time.

I start by dry fitting the handle on the blank. With rod and handle, the handle it didn’t even fit onto the blank. Kaylin’s just barely started. Eventually you want the handle to slide down to within an inch or so of final position.

Next mount the file into your drill. I use my 20 year old cordless drill and insert the file into the butt end. Be careful, because the file is tapered it is hard to get the file clamped tight in the drill chuck. Use at a slow rpm and slowly plunge the spinning file into the butt end of the handle.

Always insert the file into the butt end so that the hole is tapered in the same as the rod blank. Don’t rush, ream a little then test fit. Don’t force the file into the handle, it can get stuck. Brushing the cork dust off the file helps the cutting process.
Once the handle easily slides to within an inch or two of the final position STOP.

Mark the Blank

I like to mark the rod blank with just below the final handle position. This provides a guide for applying epoxy. Reminder the final handle position is over the stationary hood.

Mark the blank to show where to stop epoxyMix up a small batch of epoxy and apply it to the rod blank between your mark down to the stationart hood. When performing this step with Kaylin we actually applied to much epoxy on the rod blank. All the excess epoxy had to be wiped off as we slide the handle into place. My recommendation is to put a thin coating of epoxy on the rod.


When you slide the handle into place, spin it a half turn so the glue gets evenly spread between the handle and rod.
With the handle in position, clean up any epoxy squeeze out with a paper towel and alcohol.

It’s starting to look like something!  I would say the toughest part is done!!   The next steps go quick, you can actually double up steps while the epoxy is curing!