Wrapping the Guides – Step 8

Wrapping on the Guides

Kaylin Wrapping

With all the guides taped onto one section of the rod blank it’s time to start wrapping. Once Kaylin got the hang of starting the thread she had fun. To me this is one of the most rewarding steps. When I think about building a rod – wrapping is the first thing that comes to mind. A quick tip before we get started – don’t wrap the guides on with a lot of thread tension. Secure but not tight. The guides should be loose enough to make minor adjustments so you can line them up perfectly.

Items you’ll need for this step:

• Rod blank with guides taped on.
• Wrapping thread
• Homemade “threader” or whip finisher for pulling the thread under the wrap.
• A wrapping stand with tensioning devise
• Sharp razor or craft knife
• Grease pencil or crayon
• Masking tape
• Scissors

Summary of the Steps

1. Mark the starting point for the wrap
2. Adjust the thread tension
3. Start wrap
4. Wrapping to within an 1/8 inch of the end
5. Finish wrap
6. Repeat

Marking the Starting Point for Wrap

I like starting the wrap 1/8 to 3/16 of an inch from the guide foot. If I use a two thread wrap I’ll start 3/16” before. I showed Kaylin how to measure this then we cut a piece of card stock to use a marking template. Using the template removes the chance of a measurement error. The key is to stay consistent.

cut template

Marking Template


mark rod

Kaylin marking the thread starting point

Adjusting the Thread Tension

I’m kind of sensitive about thread tension, while wrapping guides on my 7 wt – 10’ 6” Winston I actually broken the blank. Luckily the great folks at Winston replaced the rod, but I still had to rebuild that section. I had the thread tension a little higher than usual, because I just started wrapping the second color of a two color wrap. The blank actually collapsed under the thread pressure. Later the Winston folks told me the graphite actually had a resin rich spot which caused the defect. That was many years and many steelhead ago. I set the thread tension to about 4 to 6 oz. To set the tension I find something around the house that weights this and tie the thread to it and set the tension.

Tenison video

Video of thread tension

Start the Wrap

Like I said at the beginning starting the wrap is a little tricky. For Kaylin we just stayed with a single color wrap. She chose black, which is hard to photograph, but the black thread with the black hardware should look cool. I like using a little masking tape to keep everything neat and it can work as a third hand. Describing in words is tough, but basically you wrap the thread over itself. Usually 4 to 5 wraps will hold it then trim the tag end off as close to the blank as possible.

start fly rod wrap video

Starting the thread on the fly rod video


Wrapping to within 1/8 inch of the End

With the tag end trimmed its time to start wrapping. Be sure to keep each wrap tight to the next wrap. Use your finger nail to push the thread tight. If you’ve prepped the guide feet correctly the thread will transition onto the foot smoothly.

wrap fly rod guides video

Kaylin wrapping the guides


Wrapped onto foot

Wrapping onto the guide foot


When you get within an 1/8 inch of the end, it’s time to wrap the “threader” or whip finish tool under the thread. I made my threader with a piece of old steel guitar string. To make the threader drill a hole into a little scrap of wood and slide the guitar string into the hole and glue in place. Use a tooth pick to pinch it in place. I’ve also made one of these tools substituting braided 12 lb fishing line for the guitar string.

string and wood

Threader Material







Wire and Block together making a threader








Place the threader onto the rod and keep wrapping to the end.

threader on rod

When you get to the end of the wrap with one hand hold the wrap and with the other hand pull off a 8 to 10 inches of thread and cut the thread about a foot long. The objective is to pull the tag end under the wrap. If you’re really good you can break the tag end off under the wrap. Apply equal pressure to the threader and thread and gently pull the two apart until the thread ruptures.

Thread under wrap

Breaking the thread under the wrap


Close thread and threader

thread and threader

That’s it, you’ve finished your first wrap!! 17 more to go and wrapping is complete.
Below is the first section with all the guides wrapped.

Section done

Fly Rod Section with wrapping complete