Introduction: Travel Fishing Rod - Make It Yourself
I wanted a travel size fishing rod to carry in a saddle bag or back pack. Because no matter which way I go to work I ride right past at least one boat ramp with a fishing pier. Then I got sticker shock when I checked out the prices. Found a couple that were a little cheaper but sounded like they were too light weight for me. Then it hit me... why not make my own. I had an older two piece rod in the garage that could be my starting point all that was needed was to cut it and make a four piece rod. Total cost was around $15. Here's how you can do it too.
Step 1: Pick Your Rod to Modify.
Ok, so I had this older two piece rod in my garage that was still a good rod, but one I didn't mind chopping to try and make it better. The overall rod length was around 53" and separated the two sections were about 27". Not bad but to fit in my saddle bag it had to be less than 18" when separated.
Step 2: Making the Cut
Ok, now let's mark where we want to cut our rod. Once you've got that, wrap your rod with several layers of masking tape, this will keep the rod from splintering when you cut it. Then re-mark for your cuts. Using a hacksaw and holding your rod firmly make your cuts, unwrap the ends and now you have four pieces.
Step 3: Add a Line Guide and Hook Stay
Once I'd made the cuts it occurred to me that should the rod come apart the section above the reel could fall into the water and be lost. To prevent this I made a line guide, or eyelet, for this bottom section and while I was at it I made a small hook holder for when I stored the rod fully assembled. To make the guide I used a small diameter brass welding rod and wound it around a small pipe nipple. Two pairs of pliers are a must for this step. The hook holder is a piece of the same welding rod with a small bend in it. Be sure to hammer the ends of each piece flat so they don't twist on you after attaching them to the rod. Flatten the feet a little then use a small file or emery board to smooth them out. You don't want any sharp edges left behind. A word of caution: either be very careful or wear leather gloves. While bending the hook stay my thin welding rod broke and the sharp end caught the tip of my index finger giving me a pretty nasty cut. I just needed a band-aid and was back to work. You could skip this step and just order parts from an online supplier.
Step 4: Winding the Rod
To attach your new line guide and hook holder to your rod you have to wind it with nylon thread. I'm not sure why cotton won't work but there are several videos online and they all say to use only nylon. You need a base wrap a little longer than your line guide or hook stay and then you'll do another wrap on top of that to attach your guide. Before you start, make sure to cut off a piece of thread about 4 or 5 inches long to be used as a pulling loop later. Then start your winding, sorry about the quality of these pictures they were taken with a cell phone. Make one loop around your rod with the loose end of your thread pointing in the direction you will be wrapping and pull it snug then roll your rod four more times for a total of five loops and snip off the loose end. Then continue winding, keeping your thread tight and snug, I held the spool with my knees while winding and keeping the thread tight rolling the rod with both hands. When you get almost to the end of your wrap take that 5 inch piece of thread you cut off at the beginning, make a loop, and slide under the thread you're winding on the rod. Roll five to eight loops with your pulling loop in the winding then cut your wrapping thread, insert the loose end through the loop and pull the loop through so your loose end comes out five wraps back up the rod. Then carefully cut the thread with a sharp knife as close as possible to the wrap but don't cut the wrap or you'll be doing this all again. I did have one wrap that required a second try.
Step 5: Attach the Guide
Now you're ready to attach your new line guide (eyelet) and hook stay. Use regular scotch tape but just a small strip. Pull off a piece about an inch or two long then tear it length wise so you end up with a piece of tape half or less the width of your guide foot. Now tape both sides of the guide to the base wrap you just finished on the rod. Then do a top wrap just like you did before, with the base wrap, starting just beyond the end of the foot and wrap in toward the middle. You may have to use your thumb to hold the first loop as it gets on the foot to keep it from slipping off. By the time you get to the second or third loop it should stay in place itself. When you get near the end of your top wrap, slide the pulling loop under the wrap opposite the guide. This will help keep tension on the top wrap. Otherwise it may come unraveled.
Step 6: Glue the New Ferrules
I know, I know, you've been wondering how the heck we're going to put this together and use it again. Well you have to buy some new ferrules. Those are the little metal things that attach the rod together. One female part and one male for each connection made. Using a caliper you measure the rod diameter. I have a dial caliper I bought from Harbor Freight years ago. If you don't have one find someone that does or you can pick one up for $20 or less. My caliper only reads inches so I consulted the internet and converted this to millimeters, mm. Then go to your favorite rod builder’s supply online, I used Janns Netcraft and the new ferrules were $1.79 and $2.09 with I think $6 shipping. I had the parts in three days. The two female ends were a little loose so I did a base wrap with my nylon thread underneath to snug it up. One of the male ends wouldn't fit the rod so using an emery board I sanded it down about the thickness of a piece of copy paper. Then using a five minute epoxy I glued all the ends on their respective spots. Remember to leave enough room on the female ends to insert the male counterpart on the other end. If you slip the rod all the way into the female end you won't be able to accomplish the proper friction fit to hold the rod together. The rod should slide all the way into the male ends. While I was at it the female end the factory put on was loose so I re-glued it too.
Step 7: Gluing Up the Rod Wraps
Now it is time to put a good coat of five minute epoxy on all your thread wraps. I coated everything including the factory wraps which the factory had only given a thin coat of varnish. If you choose to install a hook stay then make certain to coat the thread wrap only and don't let the epoxy build up and close off the opening where the hook will go.
Step 8: Success! the Rod Is Finished
Ok. Once all the glue is dry, give it 20 or 30 minutes to get good and dry. Then put it all together... take it apart. It works! String it up, go outside and try casting a weight around for a while. My rod was just a little stiffer than before yet it still worked great. But wait... you now need to go catch a fish.
Step 9: Fish On!
No project is finished until you give it a practical test. And in the interest of science... augh who am I kidding? I went fishing. This catfish was a little over a pound and gave a great fight. His big brother was about eight pounds which I got all the way up to the boat, pulled it in the boat, and when I'd freed him from the hook he proved how he got that big and jumped out of the boat to freedom. True fish story, no lie, just fact! Have fun folks, relax, and go fishing. I'm pulling for you we're all in this together.