Rod Building Isolation Restoration

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    So with all this extra isolation time I’ve thought I’d have a go restoring an old cane rod.

    I’ve had it for years , though never fished it , handed down from my grandfather who I think also either made it up , perhaps from a blank , or modified or repaired it at least 50 years ago.

    It’s a 8’6″ 3 piece fly rod , with an option of using the butt and another tip to make it a bait/spin rod also ( I think there was a screw in fighting butt extension at the base of the reel seat for this , but it is lost ) .

    Any tips or advice from makers or restorers would be much appreciated !

    And I’ll post a few updates along the way … the plan is to break it out at the start of next season either for the Central Vic Lakes or some old school Wet Fly action on high water early season rivers .




    If you don’t know what make and model it is, it might be in your best interests to find our before you start work on it. Judging by the seat and the intermediate wraps, it could have been a top end rod. If you post pictures on the Classic Fly Rod Forum you will have a good chance of getting an assessment (you will have to join first which is an easy process).




    Reminded me of a rod i picked up years ago and have done nothing with.Your post had me thinking of doing the same thing restore it while in isolation.Just got it out for a look 3 piece with a spare tip also.Counted 212 intermediate wraps and put it back in its bag.




    Thanks PT for the suggestion ! I’ve looked at classicflyrodforum a few times and they seem a remarkably knowledgeable bunch .

    Unfortunately I’m pretty certain it was a blank built up by my Grandpa , or at least a rod significantly modified by him , half the wraps have been redone and are various shades of green and red rather than consistent colour, the guides also are of different types , some snakes and some like little hook keepers and a couple that are bronze , and the lacquered handle is the same as a few other rods of his I have and the varnish has been touched up by hand in a few places. And much as I’d love it to be an old classic there are no makers marks or inscriptions at all .

    That being said I have wondered if it’s made of Calcutta cane rather than Tonkin when looking at some of the markings you can just see on the rod .



    Keep a record of where the guides are before you strip it back.

    Don’t ask me how I know this.


    Peter Gibson

    “Keep a record of where the guides are before you strip it back. Don’t ask me how I know this.”

    I laughed!




    Hey chf…

    I am not too flash with this quote option, and I would hate to blow up another perfectly good thread, so I will do things old school.

    You wrote…” Unfortunately I’m pretty certain it was a blank built up by my Grandpa….”

    If you surgically remove the first two letters of the quote, I think you will probably be getting much closer to the real truth of the situation.

    Just an observation based on experience, and hopefully taken on board without offence as none is intended.

    Regards… Jimmy



    None taken Jimmy …never was the grammarian .

    And thanks Streak for the tip on guides , I’ve made a note and guesstimated for one missing guide position .

    I’ve removed the ferrules after heating over a methylated spirits burner and then the guides, and then carefully sanded back the blank to 600 grit trying just to remove the varnish ( the rod still has a few dings in it which I can’t sand out ) .

    Curiously the ferrules may not be original which fits my thinking the rod had been re-done by my Grandpa , as the blank has little holes at the end which looks to me like the ferrules were pinned . But as well as having no pins in them the female ferrules I removed were completely hollow with no moisture plug , you could see right through them ! Doesn’t seem to have affected the underlying cane luckily , and the ferrule fit is ok after a bit of careful polishing.

    I sanded the grip back also but shall need to take off quite a bit to get to clean cork , and it would end up being much narrower than the metalware of the reel seat and winding check , and so have thought of putting on a Rattan grip over the sanded back cork .

    Anyone know where you can get a few Rattan strips ?







    Good, Good…All very good!

    Stick with it my man. I have exactly the same game waiting at the back of this tying desk, so I am keenly watching your progress. Please…do keep up the photos and commentary, it is most valuable and interesting. Seriously… grab that camera every time you need a spell.




    Slow progress  , but I’ve mounted the ferrules and guides .

    One of the mid section male ferrules showed a crack when I heated it for removal , only seemed hairline , so after a bit of worrying I decided just to wrap over it and trust in the epoxy . I think in the end I’d rather have as many original fixtures as I can kept on the rod .

    In the end I did keep a note of the guide spacing , and managed to take a few measurements of the rod too . So here they are for anyone who is interested , apologies for the pencil on the back of an envelope stuff …





    Looking good so far!  I am about to join in the fun myself. All the fly boxes are filled to the brim. all the lines are spooled onto the big storage frame and today I made a nice cradle to help me do the new wraps on this very old bit of cane.

    So, now I am going to openly display my ignorance once again. What is the current school of thought on the most appropriate product for finishing off the wraps. Epoxy? Flo-Coat?

    Mother always just used marine grade varnish, and I must admit to a certain level of temptation to do the same. Probably some deep and meaningful reasons there of course…

    But anyway I understand things have changed, so what is the go in 2020?




    Spar varnish is the classic finish but U40 Perma Gloss urethane is a great modern alternative (single pot and no mixing with approx 1hr dry and self levelling).



    I just went with Feast&Watson Marine Spar Varnish from Bunnings and turned the rod by hand on a couple of jars . Seems to work pretty well so far . I’m just about to put on the finish .

    Fair warning for potential fellow restorers , the rabbit hole for finishes seems bottomless once you take the first step.

    I’ve had been trying to locate some Rattan to re-do the grip without much success , the best I can find so far is from Proof Fly Fishing in the US , who by the way Jimmy have some pretty useful online tutorials about rod restoration ( as well as some non-vintage components for sale ) .



    Beauty! Thanks for all that info. The Forum never lets me down when I am stuck. I will have a good look at those tutorials along the way.

    So Mother was right all along then… why am I not in the least surprised to discover that little gem.





    Righto… for the second time in my thread busting career I am going to try and attach a photo.

    The restoration project went pretty well and overall I am pretty pleased with the result. I learned a powerful amount along the way and thank goodness for those times of the past doing antique restorations, not to mention sewing skills. My dear old treadly sewing machine did a fine job as usual and now I just need to assemble an appropriate travel case/tube. I am tracking down some bamboo flooring that I can run down in the workshop and will try for a hex or occy tube profile. It would be nice to come up with a case that reflects the rod details.

    Here we go with the photo’s…. If this blows up in my face again I hope for search and rescue from Mr. Mod.

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