Wrapper’s Delight

Insight Into Custom Rod Wraps

FSF Staff October 20, 2014

While big brand tackle manufacturers offer a wide variety of rods in various actions, sizes and configurations, custom built fishing rods offer several key advantages. First and foremost, custom rods can be designed for specific techniques by making slight adjustments to blank length, taper and action. They can also feature specialized guides, grips and reel seats. Along with achieving a desired fit, finish and function, custom built rods also provide skilled craftsmen with a blank canvas to create some truly impressive art.

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Photo: doughertyphotos.com

Decorative rod wraps are painstaking projects that take years of experience to perfect. However, if you want to learn how to start wrapping you shouldn’t be overwhelmed. Basic rod building requires few items and the digital age has made it easier than ever to find the information and components needed. While a quick Google search will provide you with an excessive amount of information, mudhole.com is a great source for everything involved in custom rod building.

Decorative rod wraps are painstaking projects that take years of experience to perfect.

Custom rods can feature thread art created with numerous techniques of over and under wrapping to form a unique pattern along the rod blank. A traditional diamond wrap creates an X pattern that encircles the entire blank, but slightly altering the sequence, direction and number of threads allows the design to take on countless variations.

To get a detailed look of what’s actually involved in the creation of a custom rod wrap we reached out to one of the most skilled rod wrappers in the industry, Martin Martuscelli of Revolution Fishing. Martin has been wrapping custom rods for over 20 years and creates impressive designs with amazing detail. For this particular project the customer requested a snowflake weave, which incorporates overlapping Xs with adjacent squares. The customer also wanted an underwrap, meaning the first guide will sit on top of the finished pattern.

After mounting the rod blank on the lathe, the diameter and distance of the pattern spacing must be determined. Martin pointed out that this is a very important step because without consistent spacing the final design will not be uniform. Martin also takes into consideration the blank’s diameter and the precise points of intersection for crossing threads. Many rod builders actually use mathematical formulas that factor in both the taper of the blank and precise spacing of the pattern.

A base layer of black thread is first wrapped around the rod blank. From here the exact points of intersection are marked with a Sharpie. Next, a piece of masking tape is wrapped around the blank just ahead of the black base wrap. The masking tape is used to secure the individual threads along the blank. When selecting thread it’s important to choose colorfast thread to prevent the colors from fading. With standard nylon thread you must apply a color preserver at the conclusion of the project, so colorfast thread helps save a step.

Once the colors have been selected the intricate wrapping process can begin. This is tedious work that requires meticulous attention to detail. This snowflake weave pattern is created by using two sets of silver and purple threads that spiral up and down the blank in sequential order and opposing directions. The process starts by securing the silver thread under the masking tape and then the two threads of silver are wrapped up and down the blank twice. This effectively creates a cross pattern in the middle. Next, Martin follows the same sequence with two purple threads on both sides of the silver Xs, which creates the box pattern. From here the process basically expands the X in the middle and the box pattern on the outside by placing alternating colors on the inside and outside of each color thread. If the process sounds complicated, it’s because it is!

Throughout the entire process Martin pauses in between colors to tighten and perfectly align the threads before moving on to the next step. He then continues with the purple thread, wrapping it tight to both sides of the silver pattern. Now it’s time to go back to the silver thread and wrap tight to the purple X. It is a back and forth process that requires constant awareness, however once complete the resulting design is stunning!

With the color sequence finalized, black thread is wrapped over the design to separate the snowflake weave and give it greater definition. It is now time to clean up the tag ends of thread extending beyond the finished pattern. This is accomplished by wrapping a half-inch wide swath of black thread over the end of the colorful design to lock it all in place. Martin skillfully trims the tag ends and removes the masking tape without risk of the design unraveling. He finalizes the process by continuing to wrap the black thread over the remaining tags for a clean finish. With the snowflake weave complete, the first guide is placed over the top of the thread and the legs are secured with a single guide wrap. Tight lines!

Practice Makes Perfect

Intricate and extensive wraps take years to master. If you’re just getting into rod wrapping the complicated process can be confusing at first, but with practice and time spent reading literature and watching tutorials on the topic you’ll soon have a new favorite hobby. If you don’t have the time or skills needed to create a custom rod, there are many talented rod builders throughout the state that would be happy to do the work for you.

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