A few months ago I got bit by the glass rod bug. I'm sure it was influenced by the growing glass rod market, along with social media from sites like The Fiberglass Manifesto. I dug up an old Eagle Claw glass rod that was given to me a few years ago and started playing with it in the yard. "Fun" was the first thought that came to mind. As I forced myself to slow my casting stroke, I could actually feel the rod load. It was a joy to cast and I thought about what a great teaching tool it could be, allowing someone to feel the rod really bend...something that can be hard for a beginner to pick up on with a super fast action rod. I also started thinking about how much fun it would be to catch a redfish on a fiberglass rod...I could already imagine it bending all the way to the grip fighting a bulldoging redfish.
I started researching glass rods in the 6 to 8wt range, and narrowed it down to a few companies. There are some really cool glass rods out there, but I kept being drawn back to Swift Fly Fishing and their Epic glass rods. They're built using S-Glass which is faster your traditional fiberglass, but still slower than a graphite rod. They offer them in several killer colors. The only thing that caused me to hesitate is that they mainly sell blanks and DIY build kits. I had never considered building my own fly rod before. For an extra fee you can purchase a built Epic rod, but I decided that if I was going to buy one, I would save a little money and build it myself. I started emailing Swift, and not long after, I bit the bullet and purchased one of their Epic Ready to Wrap Fly Rod Kits. I went with the Epic 686 (6wt, 8'6") in the "so blue" color.
A few weeks later, I had an Epic mail day, when this package arrived from New Zealand.
It was full of all kinds of goodies. Everything you needed to build your own rod, including the box which can be transformed into a rod wrapping machine.
You can purchase their blank and buy your own components, but they offer some really high quality components with their kits. I really dig their reel seats.
Check out the awesome white fiberglass rod tube that's included with the kit.
The first task was to fit the grip, reel seat and fighting butt to the blank, so that you could mark the blank where the top of the grip would be.
Everything below that mark was sanded to help the epoxy adhere. Next you mark the blank where the reel seat will be and then build up the blank with tape for the reel seat. Mix up your epoxy and glue the grip, reel seat and fighting butt in place.
Use your china marker to mark all the guide spacings. Tape down one foot of the guide and line it up.
Wrap your thread on the un-taped foot of the guide, and then remove your tape and wrap the other.
The silk threads that they send with the kit turn clear when you add the thread epoxy.
I wrapped the first few guides with the box that the kit comes in. The rest of the guides were wrapped with a rod wrapping machine. The box did a good job and held it's own against the wrapping machine.
I added some silver trim wraps up against the natural (clear) silk wraps.
The silk threads turn clear as they soak in the epoxy/denatured alcohol solution.
Once the diluted epoxy has dried, it's time to coat the threads with some more epoxy.
After a few coats of epoxy on the thread wraps, your rod is done. The epoxy is self leveling, so it came out pretty good, even for my first build.
I paired the rod up with a Kraken reel from http://www.allenflyfishing.com/
I'm really enjoying casting the Epic 686 "So Blue" rod. It's a different animal than my fast action graphite rods, and I'm embracing that difference. I can't wait to put a redfish on it very soon. I'm also starting to think about their 4wt and their upcoming 8wt Epic glass rods. False Albacore Tuna on Fiberglass this coming Fall? I think yes!
You can find out more about Swift Fly Fishing and all they have to offer at http://swiftflyfishing.com/