Step 4 – Guide Wrapping

Step 4 – Guide Wrapping

Step 4 – Guide Wrapping
Smooth any rough edges found on the guide feet to prevent damage to the blank and to smooth the area over which the thread is wound. You may do so with a small file or other grinding tool. Most of the guides we sell will be “pre-ground,” but it is still good practice to check.

It is common for fly rod builders to place the guides on the “outside” or convex side of the blank. That’s usually what I do, but know that this matter continues to be one of the great controversies among custom builders. (Some of the best known manufacturers that I’ve spoken with do just the opposite!)

For double foot snake guides, place tape securely on one foot to hold the guide in place while you begin wrapping the other foot. (Some folks tape both and leave room for wrapping, but I find this cumbersome. Know that you will be able to make adjustments to “perfectly” line up the guides after the wraps are finished as long as your first windings are generally in a straight line.

I start by putting my thread spool into a ceramic mug positioned about 18” in front of my work area, and then run the thread through a hard back book. You can adjust the tension on the thread by running it through lower sections of the book. We want the tension to be firm enough to securely hold the guide in place, and produce a nice smooth wrap. Too tight a wrap will stiffen the rod and should be avoided. You may wish to make a stand to hold the blank horizontally while you wrap. A simple method of doing this is to cut “V” notches into the sides of a medium sized box (i.e. – shoe box) and lay the blank across.

Before you start the wrap, cut a couple of 6” sections of thread that we’ll need later!
You can practice doing a wrap on a pen or pencil until you become reasonably confident.
Maintain constant tension between the blank for secure, consistent and good looking results.

Now we’ve come to the fun part! Position the thread to start about 3/16” from the guide foot. Then, to begin your wrap, pull the thread over the blank. As you pull the tag end around, keep rotating the blank and cross over the thread itself. It is best to wrap toward the center of the guide and the tag end of the thread should be facing toward the center of the guide. After about 5-6 turns, the thread should be fully secured and you can trim the tag end. At first it may feel awkward, but after a bit of practice, you’ll get the hang of it. Eventually, you guide the thread with one hand and turn the blank with the other. For a clean look, be careful not to overlap the thread.

As you practice, you’ll find that gaps can be smoothed out with the rounded end of your razor blade or clippers. I usually use my fingers, but make sure they’re clean to avoid getting oil from your skin onto the thread as it may affect the finish. When you’re about 3/16” away from the point at which the guide foot meets the vetical part of the guide, stop and proceed to next part.

Remember those 6” pieces of thread I told you to set aside earlier? Take one and form a single loop, and place it opposite the guide with the loop facing in the direction you’re wrapping. Now continue your wrap over the loop up to the point where the vertical part of the guide foot starts. While holding the thread in place with one hand, cut the thread, being certain to have a few inches of tag end.

Grab the tag end you just cut and put it through the loop you just made. Pull the end of the loop and it will draw the tag end underneath the wrap and then out. This will secure your wrap and give it a smooth appearance. Trim the thread with a razor blade or clipper, as closely as you can without cutting into the wrap itself. For a professional look, you can burnish loose ends and fuzzies with a match, but be careful as the thread will easily burn. Try this on your practice wraps first!

In addition to wrapping the guides, you can use the above method for wrapping ferrules, hookkeepers and trim. Note that wrapping the female part of the ferrule will add strength and stability to your finished rod. Wrap the ferrule to within 1/8” of the end. A 1/2” wrap on the ferrule will be fine, but you can add a bit more for heavier weight rods.

When you have completed your wrapping, you can carefully adjust the guide alignment. If you hold the rod up and look down the guides, you probably notice that they are not in a perfect straight line. Not to worry! You can move them a bit to the left or right in order to create better alighnment. Don’t put too much pressure on the guide or the the wrap will unravel.

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