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Hello Rodmakers & Restorationists!
Just a few guide notes for now….
On Sizing Tiptops: Here’s some basic info you need for synthetic and bamboo blanks. Tips are sold in nominal 64ths of an inch, by one-half/64 increments, e.g., 3.5/64, 4/64, 4.5/64…you get the picture. To fetch this nominal size from the blank on your bench, you need to do math. For those of us immersed in imperial measure, start by taking a reading in thousandths of an inch. You might get a reading of 0.070. This number, 0.070”, equates to 4.5/64″. The math on that, if you don’t have the formula inked on your rodmaking bench, is x.xxx” x 64 = xx.xx/64”, so in this case it’s 0.070” x 64 = 4.48/64 and then you need to round that UP to the nearest tiptop size which is the 4.5/64. Since you don’t want to reduce the measurement of a tip in most cases (exception to the rule coming up!), you should ignore standard rounding rules and always round UP to the nearest one-half/64 increment. Especially if you are working on a graphite or glass blank. Yes, with round blanks you can gently scrape – never cut – a thin scrim of clear coat away where the tip will reside. I’ve done this and it works just fine, and allows you use a snug-fitting, smaller diameter tiptop. However, taking this action will void your warranty, so I recommend using the next tip up the scale unless you could care less about the warranty. Now, if you’re working on bamboo blanks, which have those lovely facets inherent in the polygon of your choice – quad, hex, oct – you have a serious choice to make. You bamboo makers can either measure the flat-to-flat dimension, or the corner-to-corner dimension; you pent guys are always going to measure flat-to-corner, so ignore this info. For all makers using polygons that feature an even number of sides and corners, there are benefits and drawbacks to either choice of measurement. If you measure flat to flat, as I do, your measurement will be smaller, so you’ll wind up ordering a smaller tiptop (typically 0.5/64 smaller than a corner-to-corner measurement on the same blank). This is nice, because it keeps your tiptop tube snug to the blank, and it keeps the size/scale reduced, which I think looks nice on cane rods. But, and here’s that exception to the rule I mentioned above, to make that smallish tiptop fit, you need to scrape (not cut) the corners of the polygon, essentially turning the blank round within the short span covered by the tiptop tube. The only downside? You’ve just removed powerfibers and marginally reduced the strength of your blank. It’s never given me any trouble, but my fishing tends to be for smaller fish – trout, bass, panfish. If you’re fishing for freshwater bonefish (carp), salmon, channel cats, or anything big enough to snap a rod while doing battle with them, then you may want all the powerfibers you can muster. In this case, measure the tip of your blank corner-to-corner, or apex-to-apex if you prefer that phraseology. Your tip will slip over the corners of your blank, no scraping needed, all power preserved. That’s nice. The only downside here is that, visually, the tip may look a bit big. Do you worry about these sorts of things? Another thought: unless your bamboo blank is darn near perfect – and it should be, right? – you should take the average of all three flat-to-flat, or corner-to-corner, pairs. That’s for hexagonal rods, obviously. You quad and oct makers have something slightly more or less to contend with. But before you do anything else, please go scribe that formula onto your bench where you can see it. It works for ferrules, too. Really, anywhere you need to convert a thou measure into a sixty-fourth measure. x.xxx” X 64 = xx.xx/64″. We should probably have that formula engraved on little nickel silver placards, with a hole punched at either end, supplied with two rosehead copper nails so you can lodge it against the surface of your bench, forever.
While we’re on formulas, if you are using metric measure, you need to first convert your millimeter spec into thousandths of an inch. Try this on for size: x.xmm X 0.03937 = x.xxx”. Sample: 1.8mm x 0.03937 = 0.070″. And now you’re right back where this example started, with a 70 thou tip. Fun stuff. Why did I hate math in school? Probably because it was disassociated from reality. And that, friends, is why I homeschool(ed) my kid(s). Right now I’m down to one homeschooler, but three of the four have been through the wringer. If you have kids and you’re thinking you ought to homeschool, yes, you should.
On Finish: If you’re looking for the common snake, it’s chrome, standard wire; these are the most popular, so it’s not a stretch to suggest that they probably catch the most fish. If you’re hunting for the best snake, look at the TiCHs…dark, subtle, and durable; yes, you get what you pay for with these. Ponder this: you’re waving that rod back and forth over the waters – do you want it to be shimmering like a bangled belly dancer, or would you prefer it to pass overhead, unrecognized and unnoticed, the very shadow of death? And, we should add, if you’re a catch and release angler, that also makes your rod the harbinger of the life to come, a life wiser through lived experience, and, for you, that angler wielding the rod, there’s now one fish more challenging on the morrow.
Before fishing lines were braided, they were furled. Horse hair, some sort of grass and silk were the materials of the day. The difference between the silk line I made and how most furled leaders are made is the number of legs. Most furled leaders have two legs (strands). My silk line has three, this results in a more round shape.
The bits and pieces of “how to” were gathered from the web, nothing copyrighted or proprietary. I think most folks avoid silk lines due to cost of commercial lines, upkeep, and lack of DIY. I’m going to do my best to explain the process, if anything doesn’t make sense or you have any questions…let me know!