The Ramblings, or Rambles, as I tend to call them, are just that: someone, usually me (Russ) droning on about this or that aspect of rodmaking. They may be short, sweet, and to the point, but they tend to be long-winded, peripatetic, amalgamations of practical insight tinged with snark, goading you, the rodmaker, to an appreciation of detail in your own work and the work of others. A given ramble might include bits of emails we’ve sent to individual rodmakers, snippets torn from old instruction sheets, quotes from the Oxford English Dictionary, strange tales, errant memories, soapbox stances, dead ends, and places from which you can begin anew. Good luck navigating it all. There is no editor.
“Hello Russ, I’ve been reading some of your ramblings on the website. I am so glad I found you – you write so well, they are very engaging and I am learning all sorts I didn’t understand before. Thanks very much” – Nick E. (United Kingdom)
If you have the least question about ferrules – if you’re new to ferrules or only moderately experienced – please, please read this information at least once. I promise, it will help to prevent mistakes and misunderstandings. Thanks!
Welcome to the Golden Witch Ferrule Advice Ramble! I need to let you, the rodmaker or restorationist reading this page, know that I have lost clients because of ferrules. Ferrules are finicky, challenging, yet almost invariably necessary and worthwhile little beasts.
Chopsticks. Love bamboo & Asian cuisine? You can craft hexagonal bamboo chopsticks. For novice rodmakers, they represent a good way to practice setting up and using a planing form on something arguably less important (and intimidating) than a first set of rod blanks.For every maker, chopsticks represent an incredibly useful way of productively using scrap bamboo from the rodmaking process. And what a teaching tool, too, for those who may be curious about how rods are made…each chopstick’s cross-sectional end grain shows off that hexagonal “how-to.” Keep a set in your back pocket at rod shows. Use them at dinner as a conversation starter. Hexagonal chopsticks make wonderful gifts for anglers and non-anglers alike. Thanks to Jeff Evans for sharing his idea and his taper!
In 1997 or so, Frank Armbruster of Colorado Bootstrap published a Free Report on the basics of how to build a bamboo fly rod. He advertised it in the classifieds of a popular national fishing rag for the price of one SASE and a couple of unused stamps. Our own Matt West responded to that ad, and that was the first day of the rest of his life.
Attribution, Thanks, Continuance – The Ramble
This ramble concerns attribution, as well as certain liberties we take here at Golden Witch. If you write to us through the contact form on the GW website, or through any of our business emails, you may be quoted – we attribute your name to your words. If you’re a nice person, this won’t bother you. If you’re a bad apple, well, so much the worse for you. There’s also a bit of soapbox grandstanding on the themes of acknowledging debt, saying thanks, and teaching others as the only true path forward.
Bluing, Bronzing, & Clear Coating For Rodmakers
BB & CC, or, Oxide Finishes and Protective Boundaries
This ramble will be limited to cold bluing suitable for the home shop or low volume custom rodmaker’s shop. There are several points worth noting. First,
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.
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!
Inking Signatures…On Pre-Varnished Blanks & More
This ramble is going to start off with a simple question and a response by Russ. We’ll probably add more detailed information over time. For the moment, this is a good example of why we don’t take tech questions over the phone – because responses evaporate as they’re spoken – and a good example of how we will respond if you email us. It might take a day or two, but if someone here knows the answer, or can guide you in the right direction, you’ll get a thorough response. Eventually, it is highly likely that your question will be the stimulus for another ramble, like this one, and that way many makers can benefit from the time it takes us to respond. Really, it’s good for everyone.
I forgot ask you for some advice earlier, hope you don’t mind – I’m working on a pre-varnished blank, and wondered what the best way to go about signing the rod might be. I’m a bit nervous about trying to scuff the area and sign, would hate to possibly damage the blank. Also not sure if I could just sign directly on the finish as it is. Thanks for any suggestions – very appreciated!
Finishing For Transparent/Translucent Wraps – Let’s make one thing clear….
There is a difference between transparent and translucent. We need to define terms. Yes, I know this is rather elementary, or, worse, pedantic, but considering how often I see folks writing about “transparent red wraps,” the difference between transparent and translucent is worth exploring. In addition to being a Luddite (really, I’m not – it’s just that I appreciate the high art of old fashioned technology as much or more than I appreciate new-fangled things, like websites and my kids’ dueling nano-drones), I’m also, according to my tech-addled children, a word-nerd. The most prominent book in my library is the Oxford English Dictionary…not the eye-numbing “Compact” edition with its micrographically reproduced text and the reading glass in the slip-case, but the twenty volume second edition that takes up two shelves within my largest barrister.
Bamboo Blank Adhesive Options – A Particularly Brief Ramble
Regarding adhesives: we don’t sell any adhesives for gluing up bamboo blanks. A long while back we sold blank adhesives, but we learned the hard way that any delamination could wind up costing the company a good client, despite blank adhesives being a product we had no control over after they left the shop, i.e., storage conditions, usage past expiration, application technique, cure temps, etc. Blank adhesives were a low dollar, low margin product with very expensive ramifications. Guys can handle cutting off a few wraps that went sour, re-wrapping & re-varnishing; but when a blank delams, sane fellows blow their gourd. Not being copraphages, we don’t need that sort of mess on our plates. We offer no usage advice except this: follow the instructions of the adhesive manufacturer because they have a vested interest in your success and their usage advice is tested over both time and a myriad of applications. This said, we don’t mind sharing current sources.