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Part Six

  • Montaje de una caña de grafito

  • Assembly of the Reel Seat

    by Al Campbell

    Bellinger Reel Seats

    The reel seat is an important part of your fly rod. This is the thing that holds the reel to the fly rod. If you've had the misfortune of owning a rod with a reel seat that was always working loose, you know how important a quality reel seat can be. Choosing the right reel seat for the intended job is important too. Some reel seats were designed to be used on light creek rods, and some were created for the stress of two handed saltwater use. You'll want to select the right reel seat for the type of fly rod you're building.

    Struble Reel Seats

    Proper assembly of the reel seat is just as important as selecting the right seat. One day on the Bighorn River in Montana, I noticed a fisherman slicing, with his fly rod, at the guide who was trying to row the boat and keep from getting hit. They pulled up to the island I was eating lunch on and prepared to duke it out over some misunderstanding they had over a fly rod. Being the nosy person that I am, I decided to get involved.

    It seems the client had a very expensive fly rod made by the company this guide service was affiliated with. The reel seat of this client's twenty-five-year-guaranteed rod was in several pieces in the bottom of the boat, the client was ready to draw blood on anyone who was affiliated with that rod company, the guide was ducking and running, and the other client was just standing there with a stunned look on his face. To make matters worse, the rod had been sent back to this company twice to get the problem fixed, but it was broke again.

    Fortunately, I always carry a stick of hot glue and a lighter in my vest. A little scraping with a hook file and a little glue were all it took to temporarily fix the rod, settle the client down, and get the island and my lunch back to myself. I even got a free Dr. Pepper for my troubles. The point of this story is that it's very important to assemble all of the components of your fly rod with the utmost care if you want it to perform flawlessly in the years ahead.

    Reel Seat Choices

    Reel seats come in several styles. Some are 'uplocking', meaning the reel is locked into the butt of the handle. This design is nice if you want to use a reel that is a bit heavy or large. Some are 'downlocking', meaning the reel is locked downward to the butt of the reel seat. This design is nice if you are using a light reel and want to achieve a proper balance between rod and reel. Several designs use sliding rings that let you choose between uplocking and downlocking or something in between. Some have a large inside diameter and are designed to be used with a fighting butt on a heavy rod. Still others have a small inside diameter and are designed for light freshwater use. You'll need to choose the one that best fits your needs.

    Reel Seat Components

    The first thing you need to do with your reel seat is to make sure it fits over the butt end of the rod blank. If you chose the reel eat properly it should, but there's no room for mistakes here, so check it first. Next, you need to lightly sand any parts of the reel seat 'barrel'that will be glued to the reel seat hardware. The barrel is usually made of finished wood, and you must rough up this finish if you want the glue to hold. Be careful to only sand the parts that will be hidden from view, you don't want to scratch up a pretty piece of wood by being careless.

    If the barrel of the reel seat is round, check it for grain. You will want to make sure the prettiest grain is on top so it is visible when the reel is attached to the finished rod. Some reel seats are 'channeled' for a close reel fit. You won't have a choice of grain with this type of reel seat, but the reel will probably fit in the reel seat better.

    Assemble the reel seat several times before you glue it. This will help you get familiar with the assembly, and will give you a chance to identify exactly how the reel seat should fit. If the reel seat has a loose sliding ring, tape it to the barrel with a small piece of masking tape to prevent it from sliding into the glue during the gluing process. This will also get it out of your way during assembly. Look things over carefully. You want to be sure you have everything right before you glue it into place.


    Next, mix up a small batch of slow drying, waterproof epoxy. Make sure you use waterproof epoxy, the fast drying type is usually not waterproof and will fail you at the most inopportune time. I use a type of epoxy that is rated in tons, and is guaranteed to be waterproof. It takes about two hours to become tack free, and overnight to achieve maximum strength.

    Reel Seat & Handle Carefully glue and align the reel seat components. If you are using an uplocking seat, don't glue the hood that goes into the handle yet; you'll glue this part when you glue the handle on the rod. If you need to, you can hold things in place with masking tape, but gravity will probably be sufficient.

    It's wise to have a supply of tissue on hand to wipe up any spills or to clean up any places where you applied too much epoxy. A tissue lightly soaked in acetone will remove any sticky epoxy from the places you don't want it to be, like the reel seat barrel or your fingers.

    Take it easy with that acetone, it can remove the finish from the wood barrel if you're not careful. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation too. Sniffing acetone can cause brain damage and other harmful side effects that could lead to bait fishing. How would you explain a sudden fetish for stink bait to your friends?

    Enough of that! A special thanks to Anglers Workshop for the use of the first two pictures in this week's article. Next week we'll glue the reel seat and handle to the rod blank. See ya then. ~ Al Campbell

    [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] [ Part 6 ]
    [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] [Part 10] [Part 11] [Part 12]

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