Friday, June 28, 2013

Snowman Custom Rod Works - Swift Fly Fishing Epic "So Blue" 990 Build

I wasn't going to buy any more fly rods this year but when Swift Fly Fishing talked about releasing the new "So Blue" 990 blank, and with the trip to Beaver Island coming up, I decided this was the perfect time to work with Snowman Custom Rod Works on this build.  Zeb Tonkavich built this fly rod beyond my expectation and beyond the build itself, what I was really impressed with was his step by step correspondence, photos along the way, and then a very comprehensive email covering all the aspects of this build at the end of the process.

Please note that these are not the "final" build photos.  The Beaver Island trip is fast approaching and Zeb put this fly rod in the mail this week even though the custom rod tube had not arrived yet.  I'll take the Epic 990 on my trip and then return it to Zeb to get buffed up and photographed at his shop with everything together sometime next month.

 Zeb wrote... "I am really impressed with the Epic 990 profile.  It seems like nobody builds a high weight rod for small water 30 pound king salmon.  This profile would be ideal.  I often find myself caught up in powerful seven and higher weight rods that can generate more line speed than Indiana Jones whip, but has the feel of construction grade rebar.  This rod is a mix of both and it's performance is STUNNING.

A couple notes on the build I will likely forget in the rush to overnight this down on Wednesday.

I built this rod saltwater safe.  I created stops on the male side of the sleeve over to butt tight against the female to block possible saltwater creep.  It gives a finished look but it keeps caustic water out.

I ran the epoxy deep off the edges and out from underneath the thread tents.  I don't build freshwater rods this way because its not necessitated by condition.  Also I floated the guide and used guide adhesive to create a thin barrier between guide foot and blank.  This was in an effort to eliminate any potential for a guide foot to etch the blank where the guide is mounted.

The reel seat hood, cork check, and winding check have all been epoxied in place to eliminate potential entry of saltwater.  Also there is a very thin barrier on the inside edge of the hood.

These were the steps I have taken to hopefully eliminate the possibility of saltwater damaging the rod.  Fiberglass can rot very easily if there is any scuffs nicks or any site that water can get beyond the epoxy.  That's it for saltwater protection.

The basic stuff is the thread.  Turquoise mains, royal blue, and basic white silks.  I stepped down all the tipping to create a flowing look.  I repeated these efforts with the epoxy, thru varying viscosity and coats.  At the main 16mm stripper there is over five coats of "thin" and at the tip three coats of water thick epoxy.  I signed the rod in a basic white ink.

I used a mutation guide profile with the static placement set at 3/4 pull.  So it's geared more towards mild profile lines or shooting style heads in the 35-45' range.  The guide placement will show linear characteristics on mid weight fish to slightly bigger, and you will see the line not following the arc of the rod on LARGE fish.  This is not uncommon and depends on where the builder sets the static placement on day one of the build.

One note about the guides.  Frequently guys have bitched that recoil snakes are loud.  They can be dependent on the fly line used.  This can be negated with something like slick shooter line dressing.  This also will help with some of the gummy worm intermediate lines."

Did you read all of that?  This is not an uncommon experience when dealing with a small shop artisan and it's been really neat to see several rod builders emerge over the last several years that are doing unbelievable work and providing customer service that you likely will not get when picking up a factory made fly rod off the shelf.

To check out more of Zeb's work please visit the Snowman Custom Rod Works website and follow along on the Facebook and Instagram pages as well.


Unknown said...

Wow. That's a gorgeous rod. I'd almost be afraid to fish it. Almost :)

I hope it's not offered in an 8' 7wt or my bank account might get significantly emptier.

gfen said...

Oh, wow. There really was one more blue. Well, continuing the vein of Spinal Tap references, this blue goes to 11.

Cameron Mortenson said... just might have to demo the Epic 686. It's likely just what you are looking for even if it's a six weight. I'm tossing big meat with mine. 11 indeed.

Unknown said...

Your final link to their website doesn't work. You need to add the "www." in front of the link until they fix their DNS. They're probably missing a lot of traffic until you correct that.