Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tom Pipic's Epic 480 Build

It's been awhile since I have shared a build from Tom Pipic of the Fiberglass Flyrodders forum, but his recent Swift Fly Fishing Epic 480 is really worth checking out.  His Hardy'esque reel seat which he fashioned from a sheet of brass, along with the other metal hardware on this build, really show off his talents as a custom fly rod builder.

Tom wrote...  "After reading some good things about the new Epic blanks, I ordered an amber colored 480 which is an 8' four weight in three pieces.  Shipping was quick and along with the blank I got a Swift rod sock and a long Swift decal.  The color of the blank wasn't exactly what I was expecting thanks to the variations in colors on computer screens but it's a nice subdued milky yellow.  I was expecting more along the lines of bourbon but it's definitely more in the yellow range.  The blank was flawless and straight and only the tip section had a detectable spine. 

I decided to build my own reel seat hardware from brass sheet, wire and tubing, similar to what I did on a couple of Kabuto blanks that I built out a couple years ago.  I'm thoroughly impressed with how well Hardy cork slide band reel seats work so I used a similar design on this rod.  There are a few reasons why the Hardy hardware works.  The slide band needs to be thin enough to be a little flexible so when engaging the band onto the foot, you can squeeze the sides a bit, slide it onto the foot and release and the spring tension holds the foot.  Their slide bands are wide and have a very pronounced internal taper also. I spent a fair amount of time shaping and sizing the rear foot pocket so it would be a snug fit while allowing the reel foot to fully fill the pocket and not allow side to side movement of the reel.  I'm happy with the way this seat turned out and it holds a variety of reels rock solid without marring the walnut spacer.  

 The grip shape and forward cork burl accent I copied from a photo of a Kagerow bamboo rod I saw a few years ago.  I used Pearsall's Gossamer amber color silk for the main wraps, Pearsall's java brown for the tipping, and a few small accents using YLI deep red silk.  Rather than Threadmaster epoxy that I usually use, I decided to use spar urethane gloss on this one.   I've only used spar on one other rod and now I remember why.   It really is quite a bit more time consuming than epoxy.   I put on seven coats and lightly sanded before the last one.  I like the way it turned out but it took a week rather than two 15 minute epoxy applications.  I used a mildrum 10mm stripper and Snake Brand bronze colored snake guides.  

I've only done a little lawn casting with the finished rod so far and it's quite a bit different than any other modern glass rod I've cast.  The blank diameter is thinner in the butt and midsection and I assume the wall thickness is somewhat thicker to compensate.  It should be extremely strong and durable.  The result is a rod that's medium fast, not progressive, the whole rod flexes when cast or wiggled.  The tip action is on the heavy side, but the rod still loads well at very short distance because it's more than just the tip that's loading. I wouldn't call the action parabolic though...maybe semi-parabolic.  The closest rod I can compare it to is the Wojnecki 8'2" five weight three piece that I owned for awhile.   I'll bet it roll casts very well.  I weighed this rod and found that it's a couple grams lighter than my Steffen 8' 3/4 weight three piece but the Epic has a bit more weight in the reel seat hardware than my Steffen which helps it balance better with a lighter reel.

Anyway, a fun project and I'm looking forward to introducing it to some fishy friends this next season. Thanks for looking!"

To see more of Tom Pipic's work, check out these T.F.M. posts from the past...


Top notch work and the narrative makes for a fun read as well to get a better idea of his method as a builder.

1 comment:

NorthNH603 said...

That build is amazing.