Friday, June 5, 2015

A Fly Rod Called "Wanderlust"

Somehow the email from Richard Frank was more or less lost in an email folder that I came across this morning and wanted to share his story of putting together, along with putting to work, his Swift Fly Fishing Epic 480 dubbed "Wanderlust".

The Epic 480 one of the perfect four weights in glass and taking it around New Zealand sounds like the best way to break it in.

Richard wrote...  "Epic was a favorite not just because they are true New Zealand designed and made blanks, but also because it's glass with guts made for the big fish we have here.  Being a temporary resident in the country I was extremely restricted in terms of equipment but I refused that to stop me from turning my own grip and get a finish as neat as possible.  I wanted to come up with a build that gets it's elegance from simplicity, in the vein of the fantastic work of Tightloop Fly Rods or Fine Tackle.  

So the olive Epic 480 blank was paired with an adjusted birch bark grip (no winding check) and reel seat insert, nickel silver REC reel seat, silver single foot guides, old school stripping guide and color preserved olive silk wraps with olive peacock quill trimmings.  

Just like on a fly the quill brings an unmistakeable touch of class and delicacy.  I was taking a chance there and to be honest I am stoked about the result. 

The grip was turned on a DIY lathe made of the cheapest drill I could find and a broken commercial apple peeler recycled from work!  It worked a treat and even though the quality of the bark that I received was pretty disappointing, I am pleased with the result. 

The trimmings are made of peacock quills I dyed and stripped at home, laid on the silk wraps after they had been color preserved and had a first coat of epoxy, before adding the final coat over the quill; pretty simple in fact. 

 I wish i had managed to crack the secret of George Minculete, of Tightloops Fly Rods, semi transparent wraps and that I could have gotten my hands on an arched Mildrum stripping guide but eh, we'll call that room for improvement on the next build. 

Due to delays in getting the materials and numerous tests with color preserver, I ended applying the last layer of epoxy the night before leaving Auckland but now I am on the road treating myself a last summer fishing full time around New Zealand and giving that rod the bend it deserves.  I'm totally in love with it: not only it makes me feel like I'm a good caster but it carries easily an incredible range of fly sizes.  It's easily the most enjoyable rod I've ever cast.  Not to mention the fact that the toughness of glass gives me total confidence for my week long hike and fish trips. 

Why "Wanderlust"? It's a word someone very special uses a lot when describing my lifestyle and personality so it became kind of obvious that my new favorite travel companion had to bear it. 

Final thought...  While the grip is getting that nice finish that only hard use can provide, the beautiful green blank already has a dent after a bad fall in a gorge that saw me half lying on the rod.  I am pretty sure a graphite would have died there but eh... GLASS IS NOT DEAD!"

I wonder where "Wanderlust" will go next?


Nick said...

That is awesome. I need to learn how to make my own stick.

michael clutter said...

Love me some MacGuyver lathe, brilliant!!

J Fitz said...

lovely work Frank