Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Scaly Designs - Custom Fly Rod Tubes

It was a month or so ago that I received an email from John Noble of Scaly Designs and that first email sparked an exchange back and forth along with a couple phone calls regarding the unique hand painted fly rod tubes that he was creating in his Oregon work shop.

I asked John if he would mind taking photographs of the process of creating a custom fly rod tube from start to finish as each custom fly rod tube can take upwards of five hours to complete and I always like to see what goes into making something handmade.

The German Brown trout fly rod tube certainly highlights his excellent work as it is a mix of colors, spots, and each custom fly rod tube is just a little bit different from the last.

Enjoy this step by step and click on the images to view in a larger format.

The creation of these fly rod tubes involve quite a bit of work and I start with sanding the tube using 320 grit sand paper.  I like to sand it first so that I can see the fingerprints left on the tube.  Human oils from fingers will completely ruin a tube and sanding creates a surface that allows the paint to adhere to.

Next I tape off the ends of the rod tube.

With the ends taped, I then wipe down the rod tube with a paint prep cleaner.

I then spray the entire tube with a flat white primer.  Different finishes require different primer base coat colors but I use white for the German Brown trout as a base coat.

The primer is left to set up on the tube overnight on a heater.

I now start placing the netting for scales.  The netting must be tight around the tube for the scales to be uniform and correct.

The netting is properly clipped off and I am now ready to start painting.

With everything prepped and ready to go, I can now start airbrushing.  I start with the German Brown trout back with a copper metallic base coat and then add a green concentrate to the copper to "stain" it a greenish tint.

As as side note, I mix everything in the airbrush so every tube I have ever painted will never be exactly the same.  Each fly rod tube are a one of a kind original.

With several coats of airbrushed paint on the rod tube, you can certainly see the copper changing to green.

The German Brown trout "back" or "top" is completely green now.

I start the rod tubes sides using a Spanish gold pearl.  This step requires patience as it is hard to completely cover the white with the gold and it usually takes three or four coats applied to get the color right.

With the sides complete with correct coloring, I usually let it sit for one beer consumption before I remove the netting.

With the netting removed, you can really see the "scales" now.

The German Brown trout "belly" is still white, so I then spray it with three to four coasts of Spanish gold.

Now the belly is now colored just right.

Next, I use a gold concentrate on the entire tube to really make it bright.  I usually go over the whole fly rod tube several times to achieve the right effect.

I then "dust" the ends with an orange concentrate to get that orange belly you see on some pretty German Brown trout.

Now with the all the base coats done, I can start airbrushing the silver highlights of what will be the black spots.  I use an incredibly expensive pearl white paint for this step.

With the silver highlights complete, I now apply the black dots.  I use a pin striping paint and apply all the dots with (believe it or not) a Q-tip.  This step is a time consuming pain in the ass!  But by using the striping paint instead of the airbrush it gives it a cool texture that you can feel with your hands.

Once all the spots are complete, I let the completed German Brown trout rod tube sit for 24-48 hours to complete dry and then apply three or four coats of automotive clear coat to protect the work that I have done. 

There, a completed German Brown trout rod tube that has been all done by hand and paints.

To see more of John's exceptional custom fly rod tube work, visit the Scaly Designs website.

If you have questions, or an idea for a fly rod tube of your own, email John at scalydesigns@gmail.com.

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