Having tested the rod with the guides temporarily taped in position, along with a heavy fibreglass extension for extra rod length, and been satisfied that everything is where it should be, we’ll now move forward with fixing the components permanently in place. Fishing rods are always built starting from the butt and working towards the tip.
I wanted a full 16 foot (4.9m) rod capable of casting up to 9 oz (255g) of lead. Surf rod blanks that fit these demanding criteria are just not made, or so I thought! The old Rangoon canes were the nearest thing to it, but the weight and inconvenience of a one-piece rod ruled these out for me.
I heard that Kilwell Sports had a limited number of what they called “9 oz surf rod blanks.” These monster graphite surf rod blanks were made by Kilwell at their factory in Rotorua and all the rods produced were exported overseas, notably to Hawaii where such powerful rods are ideally suited to fishing in the big powerful ocean swells. Hence the reason I had not seen one before.
The Kilwell 9 oz blank measures 13’6” in length, with a Fenwick type ”tip-over-butt” ferrule midway along the blank. The wall of the blank is surprisingly thick and heavy for a graphite surf rod. The butt section, in particular, is very stiff; almost to the point of not bending at all. The tip section is quite stiff also and reminds me of a 24kg ocean trolling rod blank!
I could see that the finished rod was going to be a very powerful beast. One of the best things about making up your own rods from scratch is that you can build them to suit yourself – no “off the rack” construction here.
As already mentioned I wanted a finished rod that would measure 16 feet in length (4.87m). I like a long rod. It makes for better distance casting and would, as a bonus, help to keep the line as high as possible above the breakers when the rod was placed in the beach spike.
I decided to obtain this extra length by extending the butt with a metre long aluminium tube. I purchased this for $11.00 from Wakefield Metals in Christchurch. It is important to tell them what you want the tube for so that you get a strong thick-walled length of tube that won’t bend under pressure.
After temporarily attaching guides, and reel seat, with insulation tape the rod was tested at the beach before construction continued. Partly to see if modifications would be needed, and partly because I couldn’t wait to try it out. The Kilwell 9 oz blank cast a heavy sinker extremely well. It does take a reasonable amount of strength and physical fitness to cast with a rod this long and heavy. However, you can lean into it with all your might with practically no chance of it breaking.
I decided to put the rod together for use with my Alvey reels. The Alvey is my preferred reel for surfcasting, and I just wouldn’t have been happy with anything else. An Alvey reel is heavier than a conventional fixed-spool but balances well on the big rod.
Anglers have often asked me about whether an Alvey reel is best suited to a faster or slower actioned rod? My answer is that it makes no difference at all! The ‘Kilwell 9 oz’ is a fast to medium action blank. It will cast a 6oz sinker – that I would use in calm conditions – an incredible distance. It will handle up to 9 ounces without difficulty.
There is no reason you couldn’t build the rod for use with a fixed spool (egg-beater) reel. It would just be a case of positioning the reel seat higher up the rod accordingly.
Fishing rods are always built from the butt to the tip. The first job is to glue the aluminium extension tube over the butt of the carbon fibre rod blank. I allowed almost 30cm of overlap. Be sure to purchase the correct size tube. You don’t want it to be a very tight fit as you need a millimetre or two for the epoxy glue.
I slightly roughened the inside of the aluminium tube, and the outside of the rod blank with a file for the epoxy to key better to the surfaces. You may need to wrap a band of masking tape at the top end of the alloy tube where the blank is slightly smaller in diameter to create a snug fit as you would when fitting a reel seat. This also acts to centre the blank within the aluminium tube. When you are happy with the fit and alinement you can go ahead and epoxy the aluminium tube to the blank with 24-hour epoxy.
You can check alinement by rolling the rod on a flat surface, and or sight along it from the butt end. You don’t want to have a slight bend at the join. Once glued set aside for at least 24 hours for the epoxy to harden up.
Next up, attaching the reel seat, glueing the beach spike on and wrapping the hand-grip material to the aluminium tube.
You need to find a length of hardwood such as hickory to use as a beach spike. This is glued inside the tube. l decided to use a plastic beach spike available from Kilwell Sports because l think it looks good and is simple to fit. Shape the wooden dowel so that it is a good tight fit. Cut a couple of grooves along the side of the ‘dowel’ for the excess epoxy glue to escape back into the tube.
Roughen the inside of the tube with a ﬁle to create a good ‘key’ for the glue. The ‘dowel’ should be glued at least 100 mm into the tube for strength.
The outside of the aluminium tube, where the reel seat will sit, should also be roughened with a file before glueing the graphite seat in place with 24-hour epoxy. If necessary you may have to build up the tube with a wrap or two of masking tape at close to each end to make the reel seat a snug fit and centred on the blank.
I decided to use rubber tape on the handle instead of Hypalon (synthetic rubber) because the outside diameter of the tube was 34 mm. Hypalon would have made the handle too thick. Also if Hypalon is stretched too far it tends to rip.
The rubber tape I’ve used instead is marked Stellar and is available from sports stores for application to tennis rackets and the like. It gives the rod an excellent soft, and yet ﬁrm grip in the hand. The tape won’t last as long as Hypalon but is easily replaced when necessary.
l found the self-adhesive tape very easy to apply. Cut it on an angle to start. Then each wrap overlaps the one before it by some 3 mm. Just pull the backing paper back as you wind the tape into place. The edges are tapered so you get a smooth neat finish.
I secured the end of the rubber tape by binding over the last inch or so with thread. This, in turn, is coated with a heavy coat of epoxy rod finish. If you wanted to save time you could just wrap insulation tape over the last inch or so to stop the rubber hand-grip tape from coming undone. But the thread and epoxy looks better and is more durable.
At the top end of the aluminium tube achieving a neat finishing is a bit more difficult. The tube is about 2mm thick. There is also a drop from the inside wall of the tube down another 2mm to the surface of the rod blank. I solved covering this gap by binding over the join with black insulation tape to pack it up. Then I bound over this with thread and coated it with a thick layer of epoxy.
If you really want your rod to have a professional looking finish it is essential that you use a rod turning cradle with a small electric motor to keep the rod revolving while the epoxy sets up.
In keeping with the quality of the rod blank, I wasn’t going to scrimp on the line guides. Poor quality cheap line guides are a waste of money. They either groove easily or the frames soon give way. I settled on Fuji BNHG aluminium oxide guides. These have a plastic shock absorber ring which helps to protect the centre aluminium oxide liner. They are hard wearing and tough. I’ve used this rod many times over the years and the guides are still intact.
To make the surfcasting rod a little bit easier to transport I have used a Fuji folding guide first up. This as an outside diameter of 50 mm. Upright this guide measures 100 mm. When folded down it is just 35 mm. It is placed 2.3 m up from the reel seat.
The remaining guides are spaced closer together as they work towards the tip. Spacing is determined by the action of your rod blank. I set them out roughly where I thought they should go and temporarily taped them on. You want to minimise any sharp angles where the line passes through the guides. I have used six guides in total plus the tip.
I under bound each guide complete with decorative contrasting in colour bands. I also bound a couple of decorative gold rings with matching thread near the top of the hand-grip. With all of the line guides in place, I applied a thick coating of epoxy over the thread holding the line guides in place. This creates a think rich glasslike lustre to the rod and greatly strengthens the guides and prevents them from working loose.
I must say the finished rod looks very pretty. Thanks mostly to the use of the epoxy and rod turning cradle, it is hard to tell from its appearance that it wasn’t purchased from a sports store!
The answer to that question is a definite yes! It was great fun to build and exciting to try out at the beach. Theories can be tested and adjustments made. When you build it yourself you can custom build to suit yourself. The bottom line is that it’s an excellent long distance surf casting rod for use in rough conditions!
List of components for construction of surf rod using Kilwell 9oz blank.
Kilwell 9 oz blank $199.00
Line guides: 50mm (folding) $19.00, 40mm : $16.00, 30mm : $6.50, 25mm : $5.00, 20mm : $4.50, 16mm $4.50, 5mm tip guide: $6.00.
Fiji reel seat (35mm) 1 $28.00
Alloy extension (1m) $11.00
Binding thread: $10.00 (more if you want different colours). Plus colour fixer if required.
Epoxy glue: $22.00
Epoxy rod finish enough for 10 rods: $40.00
Rubber handgrip tape: $30.00
Total approx. retail $399.50
This post was last modified on 17/05/2019 12:25 am
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