Friday, October 21, 2011


After last spring's successful Casting for Recovery auction for one of my fly rods, I was asked to consider donating another rod. Of course, the answer was yes.  How can you say no to such a worthy cause.
The process started last summer when I was sorting some of the special feature woods I use in my grips. I wanted this rod to be as nice or better than the one I made for the spring auction, so the wood for the grip had to be very, very special. I sorted some of my best burls and found I had quite a choice. Some of the burl pieces are are shown below. 

I choose a piece of Amboyna burl (the most beautiful and expensive burl wood in the world) which was 1/2 sapwood and 1/2 heartwood with the interface running length-wise on the grip. This piece was not only bi-colored but had very small, dense eyes in both the sap and heart wood. 

I did not have any pink wood but I did have some purple heart which I chose as the accessory wood knowing it would go well with CFR theme. I also selected horn and Ivory to go with this beautiful wood. The pieces were cut to appropriate size and prepared for assembly.

The center of the mid piece was bored to 3/4" and cork lined to reduce the weight of the wood. The fore piece of the grip was bored to 5/8" half way through and lined with cork. The butt section would later be hollowed to receive the recessed reel seat. The pieces were center drilled and assembled. 

The grip was shaped on the lathe to a 6 3/4" western style (reverse half wells) and reel seat insert to fit, nickel silver reel seat hardware.

The four views, below, show the beauty of the Amboyna burl used in this grip and reel seat. 

  Now, how am I going to decide which view goes on the top part of the rod???

To me it is the eyes which make Amboyna burl so special as well as the swirls and twirls seen in the wood. So it boiled down to sap wood or heart wood. As I turned the piece on the lathe I noticed a small drying check in the sap wood, it was stabilized but was still visible (see 3rd photo of the 4 above) so the heart wood became the top(see top photo of the 4 above).

Now to chose a blank for this rod. I decided on a Five Rivers Signature V 9'6" five weight. This is a medium fast action rod, very light and sensitive, for those delicate small fly presentations yet can develop high line speeds to punch through those afternoon winds. The extra 6" makes for easier mending to get those longer drag free drifts. Its medium fast action make for easy relaxed all day casting.

The components to complete the rod were a fuji ceramic tip top (1/2 the weight of a standard chrome tip top) followed by six #1 fine wire snake guides then two # 2 fine wire snakes, one #3 and one #4 standard snake guides and a Fuji # 12 ceramic insert stripping guide. All in chrome finish. These components maximize the rods performance.

Gudebrod maroon and metallic silver were the threads chosen for the wraps. A silver two thread band is centered on each guide foot.

 The ferrule and but wraps include a silver five wrap spiral (because it's a 5wt.) sandwiched between two 3 thread silver bands.

 A multilayered layered feather inlay featuring an amherst pheasant collar feather and red rump feather, a peacock pheasant eye feather and 5 (because it's a 5 wt.) jungle cock eyes, was placed just above the grip. (Fore more detail see post: Casting For Recovery Rod  Mar.  2011)

Just finishing he feather inlay with the top 2 sections on the dryer.

All my rods have a lot of "MOJO" built into them but for a little extra, a pink ribbon was added to the reel seat before the butt cap was attached.

Here it is finished and ready to fish.

Click HERE for auction site
Posted by Harper Fly Rods - Dennis at 10/21/2011 8:11 PM

Thursday, June 2, 2011


After over ten years and about 2 hundred fly rods I'm  finally putting my old wrapping stand out to pasture. It did everything I ask it to do but was not very attractive. Some pressboard covered with wood grain vinyl. A velcro strap to hold the blank and 2 thread tension devices (both the same). Very utilitarian but not a thing of beauty.

It is being replaced by a home made one, constructed of Afzelia burl which has some modifications from its predecessor.  Two types of thread tension devices,  one which acts on the thread, the other which acts on the spool (much better for silk tread). The blank is held by elastic bands rather than the velcro, brass post are more optimally located for better thread angles and it is 3" longer. 

This is what customization is all about. Improving the functionality of an item  and making it a one of a kind thing of beauty. I don't know if the rods I wrap on the new stand will be any better than those with the old wrapper, but so far I've enjoyed working on the new wrapper much, much more than the old one.

It's like fishing with an off the rack cookie cutter rod vs. a custom rod. 


A special thanks to Mike for his help.

Posted by Harper Fly Rods - Dennis at 6/2/2011 6:07 PM

Friday, March 11, 2011


This past Feb. while I was working the Trout Unlimited booth at the Pasadena Fly-fishing show (2010), I had a chance to meet and chat with the wonderful ladies from Casting for Recovery. I knew of their mission previously and took the opportunity to learn more. I was so impressed with their work that I offered my help with their fund raising. They have contacted me and asked if I would be willing to donate one of my custom rods for their Spring 2011 on-line auction. I was honored and of course, accepted their request. 
I want to make a rod that will generate lots of interest and raise as much money as possible. For the blank, I chose a Five Rivers Signature V nine foot, four piece, 4 weight. This is the 4 weight rod I fish and I don’t think any other 4 wts. compare to it. 
Once the blank was selected, I had to think about components. As with all my rods, performance is the primary concern. For a tip–top I decided on a Fuji CFAT size 6. The ceramic insert gives better line flow and saves almost 0.2 grams compared to a standard chrome tip-top. A size 12“N” style stripping guide with silicon carbide insert followed by a #3, #2 light, #1 light, and six #1/0 light chrome snakes make up the guide set.  The selection of these components saved about a gram and a half of weight compared to std. wt. guides and std. loop tip-top thus maximizing performance in sensitivity and ability to deliver tighter loops and greater line speed. 
After selecting these components to make this a fantastic performing rod, my task is to make this rod into a ‘one of a kind’, thing of beauty. I remembered a piece of afzelia burl with some spalted sap wood and gorgeous eyes that I had set aside to use as a featured wood in a very “special” grip. What could be more special than a rod for Casting for Recovery?   This afzelia sap wood was combined with amboyna burl, buffalo horn and ivory to make the grip and reel seat.

 The grip was glued on the blank and after several days of consideration, I have selected thread colors of medium brown and metallic gold for the wraps

More to come as the build of this beautiful rod continues.

I had all the components assembled Fri. so decided to build the rod this weekend. Fri. night the guide placement was determined and marked on the rod and the spine was found for each section. I took the time to do the guide foot prep and glue on the tip-top. Got up Sat morn. Had my coffee, read the news and was ready to wrap. I decided on a 2 wrap gold inlay in the center of each guide foot wrap 

The ferrule wrap and butt wrap design would have a 4 wrap spiral (because this is a 4 wt rod) located between two 3 thread bands of gold thread.

Watched some great basketball and got all the thread work done by late afternoon. Then it was time to think about the feather inlay.
I have to think about the design for a while. 
About 9:00 pm wandered back into my office looked at my thread work, did a little more burnishing, and had to plan the feather inlay. Got the feathers out to study again. A pattern began to develop which involved feathers from the Amherst pheasant, Peacock pheasant, and of course the Jungle Cock.

The feathers selected were Peacock Pheasant eye, Jungle cock flank feather, Amherst Pheasant neck hackle feather and rump feather and 4(because it’s a 4 wt) jungle cock eyes. It was now about 11:00 pm and decided to go to bed because the next step would take about 4 hours.  
 Got up Sun morn, had my coffee, read the news, checked my e-mail, watched Meet the Press, and started the inlay.

First the Jungle cock flank feather was applied to the blank and allowed dry.

Then the Amherst neck hackle feather was applied and allowed to dry.
Then the Amherst rump feather was applied and allowed to dry.
 Then the Peacock Pheasant eye was applied and allowed to dry.

The first set of jungle cock eyes were applied and allowed to dry

And finally the last set of jungle cock eyes were added.
I completed the inlay and got to watch Duke and Ohio St. win their conference tournaments and the NCCA tournament brackets announced. Now all have to add are couple coats of CP to the entire inlay allow it to dry over night, apply thread finish and attach the reel seat. 
2 coats of flex coat lite were applied to the guide and ferrule wraps.

And to the feather inlay.

 The reel seat was then glued on.  
All my rods have quite a bit of "MOJO" built into them but again I wanted to add a little extra to this rod so before the butt cap was glued on a mini pink ribbon was inserted into the base of the rod.

Attach the butt cap and the rod is ready to fish.

Here it is, the finished rod with rod sock and rod tube. You could be the owner of this high performance one of a kind, beautiful fly rod and at the same time help with the the fantastic work being done by Casting for Recovery. Please bid generously during the Spring 2011 on line AUCTION held May 2 thru May 13. 
For more pictures of the finished rod go to my web site, by clicking on the banner at the top of the page, then go to Gallery 6
To see how the grip was constructed, click on making the grip.
Posted by Harper Fly Rods - Dennis at 3/11/2011 2:01 PM |