How to Build Fly Rod Handles

How to Build Fly Rod Handles
Fly anglers use specialized rods to delicately present small flies to a variety of freshwater and saltwater game fish. Building on their enjoyment and involvement with the sport, some anglers tie their own fishing flies or build fly rods. Assembling a fly rod involves the installation of various components, including the cork handle. A properly assembled and installed cork grip on a fly rod requires a few simple steps to achieve a professional-looking finish.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Cork rings
  • Round rattail file
  • Fly rod blank
  • Wax
  • Glue
  • Brush
  • Rubber bands
  • Sandpaper, medium to fine grit
  • Damp cloth
Step 1
Place 12 to 15 unfinished cork-rod handle rings on a work surface. Inspect the cork rings for holes or other damage and compare the rings to each other for uniform color.
Step 2
Hold a fly rod blank so the butt, or larger end, is easily accessible. Place one of the rings next to the butt end of the rod and compare the size of the hole in the cork ring to the diameter of the rod blank.
Step 3
Adjust the diameter of the hole in the cork ring to fit the fly rod blank with a small-diameter round rattail file. Insert the file into the hole in the cork ring and push the file back and forth through the hole to remove excess cork material. Compare the diameter of the hole to the rod blank often so too much cork material is not removed.
Step 4
Slide the cork ring forward onto the blank to the desired position. Position the first cork ring where you want the front of the handle to be located. Rub the blank with wax if necessary to help the cork slide into place.
Step 5
Repeat the filing process with the next cork ring to size it to the rod blank. Slide it onto the rod and down to the first ring. Apply a thin coat of craft glue to the side of the cork rings where they will contact each other. Use a thin coat of glue applied with a small hobby or craft brush. Push the rings tightly together.
Step 6
Assemble the cork rings until the handle is complete. The number of rings is based on personal preference and the desired overall length of the handle. Stretch several rubber bands from one end of the cork handle to the other to apply pressure and allow the glue to thoroughly dry for several hours.
Step 7
Determine the shape that you want the cork fly-rod handle to have. Gather ideas from other rods you may have on hand or from pictures. Begin sanding the cork with medium-grit sandpaper to obtain a rough shape. Work the sandpaper completely around the handle for a uniform shape.
Step 8
Switch to a fine-grit sandpaper once the rough shape is apparent. Continue shaping and smoothing the cork-grip handle until the final shape is achieved. Wipe the cork with a damp towel to remove excess dust.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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