The story...

 

A close friend,  J.Britt (Floatman), has been discretely hinting over the past 6-8 months about needing a custom built float rod.  He and I have fished for steel and small trout throughout Ohio, PA, and parts of NY for years now. His quiet on-stream persona (much like a wise Indian Chief) is the perfect compliment to mine (the court's jester) and when the timing is right, he's quick to bust chops with the best of them. Over the 100's of fishing expeditions we've shared, a strong friendship has formed.  As a "thank you" and a "big surprise",  I made it my mission to build him something truly unique. His birthday just passed and I'm hoping that he's remained clueless about the rod I've been busy crafting.  Floatman has taken to centre-pin float fishing quite well.  I guess this makes sense considering it wasn't that much of a jump as he's been fishing with a long rod, spinning reel, and a box full of misc. floats in search of salmon and steel for nearly 30 years now!

 

I came up with a plan, totally under the radar, that involved Jim  borrowing my spare 13'6" 3pc. Raven OEM steelhead rod.  I figured this would permit him to become familiar with the longer length of a true float rod and discover what his likes and dislikes were by using the Raven factory model.  Every now and then, I would ask his opinion about the performance, the grip comfort, reel seat position, etc... making mental notes in preparation of a build profile.  I assembled all his comments and formulated a build plan.  The finished product is below for your review. 

 

Build Specifications:

Blank:  Raven IM8, 14', 3 piece, 4-10Lb. Steelhead Float Rod

Reelseat:  American Tackle AW12B-BG, Black Woven Graphite, Windowed Fly Reel Seat

Guides:  Fuji YSG, Concept SiC Spinning Guides, Gunsmoke Finish Frame, S-4 Stainless Steel, Oversized

Guide Wraps:  Black Main Threadwraps, Tan Accent Banding Mimicking the Cork Banding Motif

Ferrule Wraps:  Invisi-wraps  Nylon Thread, No CP, Same Color as Blank

Winding Check:  American Tackle, Aluminum, Knurled, Shiny Gunsmoke

Hookkeeper:  Large Black Anodized Fuji Folding Style

Decals:  Deb Brown, Decal Connection/Southern Graphix, Waterslide Application

Cork:  Custom Turned Involving Exotic Burl Blocks, Natural Cork Trim bands, and Rubberized Rings

F.Butt:  Custom Turned Black Walnut with Rubberized Cork End Cap, Teak Oil Stain/Sealer

 

The Photos:
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build Review:

 

This build went quite well. Ordering and assembling the components and preparing the cork well in advance allowed me to progress at a smooth and relaxed pace.  The use of the exotic, burnt burl, cork "blocks" made for an easier handle creation.  The grain pattern of these blocks is very attractive because of the continuous material..  More so than the broken patterns inherent when individual rings are assembled into one unit.   I certainly believe that I will use them more often when given the opportunity.  The quantity of black exotic burl cork was also new for my builds.  The shape of the grip and the fighting butt was a bit of a departure from the norm.  I am, however, quite happy with their appearance on the finished product.  I could have gone more "flashy" with elaborate thread wraps, weaves, and maybe a feather inlay or two, but when considering the preferences of the recipient, I knew that wouldn't be the best fit.  Using the " invisi-wraps" on the ferrule was a good design idea.  With the rod assembled, the guide spacing is retained without uneven visual pattern breakups at the points of connection.  Sticking with the metallic chrome trim banding in the decal area meshed the silver decal font color and the shiny gun smoke finish of the winding check well.

 

I'm very happy with this build.  My hopes are that Jim will enjoy this rod for years in his unending pursuit of steelhead.  Maybe he'll even let me use it on occasion?! 

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