• Published:November 13, 2017
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Custom fishing rods provide numerous benefits.

While manufacturers offer a wide variety of rods in a range of actions, sizes and configurations, a custom rod can be designed for specific techniques by making slight adjustments to blank length, taper and action. Handcrafted rods also provide a blank canvas to create truly impressive works of art.
Decorative rod wraps take years to master, but basic rod-building requires only a few items and the digital age has made it easier than ever to find the information and components needed. While a quick Google search will provide you with an excessive amount of information, several companies provide a source of plans and all of the rod-building components you need to start up your own custom rod building hobby.   

Many custom rods feature thread art created by over and under wrapping different colors of thread to form a unique diamond pattern. A traditional diamond wrap creates an X pattern that encircles the entire blank, but slightly altering the sequence, direction and number of threads allows the design to take on countless variations.

For this particular project the customer requested a snowflake weave, which incorporates overlapping Xs with adjacent squares. After mounting the desired rod blank onto a lathe, the diameter you must determine the distance of the pattern spacing. This is a very important step because without consistent spacing, the final design will not be uniform. You must also take into consideration the blank’s diameter and the precise points of intersection for crossing threads. Many rod builders use mathematical formulas that factor in both the taper of the blank and precise spacing of the pattern.


A base layer of black thread is first wrapped around the rod blank. From here the exact points of intersection are noted with a marker. Next, a piece of masking tape is wrapped around the blank just ahead of the black base wrap. The masking tape is used to secure the individual threads along the blank. When selecting thread, it’s important to choose colorfast thread so the colors won’t fade. With standard nylon thread you must apply a color preserver at the conclusion of the project. Colorfast thread eliminates that step.

Once the colors have been selected, you can begin the intricate wrapping process. This is tedious work that requires attention to detail. This snowflake weave pattern is created by using two sets of silver and purple threads that spiral up and down the blank in sequential order and opposing directions. The process starts by securing the silver thread under the masking tape and then the two threads of silver are wrapped up and down the blank twice. This creates a cross pattern. Next, follow the same sequence with two purple threads on both sides of the silver Xs, which creates the box pattern. From here, the process basically expands the X in the middle and the box pattern on the outside by placing alternating colors on the inside and outside of each color thread. If the process sounds complicated, it’s because it is!

Throughout the sequence of wraps it’s important to pause in between colors to tighten and perfectly align the threads before moving on to the next step. Continue with the purple thread, wrapping it tight to both sides of the silver pattern. Then go back to the silver thread and wrap tight to the purple X.
"Throughout the sequence of wraps it's important to pause in between colors to tighten and perfectly align the threads before moving on to the next step."
-- Capt. Steve Dougherty
With the color sequence finalized, black thread is wrapped over the design to separate the snowflake weave and give it greater definition. It is now time to clean up the tag ends of thread extending beyond the finished pattern. This is accomplished by wrapping a half-inch wide swath of black thread over the colored wraps to lock all of the thread in place. Finish off the snowflakes by continuing to wrap black thread over the remaining tags for a clean finish.

Intricate and extensive wraps take years to master. If you’re just getting into rod wrapping the complicated process can be confusing at first, but with practice and time spent reading literature and watching tutorials on the topic you’ll soon have a new favorite hobby. If you don’t have the time or skills needed to create a custom rod, there are many talented rod builders throughout that are more than happy to do the work for you.