Finding the spine on a rod blank is really easy. Nearly all rod blanks are made by wrapping graphite and/or fiberglass around a mandrel. The wrapping process causes a slight deviation in the material which results in softer and stiffer sides to the rod blank—commonly referred to as the spine.
The spine basically determines which way the blank prefers to bend or flex. The best way to understand the spine is to think about your own backbone spine. Your body really only wants to bend in one direction—which is very similar to a rod blank. Every rod blank has a spine. Some are more defined and than others. Using a Spine Finder will help pinpoint the exact location on your rod blank.
Finding The Rod Spine:
—Wrap masking tape around the middle of the rod blank. This is where you will mark which side of the rod blank the spine is on.
—Support the rod near the top with an open palm so that the section of the rod blank is resting at roughly a 30-degree angle.
Incredibly important to the fishing rod's final performance, mounting the reel seat is an easy process when you follow the instructions provided below.
The Reel Seat's Purpose
Securing the reel to the rod blank, the reel seat is an integral part in the ultimate performance of your custom fishing rod.
Reel seats brace the reel to the blank, usually using either locking metal rings or sliding bands. These bracing mechanisms tighten down over the reel foot to fasten it in place.
Often, reel seats have a larger inside diameter than the outside diameter of the fishing rod blank itself. Considering you will need to build up the blank to securely fit the reel seat, we will need to add an arbor.
Although it is a simple concept and construction, reel seat arbors serve a very important role in rod building. Arbors work by building up material around the rod blank so that the reel seat is centered accurately. In addition to centering the reel seat, arbors bolster the reel seat's bond to the rod blank by displacing the empty space between the inside diameter of the reel seat and the outside diameter of the rod blank.
In the world of rod building, there are as many arbor opinions as there are arbor materials. From masking tape and dry wall mesh tape to pre-made graphite, arbors can be made of many different materials, but the function is much more important than the material.
Making a masking tape arbor is the cheapest option, but it also works just as well as any other potential arbor material. Considering masking tape is readily available and works great as an arbor, we will consider it our default arbor material moving forward.
Make tape arbors easier than ever with CRB's 3-Roll Tape Dispenser.
Instructions To Build An Arbor
Starting roughly ½ an inch up from the rear grip, begin wrapping the masking tape around the rod blank.
Continue wrapping tape until the reel seat slides tightly over the arbor. Then, make another arbor about ½ an inch down from the top of the reel seat.
Once the reel seat slides over both arbors, remove the reel seat and add an equal sized arbor in between the previous two.
Steps To Install Reel Seat
With each arbor accurately completed to snugly fit the reel seat, apply epoxy glue thoroughly in-between and over the arbors.
Remember, you can always wipe off the extra glue with denatured alcohol, so don't be afraid to apply an ample amount of epoxy to ensure the strongest bond possible.
Next, slide the reel seat over the arbors. While sliding the reel seat over the arbors, turn it 360 degrees to make sure the glue completely adheres to both the reel seat and the rod blank.
Finally, double check that the reel seat hoods line up according to the spine mark. If it lines up, you're ready to mount your reel!
—Apply downward pressure to the rod blank as you roll the blank along a smooth surface.
—You will notice that the blank tends to pop or spring into a pronounced curve, and is difficult to role the blank out of that curve. You just found the spine of your rod blank.
—Now, mark the outside of that curve on the tape with a pen. We will refer to that side as the spine (or spine side).
—If you are building a multi-piece rod, repeat this process for all rod sections. Keep in mind the rod always wants to bend in that direction and has the most lifting power.
—If you are building a spinning rod, your rod guides will be located on the inside of the curve 180-degrees to the spine.
—If you are building a casting rod, your guides will be located on the outside of the curve on the spine.