Like most other options in custom rod building, rod drying systems come in various sizes, shapes, and speeds to satisfy their user's preferences. Whether you build rods for business or pleasure, the right rod drying system will make a huge difference in your next custom rod build.
The Purpose of Rod Dryer Systems
Although the rod dryer doesn't directly dry the epoxy, it does hold the rod in place while rotating it to ensure the epoxy can cure in an even coat. Epoxy has a tendency to dry with bumps or bulges, but the constant spin of the rod dryer allows the epoxy to settle and self-level around the rod in one unified coat.
The speed of the rod dryer doesn't affect the curing time, but factors like skill level, rod guides, and thread selection will weigh heavily on your ideal rod drying speed.
Rod Building Experience
Most would assume beginners in rod building should start with a slower rod drying speed, however, that isn't true in all cases. In fact, those new to rod building sometimes find that a faster drying speed facilitates a straight, smooth epoxy edge on their wraps.
For some, the quicker rotations make that straight edge epoxy much simpler since the speed reduces time spent holding your hand steady. On the other hand, a rod dryer that spins at a slower speed does give beginners more time to control their brush strokes.
When it comes to the speed of the rod drying system, there is no right or wrong. It simply comes down to your personal preference and what speed fits your specific needs.
If you are still debating rod drying speed, Mud Hole Custom Tackle sells more rod dryers each year than anyone in the industry and they offer a helpful perspective through statistics. Taking the sales of the CRB Rod Drying System into consideration, Mud Hole found they sell more 9 RPM dryers (slower speed) than 18 RPM dryers (faster speed).
This statistic does not infer which rod dryer is better, but rather suggests the most popular preference among rod builders. Keep this in mind when you continue shopping for the right rod drying system.
Choosing Rod Guides & Thread Wraps
In addition to skill level, rod guides and thread selection play an important role in deciding what speed rod dryer fits your preferences.
When you are wrapping small guides with a minimal area to cover with epoxy, a slower or faster speed could help your precision. A slow rod dryer permits more time to lay the epoxy that seals areas beneath the thread and guide foot.
But if you are wrapping big roller guides, which most often needs a double wrap, you have a greater surface area to cover and you'll need to brush epoxy under the thread-foot to seal it up.
In both cases, the goal is to be thorough and precise so the appropriate rod drying speed depends on your preference.
If you are still unsure, rod drying systems introduced variable speeds to satisfy those seeking slower speeds when applying a base coat and higher speeds for brushing straight edges during the final finish.
Some rod dryers even offer a clutch to allow you to stop the rod rotation while you apply epoxy, and then continue rotating the rod once you let go. Rod drying systems with a clutch, like this one from CRB, make performing those final touch ups easier than ever.
Whether you got into rod building as a hobby or as a business, productivity is important. The more rods you can complete in a set amount of time, the greater your overall productivity will become. This is where speed truly matters.
The more experienced rod builders often prefer very high speed rod dryers, some exceeding 100 RPM or 200 RPMs. These speeds are incredibly fast, usually requiring a more expensive device or even custom parts rigged up to a rod dryer.
For most businesses and avid rod builders, the 18 RPM rod dryer is the ideal speed.
Decorative & Repair Work
Rod dryers are a must to complete a custom rod, but they are also helpful when adding decoration or repairing a rod. For example, say you are adding decorative decals or repairing a damaged rod, both require an additional layer of finish.
Returning to the sales statistics from Mud Hole Custom Tackle, slower rod dryer speeds like 9 RPM are much more popular for decorative and repair work than the 18 RPM faster dryer speed.
So if you are applying some decals, resealing your epoxy, or repairing a guide wrap, the right rod drying system and speed will make your life easier and far more productive.
What to Remember
When it comes time to make the right choice for your rod dryer, do not be overwhelmed instead remember these 5 helpful hints:
1. In the general rod building community, speeds of 18 RPM or less are most common.
2. OEMs & more experienced rod builders often use higher speed rod dryers.
3. Your rod dryer choice might depend on the type of epoxy you use to finish a rod.
4. Guide types and desired fishing application may impact your rod dryer choice.
5. Experiment with various speeds for different circumstances until you identify your own preferences.