A reel seat arbor is pretty simple; it allows the reel seat to be centered on a fishing rod. Despite its simple job, buying a reel seat arbor can get much more confusing. With plenty of options and even more opinions, it is good to do your own research before making any arbor purchases.
The Arbor's Purpose—The reel seat arbor works by displacing the distance between the reel seat and the rod blank so that the reel seat is positioned at the centermost point of the rod blank. Considering the importance of the reel seat itself, its arbor is just as pivotal to the performance of your rod.
Deciding on the arbor material is an easy place to start. Depending on what material you select for your arbor, it can either center the reel seat and contribute partially as a load bearing structure, or just center the real seat.
Popular Arbor Materials—Graphite makes an extremely lightweight arbor, but it does not come pre-bored. This just means the center of the graphite will have to be bored out to ensure the appropriate fit on the rod blank. Graphite arbors are sold in small pieces or full length, and come in measured increments so the outside diameter (OD) of the arbor fits into the inside diameter (ID) of the reel seat.
Polyurethane is a semi-porous yet solid material. Since it is semi-porous, it allows for an extra strong bond as the epoxy cures into the polyurethane and onto the reel seat. Similar to graphite, Polyurethane will require you to bore out the center. Polyurethane can be purchased in full length assortments and is sold based on the OD of the arbor and the ID of the reel seat.
Masking Tape is readily available, and makes for a lightweight arbor that will last for years. Using a masking tape arbor is quick and easy, simply wrap the tape around itself on the blank, occasionally sliding the reel seat over the arbor to ensure a snug fit.
One helpful hint for a masking tape arbor is if your tape wraps more than 15 times around the blank, consider substituting a larger arbor material or switching to a smaller reel seat.
There are probably more custom rod builders that use masking tape to build their arbors than any other type of material. In fact, Mud Hole Custom Tackle actually teaches using masking tape in their rod building classes.
Mesh Drywall Tape is a porous tape that is great for offshore saltwater rods as well as other heavy fishing applications. Often sold in wide rolls, the width of the mesh drywall tape usually has to be trimmed down to the desired fit. Mesh drywall tape creates a great bond because its porous structure permits epoxy to seep through the tape, thoroughly bonding the blank to arbor and reel seat.
Deciding On Your Arbor Type—Deciding on an arbor material can be tough based on the sheer number of materials and opinions out there. So while researching for your next reel seat arbor, keep these popular materials and simple suggestions in mind to ease the confusion.
In the end, you really can't go wrong using masking tape for your arbors in most applications.