Rudd test, the roll and the tail

Tuesday I got to see some water with actual fishs in it. It was cloudy, and rather windy with pretty decent gusts around 40kph. There were lots and lots of stuff growing on the banks of the pond, so the practical thing to do would have been to bring the 6wt.

But I’m not a practical man.

As you know, I’ve just built a tadpole. ‘So’, I thought, ‘today will be the day where it will become a proper rod’. Which means: where it will start to smell like fish. Casting a 5’10” 3wt glass rod among the bushes in the wind made up  for an interesting training session. It turns out it wasn’t as bad as I thought (even if sometimes it was just impossible to cope with the conditions, I had to resort to the old “light a smoke and let go” trick.) I lost flies to bushes, I tangled line, I filled a boot with water, but man, I fished, and I fished glass.


And I caught a handful of those lil’ guys, which I love because they are really into surface feeding and they won’t give you more than the blink of an eye before spitting the fly, so you need to put your nerves on overdrive.

But let’s talk casting now, I’ll go back to the tadpole in a later post.

I realized something interesting, castingwise. In the whole session, I tailed exactly once. As you may know, I had a serious tailing loops habit, and I really struggled to understand where it came from. And now the tails were gone (or at least quite fewer), and that was a bit of a surprise. Especially because last year I did not train that much. So I wondered where the progress came from. And what I found is refreshingly odd: indoors roll casting. You see, the only serious training I did with a rod since a long time was roll casting in my flat with the MPR. I suck at roll casting, and it’s not an option, so I concentrated on it (plus, you’re less prone to domestic disasters when roll casting at hoome than when you cast overhead, unless you’ve got a really big home.) Anyway, a couple thousand casts later, I have made some progress on this front. Apart from what I could call (probably inadequately, but Marc will hopefully correct me) anchor management, my problem with roll cast was power application. So I concentrated on late rotation and smooth acceleration.

The problem when you carry line in the air is that all the components of the cast must be dealt with more or less simultaneously: timing, power, casting arc, stop, etc…. You can simplify things with the PULD, but it’s with the roll cast that you can really focus on power application. Especially indoors, since you don’t have to deal with current. So, here’s my casting tip of the day: roll casting is good for tails. And here’s some fantastic footage with Carl McNeil explaining the roll, how to do it and why it’s important.

Tadpole (2): Cut&Pasting blanks

This post will deal with two things I experimented on the tadpole: blank extension and spigot ferrule creation.


So, you’ve heard everywhere about fiberglass, which is the next craze in our little fly world. Maybe you’re just a tackle freak, and you want to check it out because you’ve got to. Maybe you’re tired of putting a 7wt TT on your fast 5wt to ba able to use it (but you like fast, of course, who wants to like slow?) and you wonder if the ‘true glass feel’ will not give you a good story to tell to go back to something that matches your actual casting stroke. Maybe you just want to get a really short fly rod. Or you can’t afford much more, and you suspect you could get a nice rod for very little money.
Any of these reasons is valid, but the best ones to go the tadpole route are the need for a short rod that will tke some abuse, and the lack of funds. At 5′ and 13€ apiece, provided you’re not too fancy about the rest of the components, your ticket for the short glass world will not break the bank. Obviously, there’s very good opportunities on the second-hand market, but building your own rod is something else, and as the glass bug spreads prices tend to get a little out of hand.


Classic glass. Will cost you an eye.

So. You’ve got a handful of coins and want to have fun with the ten inches chubs in the stream back there, without fearing to have a go at those fat three pounders you see sometimes. Let’s say you’d prefer it not too short (closer to 6′) and in two pieces for transport.
Come here, I’ll show you how you do that.

First get two Batson SPG 601 blanks. You’ll need the second as an organ donor. A couple of inexpensive burl cork rings (10 is good), a simple aluminium reel seat, six fly guides (five #1, a #2), a garden variety size 12 insert guide for the stripper, a 4.5 tip and you’re set. If you insist you can add a winding check and a hook keeper. I did not.

Stickers you probably won't use on a tadpole

Stickers you probably won’t use on a tadpole

Now, follow those steps:

  1. Sand gently blank #1 to remove the paint.
  2. Find and mark the spine on blank #2. Measure its inner diameter (ID) at the butt.
  3. Find the point on blank #1 with a matching outer diameter (OD). Mark the blank 3″ (7.5cm) above this point (ie towards the tip). Cut there, using a metal saw or a dremel, or maybe more refined techniques if you feel fancy. It’s better to put masking tape where you will cut, to avoid splints. Sand smooth the cut’s edges. The butt part of blank #1 is your extension.
  4. Test fit the extension into blank #2’s butt. The whole extended blank should measure approximately 5’10 (178cm). Mark on the extension where it goes out of blank #2. You will build the handle on the extension, and you don’t want it to go past the point where it enters into blank #2.
  5. Tape the ferrule (ie blank #2’s last inch) and put the whole extended blank under load. Observe the curve, and ask yourself where you want to put the spigot. It will create a hard spot, so you want to get it as low on the butt as you can, without sacrificing too much of the rod’s portability. I found that a 33″ butt, including the spigot, is a reasonable balance.

    Slight but noticeable hard spot

    Slight but noticeable hard spot

  6. Measure 40″ (101,6cm) from the tip on blank #2. Tape the blank, cut and smooth the edge on both parts.
  7. Measure the ID of blank #2’s tip. Find the point on blank #1 with a matching OD. Mark the blank 3″ (7.5cm) above this point. Cut there, and sand the edge. The part below the cut will be the spigot.
  8. Test fit the spigot into the tip of blank #2. Mark the point where the spigot goes out of the tip (call it A). Mark a point one inch below this point (call it B). This is where the spigot should go out of the blank’s butt. Mark a point 3″ below this point. Cut there, sand the edge. The piece of blank is your spigot. The one inch between A and B will show, and preserve a tight fit as the spigot wears down along the years.

    Mister spigot doing its job

    Mister spigot doing its job

  9. We now strengthen the spigot by double walling it. Insert the remaining tip of blank #1 into the spigot, and trim the excess. Epoxy the slim spigot into the larger one. Let cure for a couple of hours. You can even triple wall it if you’re into that sort of things.
  10. We need to shape the spigot so that it will sit exactly where it should into blank #2’s butt. Insert the spigot in the butt, and check where it comes out. Typically, the B point (from step 8) is not visible. Very slowly and carefully, sand all around the spigot’s lower part. Check often to see whether the B point is now visible. When B appears, stop sanding and epoxy the spigot into blank #2’s butt. Let cure.


    You can see there the marks on the spigot: emerging points from butt and from tip

  11. Meanwhile, you can epoxy your grip onto the extension. You may want to stop the grip right where the extension enters the blank. Or — as I did — you may want to let this point visible, to get a kind of ferruled look which I like a lot. This is pure cosmetics, it’s up to your tastes.grip5
  12. Once the grip is cured, epoxy the extension into blank #2’s butt. Make sure the reel seat is where you want it to be with respect to the butt’s spine. Let cure.
  13. You’re ready to wrap that thing and finish it.

Next time, the vented grip, guides specification and Common Cents.

Un jour, ma cabane

What can be said of the cigarette smokes
A prop for a joke or a mark on the clock
If I stopped would the bus ever come […]

Sleeping under a boat

Sleeping under a boat

I’m reaching the age when decisions are made
On life and living and I’m sure last ditch
That’ll I’ll ask for more time
But mother forgive me
I’ll still want a bottle of good Irish whiskey and a bundle of smokes in my grave.

Thanks for that, Goulven. You’re da man.


Ros knew very well that streetfishing was not only a matter of fashion statements, even if the way you look does matter when you fish in Camden. In this particular occasion, the fish — a good mackerel — was in the sewage system and getting anywhere near the open hole would have certainly spooked the hell out of the fish. So it was quite literally a matter of putting her fly on a dining plate at 15 yards.


After the brilliant catch, Ros congratulated herself on two accounts: first, her fishing outfit was a perfect match for the beautiful colors of the fish; second, she had been most inspired to book those lessons for accuracy casting.

‘Now’, she wondered, ‘maybe that 12′ 10wt is indeed a tad too much for mackerel. I should get one of those little Ritz rods, maybe I could get one with a grip matching my bag…’

Tadpole (1)

My rod building bench finally got to see some action lately. I had four ongoing projects, some of which I may have written a little about before.

The g0ne cave, displaying evidence of rodbuilditis episodes.

The g0ne cave, displaying evidence of rodbuilditis episodes.

First project is a broomstick, a brutally fast rod for messing with pike, and maybe someday less reasonably powerful critters, the kind one finds in the salt. This rod is complete now, but I still need to test it, so I’ll get back to it later. Plus, I’ve been wanting to try to cast with a really rigid rod for a long time. I think it will be an eye opener from the casting point of view.

I also wanted to do an all-glossy-black theme on my first 5wt ever. The hard part is done (finding suitable elements, especially a black grip). Now I need to find time for the slightly boring part: measuring, wrapping the guides and applying finish on the wraps.

The third project is only complete in my head but I haven’t even bought all the components yet. It will be a 486 on Eric’s ANR blanks, the best 4wt I have tried so far. On this one, I go for light, so it will be very minimal, skeleton reel seat with cork spacer, short grip, light wire guides.

My ingenuous notion of a tadpole, prior to this project

My ingenuous notion of a tadpole, prior to this project

But the topic of today’s post is very different. It’s a tadpole. Tadpole is a nickname for flyrods build around Batson’s fiberglass spinning blanks. As you may have noticed, glass is all over the place again in the fly fishing world, and there’s a couple of reasons for that: some are good (like its ability to withstand plenty of abuse, sometimes the price), some are hard to assess (like the beauty of brightly colored or translucent blanks, or the famous glass feel) and the rest is pure marketing BS, a commodity I doubt we’ll soon be lacking of. Tadpoles’ success is mainly due to their price: they’re a cheapskate’s delight. You can get a blank in France (from Rodhouse on special order) for a meager €13,42, which means that provided it’s not your first build and you’re willing to go blue collar enough on components, you can get yourself a rod for around €50. If you’re into rodbuilding, and have spare components, it will cost you less. I don’t think you can do much better for a new rod.

So I cunningly thought: since I don’t really really need a short lightweight rod (I’ve got my Belle (yeah, I know it’s a little lame to name rods (but I don’t give a flying F))) and since I can build one of those for really cheap, let’s invent an excuse: the tadpole will serve an empirical agenda. I may not need the rod, but I want the experience, so let us make it full of novelties. Namely: a vented grip, and major blank surgery (extension and ferrule creation). That’s what I did, all went well. Here’s the plan for (very near) future posts:

  1. On how to create a spigot ferrule
  2. On how to make a vented grip
  3. Tadpole tests