Rainshadow REVOLUTION 9010-4 — The build

Long time no see, I guess. It’s good to be back.

So, I got the opportunity to lay my hands on a kit to build a Batson/Rainshadow rod for pike on the fly. That was a month ago, with just the perfect timing: ten days later, I was going to Ireland with Simon to explore the waters around Corofin, Co Clare, which I understand are haunted by some fat boys.

Me, holding the yard-long pike I totally failed to catch

Me, holding the yard-long pike I totally failed to catch (Dromore lake, Co Clare, Ireland).

Writing on Le Mouching with Jérôme Servonnat, I’ve learned a lot about pike on the fly. And in particular that fast rods are not what you want to wave around when there’s a foot-long streamer on the business end of the line. You need power in the butt because you’re going to shoot a lot of line, but you need a smooth delivery, or you’re going to wreck your arm after a day of fishing. Another valuable point is the grip configuration. It’s a good idea to have it long, so the fighting butt rests low on the forearm. It helps to get power on the backcast, and gives you stability when you fight the fish.

the build

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Nice walls.

When the kit got home, the first thing I noticed about the blank was its wall thickness. There’s a lot of carbon in there. My guess is that the Batson guys are primarily salmon fishermen, and that thing is designed to deal with serious chinooks. Just from gut feeling and a little wiggle test, I thought there’s no way a pike will push this stick to its limits. Which is cool: you fish with confidence, and fight them hard. And that makes the fight much more fun.

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What the scales says

The blank I received was quite straight, with a beautiful silky finish that’s pleasing to the eye and to the touch. It is on the heavy side, but then it’s designed for big fish. Batson advertise it at 71g (2.5 oz) and that’s exactly what my scales says. The wiggle test suggests lots of power and not much rebound (excellent!). I cannot wait to cast it.

For the layout, I went for single foot guides in sizes 4 4 4 4 5 5 6. I just don’t see the point of snakes. Then (concession to the Batson style) three insert guides (Alps XBMXNLG) in size 12 16 20. I think it’s huge, but I reasoned that maybe the guys at Batson’s know their jobs and it really works better. At any rate, given the kind of power in the lower half of the blank, a couple of extra grams won’t make much of a difference. And since I’ll be flying a Depthfinder Big Game 400gr I probably won’t notice much in action.

poignéeReel seat and cork grips are Alps products, and so is the fighting butt. This guy was too short for my taste, so I cut it in half, turned a cork ring to size, and glued back the butt with this extra cork in the middle.the result is a grip that works like intended. It looks a little like a switch rod, and I promised myself to try it with double handed speys sometimes.

The building process went without problem, except for the goddamn sticker. Stickers hate us. They secretly plot against our sanity. The thing is: you don’t want to touch the glue side, and you dont want to reposition the thing because of major risks of borders lifting while the finish is curing. Which translates as: almost without touching it, land that bastard straight at first shot. In plain English: a miracle. That’s why Batson generously gives you two of those, so you can totally screw up the first and have a chance to learn with the second. As I’m particularly gifted in such exercices, I think I could easily wreck ten of those before getting one right. So, after a first try and spectacular fail, I got the second and last to land flat, but askew, then decided that askew is the new straight and left it like that.

Who cares about straight?

Who cares about straight?

I went for an unassuming black on black look, bastard child of my less-is-more taste and the lack of time before my Ireland trip. But mainly, because it looks good. Wrapping a black thread on a black blank tends to be taxing on the eyes, and I would have suffered a lot if I hadn’t made the single best investment in my rodbuilding life: a big magnifying glass with lights on it. With this thing on my desk, I’m seeing things as never before. Are you half blind? Do you ever feel you’re goggling so hard at your wrap your eyeballs are about to pop out from your skull? Get the glass. You won’t be sorry.

from the desk of g0nefishin9

from the desk of g0nefishin9

black on black

black on black

A note about the reel seat. My kit included a RA801L2TR-B from Alps. The looks of the RA801 is less plain than the former RA8, which I deplore. I loved the extreme simplicity of the old design. Nevertheless, this one is clearly very good. Double nut, as it should, holds steadily any reel foot I tried on it (Sage 2210, Okuma Airframe, Loop Opti Speedrunner).

Stay tuned: next time, casting and fishing results.


measures (for the rod)

weight = 174g (6.14 oz)
weight (grip) = 122g (4.3 oz)
AA = 63°
IP = 2963 gr.
ERN = 9,55

AA=63°

AA=63°, mod-fast, in a good sense.

Grip (get one)

Playing with Eric’s rods woke up the rod building beast within (I still have to tell you about his 8’6 4wt, it’s a mass murder of a rod, I totally fell in love with it and now I have to build on this blank)… that is, after the two projects I have in standby since last fall: an all-black ninja 5wt cannon on a Quickline blank, and Red October, a spinning blank reconversion into a 10wt for pike (still in experimental alpha 1.0 stage, after an interesting failure with the MHX ST1023, I’ll get back to you with this).

Anyway, I was goofing around, asking myself what the grip of this lil’ beauty should look like. This fiberglass affair obviously put me into a traditional mood. So I was looking at what the bamboo guys are doing. And I found something quite interesting.

The master's hand

The master’s hand

Cris Carpenter is a boo maker, and I think he’s a good one (even if I know very little about bamboo). His rods are moderately priced (for cane, that is…) but really beautiful. I like his microferrules, and his keen eye for good looks.

carpenter bros ferrule IMG_0747

Blood wraps

carpenter bros rod IMG_0748

But what really caught my eye was this grip design. I’ve never seen a grip like this (and I’ve seen Gigs of rod pictures). It’s not much, not spectacular, but it’s all about a subtle correctness of proportions. I think it has this japanese sleekness that makes it an instant classic, at least assuming it feels confortable in hand. Since he keeps doing them and reading his blog I really sense he’s that kind of guy trying hard to do right, I’ll bet they do.

carpenter bros grip IMG_0747

It’s not that often you get to see something new in a fly rod handle. Thanks Cris for sharing! I’ll definitely turn one like that for the 486.

With a down locking reel seat, I’ll be like the full blown old schooler. Of sorts.

It does.

It does.

Goulven’s Belle

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that I’m trying to brainwash open my son to the wonderworld of fly fishing. He had some fine moments on the 6wt recently, so I decided this was the perfect excuse to actually do what I had planned for long: a 6’6 3wt. Here’sthe story.

A long ago I had built an ultra light spinning rod out of a fly blank I had bought for a tiny sum on the auction site. That was before the fly bug caught so badly on me that everything spinning I passed to my son as early inheritance.

AA=73, ERN=3,86

What made it special was the CCS measures, that’s why I bought it in the first place. Hey, ebay sellers, you’ll sound less cheesy with the no name blanks you call “fast” when you’ll start to CCS them. It’s fast and easy, and I bet you’ll sell more. At least it worked on me, and in passing let me thank Mr Roger Penrose who sold this to me. He’s quite a decent guy, and the only seller on the whole ebay honest enough to spill the numbers. The others are either CCS-illiterate, not willing to spend the 5 mins it takes to measure a blank, or happy with the marketing bullshit and willing to call fast any noodle they fancy.

A fly blank is never too fast when you want to make a spinning rod out of it. I wanted: 1. cheap 2. fast 3. light, and with this blank I had a triple check. Bought it. Built it. Fished it. So far, so good.

Then fly fishing happened. I always had in the back of my mind the notion that this little blank was too cool to let go, and that I just needed to build one as a proper 3wt. Except it didn’t show up any more on auction. So one day I got tired to wait and turned to the unsuspecting piece of carbon and said:

know what motherf#cker? Imma get medieval on your ass.

The result was like the process: ugly. It’s probably impossible to extract a clean painted blank out of this.

Ouch.

Plus, as the lazy bastard I am, I didn’t want to take everything out, paint, etc. and build from there. As it happens, I’m also very fond of the Tiger Eye color of this blank and wanted to keep it as much as I could. My main problem was that spinning grips and fly grips are not located at the same place on a blank, so the mess above would show for a good 10 cm above the new grip. The good news was: I know how to make a kind of Tiger Eye replica out of embroidery thread.

The rebuild went relatively well except for one part.

I used Batson light wire guides, and found them quite nice, and definitely light. After the build, the bare blank action was softened a little, but just the right amount to make it nice to cast, no back bounce, no heaviness. I don’t know how well they’ll age, since I do a lot of lawn and it’s known to be hard on the guides, but so far I’m enchanted.

For the grip, the idea was to make it small because 1. that’s what you do on a 3wt and 2. it will be my son’s training rod. I had a moment of doubt about proportions

Then I decided for the shorter, following my brain against my eye. After turning, I found the result quite pleasing.

Hardware is Batson’s U3SKC-SG with a rosewood insert, a classic I already used on my 6wt, nice and relatively cheap. I wrapped up the rod with Rust Polysheen I intended to use without CP, for a really nice blend in the blank’s color.

The only thing missing here is the long wrap in front of the grip. Doing it is trivial, but long finishes are a little tricky. Especially with Flex Coat. I did a first try, it ended up wavy, so I sanded it with 600 grit, then second coated it, but the result somehow turned an absolute mess. Just for fun I tried to add a third coat of Permagloss. You never know.

Well, now I know

I’m not necessarily adverse to let something ugly but full functional on a rod, that’s part of the TsC&C way. But the very point of that wrap was cosmetic, so ugliness here is a functional fault. I resolved to just get medieval again.

Aftermath²

I guessed I could just leave the ramp for a blend in the new finish. I went for a different approach. First a coat of Permagloss on the blank to get an even base. Then soak the thread with PG. It will get you rid of the bubbles without hassle, being much thinner that FC. Then 2 big fat coats of FC to get that glassy look epoxy finishes are all about.

Yup. Here we are.

And that completes the build of my kickass 6’6 3wt (say that with Weilenmann voice). Let’s proceed to rodporn:

The thing

Color match : check.

Cool translucency effects

I love the tiger eye finish. Stripper is Fuji LNAG 10.

Moar rod deliciousness and a clay fish.

Last thing was to give it a name. This one has a special dedication to my good friend and promoter par excellence of rod building in France, Rodhouse’s godfather and Grand Commandeur of the armed faction of the Briton Asceticism, namely his Lordship Goulven the First.

A well deserved name

I’ve tested the thing for an hour yesterday. Oh boy, it rocks. I had bought a Barrio GT140 3wt for it (they’re on sale, don’t let the idea that a distance 3wt is a stupid idea deter you, it’s a fucking fantastic line. £18!!). What a nuclear powered combo… Does 20m+ tight loops easy. Handles the wind. Does a roll cast. Is precise. Weights nothing. I just love it.

Mojo

So I was there, gluing the grip of my 4wt when it occurred to me that something should be done in order to sprinkle some magic on that wand. Being out of unicorn hairs, phoenix feathers and dragonheart fibers, I thought I may use the old tricks of 16th century witchcraft, with a drop of voodoo and a measure of Indian soteriology.

The original recipe I got from the Worried Shrimp (actually I am a little worried about this guy, a cool rod builder who stopped abruptly to post after suggesting that a former US president was possibly mentally deficient — not quite the the news, I know, but maybe he’s been Guantanamoed for that, or subjected to some other kind of brilliant patriotism-inspired lunacy).

Anyway. Lacking magical shrimps also, I thought I would ask to two of the significant ladies in my life to contribute some magical  fluid magnets I could incorporate to the rod. Ilham, my younger daughter, made this work of art:

Kawai. That’ s the word you are looking for.

Then I turned to the powers that be, i.e. my super fantastic wife, and asked her if she knew some kind of Indian prayer to the fishing gods. Unfortunately, the Jaïns she’s a specialist of are so vegan that in comparison, your usual macrobiotic carrot eater from SF looks like a drunk redneck eating a triple cheeseburger in a tub of bacon grease. Fat chance they’re going to undertake such endeavors as thrusting a hook through a fish’s lips. And if it weren’t enough, pray the gods to assist…

Being as resourceful as she is beautiful — she found a nice little sūtra for Brahmā about the unpleasantness of teaching to a recalcitrant pupil that will apply to many situation this rod will be involved in.

Hundreds of fishes, I will endure it. A nice prayer for a rod.

Then for good measure, better karma and overall glamour, she calligraphed it in devanāgarī. Being much pleased with my lucky charms, I proceeded to stuff my rod with them.

In goes the supernatural device.

Thoroughly glue the reel seat cap. and voilà, the voodoo machine is operational. Designed for optimal contact between the karma particles and the blank’s graphite, the resin of which is especially formulated in order to enhance mojo-inductance and magickal harmonics transfer, the WitchCraft Industries Juicy Wand 490 ™ is your ticket for unnaturally good fishing. Available in any decent flyshop on Diagon Alley, for 145 galleons, 12 sickles and a knut.

Now take that, Big Buck rods company. I match you for awesomeness any day, but for mojo wielding sticks? Ha!

Rod building, one; spending a thousand at the tackle store, zero.

Just waving and wiggling that rod to get a peek at its action, I sense massive amounts of fishing fluids flowing around. There’s some serious ass kicking on its way.

News from the bench

A sneak peek from my next build: a sweet sweet 9’/4wt, on a MHX blank. Her big sister, the 9’/6wt is my favorite toy on the lawn, and quite the fishing tool also, but in most situations I find myself involved in, a 4wt would be better suited.

I’m prepared to fall in love with this joy stick. Here’s a sneak peek of the build in progress

the babe

Unrelatedly, I’ve been training on the lawn this week. Three 2h sessions. My leader was none too happy about it.

Am I trying too hard?

Actually, I think I invented a new kind of wind knot. It’s cute in a way.

About yarn

The stuff has some cool and hardly foreseeable uses. 1: the infamous fly casting practice fly. 2: the line on an indoors fly casting practice rig.

The following is Tim Rajeff trying hard to make you want one. The bastard got me. I’m not buying one, but I’m sure as hell will build one. Except mine will be cooler, with a cork grip.

Since we’re talking casting…

I’m back on the lawn, harder than ever. It’s great, except my casting sucks as usual. I’m currently incredibly regular at producing tailing loops that fuck up my forward cast at around 19-20m. Backcast looks much better usually, no idea why.

It didn’t prevent me to win my club’s casting event last sunday. I wouldn’t have boasted much, but since Julien already spilled the beans in the coms… It was a little weird: you could use whatever you wanted (nobody uses a double handed anyway), but you just had 3 casts. I was using my usual 6 wt (F906-MHX) rigged with the excellent Barrio GT140. Long story short, I won with a whooping 26.5m cast.

I guess it says more about the lack of real competition than my virtues as a caster, but I won’t deny it was flattering.

Also, it was good to demonstrate to a bunch of friends waving 10′ 8wt cannons that really, really, it’s the arm that does the job. The lawn session this morning tells me I would have ranked 2nd with a Mallard 4wt, a truly marvelous finesse line I will review here as soon as I’ve caught a couple of fish on it.

So really, it’s the arm. See you on the lawn.

Experiments

Many labels in rodbuilding only make sense in the marketing department, the prime example being ‘spinning’ and ‘casting’ blanks. I have a long history of using fly blanks for long and light spinning. The other way around, obviously, has some appeal to me. After all, I like a fast rod, and I just wonder what a fast one piece blank for light lure fishing would do if rigged to cast a 5wt.

I’ll probably test that at some point, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, some guy at NFC had just the same idea, only using a salmon blank for flinging a 10wt.

Worth noting: 7 guides, no more. I’m beginning to seriously doubt the x+1 theory (where x is the blank’s length in feet). Do I really need that much weight on the rod’s tip?