flyangler

New TH OH Build - Patriotic Themed with Bob Meiser Grips

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I am beginning a new build for a TH OH rod using a 12'9" Mike Oliver Mk1 blank. I was all set to try using Syncork on my own, even bought the rings, but as much as RedGreen tried to boost my confidence, I chickened out. I have the rings and can try them on some future build which is already rolling around in my head. 

 

Candidly, I did not quite chicken out as I had a choice and decided to send the blank off the Bob Meiser's shop to have them fashion the grip/handles. Yes, there was concern about Meiser being able to do a finished outside diameter thicker than the typical spey rod. Both Mike and Chris voiced trepidation about a SH and spey shop being able to turn handles sufficient for a TH OH outfront rod. My initial discussion with Bob Meiser was not encouraging as he wanted to do exactly what I did not want, thin and shaped.

 

I gave up and ordered the Syncork but could not take my eye off of photos of Meiser's work. I found one of his guys on Instagram and started a very informative dialogue learning that he'd turned over 1,000 rods over the years. Anyway, he assured me that they could do that work and put me in touch with his son, who is the one who now builds all of their handles/grips. After a couple of discussions, I was assured he "got it". The challenge was that their dark burl rings do not come wider than 1.25" which limits how much they can remove when shaping and still get a proper OD for a TH OH rod. He was confident he could do 1.10-1.12" which is about right for my medium-sized hands. 

 

Since I will be wrapping the guides, I only had to send off the butt section which went off to them last week (Oregon). Total cost including return shipping is $135 which seems like a relative bargain given the materials and labor involved. 

 

The red, white and blue motif was chosen to compliment my Nautilus Silver King which I plan to use with this rod. I found some rubberized cork in RW&B which will provide the accent colors on the butt and foregrips. I bought two ALPS reel seats, one red, one blue and decided to go with the blue on this build. Meiser's shop sent me several photos  in the past 24 hours as the work progressed. Note the photo of the glued-up stage and compare the grip length to the other rods in the background. Even relative to the spey rods, this is much longer. The final photo show the butt spinning on the on the drier after a coat of finish. As it turns out, Nick did better than even he thought he could and the finished OD is 1.18" or 30mm, which should work quite well. Mike says he likes 27-31mm so this is right in that range. 

 

For those wondering about the finish, it is their "secret sauce" which I assume is some variant of a spar varnish. While there could be a concern about such a slick/hard finish being slippery when wet, they said it is not nearly as much as you might think. Further, since I don't wet wade and usually cast off the sand, having constant wet hands is not a real worry. 

 

I will post a few photos of my own once I get it back and can get to wrapping the guides which are Titanium Torzite btw. My concept diagram was further refined working with their shop. 

 

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Edited by flyangler

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6 hours ago, JEFFSOD said:

 

I am a big fan of their rods and especially the grips. Good choice.

i have never cast spey so the Meiser name was new to me. I know they do SH rods as well but never crossed paths with the name. I did not know they did just handles on your blanks until I called Bob and spoke to him.

 

At $135 shipped, it is quite a relative value. The Syncork rings I originally ordered came out to $71 shipped, just for the rings. Add in labor and learning curve (I have glued up Syncork but never turned it) and it was not a difficult decision. I supplied the ALPS seat and the colored rings and they did the rest. 

 

My only regret is that I did not weight the lower section of the blank before I shipped it. Some concern has been voiced that their use of dark burl and rubberized rings might lead to more weight than with Syncork. Given the grips are in the fulcrum of the cast and the rod will be underarm for retrieve, I am not sure this is as big a concern as it might be if the weight was further up the blank. 

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Flyanglet I can’t remember sending you a Mark I blank. 
It was interesting reading your post about getting  grips made to your spec.

My experience has been that other builders will not agree to turn a handle to another’s builders specification.. This is frustrating when mostly they have zero experience in casting and fishing a surf two hander. Slim handles , spey length handles top and bottom and scroll  roll shaped handles are not good designs period for the majority of the guys I know out there fishing the surf.

1.5 diameter corks are no problem to turn to 31 to 32 mm diameter .

I can understand why you did not attempt to turn syncork. It needs more consideration than natural cork. I have decided not to use it on my own rods.

As a grip it feels good and is not slippery and compared to high quality cork it is very low cost.. The extra labour time needed offsets some of the low cost advantages. Chris really likes his. If you do decide to have a go then a practice on an old piece of blank is a good idea.

 

If you had gone for natural and some rubberised and top grade the material alone would have set you back  around $200 plus the cost of having to reject a percentage of even top grade corks.

Burl is heavier than natural but you may prefer the better static balance .

The price you paid for your custom handle is more than reasonable.

Take your time with the rest of the build and you will get a great outcome.

Many guys rush it and spoil it.

Dont forget the finished photos. 
 

Mike.

 

 

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One suggestion I'll make is when you bet your butt section back, put the rod together, tape the guides on in rough position, put a reel on and tuck it under your arm for a two hand retrieve.  Then check the position of your first stripper guide, on my second rod we moved the first stripper a little further away to make room for the reach on a two hand retrieve.  You probable won't be single hand stripping this rod much.  

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Just now, Oakman said:

One suggestion I'll make is when you bet your butt section back, put the rod together, tape the guides on in rough position, put a reel on and tuck it under your arm for a two hand retrieve.  Then check the position of your first stripper guide, on my second rod we moved the first stripper a little further away to make room for the reach on a two hand retrieve.  You probable won't be single hand stripping this rod much.  

I did a first round of that before shipping. I built up two masking tape arbors where the reel would be mounted. I then placed the guides in a rough train using my RedGreen PacBay build as a template, though this has one less guide but that only impacts the runners, not the stripper position.
 

First test was line path under strain and that was pretty smooth guide to guide. 
 

Second was what you suggest but hard to do with just a bare blank. I ended up wrapping a dishtowel around the blank to fake the grip diameter and get it to stay underarm. It felt good with the first stripper not on the butt but a couple inches up the fee one section. I didn’t spend too much time with this because without the weight of the grips, tough to tell pivot point. That said, the distance from seat to first stripper is about the same as with the PacBay build and stripping that into a basket has worked well. 
 

I appreciate the advice. Yes, testing it with the grips installed is one reason I have not wrapped any guides yet. I want to ensure placement before doing anything "final".

 

 

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FA

 

FWIW my stripper guide is mounted on the next section up to.

 

Now some guys hold the upper grip under their arms to retrieve / fish their flies. Others tuck the lower grip of their rod under their arm pits to retrieve.

So if like me you vary where you hold the upper handle you need to play around with stripper guide position.

If it is too short it is intensely frustrating when wanting to make a long strip

Mostly I tuck the lower grip under my arm pit. Rod is not heavy in this position.

When low to the water I let rod rest on the water taking the weight. In a surf with decent proper waves coming at me this low hold position allows me to lift the rod over oncoming waves.

If fishing from a jetty or rocks the low grip means the rod tip gets closer to the water and less affected by wind. Plus you don’t kill your back having to lean forward or your fly line dragged across the rock.

There is a reason for the length of my lower grip and it’s shape.

 

Enjoy your build.

 

Mikey

 

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It does look more heavily built than a rod wrapping lathe. The rod steadies are similar to Flex Coat’s designs. The set up looks fine.

 

I would not like to turn handles on a rod lathe like a Clements or it’s close competitor The Renzzetti.  

 

Expensive solution to plus not a good option to have to deep clean after turning cork and then going back to thread work.

 

Rod lathes can be simply constructed and made pretty rigid.

 

Mike

 

 

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20 mins ago, FishHawk II said:

Interesting that Bob didn't use a lathe to turn down the grip but the rod wrapper/dryer   machine instead.  Meiser is a well known rod maker. 

FishHawk, maybe you missed the photos in the OP.

 

Lathe used on grips, as dirty as you would expect. 

 

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Rod dryer with my handle and other rods, as clean as you would expect. 

 

299EBFDB-6795-4E4E-9DA8-A8BF29239C81_1_105_c.jpeg

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2 hours ago, flyangler said:

FishHawk, maybe you missed the photos in the OP.

 

Lathe used on grips, as dirty as you would expect. 

 

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Rod dryer with my handle and other rods, as clean as you would expect. 

 

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Really interested to hear your opinion and experiences with that much grip using rubberized cork.  I would think it to be rather heavy, but like Mike mentioned maybe you'll like the static weight.   It does presents a nice uniform looking finish.   Curious as to why the top coat considering how durable and uniform the rubberized cork is ?       Please post your experiences once you've had a day's fishing with it.

 

HT

 

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54 mins ago, HillTop said:

 

Really interested to hear your opinion and experiences with that much grip using rubberized cork.  I would think it to be rather heavy, but like Mike mentioned maybe you'll like the static weight.   It does presents a nice uniform looking finish.   Curious as to why the top coat considering how durable and uniform the rubberized cork is ?       Please post your experiences once you've had a day's fishing with it.

 

HT

 

HT,

 

The only rubberized cork is the ends of each of the grips. Two rings at bottom for the butt and then a single ring for the top of the lower grip and a single for both ends of the upper. The colored rings are rubberized. The balance are burnt cork from Portugal, not burnt burl. 
 

It arrived today and I will supply some photos later.
 

I did weigh the lower section as well as the lower from the PacBay build with the Syncork. 
 

Meiser: 13.6oz

Syncork: 9.5oz 

 

Having limited casting experience with a range of rods I can’t assess how much difference 4 ounces will make at the fulcrum point. 
 

 

Edited by flyangler

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OK, work and dinner over and I had a chance to examine more fully. 

Hilltop. I wanted a very dark color, borderline black. The burnt cork, as you can see in the photos above, was more brown and the rubberized cork is even lighter still. In all of the Meiser photos, the darkest rods were those using these options but then finished with their "secret sauce". So I opted for that knowing I would give up the tactile feel of raw cork and add a the minimal weight of the finish. 

 

The finish is clearly glossy and hard enough that I cannot deform it with a finger nail. That said, you don’t feel like you are holding a glass rod. The finish is a Meiser "secret" but my guess is that it is a formulation incorporating spar varnish. It has a nice dry feel to it and I don’t think it would get excessively slick when wet with seawater. Fish slime is something else but that will be a problem I welcome. 

Only nit to pick is that the blue rings darkened more than I thought when finished,   That has nothing to do with Meiser, just a function of the material. 

 

Photos below are with the PacBay build using Syncork. Dimensionally, the grips are the same LENGTH within 3/4”.  They are also both straight OD and very close with the Syncork spun to ~31mm while the Meiser comes in a smidge below 30mm (29.7). 

 

As noted, the finished Meiser butt section is 4 ounces heavier than the Syncork. Without having the opportunity to weigh the two sets of rings, clearly the Meiser combination is heavier than the Syncork. The PacBay blank butt is longer and thicker than the new one and the PacBay blank wall is likely thicker as well. 


Even with this weight difference, the total weight diff of the two complete rods should be less given the PacBay blank overall is just fatter and few inches longer. The PacBay has Ti/SIC guides vs Ti/Torzite which will make for a relatively meaningless difference.  
 

The decision to go this route was a desire for something different and a minor change from the utilitarian Syncork aesthetic. 
 

The Meiser customer service was excellent - collaborative, interactive, fast and friendly. I would easily use them again if the need arises (not sure it ever will however). Included in the tube with the section came two Meiser stickers, a Meiser fish logo sun buff and a little brick of Blue Diamond Ferrule Wax. 
 

I am very happy thus far. 

 

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Edited by flyangler

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for future reference, I build custom grips from variuos cork, barks and wood for a local shop and a few  other builders. 

I started making them  because I wanted a larger diameter for my larger hands. I make birch bark grips, and have made them for small stream rods to glass two handers.

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