Rod Building Gone Wrong: Custom Cork Fishing Grips

Find out the most common mistakes while gluing and turning cork grips, and how to avoid each mistake for a cleaner, smoother finished grip.

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4 Steps to Shape Custom Cork Grips

Learn what it takes to shape cork into custom grips that improve performance, comfort, and style.

Making Your Own Full Wells, Half Wells, and More

Cork is a classic grip material that will always have its place in rod building. Easy to shape and even easier to install, custom cork grips bring serious benefits to fly rods, spinning rods, casting rods, and everything in between.

Cork is an excellent choice for fishing grips because it has a lightweight yet firm structure that’s effective on the water, comfortable to grasp, and of course, darn good looking on a fishing rod.

Tools & Supplies for the Job:

1. Choose Cork or Design Custom Grip

Whether choosing the tone of the cork, piecing cork rings together from scratch, or making a checkerboard cork design, there are many cool ways to customize cork grips.

If you want to customize a grip with cork rings, start by putting CRB Mandrel Wax on a Mandrel and then add a coating of ProPaste between each ring.

Once you have chosen or assembled your cork grip, it’s time to shape it!

2. Sand Grip even

Next, mount your grip onto a mandrel, and let it spin. As it spins, begin introducing some sand paper to even out the surface of the cork.

As you gradually smooth out the surface of the cork, check to make sure the cork is as even and level as possible.

3. Shape Cork Grip

With the cork smooth and even, fold the sanding paper in half 3-4 times or until you have created a firm corner. Use this firm corner to take off more material than just sanding.

Working the corner back and forth in area you want to remove material, you can shape out a full wells, half wells, or well, just about any shape you want to fish with.

4. Ream and Mount Cork Grip

After you have the shape you want, remove the cork grip from the mandrel to glue it to your rod blank.

Since the cork grip is lightly glued to the mandrel, carefully break the adhesive seal to free the cork from the mandrel. For the best results, grab the cork with two hands stacked on top of each other and hit the mandrel square on a flat surface.

This will force only the mandrel to slide up and leave you holding the new cork grip.

Carefully ream the cork to fit snugly in place on the rod blank. Then, just mix up some ProPaste epoxy and apply it on the rod blank a few inches up from where the grip will go. Slide the cork grip over the epoxy glue and into place.

Let the glue dry and you’re custom grip is ready to fish!

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Applying Epoxy Finish To Fishing Rod Guides

Applying Epoxy Finish To Fishing Rod Guides

Time To Finish Your Rod

Well, by now you have installed the butt cap, reel seats, handles, and all the guides are wrapped up in a perfectly straight line along the spine of your rod blank.

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