Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pontoon Rod Holding Tubes - How to Make Them

Hello folks once again my friends and I have come up with a great little idea. I have some friends who own pontoon boats and love to fish river and streams. We also like to take multiple rods with us. When tooning these rivers I noticed really fast I spend a lot of time worrying about where my rods were. I did not want to lose one or break one. So after my first float trip I thought about placing the fly rods in tubes. I talked with my good friend Mark Lowden who went on the Michigan trip this year and we came up with the conceptual idea a long time ago. At the time I lived in an apartment and did not have the tools to create these rod tube holders. I described the idea to him and he proceeded to make the first versions. That was about five years ago. Years later I would realize I would need to yet again make my rods tubes for I had no idea where the first versions went too I had my good friend Jim Stuard agree to help me out and make the tubes for me. He is a master craftsman and has more hand working tools at his disposal than a Sears Hardware store! I purchased schedule 40 pvc in 10 feet sticks. There is no reason to use schedule 80 it’s too heavy! The following pictures outline the construction of the rod holding tubes. Keep in mind that you are putting a assembled rod into the tube indexed by the slots cut. This will have to tendency to force the stripping guide against the tube as well forcing the back handle to lever up at the end. For rods with fighting butts or elongated handles on two handers, you'll need to make adjustments after the initial cuts. Remember, this is just a guide, not a 'by the numbers' how-to.The photos are by Jim Stuard from Fly Fish Ohio Thanks to my friends who helped me when I needed it, thanks guys!

The list of tools and materials is as follows:

1 length of pvc pipe either 1 1/2" diameter for regular sized fly rods or 2" for spey/switch sized rods.
1 cap per tube being built.
1 roll of velcro tape sections. The kind with a wrapping hole on one end of each piece.

Tape Measure or ruler
Sharpie marker
Jigsaw. Preferrably with adjustable speeds
Pliers for trimming the saw blade
Selection of rasps, files and flat bladed screwdrivers for finish scraping.
Drill and bits sized to line slot (see captions for more on line slot widths)

Begin by placing your rod in the way you want to carry it, next to the PVC tubing. In this case, we have a 4pc. spey outfit with a flared butt on the handle that will have to be accommodated.

  Next, mark the end of the scabbard with a sharpie. Allow about an inch of extra space for the scabbard to fully protect the rod handle.

Mark the end of the smaller slot where the fly line will protrude. This is a nominal measurement but a good guide is about half to a third of the way from the reel to the stripping guide.

Mark where the line slot ends and widens out to accommodate the handle and reel. Mark between the reel seat and reel body, as shown.
Once you're satisfied with your layout measurements, begin by cutting the tube to length. I used a hacksaw but any fine toothed saw capable of cutting a material as soft as PVC is fine. You're going for a square cut here but honestly, it doesn't matter.

Begin the layout for the double-slot system by placing a centerline up the pipe to the farthest mark for the small slot. This will give you a better idea of how far to each side you want to make your layout lines for the slots. The easiest way to do this is to lay your knuckles to the side of the pipe and just sweep the line forward, away from you. An old Architects trick for drawing a perfectly straight line is to simply draw two points and then while watching only the finish point, start drawing. Works nearly every time and with practice, you can do it with great accuracy.

With a ruler, mark a line to either side of the centerline that will give you about a 1 1/4" wide slot for the handle/reel. This is for a spey outfit so smaller fly rods will require a smaller slot. In the past, I've found that anywhere from 7/8" to 1" works. Same for the line slot. For the heavy spey line, I went wider, starting around 3/8" but 1/4" will handle most regular fly lines.

Connect the two slots by arbitrarily forming a gentle 'S' curve between them.

Begin the cutting process by cutting a relief hole at the end of the small slot. Keep in mind that the entire slot will compress down towards the end of the tube because of a tension release in the PVC. You'll have to account for that with subsequent trimming but that's why they call it 'fine tuning'.

Here's the completely laid out series of slots.

If your saw has a speed control, slow it way down. You'll actually melt the PVC if it gets too hot. It won't do any harm but, trust me, you'd much rather cut a solid material, than gravy. Run the saw with the guides indexed on the tube. Be careful of the tube collapsing and grabbing the blad. What most likely will happen is it will bounce you out of the channel with great force but it's not very dangerous. Take it slow and steady.
The next three photos cover finishing the cut edges on the inside of the slots. The PVC is soft so files, edges of file handles, four-way rasps and screwdrivers all work to scrape down the sharp edges. You don't want to go damaging your fly line before you ever get it wet!

The fastening strap slot is around 1/8" by just a little wider than the velcro tape you're using. I just used a 1/8" drill bit and drilled a series of holes along the marked slot. By gently running the drill and moving it back and forth, you can actually cut sideways with the bit. Be careful, as a bit this small is easy to snap. Once again, slow and steady. Once you get the slot cut, slowly run the bit back and forth to smooth it out.

1 comment:

Bigerrfish said...

Thats awesome tht you guys run the purple skeeters.. as do I.. I built a tube simalar, but I slit the pipe all the way down with a table saw, like a trough..

Good post!!