With the combined hazards of travelling strapped to the roof of a 4wd, marching through thick scrub in pre-dawn darkness, and countless impacts with rocks, reef and swinging sinkers, it’s inevitable that at some stage you will damage one of your rod guides to the extent it will need to be replaced.
After having this happen to me on many occasions, I now carry a small repair kit with me whenever I head off on extended trips, so that I can rebind a new runner or tip and keep fishing. My intention is always to do a proper job when I get home, but I’ve got a number of rods still sporting oddly coloured binding covered only with a thin smear of super glue.
1. This manky old repair has lasted for 3 years, but the rust coming through the binding shows the limited ability of super-glue to protect against corrosion.
Whether you’re just doing a repair, or a complete rod-rebind, the principles of binding are the same. Of course there’s a whole lot more to building a good rod than just the binding, but we might look at that another time.
Most well made rods these days feature two layers of binding. The first, the underbinding, goes under the runner and protects the blank from the flexing feet of the runner. The underbinding sometimes has a few turns of decorative trim in the centre. I’ve made mine yellow to stand out against the black.
The overbinding is the thread that actually binds the runner to the rod. This is often made a contrasting colour to the underbinding, but I’ve chosen to go black on black. The overbinding needs to be tightly made for strength, and each thread must be hard up against it’s neighbour so there are no gaps.
1.1 There’s a handful of tools that will make your binding job easier. A couple of rod rests made from scrap timber and furniture coasters makes spinning the rod easy. Binding thread in size “C” is easiest to use and very strong. The little razor blades come out of a disposable shaver, pried apart with a screwdriver.
1.2 With a sharp pocket knife, carefully shave through the binding till it frays and breaks. Be careful not to cut into the blank, which would damage it. Now is also a good time to take a reference measurement from the old guide to its nearest neighbour, for accurate replacement.
1.3 With the guide removed, scrape away remaining traces of thread, glue or varnish. A wipe down with metho or thinners will complete the job.
1.4.Before you start your binding, cut yourself a couple of squares of masking tape to hold things if you need a break. You’ll also need a length of your main colour thread about 30cm long to use as pull-thru; you’ll need this to finish your binding as a neat and far superior alternative to a knot. The length of yellow is for the decorative binding under the runner.
1.5.Starting the binding is the hardest part, so I’ve used a bit of string to better illustrate. The first wrap goes round the blank and traps the tail. Don’t pull too hard at this stage or it’ll pull apart.
1.6.Once you’ve made three or four wraps the tail will be securely held and you can start to apply firm pressure.
1.7 After 8 or 10 wraps, cut the tail off short with your blade.
1.8.I’m going to put a small decorative trim in the middle of the bind, so before I get halfway, I’ll test the runner against the binding to see where I need to start.
1.9 I’ll use the tension of the binding to hold the tail of the trim colour (yellow).
1.10 Five wraps is enough to secure the tail. Carefully cut the tail off as close as possible to where it emerges from the black.
1.11 Now I hold the yellow tightly next to the black and wrap them both around the blank together.
1.12 After four wraps, the yellow goes under the black. Subsequent wraps of the black will make the yellow disappear, and stop it unravelling when.....
1.13 ...I cut the yellow tail off.
1.14 To finish the binding you’ll need the black pull- thru you cut earlier. This is positioned so that the tails point towards the start of the bind, and the loop is toward the end of the bind. Use the last 6 or 8 wraps to hold it in place.
1.15 The binding’s now finished, so with your thumb trapping the end of the thread against the blank to maintain tension, cut the thread and push the end through the loop of the pull-thru.
1.16 Pull evenly on the pull-thru with your free hand until the binding end comes through, at which point it can be cut off short. The underbind is now finished.
1.17 Gently filing the feet of the guide will enable the binding to run up it easier. Take care to ensure the edges are smooth or the binding will fray and break.
1.18 That looks about right.
1.19 Tape one end of the guide in place and check the alignment with the other runners before binding it on.
1.20 Now you’re careful filing will pay off and the binding will ride up easily onto the foot of the runner.
1.21 Once again, when you’re 6 or 8 turns from the end of the binding, it’s time to add the pull-thru.
1.22 With one foot of the guide neatly bound, check the alignment again with the other guides before completing the final bind.
1.23 With a coat of 2-pack epoxy, a few days drying time and we’re ready to fish.