Epic 370 Ready-To-Wrap Fly Rod Build 

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By Justin Pickett

When it comes to starting something new, whether it be fly tying or wood working, there is typically a large list of questions that comes with venturing into uncharted waters. What do I need to get started? How do I use this? Why do I need that? Where can I find what I need?

Swift Fly Fishing has taken all of the guess work out of rod building with their Epic Ready To Wrap kits. Offered in 3wt through 12wt, they come well-appointed with quality components and materials, as well as detailed instructions, to build a quality fiberglass or carbon fiber fly rod. They even offer a kit for the chrome-obsessed, two-handed bug slingers out there. And, with each kit offering everything you need to complete each build, there is no waiting on shipments, or running around to find components. It’s all right there in the box, ready to go. It’s the perfect starting point for the beginning rod builder.

This is my third Epic Ready To Wrap kit that I have built, and each one has provided me with plenty of enjoyment and learning along the way. Not to mention, with the completion of each build I’ve added another amazing rod to my quiver. 

Let’s dive in!

The components in the kit are top notch, which is what you can always expect from Epic and Swift Fly Fishing. The cork is beautifully dense and without flaws. The updated FastGlass II (Made in USA) blanks and Snake Belly finish offer enhanced performance and improved durability across the entire family of fly rods. Also updated since my last build is the new Sure Fit Ferule. These ferules are so precise that should the unthinkable happen and you break your rod, Epic can send you a replacement section without the worries of an improper fit. Along with each rod comes a hand-stitched, divided rod bag and a handsome, natural fiberglass rod case.

As I’ve mentioned, my kit came with a detailed instruction booklet that lays out each step of the build process and is extremely easy to follow. No confusing jargon or directions to trip the builder up along the way, and includes photos to help aide with each step. After re-familiarizing myself with the instruction booklet, I setup my workspace in my office where I have a large table and plenty of light. Since the Ready To Wrap kit has just about everything I need to build this rod, there wasn’t too much prep work for me to do before I got started. The only additional supplies I had to gather was masking tape, denatured alcohol, and sand paper.

Before beginning with my build, I needed to decide on how I would spline my rod. This isn’t a necessary process to build this rod, but an extra step that I wanted to take in order to further customize my rod and improve on its casting characteristics. Wanting a more traditional fiberglass flex, I splined my rod appropriately.  I won’t get into too much detail, as Swift Fly Fishing does a great job of explaining the how’s and why’s of splining on their site, as well as the instruction manual. However, I would recommend splining your rod blank as well.

After splining, I laid each section out and marked my guide placements according to the Swift’s specifications offered on their website. While marking my guide placements I was sure to stay centered on the blank. After making my marks, I went back and placed each guide in their respective place along the blank and taped them down. This allowed me to make small adjustments, assuring that every guide was lined up correctly along the spine. 

As I’ve done with my previous two builds, I planned on using the box as my jig and followed the simple instructions in order to construct it. As I’ve also done before, I cut several small holes along the outside of the box and inserted a bobbin that held my thread. I would place the bobbin in the various holes depending on which guide I was wrapping in order to achieve the proper angle and pressure to ensure neat wraps.

Now, it’s time to start putting this stick together!

It is wise to dry fit all of the components of the bottom section first, taping off the blank in front of the cork (this is important!). The cork is already drilled and shaped to fit the taper of the blank. Should you want one, the application of a fighting butt also requires that 5mm of the bottom of the blank be sawed off. I chose to go with a traditional cap and ring, so this would not be necessary for my build. The next step involves sanding, so the previously mentioned taping must be done in order to ensure that you do not ruin the finish of the blank above the area that requires sanding. Once you’re happy with the dry-fitting, a little sanding on the blank to prep for the epoxy application must be done. I used 120grit sand paper, followed up with 220grit to ensure a more uniform surface. To prep for the reel seat, a dam must be created to ensure the epoxy adheres the reel seat to the rod properly. Swift suggests using masking tape, but there are other options listed as well. I went with the masking tape, though. When doing this, go slow, constantly checking your clearance. You’ll wrap three, evenly spaced rings around the blank that should allow the reel seat to fit over them without being firmly snug. Make tiny adjustments. I was surprised at how much difference one wrap of masking tape made. Once this is completed, the epoxy goes on and everything is placed back onto the blank. DO NOT just set it and forget it! Make sure that everything is lined up correctly before allowing it to set completely! I stood this section of the rod up in the corner of my tying desk for a couple of hours to make sure the epoxy had plenty of time to set completely. 

Now on to affixing these guides to the blank! 

The first guide that I completed was the tip top. Using the 5 minute epoxy and a toothpick, applying it to the tip of the top section is a piece of cake. Just make sure that it is aligned with your guide marking (from when you splined your rod) and have some denatured alcohol on a rag to wipe away any excess glue.

Making pretty, uniform, quality wraps takes practice and will likely give you freakin’ fits in the beginning of your build. Make sure you practice your wraps before you begin your build to avoid some of the frustration. I took some time in the beginning to make some practice wraps along the butt section of the rod in order reacquaint myself with the process. I still had to re-wrap a few of them along the way, but by the end of the build I felt like I was where I should be skill-wise. Finding the right pressure you need to apply to lay an appropriate wrap without the wrap being too tight is key. You want the wrap to hold the guide foot firmly, but not so firmly that the thread cannot be manipulated to some degree. You’ll need that little bit of wiggle room when comes time to burnish your wraps. You will likely need to adjust your bobbin a couple times with each section. By the time I was finished I had made several holes along the side of the box in order to make sure I had the best angle to wrap each guide. I also found that, once completing a wrap, I was more successful at keeping a wrap together if I taped the silk tag to the blank while I was wrapping the others. If I didn’t pay attention, I would sometimes screw up one of the wraps that wondered into the “V” of the box jig. The tape would help keep things together, however it is best to prevent this from happening by adjusting and moving the bobbin accordingly. Once I finished wrapping all of my guides I simply cut the tags and I was able to burnish my wraps to get rid of any unwanted gaps or overlaps that went unnoticed initially. There isn’t a burnishing tool in the kit, but a Bic ball point pen will work just fine. When all is said and done, and you have all of your wraps completed and all tidied up, you’ll be ready for epoxy.

Word of caution… Before sitting down to begin mixing your coats of resin and applying them to your wraps, make sure you have the time to do so.

For one, you don’t want to rush through any part of the build process, but doing so while adding epoxy to your wraps can get messy. You don’t want to get resin all over the blank. It’s messy and a pain to clean up while your wraps are drying. Make sure that you have some denatured alcohol at the ready before you start applying epoxy to your rod! Also make sure to apply your coats of epoxy by starting on the outside of the wrap (furthest away from the guide foot) and then work it to the guide in order to prevent air trapping.

One tip that Swift suggests in the instruction booklet is to heat the epoxy to thin it out and make it a little easier to work with. I just threw it in the microwave for about ten seconds. I found that this did help with adding an appropriate amount of epoxy to the wrap. It was easier to spread across the wraps as well, and prevented me from applying too much epoxy which would sag on the bottom side of the blank. If you do notice that you have applied too much resin, and it begins to sag, I found that the most effective way to correct this was by placing a brush just on the surface of the sagging epoxy and roll the brush in your fingers. This will pull some of the epoxy away from the blank without causing a big mess. The epoxy is self-leveling so there’s no need to brush the epoxy onto the wrap. You’ll likely have the hang of wraps and epoxying by the time you’ve finished your first section, and at that point you will just need to repeat these processes until you’ve wrapped up every section. As I have done in the past, I decided to wrap and epoxy my winding check last, kind of as the last hoorah, but this can be done at any time after the butt section has been epoxied and had time to cure. 

On a side note, one additional accessory that I did use with this build is the Epic Fly Rod Turner and Dryer. This made the drying process much easier after epoxying the guides. Just turn the motor on and give everything time to dry. Even more simple and easier than before! 

Following the completion of the rod, I set it aside and stared at it. The rod looked awesome and, as usual, I just wanted to go throw some line with it. But I knew I shouldn’t. Swift Fly Fishing makes sure to mention in the handbook that the rod should be allowed to sit for a full 12hrs to set and at least 24hrs before casting. I always struggle with this part of the build process, but I know it’s necessary. The end result is always worth the wait!

The kit that Swift Fly Fishing has put together is amazing. They took a process that I once thought would be no less than frustrating and made it simple. The components are top shelf, the handbook and instructions are extensive yet east to follow, and the convenience of having everything you need in one kit (completely taking the guess work out of the equation) is priceless. The hardest thing about this process may be choosing which blank to build, as they are all badass! To say that I’m completely smitten with these Ready To Wrap kits is an understatement. I always look forward to building these rods from this kit, and I’m looking forward to my next one already. If you’ve been thinking about building your own fly rod, I can’t recommend this Epic Ready To Wrap kit enough! 

Don’t forget to enter out latest giveaway where you can win an Epic Ready To Wrap kit of your choice! Head over to Instagram and check out our page, @ginkandgasoline, for the details on how to enter!!!! Winner will be announced on Christmas Eve!!! 

Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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