Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Leather Rod Tube Project

It all started when I received in the mail a new to me (used) Derek Brown Favorite 15’ 5 piece spey rod. It had an old tube with an ill-fitting cap, and a rod sock made from leopard-skin print cloth. After casting it for a few weeks and falling in love with the action, I decided to give it a more appropriate cloth case.

I sliced up an old Scottish tartan flannel shirt and went to town on an afternoon with needle and thread. Viewing the results one day when fussing with the errant tube and cap, I thought, “Hey, why not make a nice leather tube for the rod?” Thus began a long project of researching, drawing blueprints, and multiple trips to the leather craft store.

I wanted the tube to be unique. I didn’t just want to copy a design I found. I wanted to use real brass fittings. I also wanted to cut, stain, dye, tool, glue, sew, and polish each piece of leather by hand.

Easier said than done.

I am kind of famous or rather, infamous for undertaking rather daunting projects with rather more speed and enthusiasm than planning. I did not want this tube to be another one of those “Gee, it seemed a good idea at the time” minor disappointments.

I took my time. From the first cutting to completion took a month. I worked a few hours a day. Mistakes were made, and ‘learnings’ occurred. Measurements went askew, and were corrected.

Although this has been my largest and most ambitious undertaking in quite awhile, I am not new at leatherwork. Back in my early twenties, I built Medieval boots, armor, scabbards, and other pieces out of leather. It was only a few years back when I dusted off the old tools and once more took up the craft as a hobby. I have to say I am happy with the overall result. There are flaws if one looks closely, but in the larger scheme of things what emerged was a very antique and rich looking piece of kit. It fits in the overhead storage on a commercial jet, and when taking it through TSA security in Milwaukee, the agent asked for my business card.

I guess I should take that as a wee compliment!

4 comments:

trout chaser said...

Very nice! That Winston must be treating you pretty well if you went to that kind of effort to craft a custom case for it.

(I also couldn't help but notice that you removed the photo of the Lochsa, and replaced it with a artsy shot of a Winston DBF with an Olson hanging off it...)--AJ



bradyb said...

Eric, I can't tell you how happy I am that the rod found a loving home, and that you took the time and effort to build a proper sock and tube. Beautiful work!

Anonymous said...

Erik,

WOW, I am very impressed. Have you made any fly wallets yet? If you tied the feather wing in the bottom picture, you deserve a "double" well done. (Stupid question on my part) Did you treat the leather in any way, so that it could stand up to the harsh elements that Mother Nature has been known to throw at unsuspecting anglers?

Have a Merry Christmas,
Ned

Erik Helm said...

Thanks guys, and a Merry Christmas! Yes, the tube is treated with a weather and sun resistant and water resistant finish. I still wouldn't want to take into a rainstorm intentionally, but it would probably do fine.