Fly Rod Hardware Finishes

Both chrome nickel hardware and blued nickel hardware hardware can keep its integrity and finish indefinitely. Nickel for fly rod hardware is either machined from 18% nickel or 12% nickel. Nickel is highly corrosion resistant and certain grades when polished have a more bronzy luster to a more highly chrome luster. Nickel silver is named for its silvery appearance, but contains no elemental silver unless plated. Other common names for this alloy are German silver, paktong, new silver and alpacca (or alpaca). A form of German silver was invented in Birmingham, England in 1832.

Nickel Silver was (and still is) widely used for the commercial production of industrial components, marine grade hardware, housewares, flatware and cutlery, and as the metal substrate for silver-plated goods, hence the term EPNS = Electro-Plated Nickel Silver.
Nickel Silver was formerly widely used in costume jewelry and as the substrate for silver and gold plated jewelry. Due to the high propensity of nickel to induce dermatology problems and allergy, recent legislation in the EU has restricted the use of nickel in jewelry (probably due to the copper formulation).

There are many different formulations of alloys which fall within the general term of "Nickel Silver". All contain copper, nickel and zinc, while some formulations may additionally include antimony, tin, lead or cadmium. A representative formulation (Alloy No.752 Nickel pretty common) is 65% copper, 18% nickel, 17% zinc. If all this is kind of boring it’s probably due to the fact that I spend a lot of time looking for the perfect numerical alloy of Nickel to machine my hardware from. It does make a difference in regards to how well it machines, cleans up, blues, etc.

When blued certain nickel alloys react differently. Some bronze a bit more than others, some take on a gun metal cool blue, others mottle and look a little like a custom blued turn of the century firearm. All bluing will eventually wear and scratch if not protected. Some clients like the look of bronzy blued hardware others like it jet black. I prefer a more typical custom gunsmith finish. Never rest the butt of your rod on asphalt or concrete it will scuff and scratch. If you put a fine shotgun or firearm on such a surface expect the same outcome. Common sense is the mantra. If you bang your rod into a rock it’s guaranteed it’s going to scratch. Normal wear of bluing is not a bad thing I love to see rods with a weathered worn blued appearance because I know immediately they have been used for what they were intended for, fishing. I personally own rods that I would never refinish for that very reason. All of my rods have a thin layer of a “foundry protectant” that coat all my blued hardware. It is very durable and lasts for a very long time.
                    ~Clint Bova


Bench Dog #2

A customer of mine asked me recently what I enjoyed most about making rods, and my canned response is “fishing them”.  I usually follow up that response by saying that the actual handling of the cane in the early stages would have to be my favorite part. Manipulating the cane is more physical, and the raw medium is really being altered in a somewhat complimentary way. Meaning the best attributes of the bamboo in the manifestation of a fly rod come to life the more you handle it.
I purchase cases of Co-Flex tape, it allows my fingers to grip the cane 
while in the forms and keeps moisture out of the cane while I handle it.

The resilliency and strength of the cane is felt directly in the hands and you gain a new respect level for the medium every time you start planing. There is no room for error because you can take off material but you cannot put it back on. So there needs to be total focus on your part. Its this focus that is somewhat relaxing and I may go as far as saying that it takes you away from the rest of the world without getting too metaphysical about it. There are parts of the rod making process that are more mechanical than others. There are parts of the process that also become less stressful the more and more you do it. Eventually your hands just kind of take over and there is a cadence between your brain and your body language.

There is something about the smell of bamboo shavings right out of the block plane that simply makes me think of good things in life.
                     ~Clint Bova


Bench Dog

Above: My finishing room a.k.a “clean room” 
has everything I need at my fingertips
When considering the process of turnkeying a bamboo rod from start to finish there are literally hundreds of steps involved. From handling the cane, to turning of the hardware, to final dipping or spraying there is a multitude of specialized tools as well as common shop tools being used. Parts of these processes are highly coveted among rod makers like myself, but my basic setup (as seen in the above photo of my finishing room) is fairly commonplace. You'll find various rooms full of metal lathes, planing forms, various block planes, binders, cane oven, bevelers, bandsaws, and drawers full of hardware, blanks, and turning stock. The list goes on and on.  Honestly I don't purchase equipment anymore. I make all of my equipment short of reels, and waders. I suppose if I was proficient at sewing and gluing Gore-Tex I'd try my hand at making a pair of waders.

Growing up my father had a work bench and it was my favorite place to hang out and watch him work. When he was away at work I'd rummage through his various power tools and hand tools only later to be caught red handed after forgetting to put his router or circular saw away. Then I'd get the smack down! He taught me to put away his tools at an early age, as well as how to properly care for them and respect them. He taught me to be organized and that whatever project you were working on would directly reflect your level of discipline when it came to every aspect of your shop. Being a veteran sailor, and having sailed all over the world, he kept everything very shipshape and I took on those characteristics as a young adult. If you were to see my fathers shop and my shop there probably very similar to this day. Although our tools now are different in many respects.

My father is a Bench Dog and so am I. This is where we find ourselves in our element, and are most happy. If you cannot find my father my mother will say “he's in the barn”, but not necessarily in the dog house. 

~Clint Joseph Bova

Low-Anchored Cloud

Low-anchored cloud,
Newfoundland air,
Fountain-head and source of rivers,
Dew-cloth, dream-drapery,
And napkin spread by fays;
Drifting meadow of the air,
Where bloom the daisied banks and violets,
And in whose fenny labyrinth
The bittern booms and heron wades;
Spirit of lakes and seas and rivers,
Bear only perfumes and the scent
Of healing herbs to just men's fields

~Henry David Thoreau