Well, I've now finished the rod. It's done. I've actually built my first rod after all the talking, reading, planning, more talking--I completed #1. Whew! It took way longer than it should have; I had to re-do more than even I expected. And the kicker is that it'll be a while before I can justify taking an 8wt out on the Missouri waters. Oh well, I will anyway. Here are some finish photos:
The seat is a basic milled aluminum job that I probably should have inletted, but decided I'd better just finish a rod before I start that sort of thing. Next time.... That is the Konic 3.5 that will spool this beast; love the Konics. It balances the rod just right, which means I'm glad I didn't inlet the grip. That EVA fighter will get replaced with a cork one; I just have to make it after the rings arrive. I'm thinking of chopping the end of this butt and capping the cork one with it.
Here's the finish on the wraps without CP. I figured not using it would give me the dark and semi-translucent look I was after--it worked perfectly. The color of the thread is now a shade darker than the blank and reveals the guide feet nicely. I'm pretty happy with it.
Beginning to fulfill her destiny. I just cannot wait to cast this rod and compare it to the 'glass 8wt. Even with the slightly heavy reel, and loaded with guides and finish, this rod is SO much lighter.
I made enough mistakes along the way, but I'm happy I did--fewer to remake next time. There are some small details that I will do better next time or just differently, but this rod is ready to fish and will probably outlast me. A pro rod-builder I am not (yet), but I'm addicted to the job anyway. Love it.