How to Replace a Rod Grip

Step-by-step instructions on replacing a rod grip and seat.
Ben Holtzclaw
Learn how to replace an old rod grip in this latest installment of FishTrack's rod-building series brought to you byGet Bit Outdoors. While replacing the grip, we will also take the opportunity to replace the reel seat and customize the rod to make it perfect for throwing heavy bucktails or surface iron.
The cork grip on this heavy spinning rod has become hard and brittle with age. To remove it, take a Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel attached and cut into the grip parallel with the rod blank. Be very careful not to cut all the way thorough the grip and into the rod blank.
Take a screwdriver or other flat blade and pry the grip material apart to remove it. The grip may come apart in pieces.
Use a sharp razor blade to scrape away all remaining pieces of grip and old adhesive from the rod, once again taking care not to nick the rod blank.
To remove the old reel seat, score it with the cutting tool, and carefully pry it apart and off the blank with a screwdriver or flat blade. If you are only replacing the grip and not the seat, you can skip ahead to that portion of the tutorial.
Measure to determine where the new rear grip, reel seat and fore grip will be placed on the rod and mark them accordingly.
Slide your new reel seat into position on the rod blank from the butt end of the fishing rod and mark the exact spot with a china marker.
Move the reel seat out of the way and build up spacers by wrapping masking tape tightly around the rod. You may need to slide the reel seat down into position and test-fit it a few times to get a tight fit. Add or remove tape as needed.
Mix up a batch of two-part epoxy and spread liberally over the tape spacers and blank. Wrap a piece of tape over the end of the reel seat to keep the epoxy off. Slide the reel seat carefully into position
Fill any space between the front of the reel seat and the rod with epoxy, then clean up all excess epoxy.
Look down the rod to ensure that the top of the reel seat lines up with the rod guides and adjust accordingly. Let the epoxy cure completely before continuing.
Take a length of self-adhesive cork grip tape and temporarily attach it to the end of the reel seat at an angle with masking tape.
Wrap the cork grip down the rod at an angle with the backing still attached. Tape the cork off at the end of the rod and trim the excess. Test-wrapping the cork tape before adhering it down permanently to the fishing rod will help it "set" and develop a memory.
Mark the angle where the cork will meet the rod seat. Mark and cut the angle carefully with sharp scissors.
Peel the backing off the cork tape and stick it to the rod, starting with the corner you just cut.
Carefully wrap and stick the cork tape down the rod at an angle. Each wrap should tightly butt up against the last one but not overlap.
Wrap the cork tape all the way to the end of the rod and trim neatly against the end with scissors.
Grip the rod handle with both hands and twist in the same direction that you wrapped the cork. This will help set the adhesive and ensure that the cork wrap doesn't come loose.
Repeat the process to wrap the fore grip. This part of the build is now finished, and you can use the rod as-is if desired with the bare cork grip. We will continue on and add an extra layer of heat-shrink grip material.
Heat-shrink grip material is often applied over cork tape to build up the diameter of the rod handle. It can also be applied directly to the rod blank if desired. Choose heat-shrink of the desired color and diameter, and cut sections to the necessary length.
Starting at the reel seat, slowly rotate the rod while applying heat with a heat gun to shrink the grip material tightly against the cork. Be careful not to apply too much heat in one area at once, or the grip will shrink unevenly.
Continue to work your way down the rod with the heat gun.
Repeat the process with the fore grip.
Affix a rubber butt-cap to the end of the rod and your new grip is complete.
There is plenty of room for customization when replacing rod grips. Try different combinations of bare cork and heat-shrink grip, and remember that you can always add epoxy thread wraps to the ends of the grip to enhance aesthetics and durability (as seen in the bottom rod). Visit Get Bit Outdoors for more rod building tutorials and to purchase all of the supplies you need to get started.

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