Learn what it takes to shape cork into custom grips that improve performance, comfort, and style. Plus, check out the step-by-step video tutorial at the bottom for custom checkerboard cork inlays!
How to Turn Your Own Cork Fishing Grips
Cork is a classic grip material that will always have its place in rod building. Easy to shape and even easier to install, custom cork grips bring serious benefits to fly rods, spinning rods, casting rods, and everything in between.
Cork is an excellent choice for fishing grips because it has a lightweight yet firm structure that’s effective on the water, comfortable to grasp, and of course, darn good looking on a fishing rod.
Tools & Supplies for the Job:
1. Choose Cork or Design Custom Grip
Whether choosing the tone of the cork, piecing cork rings together from scratch, or making a checkerboard cork design, there are many cool ways to customize cork grips.
If you want to customize a grip with cork rings, start by putting CRB Mandrel Wax on a Mandrel and then add a coating of ProPaste between each ring.
Once you have chosen or assembled your cork grip, it’s time to shape it!
2. Sand Grip even
Next, mount your grip onto a mandrel, and let it spin. As it spins, begin introducing some sand paper to even out the surface of the cork.
As you gradually smooth out the surface of the cork, check to make sure the cork is as even and level as possible.
3. Shape Cork Grip
With the cork smooth and even, fold the sanding paper in half 3-4 times or until you have created a firm corner. Use this firm corner to take off more material than just sanding.
Working the corner back and forth in area you want to remove material, you can shape out a full wells, half wells, or well, just about any shape you want to fish with.
4. Ream and Mount Cork Grip
After you have the shape you want, remove the cork grip from the mandrel to glue it to your rod blank.
Since the cork grip is lightly glued to the mandrel, carefully break the adhesive seal to free the cork from the mandrel. For the best results, grab the cork with two hands stacked on top of each other and hit the mandrel square on a flat surface.
This will force only the mandrel to slide up and leave you holding the new cork grip.
Carefully ream the cork to fit snugly in place on the rod blank. Then, just mix up some ProPaste epoxy and apply it on the rod blank a few inches up from where the grip will go. Slide the cork grip over the epoxy glue and into place.
Let the glue dry and you’re custom grip is ready to fish!
How to Build Custom Cork Handles
Watch this quick tutorial to learn how to create your own checkerboard cork inlays for custom fishing rod handles!