Find out how to wrap a custom 3D tiger wrap in just 6 simple steps, so you can add the professional level decorations that customers go crazy for!
Custom Fishing Rods & Decorative Wraps
3-D tiger thread wraps can range from bold to subtle in design, but one thing is for sure, tiger wraps are one of the most unique patterns in rod building. Although doing your own tiger wrap may seem intimidating, with the help of Mud Hole’s resources, it’s actually easier than ever…
Just follow this instructional blog and check out the video tutorial at the bottom of the page!
1. Select Threads and Prepare Tools
In rod building, especially when it comes to threadwork, preparation is key. From choosing the right thread color and size, to assembling the necessary tools and supplies for the job, organization beforehand is important for the best resulting tiger wrap.
For our demonstration and for you at home, we recommend using size A threads to complete your own 3-D tiger wrap. Although size D thread works, many rod builder’s suggest size A because it tends to be more pleasing to the eye once complete.
Done in two layers, this tiger wrap uses three different colored threads in the first base layer, while the outer layer starts with the same three before removing two as sacrificial threads. Because the 3-D tiger wrap requires so many colors, test some options to see what will look best together before moving forward to work on the wrap.
For example, since we are working on a USA Patriotic rod, we used red, white, and blue ProWrap Winding Thread with Color Fast to celebrate the occasion. Once your threads are picked out, make sure you have all the right tools and supplies handy.
To complete your tiger wrap, you will need: a thread wrapping system, a burnishing tool, a two-part epoxy like ProKöte, a mixing cup, a stirring stick, an aluminum dish, a razor blade, a heat gun (or a hair dryer) and some masking tape.
2. Wrap Base Thread Pattern
To start the tiger wrap’s base layer, select one color and wrapping to the right, continue roughly 1/8 of an inch up the blank. Next, tuck the two additional base inlay threads under the beginning running thread.
Going directly from the spools into the last turn of the running thread, wrap the running thread a few more turns to secure the two base inlay threads in place. Then, hold the running thread and inlay threads together with the inlays to the right of the running thread and begin wrapping all three simultaneously.
Note: Make sure the threads never cross over, back wind, or tangle up as you wrap them up the blank.
As you reach the desired length for your wrap, you will end the base layer the same as when you started. Secure the two inlay threads under the running thread and wrap only the running thread until you have mirrored the wrap’s beginning.
With wrap secured, trim off the excess thread by laying the razor blade down flat against the wrap with the sharp edge facing the threads and sever each one flush by pulling the thread over the blade.
3. Burnish and Epoxy Base Thread Wrap
With the wrap in place, take your burnishing tool and run it back and forth over the base layer. Burnish the thread in shorter strokes from various angles to break up the uniform stripes.
Remember as you burnish the thread from different directions, the more you shift the original base layer, the more intense the final tiger wrap will appear. After you are satisfied with your burnishing, move on to epoxying the base layer of the tiger wrap.
The amount of epoxy directly determines the impact of the tiger wrap’s infamous 3-D appearance. So, for a more pronounced 3-D effect, use one to two thick coats of epoxy, but for a subtler effect, use a lighter coat of epoxy over the base layer.
With this in mind, mix and apply your epoxy according to manufacturer instructions.
Note: It’s important to give the epoxy a full 24 hours of curing time before moving on and wrapping over the finished base layer.
4. Wrap and Burnish Outer Wrap
Since the epoxy has cured completely, you can now wrap the outer layer without pressing the threads into the previous epoxied wrap. Wrapping the outer layer is similar to the base layer, however, one striking difference is that the outer layer is wrapped to the left rather than the right.
For instance, if you wrapped the base layer to the right starting from the butt, start the outer layer from the opposite end and wrap to the left. Repeat the thread wrapping process from step 2 except wrapping to the left, you will continue until the outer layer is completely covering the base layer.
Secure the threads but trim only running thread flush and leave roughly six inches of the sacrificial inlay threads hanging out. Then, burnish the outer threads as you did with the base layer.
Again, the more you burnish and interrupt the aligned stripes, the more intense the final tiger wrap will appear.
5. Heat Outer Threads and Remove Sacrificial Thread
With the outer layer burnished to your liking, use a heat gun or hair dryer to apply a steady heat over the outer threads. This heat will act to set the outer wrap softly into the epoxied base layer, but without penetrating too deep into it.
Note: Do not apply too much heat or the thread will cut too deep into the finished base layer.
With the threads just warm to the touch, let the rod and threads settle for 45 minutes to an hour before moving on. The heat allows the threads to set so that your outer pattern isn’t lost when it comes time to remove the sacrificial threads.
Next, cautiously slide the two inlay threads or sacrificial threads from under the secured running thread. Slowly unwind these two inlay threads until only the outer running thread remains over the base layer and carefully untuck the inlay threads from under the secured running thread.
6. Epoxy Wrap and Flame Finish
With the sacrificial threads removed, you can now mix and apply your final epoxy finish.
Epoxy the entire outer layer and as you do, look for small bubbles to grab onto the spaces between the single running thread. Getting rid of these bothersome finish bubbles is easy, just take your alcohol burner and use the flame finish technique to release each bubble.
The flame finish technique is simply lighting the alcohol burner and gently waft it under the areas where bubbles are trapped.
Let it cure for a full 24 hours and well, that’s all folks!
You now have your very own 3D tiger wrap and you’re on your way to building one awesome custom fishing rod.
Stock up on ProWrap ColorFast Thread to get started yourself…
Video Tutorial for Custom 3D Tiger Wraps
Learn how to wrap rod building’s wildest decorative thread wrap – the tiger wrap – in just 6 simple steps with Mud Hole Custom Tackle!