Turn That Blank Around : A Rainshadow Wrap for BFS Techniques
Total Score: 7.75 -
As reel manufacturers rush to get their take on the BFS movement to market, it seems rod manufacturers have a little catching up to do. The selection of available casting rods to support the light line movement just isn’t quite there, so what’s an enthusiast to do? Well, although the built rod options may be few and far between, blanks to enable the movement already exist. They’re just being used to produce spinning rods. So why not just take some of these blanks and turn them around? Batson Enterprises steps in to help us find out. Here’s my journey with their Rainshadow Eternity ETES72ML-SS blank.
Rainshadow Eternity ETES72ML (blank) Specifications
||Made in Korea
Blank = $190
Background: After catching wind of our Phenix B-USB-C 790H build article, Batson reached out with an offer to send us a build kit or two so we could familiarize our self with their product. Their Eternity ETES72ML-SS was one of the blanks they offered to send, but the way in which they described the blank was as a spinning rod. The blank intrigued me, but I told them I'd like to build it out as a casting rod, and after a little back and forth discussing goals for the build, here we are. For those who are unaware, Batson is the parent company of Rainshadow. Their ETES72ML-SS is a seven foot, two inch ( 7’-2”) blank built with a fast taper and rated as a medium light power blank (6-12lb line rating, 1/8-3/8oz lure).
latest build - Rainshadow's Eternity ETES72ML-SS blank
It sits within their Eternity RX10 series of blanks which is their highest end blank series. Eternity RX10s are built using high modulus, high strain Toray carbon with Batson’s proprietary scrim matrix and resin formula in designs for both bass and walleye applications. There are twelve models designed for bass fishing applications and eleven for walleye.
Rainshadow's Eternity blanks feature a "sanded swirl" finish
Impressions: The first thing I noticed when handling the ETES72ML-SS blank was how light it felt. On our scale, the blank weighed one point seven ounces (1.7oz). Its finish is described as “sanded swirl” meaning simply the surface has been sanded but otherwise left raw. This is how I prefer my blanks. I don't find gloss coatings or colored finishes necessary on my personal builds. While some look nice, I feel the coatings add unnecessary weight. Yes, I know. I'm actually growing a bit concerned at how this little side hobby is turning me into such a weight weenie.
Rainshadow's ETES72ML-SS is targeted as a spinning blank, but my intent was to build it out as a casting rod for light line applications
Included in the box of Forecast and Alps (brands that are also under the Batson umbrella) components was a build illustration for the ETEC72M - a blank of similar length but in a casting configuration. I actually have a background in Architecture, so I love illustrations like this. Unfortunately, because I have that design and thinking outside of the box mentality, thisĀ means I rarely follow the status quo. In other words, while I really appreciate the accompanying illustration as a starting point, this build eventually found me doing my own thing with handle layout and guide configuration. However, I really like Batson's effort to put these illustrations together and think they are invaluable for anyone thinking of building their own sticks yet are unsure where to begin.
Components that were included with the build kit consisted of Batson’s own Forecast brand split rear carbon grips, and real seat, and Alps titanium framed guides with Zirconium inserts. The trim parts were simplified during the course of our discussions to match my goal of building this rod as light as possible. So instead of the decorative butt cap and reel seat hood, they sent more simple, EVA parts. Additionally, the build illustration had the guides spaced for a conventional wrap and the rear grip at a nine inches (9”) behind the reel seat. I laid out the build with an eleven inch (11”) rear grip and planned to spiral wrap the guides (to the left).
Since the ETES72ML is a spinning rod blank, Batson sent along the build spec for the closest casting blank mode - the ETEC72M-SS
It all begins with the weight of that blank
About that Goal: It's no secret that I enjoy decorative aspects of a nicely adorned fishing rod. Colorful winding checks and other accent parts just make for a more interesting build. The trouble is, all those decorative elements come with a weight penalty. How much you ask? Well looking closely at something like butt cap options, Batson's EVA foam cap weighs a very svelte 2 grams, but their decorative aluminum cap tipped our scale at 19 grams. That 17 gram difference is a little over half an ounce.
Out of curiosity, I began weighing components
Taking a closer look as something more subtle like the carbon grip at the butt cap, Batson offers these in a couple of sizes. The smallest weighs only 3 grams, and the larger one slightly more at 5 grams.
I saved two grams by going with the smaller butt grip
I found this all more interesting than it needed to be and the exercise of weighing these different handle components brought to light another thought. By playing around with these components, it's easy to affect balance of the rod without having to go with a balancer kit.
I saved 17 grams by going with the EVA cap
In the end, I went with the smallest carbon butt matched with the EVA cap and I even eliminated the rubber winding checks provided to soften the transition between grip materials and the blank. I did this all in an effort to achieve the lightest build I could with these components. From there, it was a matter of reaming out the grips and fitting them onto the blank before securing them in place with the epoxy paste.
A Note About Reamers: As one will find in any kind of hands on build project or hobby, there are a countless number of tools to help the rod builder. It's enough to inspire a-whole-nother level of anxiety. One of those tools that caused me a bit of this trepidation at the outset of this hobby was the reamer. Understanding the basic function of this tool is to help enlarge the inside diameter of whatever grip material you choose to fit over the blank and to your desired position on the build, why couldn't I just use a drill bit?
I started out with these two and found them quite serviceable until I wanted to speed things up
Well for one, most drill bits are too short, and second, unless you have a press, the job of getting that fit onto the blank just right requires a bit more finesse than a drill bit can offer. Reamers are usually tapered from one end to the other to gradually and incrementally increase that inside diameter of your grip material almost mimicking that taper of the blank. Drill bits are a straight bore of a single diameter - if the bit is long enough, it'd work, it just wouldn't provide as precise a fit.
I crushed one of them in the chuck of my drill
Like the typical newbie to a hobby, I started out with a couple of relatively inexpensive reamers that actually worked really well for me for a while. These had abrasive material attached to a carbon shaft which made it easy to ream out my carbon grips by hand. Trouble is, as my number of builds increased, the slow, and sometimes imprecise method of reaming by hand grew tiresome. I discovered the reamers actually fit into the chuck of my cordless drill, so I started using that to spin the reamer instead of my hand.
A more quality reamer is built for these type of eventualities
Of course, because the shaft of these reamers was carbon, at least one of them eventually failed in the chuck of the drill causing me to search for a replacement. What I discovered was some of the more sturdy reamers come with a metal base you can use to safely secure within a drill's chuck or a larger, screwdriver like handle for ease of use.
Forecast's Dream Reamer Kit comes complete with a carrying case and spare grit material (sandpaper) cut to size
The other challenge with reamers is due to their gradual tapers, you often need more than one to reach your desired bore size. There have been several cases where I was left with needing just a little more size than my reamer would allow. I worked my way past this obstacle by using the ones I had on hand as a file to enlarge the hole inside the grip. This led to uneven hole sizes and in some cases, alignment issues with the reel seat.
The included handle doesn't just work like a chuck. The reamer attachments actually screw onto the handle
It makes for a much more secure hold
My solution? I finally broke down and acquired a legitimate set of reamers to refine my build results. Forecast actually offers a kit complete with four reamers that are built with a metal base. The Forecast Dream Reamer is packaged with a handle you can use for manual reaming, a cloth storage bag and spare sandpaper to resurface your reamer. Admittedly, it's a bit more robust than I ever thought I needed, but it sure made the task of installing the carbon grips onto the ETEC72ML-SS all the more simple and precise.