Seeing is believing in the photos below. What a difference! Can you tell which grip has been sanded and which hasn’t? Two identical rods of the same age and usage levels. Oldie but goodie Albright #5/6 from a different era. Inherited from my father and still used!
A recent Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast with host Tom Rosenbauer featured a Q&A on how to breathe new life into old cork grips/handles on fly rods. The answer from the Rod Department was to use 400 Grit Sandpaper to gently sand away the memories of fishing trips past, revealing a shiny, bright new handle. I did this and was thrilled with the outcome. The steps below and results:
- Take the butt section of your fly rod and wrap masking tape or painters tape around the reel seat and blank just on the edge of the cork to protect surfaces.
- Take a piece of your 400 grit sandpaper (I cannot vouch for other grades of sandpaper that you have lying around the house!) and begin gently rubbing it on the cork. It does not take much pressure. It’s like eating corn on the cob – you can either rotate the grip as you go or go lengthwise like a typewriter.
- Make one pass covering every square inch, and you’ll see dark spots on the sandpaper. Feel free to make another pass – you’ll know the job is over when no more dark material is rubbing off on the sandpaper. It does not take much effort or time to complete the task.
- Take a cloth and rub the fine dust off the handle, unwrap the tape, and you’re good to go.
I love the feeling of a new cork grip, it’s softness and potential in your hands. Well-made “old” rods like the Albrights in these photos have quality cork that’s meant to last, and yields itself well to this endeavor. Give this process shot and let me know how it goes. I didn’t watch any YouTubes or read any articles or do any additional Googling in preparation for this, it just went fine the first time and I intend to keep doing it as described here.
Happy fishing y’all, enjoy the end of summer.