Branding fishing rods

Branding fishing rods

Posted Posted in Anodised aluminium, Other

When I was engraving fly fishing reels for Simon Barnes of Simba Rods, he asked if I could try branding fishing rods with his logo too.

He showed me some fishing rod butt ends, the metal discs that fit over the handle ends. They were made from anodised aluminium in silver and black, just like the fishing reels that engraved so well. Being flat and smooth, they would probably engrave well. It was worth a try! And if it worked, he told me he had more that he could post down to me.

Test engraving a fishing rod end

While Simon was visiting my the workshop, we decided to test engrave one of them. They’re only about 15mm in diameter, so the engravings would be very small.

First, I resized the logo to fit the diameter of the but ends. I did this in vector format to ensure that the quality of the artwork would remain high. Pixellation in small logos engraved on metal looks terrible.

The next challenge was to hold the butt ends in place whilst engraving them. They are so small that they have to be secured to make sure they don’t move during engraving.

BluTac is a wonderful thing. I put a lump on a slate piece and pushed the butt end in gently until it was secure. Then I lined it up with the laser and pressed the start button with my fingers crossed!

It worked first time. Although small, the logo came out perfectly. Simon was delighted. He’d wanted to find a way to brand his rods as well as the reels, and now he had a way.

Simba rod end

First production run

When Simon got home, he packaged up the sixty butt ends in his workshop and posted them to me. There was a mixture of black and silver anodised aluminium pieces like the one I test engraved, and some other domed metal ones.

All the 49 anodised aluminium ones engraved well. You can see one of the black ones after engraving in the picture above.

Unfortunately, the other metal parts didn’t take the engraving at all, with or without Thermark metal marking paste, so they were returned unmarked and undamaged by the attempts. Metals are very sensitive and can behave differently due to their composition and impurity profiles, but it’s always worth a try just in case.

I sent the ends back to Simon within a day. He had some rods that he was about to post to customers abroad and he wanted to put his new butt ends on them.


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How to engrave flyreels

How to engrave flyreels

Posted Posted in Anodised aluminium, Corporate

Simon from Simba Rods hand builds bespoke fly fishing rods in Crieff. He decided to expand his range to include reels, and wanted to have his logo and item numbers laser engraved onto them.

Engraving challenges

Simon said that most of the reels were made of anodised aluminium in silver, black and red. All engravings on anodised aluminium are silvery white, so I told Simon that there may be less contrast for engravings on them.

As the engravings would small and the logo is fine, I wasn’t sure how the logos might come out. To make things more complex, Simon told me that some of the areas he wanted engraved were concave, some were convex and others flat. I was concerned that depending on the heights and depths of the concave and convex areas, the laser might lose focus and the engraving quality might suffer. And metal is not forgiving to engrave at the best of times!

l talked Simon through all my production issues so he could understand the challenges I faced. I suggested that performing test engraves would give us a clear idea of what results we could expect, and he gamely agreed.

Simba Rods logo

Engraving the samples

Before Simon came, I traced his jpg logo to create a vector version. I could rescaled it without loss of quality to increase our chances of high quality results. This is particularly important for small engravings on metal.

Simon brought his sample reels to the workshop. He had a range of sizes- larger salmon reels and smaller trout reels, with black, silver and red parts to engrave. First, we measured the areas on the reels where he wanted the engravings to be and scaled his logo to three sizes, 15, 19 and 24mm wide.

The biggest challenge was setting up the reels in the laser. I created a stack of slates that the reels could sit on so the engraved surfaces were uppermost and the handles could face down beside the slates. Then I had to keep the reels stable by pushing small stacks of ply business cards under the reel rims. It was a bit of a faff, but it worked!

We decided to start with the easiest scenario first. I set up a reel with a black flat area. The results were of excellent quality with crisp finish and great contrast. Encouraged, I tried a convex red area next. Again, the results were fantastic. Finally, we tried a silver concave area that needed the smallest engraving size. this too engraved beautifully with better contrast than I’d expected. Simon was delighted with the engravings.

Simba Rods reel in black
Salmon reel with engravings on black and silver anodised aluminium. The engraved spindle rotates.

First production runs

Simon had ordered 48 reels of different sizes and colours. When they had arrived, he brought them to the workshop for engraving. He unpacked them all and checked with me what should be engraved where on each reel to save time. And he’s brought me a red bean bag that he hoped would help with setting the reels up in the machine. It was perfect. You can see it in use in the top picture.

Then he brought a second delivery. While he was here, he had another idea, but I’ll save that for another blog!


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