D.I.Y. Rods

Protecting Your Tenkara Rod’s Autograph

On occasion, you may purchase a rod that has a special meaning to you, or that has had design input from someone you meet, and you want to get that person’s autograph to go on your tenkara rod. For instance maybe you meet Masami Sakakibara and want him to sign your Oni rod. Or maybe it would be Dr. Rob Worthing and his signature on your Riverworks ZX-4 PRO, or Dr. Ishigaki and your Shimano tenkara rod, or maybe even Luong Tam or Anthony Naples and your Tanuki rod. Which ever rod it is, or whosever signature you want on your rod, you’ll want to preserve it.

Protecting Your Tenkara Rod's Autograph - Tenkara Angler - Tom Davis - Oni Rods

I’ve had the privilege to attend all or part Tenkara Guides LLC Oni School on five separate occasions. On my first school attendance, I asked Masami to sign on of my original Sakakibara Specials – one original foam and the other bamboo handled. He gladly did so. Afterwards, I was talking to John Vetterli, one of the original founders of Tenkara Guides LLC, and he said that he had Oni sign some of his rods as well, but the signatures had worn off with time and use. I decided to try to protect my newly acquired Oni signature.

So how can you protect your rod autograph? It all depends on the paint pen used for the signature. If the author signed with a oil-based paint pen, then you’ll need to seal the paint before over spraying with a clear coating, otherwise the signature will blur in the spray’s solvent. If the author uses an acrylic paint pen then that’s not an issue. Oni uses an oil-based paint pen.

First, mask off the signature on the rod with painter’s masking tape, leaving it exposed but protecting the rest of the rod. Next, use thin layers of Mod Podge to seal the autograph. Use the brush-on Mod Podge and not the spray-on version (as the spray-on version has solvent that will destroy the autograph). Let this dry and repeat for three layers. You may have to rotate the rod while the Mod Podge dries, so you get the layers even. I prefer the gloss finish Mod Podge.

Protecting Your Tenkara Rod's Autograph - Tenkara Angler - Tom Davis - Mod Podge

Next, after the Mod Podge has dried for 24 hours, over spray the autograph with a clear, waterproof sealant, such as Rust-Oleum or Krylon. Do this in thin, even layers and let dry thoroughly between layers. I usually do three thin layers. Again, I prefer gloss finish.

After this has dried, remove the masking tape and burnish the edges until they are smooth. I use the barrel of a Bic clear plastic ballpoint pen to do this.

I have a number of rods with autographs on them, and this method has preserved the signatures well over many years – despite heavy fishing use. If this is something you’d like to do with some of your rods, then give it a try! Take your tenkara rods to a new level!

Editor’s Note: While giving examples of autograph-worthy rod and angler pairings at the beginning of this article, the author clearly failed to mention getting a Tom Davis autograph on your DRAGONtail Mizuchi! Tom’s just too humble to do that, so I’ll do that for him. 😉 – Mike

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  1. WOW, two days ago I asked if anyone knew how to do this on my Facebook page and bam–here it is. Thanks Tom! You might know I came back from the Oni School with three rods I want to protect so I’ll get that stuff and do this. Thanks for putting this out so fast! You’re going to give AI a run for its money.

    1. It’s timely information, given that the Oni School just ended. I bought my first Oni rod through you, back when you were the Oni source in the USA. Great rods!

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