I'm not sure why, but cork handles have been popular on my new X-1 pike rod. With it being a slimmer blank than my other twelve footers this has meant slimmer cork can be easily fitted. I have to say the look is rather nice. Maybe nicer still with a flared butt end to the cork too.
Before Christmas I was sent a lure rod handle for my evaluation. It was a bit of an odd request and in the end the customer and I decided to go for an unusual option. The blank manufacturer, Edge Fishing Rods, offer an offset cork rear grip to match up to an offset exposed blank trigger reel seat. The customer ordered up the cork (he had already supplied the reel seat) and forwarded it to me a few weeks ago.
As expected the cork required reaming, which was easily done, but the seat did too. This went more smoothly than anticipated. Marrying the two was straightforward, as was fitting the composite butt cap. Then I shaped up and fitted a foregrip and fitted a new keeper ring and the original butt ring. I must say that the result feels very nice and it was an interesting little project that I would do slightly differently if there was a next time. Don't ask me for this as an option on any of my rods though. Not unless you want to supply the components!
Another oddball handle configuration I've done recently is a split cork handle on a light 7ft spinning rod. This required the custom turning of the three 'grips'. Rather than fit cork to the blank and shape it in situ I learned the lesson from the Edge rod of glueing up the cork shives and turning them on a mandrel - a piece of scrap rod blank! Doing it this way means that if anything goes Pete Tong there's less hassle. Especially when it comes to the grip behind the reel seat. I've never liked these split cork grips on heavy rods, but the proportions seem better on this little thing.