Most people with alcohol burners I've seen get the flame way to close to the work,and are way to impatient to get the results, that's why many builders avoid them like the plague.
If you fully saturate your brush and have no air bubbles in the bristles before you apply the finish it helps a lot. If you let your first coat soak in for 5+ minutes than remove all excess down to the thread than let it set up, than mix and apply a super fine coat over the first it's real hard to not have a nice, light, bubble free end result. At least that's my trouble free process.
There are a couple things you need to figure out.
1. Does it need to store in a tube like a fly rod? If it does, guide height will be a concern as it doesn't take much to make this difficult.
2. There are a couple ways to go, a Tennessee grip so you can put the reel anywhere on it's length, or get two blanks and build a fly and spinning grip on each butt section.
Take a look at the rods built by The Worried Shrimp, he has a few he built that are heavier powered than what your doing, but all the things he did would be relavent on any rod.