I’m mainly a bass angler who got hooked into fishing in 2010. After trying various fishing rods, I began to notice certain rod specifications that appealed to me. But it was hard to find all those traits in a store bought rod.
I was contemplating spending money on a custom rod but then noticed an ad from mudhole.com (rod and lure making site). They had great tutorials and kits for beginners and so I started creating custom rods for myself, family and friends in early 2019.
I was amazed at all the different grip/guide components, handle lengths, and decorations that could be customized. I could now create a rod with a threadless reel seat, open style hook keeper, balanced to the exact way I hold my reel, and uniquely decorated such that no one else had the same setup. Also, the sense of pride of catching a fish on equipment you’ve built is truly hard to beat (as I’m sure the fly tying community could attest to as well).
I’ve built a half dozen rods now and have another 4 blanks backlogged that I hope to complete this year. I’m always trying something new on each rod build… whether it’s technical or purely cosmetic. There’s a fine balance between the two, but in the end a custom rod is whatever you want it to be. There is no right or wrong!
This was my very first rod build for my dad:
I just want to show that it’s not too difficult to get started in custom rod building once you have the equipment. I actually put the guides on backward on my first mockup hahaha! Luckily I dry fit everything before epoxying the parts. To add a personalized touch, I used white/blue thread to create a “fish” pattern decorative cross wrap and name inscription. A nice coat of clear finish on top of them gives it a professional look.
This was my second build:
Specifically made for light crankbaits; so I used a slower action rod blank and nicknamed it
I actually used a technique called “static load guide testing” to allocate my guides: It involves putting the rod under load, and then placing your guides to mimic the natural bend of your rod. The theory is you are now getting maximum efficiency from your rod when fighting a fish as it will bend to its natural state.
I also created a green/black thread tiger wrap in front of the reel seat (aka Scott Throop 3D tiger wrap technique). You really need to see it in person to appreciate its uniqueness. The stripes actually move like a hologram when you twist the rod in the sunlight.
Here are some high end blanks and new tech materials:
These two blanks were from Gary Loomis’ North Fork Composites company. I used one rod for a spinning outfit, and the other for casting; both builds are using carbon fibre grips instead of eva or cork.
I weighed these myself and they are the LIGHTEST of all grips. And literally crush proof!! – Attempted unique thread patterns above and in between the grips that you wouldn’t see on regular rods. It’s called a fade pattern and the red rod also has a “blade” pattern inlay. – RED spinning rod was built based on request they wanted something red and flashy! The reel seat was purchased pre painted with a hydro dip technique.
This blue casting rod has a nice exposed reel seat to increase feel on the blank and excess seat threads were cut in the front.
The part I like BEST (and this is all personal preference), is the hidden counter balance lead weight I epoxied inside the butt cap. With the reel seat installed, this rod literally sits balanced on my finger right where I hold it. To me, it makes the rod sensitive to those light bites and makes the whole outfit feel almost weightless!
In the works are a couple of “themed” rods for 2020:
This one is based on Star Wars – Darth Vader’s light sabre.
Printing my own decals has allowed me to design some cool graphics and a custom rod butt logo. Combined with a silver/black aluminum reel seat and red rod blank. I also intend to wire a red light to this to see if I can light it up at night for fun!
I also have a Toronto raptors championship rod to design as well. And now that you’ve introduced me to the wonderful world of fly tying, I’ll have to fit that in too. This is shaping up to be a busy but fun year!!! Tight Lines!