Consider A Custom Fishing Rod
For some years now, it seems that the popular fishing rod manufacturers have been able to convince anglers that their finished product is as good as it gets. Several years ago, many rod manufacturers were very active in promoting custom rod building, however, it is obvious by how these same manufacturers have been marketing their finished products that they wish to lead anglers to believe that their rods cannot be improved upon. As most experienced rod builders already know, this is not the case at all, and in fact, it is refreshing to see that interest in custom rod building is again on the rise.
There are many reasons for considering either building a rod for yourself or having a custom rod builder do it for you. If you are serious about your fishing, then it certainly should be a top consideration. Although it is true that most rod manufacturers today do produce some great high-quality rods, you simply cannot ignore the fact that they are made with the average angler in mind. Do you know who the average angler is? I sure don't! Taking a look at all of my fishing friends, not one of us is similar in size, casting style, or grip preference to name just a few variables. Yet, the rod manufacturers would want us to believe that their rods will match all of us perfectly.
When you decide to build your own rod, you are adding another dimension to your fishing. There is nothing quite like the thrill of making perfect casts, hooking and landing a fish on a rod you have made yourself, for yourself. You don't have to depend upon whether some individual was having a good day or not when they wrapped the guides on your rod or chose the best pieces of cork for the rod grip. As well, you know that you took the time to ensure that the guides were placed on the rod for optimum performance and that the best quality components were used.
Another great reason for building your own rod is that you have so much choice as to what components you want on your rod! Perhaps you have found the rod that has the action that is perfect for you, but you're not satisfied with the type of guides, the quality of cork, the thread wraps or perhaps you want to move up to a better quality reel seat, such as those offered by Bellinger or Struble. You don't have this type of choice unless you decide on a custom rod.
O.K., we know then a custom rod offers a great deal of choice as far as components. What about catching fish? I was often asked whether or not a custom fishing rod will catch more fish than one bought off the rack. I would reply with a qualified but excited "Yes!" For one thing, if you have confidence in the tools you are using, that confidence will be displayed in how you use them. If you know that your rod has been built right, that fact alone will give you an edge in your fishing. Further, when a rod has been built properly, it will be optimized for your casting style, and the components will have been placed on the rod in such a way that you are will experience a far greater degree of accuracy as well as much better fish fighting ability. Your fly will probably be in or on the water more than not, and this alone will give increase your odds of hooking fish.
Once the fish are hooked, a well-built custom rod can provide tremendous advantages in fighting the fish and can help you control it better. This, of course, means less break offs and more landed fish! Not only will you catch more fish with a custom rod, your angling pleasure will certainly be heightened every moment you are on the water!
Should you consider building your own or have a pro do it for you? That is up to you. There are a number of great resources for learning this craft on your own. As well, it's really not all that difficult. It does, however, take time to do it properly and it may be a wise idea to find a mentor to help you and get some advice as you go along. Another great idea is to consider the Seminars held throughout the U.S. by RodCrafters. These two-day seminars are packed full of information and you will meet a lot of great people who are more than willing to help out.
If you decide to have a pro do it for you, you must be very careful that the person you hire to build your rod really knows what they are doing and have some experience. You will pay a premium price for this service, but if the rod builder is experienced, it is money well spent. There are unfortunately, many who advertise themselves as rod builders, and think they are experts simply because they have a read a book and have built a rod or two for themselves or their friends. Make sure you get references, or better yet, visit the Custom Rod Builder's Guild and ask these folks for a referral to a certified rod builder.
If you are interested in pursuing crafting your own rod, I would suggest that you contact a few of the better-known custom rod component suppliers and get view what they have to offer and seek their advice. Often these businesses will be able to point you in the right direction and help you out with component selection while bearing in mind it is your first rod. The shop I used to deal with the most and that I can highly recommend from personal experience is Custom Tackle Supply. They can ship virtually anywhere and their service was second to none. You may also want to check out some of the other shops listed in the Custom Rods category.
One of the best books available on the craft is by Dale Clemens, entitled 'Advanced Custom Rod Building'. Although there are other books available, some of which are less expensive, this book is jam-packed full of useful information and goes far beyond any other book on the topic.
Another helpful resource is the new magazine, 'RodMaker'. Full of great articles covering a wide range of topics, this publication is sure to be recognized as the best in its class.
Next week, we will take a look at how to select a blank for those of you that are considering building your own rod for the first time. Stay tuned!