All About Fly Fishing!

New Publication - RodMaker Magazine

A new publication landed on my desk several days ago and has really caught my attention. So much so that I put off writing this week's feature to try to come up with words to describe the quality of both the layout and content of this magazine.

For many years, I built fishing rods commercially and for personal use. Most of my clients were fly anglers therefore most of my building involved fly rods, however many an ultra light spin or heavy musky rod also left my shop. For the first few years, my rods were for my own personal use and the thrill of landing fish with tackle that I had made myself is something that cannot be fully explained in words. I know by the amount of email and phone calls I receive that there are still many of you that are considering building your own rod or want advice on repairing an older one that retains sentimental value.

When I first began building rods, I discovered that there was a lot of differing opinion as to what a custom rod should be. Guide spacing, the proper way to locate the spine of a blank, high build versus low build finishes and choice of components can be very confusing to the novice builder. I discovered a journal of sorts for rod builders and attended several seminars devoted to the art of custom crafting fishing rods and learned more about both the art and the techniques that helped me build better rods. Without these, I could never have provided a quality product that would have been good enough to provide commercially.

Recently, publisher and custom rod builder, Tom Kirkman, introduced his 'RodMaker' publication. This magazine, which is published bi-monthly, is the best of its kind that I have ever seen. As well as information for the novice, the experienced rod builder will also find lots of information that will be of interest. In the two issues I looked at, there were articles on a variety of topics including product reveiws of the Ryobi Lathe and U-40 Ferrule Lube, making your own tapered reamers as well as helpful business information including recent U.S. tax information, a discussion on warranties and a method to figure out your labor costs.

As well as the interesting and informative articles, the magazine has provided space for reader's classified ads and has a number of shorter news briefs and a 'Letters" forum whereby readers may write in with their own opinions or thoughts without having to write their own long feature article. As well, the layout provides for excellent photographs and illustrations that really show you what is being written about in each article. As long as there is an interest in custom rod building, this magazine is going to be around!

If you are interested in subscribing, you can email the publisher, Tom Kirkman at or write them at RodMaker Magazine, P.O. Box 1322, High Point, NC, USA 27261. The phone number is 336-882-3226.

There are also a number of excellent rod building resources available on the Internet. Many of these are general in nature and not specific to fly rods, however, a wide range of knowledge will help you regardless of the type of rod you are building. As well, there are several books available on rod building. The one I recommend because of the depth of information it contains is 'Advanced Custom Rod Building' by Dale Clemens. Mr. Clemens is probably the reason for the huge surge in interest in rod building over the past 20 years and he is regarded as being one of the most knowledgeable experts (Dale won't like the term 'expert' being used to describe him) in the world. His propensity to share his knowledge and stay open to new ideas while anchoring RodCrafter Seminars throughout America for many years gave him an almost 'guru' status amongst rod builders.

As well as the above book, L. A. Garcia's 'Hand Crafting A Graphite Fly Rod is focussed towards the fly angler and has been recommended by some. My own opinion is that this book does offer some good instruction, but there are is also questionable advice and is in no way as comprehensive as the book by Clemens. If you are looking for something very simple and easy to understand to help you build your first rod, you may want to consider 'Do It Yourself Rod Building' by Bill Stinson. This book offers solid but basic instruction but was written mostly with fibreglas blanks in mind. Construction of rods with graphite blanks is not all that different than fibreglas, but more care must be taken in some steps to ensure that no damage is done to the blank's thinner graphite walls.

There is also a book available by reknowned fly tyer Skip Morris entitled The Custom Graphite Fly Rod : Design and Construction. I have no idea about its contents as I have not read it nor have I seen any reviews on this book. I do know however, that Morris has written some excellent works on fly tying and I would venture that he has written a good quality book on rod building. If you know anything about it, please send me your comments.

If you are considering rod building or perhaps want to learn more, I certainly would recommend that after you have purchased a good book on the subject that you do subscribe to the above reviewed 'RodMaker' magazine. This will help you to keep up to date on new techniques and products availabe which will give you the necessary tools to build the best rod possible - one that you will experience the same thrill as I did when I caught fish on my first custom rod.