Steve's Custom Fishing Rods™
Rod Making Process
A Quality Fishing Rod begins with the use of quality components. I don't believe in scrimping on components to "save a buck". When you do, the end result is a rod that you won't be completely satisfied with. Over the years, I have used various rod building components and feel that those suggested, are the finest available. There are many good manufactured rods available, that will do many of the tasks desired. Though some may come close, they are not crafted with the same care and attention to detail of a custom handcrafted rod.
Consider some of the advantages listed below.
Rod Blanks: You will have the opportunity to choose from a number of rod blank manufacturers. Determine the blank that best fits the application you are searching for. There are many quality blanks that are light weight, yet strong and durable. Your blank will determine to a large degree, how your rod will balance out. I prefer not to put weight in the butt section of a rod except in extreme cases. You see examples of my preferred vendors on the components page.
Rod Spine: This is the postion that the rod settles to when flexed. All rod blanks have a spine. Makers of mass produced rods don't have the time to find the spine on their rod blanks. They will usually go with the straightest side, which may not coincide the spine. There are a number of methods and devices used to determine the spine of the rod. I begin by placing the butt section on a flat surface, such as my rod table. I then place the rod tip in my left hand. The last step is to push down on the blank in the center, with my right hand, causing the rod to bend. The blank is then rolled across the table, which will cause the rod to settle in a relaxed, flexed postition. The reel seat and guides are placed on this spine to optimize casting accuracy and/or fish fighting abilities.
Guides for spinning and casting rods come in various sizes, colors and styles. The most common guides I use for this application are the Pac Bay guides. The prices of these guides vary according to the materials from which they are constructed. We can discuss your applications, then decide on the guide that would best suit your situation. I have seen other guides, from other manufacturers that look nice, but seem to have a higher incidence of the ceramic insert popping out. This requires replacement of the guide. Because of my experience, I encourage clients to use the Pac Bay products.
Reel Seats for casting and spinning rods are produced by a number of manufacturers. I tend to use Pac Bay graphite reel seats. Some of the casting reel seats have exposed areas on the bottom, which allow your fingers to contact the blank. This increases your abiltiy to perceive subtle strikes. I recommend using the Pac Bay graphite reel seats on spinning rods. If you have found that most spinning reel seats are too small and cramp your hand as I have, consider constructing your rod with a larger diameter seat. It will make casting your rod all day long, more pleasureable. The graphite material is warm to touch, especially in cold weather, as I have discovered while steelhead fishing.
Cork is generally used for handle construction. The quality of cork can vary siginificantly. I attempt to use the best cork available. Nothing distracts from a quality rod more than pitted cork. I don't tend to fill pits. I prefer to use cork with minimal pitting. My belief is that if you are going to spend the money for a custom rod, get the finest components that you can afford.
Here are some examples of the types of handles that I can produce.
Two-part epoxy glue is used to apply the cork to the blank. Prior to gluing the cork, the blank is sanded to provide a better bonding surface. The area is cleaned with alcohol to remove any oils, that may interfere with the bonding process. This care insures that you won't have a handle or reel seat that comes loose in the future.
Guide Wraps can vary from simple to complex. I use nylon threads for wrapping all guides and decorative butt wraps. Silk thread is available if you prefer, especially for construction / repair of a traditional bamboo fly rod. A vast number of colors are available and can be combined in any combination that you desire. I wrap all my rods by hand and care is taken to ensure there are no gaps or overwraps. The thread is treated with color preserver, to maintain its color when the epoxy finish is applied. Some clients prefer not to use the color preserver. This causes the thread to become darker and transparent, allowing the guide feet to be seen beneath.
An epoxy finish is applied to the threads to provide long lasting protection. With the use of color preserver, yellowing should be minimized, from long hours of sun exposure.