Photo by Christina Weber
Photo by Christina Weber

Rod Building

Sometimes I feel like Goldilocks – this rod is too stiff, this rod is too light, but this rod it’s just right. There’s a reason fisherman need fourteen thousand rods to sustain our addiction. Every single rod was designed with a purpose in mind. When I started to become a more serious beach shark fisherman I quickly discovered there was no rod on the market built for this style of fishing and fisherman were building their own custom rods. This was my entry into building my own rods. My focus was the quality of components and the placement of these components. I had to build a rod to fit me and my personal style. Here I am years later with MHX as my sponsor putting my heart and soul into every throw during tournaments. It brings an entirely new meaning to each cast.

Everyone can build their own rods knowing these three easy steps.

Step 1: Choosing your components.
Are you wanting a new frog rod, a beach tarpon rod, or a spillway special snook rod? Only with a clear purpose can you build the right rod for you.

Now take one of your existing rods and make a list of everything you see on it: blank, guides, whether the grip is cork or EVA, reel seat, thread, epoxy, butt cap, fore grips, hook keeper and the list can easily go on. This list will give you a great heading. Begin with the blank. It’s fairly easy to get an idea of which blank will work for you. Remember, just because it says it is a jigging rod for bass fishing doesn’t mean you need to use it for that. Gander around at the length and weights. Not the physical weight of the rod, but it’s suggested line weight or lure weight. It will give you an idea how light or heavy it is.

A good place to find everything you are looking for is by visiting Mud Hole Rod Building and Tackle Crafting in Oviedo, Fla., either online or in person. There isn’t a single soul in that building that can’t assist you.

Step 2: Getting the right tools and proper equipment.
You can make this as expensive or as inexpensive as you’d like. At ICAST 2014, Mud Hole released a hand wrapper that was $10. Now this is certainly not ideal for long term or even more than three times, but it is worth $10 to experience some of the process. For $180 you can buy a complete rod building start-up kit that includes a power wrapper and dryer –  two important tools to a successful rod build. There are many little parts and pieces that go into the actual build itself. These include threads, epoxy, glue, tape, brushes, cups, adhesive stick, rod build finish and a few other miscellaneous items that cost near to nothing. Time, blank and components will be the biggest expense in most cases.

Step 3: The build
Now that you’ve spent hours of conversations with Mud Hole and your buddies, it’s time to build. Your very first step will be to find the spin of the rod. Place the tip on the ground and take the rod butt in your palm. Begin to twist the rod so it turns and as it turns it’ll almost pop when it hits that sweet spot. This is when you know you’ve found the spin of the rod.

Depending on whether it’s a spinning or a baitcaster will determine which side you place the guides and reel seat. You need to glue the grips and reel seat on first to help you place the guides properly. When placing the guides you aren’t just throwing them on there in a manner that looks exciting to you. There’s a rhyme and reason for everything; this is no exception. If you got your supplies from Mud Hole they usually include a map of the required distance between each guide. Otherwise find a rod of yours that is similar to set the guides exactly the same. Once you’ve placed the guides you want to give it a sight test by running a line through the guides and bending the rod to see if the line touches the blank, You do not want the line touching the blank. This is where I start to feel like I’m going down hill. Once the guides are placed all I have left is threading, epoxy, rod finish and letting her dry. A little blue accent here or there and a Florida state decal epoxied above my fore grip and I’m good to go.

Make this a fun process. Rod building doesn’t have to be crazy and you will be surprised how easy it is to do a lot of very simple custom details that make your rod yours. Adding accents of your favorite color or favorite sports team can be thrown into any single component and for someone who likes things simple and clean these items are perfect.

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