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HomeFishSick Rods: Custom Fishing Rods to a Functional Art Form

Sick Rods: Custom Fishing Rods to a Functional Art Form

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Face it…  Custom Fishing Rods would be considered one of the COOLEST Holiday Gifts for your loved one!

Have you ever felt like your fishing rod was an extension of your arm – a part of you – and you could feel everything that was happening at the end of the line? That’s the sensation of fishing with a custom fishing rod perfectly matched to you and the type of angling you enjoy.

Capt. Mark Law builds custom fishing rods that would not only be fit to hang on the wall as fine art pieces, but are also built to take the demands of charter use and monster fish. Out of a small storefront on Florida’s West Coast, Sick Rods, he builds rods for enthusiasts worldwide.

His custom fishing rods craft had modest beginnings. Law had been around fishing boats since he was 12 years old. He worked on long liners and later on his own charter boats, gaining a wealth of fishing knowledge. As rods broke, they needed repair and – because of a very tight budget – Law learned how to do it himself. “It was out of necessity,” he explained, and the repairs had to be done to last.

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After a friend showed him the basics of wrapping rod eyes, he decided he wanted to learn more. His repairs evolved into incredible works of art. Law credits his family for his artistic side.

Law now works with a huge variety of materials, and his custom fishing rods range from custom freshwater spinner and casting rods to ultra custom saltwater battle sticks. Materials can be as simple as fiberglass and cork (rebuilding grandfather rods to their original state) or as exotic as Kevlar and snakeskin. Any color and style can be made to order, and no request has been turned down.

Sailing with Charlie: Going Green

Sick Rods - Custom Fishing Rods - Capt. Mark Law. Photo by Glenn Hayes
Sick Rods – Custom Fishing Rods – Capt. Mark Law. Photo by Glenn Hayes

What is the process for building Custom Fishing Rods?

When a customer places an order, Law first determines what kind of fishing will be done and the type and make of reel that will be mounted to the custom fishing rod. These factors help decide what kind of rod blank should be used. Options could include traditional fiberglass, carbon composites or a carbon/Kevlar blend.

Then a decision has to be made as to what kind of eyes will go on the rod, how many and where they will be placed. The builder determines the spline of the rod, or where the layers that make up the blank overlap. Law says it is important to mount the eyes along this spline or the rod will tend to twist under pressure. Micro-eyes are an increasingly popular option. These are much smaller and are used in greater number so that the line comes off the spool with less “belly” between the eyes, allowing for maximum casting distance.

The grip of the rod is another decision. Law has a special graphite composite handle he hand-makes with a thumb ball shaped to the size of the client’s hand. This grip accentuates vibrations and the feel of the rod, helping to give it that tailor-made feel. Once his clients experience it, they aren’t interested in any other grip.

The length of the handle is also custom-made, based on how the rod is held when fishing.

Once the components are all determined the custom fishing rod can be built. The only decision remaining is that of aesthetics.

The Art of Fishing and Sailing (by Robert Scott)

Photo by Glenn Hayes
Photo by Glenn Hayes

The decorative part of the rod has a dizzying array of options. Gone are the days of a choice of just rod color and thread design. Law offers feathers, custom colors and epoxy marbling, along with custom graphics and logos.

The custom fishing rods he builds for women seem to be dominated by the exotic skins, whereas charter captains prefer abalone shell. Because of the limitless options available, he has had no problem building custom rods such as a red fire themed rod for a retired firefighter, team themed rods, rods with inlaid music scores for a musician, biker rods every bit as showy and shiny as the motorcycles they are named after, or a full set of matched rods for celebrity tournament fishermen.

A retired judge requested a cobra themed rod, and when an actual cobra head was provided with a skin, the head was incorporated into the rod. This rod is more of a showpiece, but the truth is that it could be fished with day in and day out.

The fact that Law is in tune with current trends and technology and an active charter captain helps in building rods that not only look exceptional, but can fish exceptionally well.

A recent example of his trend-setting work is the unusual wrapping of eyes in a spiral on some of his custom fishing rods. When commissioned to create some custom tournament rods, Law approached Gary Loomis (of Loomis rod fame) and asked how he would set up a dream tarpon rod for 200-pound-plus fish in 75 feet of water. His answer was a rod with a spiral wrap with the eyes starting on the top of the rod and slowly rotating to the underside of the rod, removing the twist pressure that is created when a large tarpon tensions the rod.

The successes of these custom fishing rods in tournaments this past year will surely prompt others to take note and follow suit.

Capt. Law says there are few custom fishing rod builders willing to do what he does because it can be tedious and requires many hours at the workbench.

An average uncomplicated custom fishing rod could take a minimum of six hours, not including drying time between stages. Time is added because he puts three coats of epoxy on each rod, with six hours drying time between coats, as opposed to some builders who only apply one thick coat. Then comes all the intricate adornments and artistic finishes.

But Law admits that he gains tremendous satisfaction when the custom fishing rod is complete and he sees the expression on his client’s face upon delivery. He creates rods that are both art and function, making a fun activity all the more pleasurable.

Interested in a Custom Fishing Rod?  Contact Captain Mark Law.  A Custom Fishing Rod would be the PERFECT Christmas Gift!

Sick Rods – Custom Fishing Rods
Captain Mark Law
10 South Pinellas Ave
Tarpon Springs, Fl 34689
(727) 946-6281

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  1. Hi there, This is Jay from the Miss Virginia…Did you ever get the reel i dropped off finished? I have been leaving texts and phone msgs.

    • Hi, Jay, responses here are from staff of All At Sea Magazine. Your best bet is to contact Sick Rods directly.
      Sick Rods – Custom Fishing Rods
      Captain Mark Law
      10 South Pinellas Ave
      Tarpon Springs, Fl 34689
      (727) 946-6281


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Glenn Hayes
Glenn Hayeshttp://www.HayesStudios.com
Glenn Hayes is a writer and photographer based out of west central Florida and has marine industry background spanning almost a quarter century. He can be reached through his web site www.HayesStudios.

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