A Guide to Rod Building's Best Practices
Learn about the best habits rod builders use to keep improving their custom fishing rods.
10 Ways to Build Better Custom Fishing Rods
For the majority of rod builders, the appearance of the rod is just as important as its customized performance. Whether building for decades or just starting out, rod builders across the board of experience know there is always room to improve the process.
Although there is certainly a learning curve to building custom rods, the best part is the community of knowledge it creates and how easy it is to find answers to any questions.
Custom rod building is truly a rewarding craft that's geared for performance, but it's also a skill that takes plenty of practice to perfect, so a little advice goes a long way to improve both the rod builder's abilities and their experience.
From the most common questions to overlooked answers and helpful hints, this list details the top tips that benefit all rod builders.
1. Rod Builders Always Ask Questions
Like fishing, the rod building community is one that is always willing to share helpful tips and tricks. Whether it be with fellow beginners or seasoned builders, communication is the easiest way to shorten the learning curve and improve your rod building skills.
Take advantage of this group's vast knowledge and experience by assembling a reliable network of rod builders. Networking and consulting with local rod builders helps a ton, but don't be afraid to dive in to the immense resources online.
Find Rod Building Resources Online
Many rod builders look to digital publications, like forums with message boards, Facebook Pages, and YouTube Channels, to collectively solve the intricacies of this incredible craft.
Between discussing questions, watching demos, and cycling through pictures of finished rods, learning from a network of custom rod builders is as helpful as it is easy.
2. Take a Rod Building Class and Teach Others
When it comes to rod building, there's no experience that compares to the hands-on learning of a custom rod building class.
Have you ever wanted to build your own fishing rod but don't know where to start?
From the basics of rod building to the more advanced levels of customization, these classes provide step by step instruction in cities across the country. Whether you are just beginning to build or want to sharpen up your skills, each class is perfect for anyone interested in rod building.
Our rod building classes are taught by top professional rod builders with extensive knowledge of all the state of the art techniques and components that build today's top-performing custom rods.
Check out a Custom Rod Building Class near you!
Besides taking a class and practicing, a great way to improve your rod building skills is to teach your friends and family. You will be surprised how much easier rod building becomes after you teach someone else.
That way, not only are you building and getting better, but also enjoying it with the people you care about enough to teach. Learning and improving are important to custom rod building and teaching others is an awesome way to do both simultaneously.
3. Rod Builders Need Digital Calipers
All rod blanks are tapered from the butt to the tip. This tapered feature is important for performance, but it also makes accurate blank measurements harder to find.
For example, winding checks require the exact size of the location where you intend to install it. Since winding checks serve as decorative and professional accents, you want each one to fit on the rod blank with precision.
Digital calipers are the perfect tool to get pinpoint measurements on tapered rod blanks. The precision of digital calipers are a lifesaver because it allows rod builders to plan out rods with the ultimate accuracy.
Grab your Digital Calipers here!
4. Stay Prepared and Organized with Tools and Supplies
Preparation is one of the most crucial aspects in setting yourself up for success in custom rod building.
For rod building, preparation helps in every phase. Most often, it's mapping out handles, prepping guide feet, getting ready for thread wraps, or even just mixing epoxy.
And sometimes, it's having the right tools close by that can make all the difference. Being prepared with the right tools, supplies, and techniques, is a great way to ensure you are ready to build a better fishing rod.
For instance, the burnishing tool is often overlooked, but this tool is actually very valuable to custom rod builders. Used to pack in thread wraps, the burnishing tool erases gaps to produce smooth, clean, and consistent thread wraps.
The burnishing tool also works great in combo with the blank extension tool for tighter thread wraps that go right up to the ferrule's edge on multi-piece rod blanks.
Keep Rod Building Equipment Organized
Since preparation leads to having many tools and finishing supplies nearby, organization becomes just as crucial once you begin building. You would be surprised just how easy it is to stick your elbow in epoxy—but there's a solution.
Keep track of your equipment and stay ready to build better custom rods with the RBS Rolling Tool Tray and Rolling Finish Tray.
These trays not only keep everything you need organized, but with the added rolling feature, the trays slide with you while working along the RBS Aluminum Base Station.
For more helpful rod building tools and equipment, check out CRBâ€¦
5. Add a Thread Wrap by the Tip Top Guide
No this isn't a myth, it's actually more of a suggestion proven to work in certain applications. In spinning, casting, and fly applications, where tips are much lighter than tops like offshore rollers, wrapping the tip top helps keep it in place.
Especially if you're using a tip cement or other glue formula with a lower melting point, wrapping thread up to the tip top is a common way rod builders improve the security of the tip top on the rod blank.
Let's rewind and think about why this wrap can help. The tip top is first glued in place and this is enough to secure the tip top most of the time, however, there are certain conditions that can cause the bond's adhesion to loosen and fail.
For instance, if you're an on-the-go angler and tend to keep your rods in the car, you definitely want add thread wraps to your tip top. The higher temperatures inside a parked car will re-heat the glue bond, undo the adhesive properties, and ultimately, lead to a repair.
Another example, is if you spend a lot of time on the water in tournaments, or as guide and avid fisherman. These long days in the hot sun can also interfere in the tip's glue bond and cause issues with casting.
Although tip top repair isn't the end of the world, why not prevent this from the start with a simple thread wrap. By wrapping up to or even a few wraps over the tip top and then adding some epoxy finish, rod builders ensure the tip top will remain in place regardless of outside conditions.
Besides, for blanks where the tip top's tube doesn't sit flush on the rod's tip, a wrap adds a sleek aesthetic that makes the blank and tip top transition more uniform.
6. Avoid Problems with Epoxy Finish
When it comes to finishing a custom fishing rod, the epoxy you use, as well as how you use it will forecast the strength of the epoxy's bond and ultimately, the success of the rod itself.
Whether choosing between different epoxy brands and builds, or learning about the many techniques and tips that have stood the test of time, there is no shortage of information surrounding epoxy use.
The most common epoxy problems range from mixing mistakes and application errors, to inconsistent curing times. Since these simple epoxy problems can grow into some huge headaches, it is best to use the following information to ensure your experience is as smooth as the finished epoxy itself.
Watch the guys from Mud Hole tackle Tips for Epoxy Finish!
7. Slow and Steady When Reaming Cork
Most reaming mistakes happen when we rush a build, so consider these helpful reaming reminders before building your handle assembly.
While reaming a hole in a piece of cork may not be rocket science, there are a few tips that will keep you from having to buy replacement parts if things go wrong during this process.
If you get a cork handle and are going to use it on a heavy action bass rod, you know you are going to be going through some cork. There is a natural tendency, especially if you are building several 'like' rods at the same time, to jump right to the larger reamer size.
This will most likely lead to cracking the cork wall, and having to start over again. This doesn't exactly ruin your rod build, but why waste the time and material.
For instance, if you use the CRB Extreme Reamers, they come in the following sizes:
If you know the EXR-XL size is the last reamer size you need for a fore grip, start with the smallest reamer—even though it only takes off a small amount of cork material. Then go on to each size until desired size is reached.
Pick up your Set of Extreme Reamers!
Note: If you happen to be using material that has no precut hole, then use a small drill bit to create a starter hole.
8. Build More Rods to Learn More About Rod Building
One key to becoming a successful rod builder is to keep it simple, especially in the beginning. Beginners find that their comfort and abilities with the craft improve drastically after each finished rod.
So build away and watch as your equipment goes from rookie rods to complete masterpieces on the water.
Get your start to rod building with the revolutionary Turnkey Kits!
These incredible kits include all the rod components, tools, and supplies necessary to get started with an excellent foundation for rod building.
Or build up your arsenal with all the choices in Multi-Options Rod Kits
Whether it's casting, spinning, fly, ice, and offshore, you name it and there is a multi-option rod kit designed to perform in that application.
If you know where you want to fish or what you want to catch, Mud Hole has the best rod for you just waiting to be built!
9. If You Can Build a Rod, You Can Also Repair It
Rod repair is a crucial aspect of custom rod building and Mud Hole offers plenty of resources to help.
For many rod builders, the lessons learned while building apply equally to repair work.
So, if you can build a rod then you can certainly repair almost anything that happens to it.
Whether replacing your fishing rod's components, such as tip tops, guides, and grips, or repairing a loose reel seats and broken multi-piece ferrules, there is always a way to get it done and a Mud Hole Blog to help.
Whether repairing or replacing your fishing rod's components, such as tip tops, guides, or even grips, catch up on Mud Hole's Facebook Live with the industry's leading tips to fix your favorite fishing rod and preserve its proven performance.
10. Be Patient and Enjoy Building Your Custom Rod!
Though practice and experience are crucial, your mindset while building is just as important. Keeping an open mind and being creative often leads to awesome fishing rods as well as a better overall experience while building them.
Patience is also crucial in building the best fishing rod possible.
For instance, a multi-piece rod requires builders to find the spine of each section. Without identifying the spine, certain sections could work against the rod and tamper the custom rod's ultimate performance, which is the most important part.
Don't forget it's your fishing rod, so customize it how you want and bring that dream rod to life right before your eyes. When it comes to rod building, remember there are no rules, just custom—so don't complicate it and happy building.