science of custom fishing rods...
work closely with my customers to design each rod to meet their specific
needs. Each rod is crafted to the highest standards of quality and
workmanship with every detail considered. Read on to find out about attributes
of a custom crafted Reel Rod that you will not find in an off-the-shelf
rod, no matter what the price.
Guide Placement... What is it?
are a nearly
endless variety of rod blanks available to the custom rod builder. If
needed, a blank can be modified (shortened or extended) to suit particular
needs if the desired action isn't otherwise available. I have virtually all brands of blanks available to me,
including popular brands such as G. Loomis, St. Croix, All Star,
Seeker, Rogue, Graphite USA,
Rainshadow & Forecast, Pacific Bay, American Tackle,
Gatti, Sage, Winston, Scott, Thomas &
Thomas, and many more.
following is some terminology used to describe rod blanks:
Where most of the initial flex in a rod blank takes place. Fast Action
rods will flex mostly in the upper 1/3rd of their length. Moderate Action
rods in the upper 1/2 of their length. Slow Action rods flex along their
entire length. See
Or with regard to the fibers used to make fishing rods,
"Modulus of Elasticity," refers to the relationship between
stress and strain. In more simple terms relative to rod building, it
usually defines the stiffness to weight ratio of the fibers used to
construct the rod blank. Generally speaking, the higher the modulus of
the fiber used to make the blank, the lighter the resulting blank can be
for any given stiffness because less material is needed to create the
desired action (e.g. 57 million modulus graphite is stiffer than 44
million modulus). Because of this, higher modulus rods may also be
less tolerant of abuse than lower modulus rods.
Generally used to describe a rod or blank's stiffness
or resistance to bending. Usually described as Ultralight,
Light, Medium, Medium/Heavy, Heavy, etc. This property is also
reflected in the lure and line ratings of the rod.
Also called the "Effective Spine", this is an effect
in the blank that is created
by several manufacturing anomalies. The result is that the rod blank
will favor bending along a particular axis when load is applied.
When building any rod, I identify the spine and align the guides and
reel seat accordingly to create the desired action.
select from the highest quality components available on the market
today. Moreover, I will recommend components that meet your
needs (both functionally and aesthetically) at the most reasonable price
possible. Brands include Fuji,
REC, Struble, Aftco,
American Tackle, Pacific Bay,
Lakeland and more. Such choices are not an option in commercially
rod blanks have a preferred stress curve. This stress curve (commonly
called the spine) can be oriented to provide you with optimum tracking on the
cast, or it may be set up so that you have maximum
response and hooks setting power, depending on your needs. Commercial rod
manufacturers can't really take the time to do this. They aren't
building rods specific for the individual.
rod blank is unique. Because of this, I do not use generic guide placement charts to place guides
on the rod. Instead, each guide is carefully selected and placed for
maximum rod performance according to established scientific principles to provide optimal stress distribution, maximum casting distance, and
maximum sensitivity. Proper
guide placement minimizes the stress on the line as well as the rod blank when battling that
Each guide foot is ground to a fine taper,
polished to a fine finish, and carefully fitted to
the rod individually. This prevents damage to the blank caused by a
rough or improperly aligned guide foot. Under-wrapping the guides is
generally not necessary when guide feet are prepared properly.
Stress distribution testing is conducted on each
rod to assure stress is distributed uniformly on the blank and the line.
Casting tests are used to fine tune the placement of the guides in the butt
section to assure maximum casting distance with the type of reel, line, and
lure sizes that will be used. This is the essence of a custom fishing
wrapped casting rods combine the stability and sensitivity of spinning rods,
with the hook setting and fish fighting power of casting rods. In this
configuration, the first three guides (double foot guides) will transition the
line to the underside of the rod where it remains out to the tip. In
this orientation, single foot guides can often be used in the tip section,
resulting in a lighter, more sensitive tip compared to double foot guides used
on most commercial rods.
guide placement is physically the best guide placement for casting rods to
minimize stress to the line and rod blank and to maximize sensitivity.
eliminates twisting of the rod under load because the guides are on the
underside of the blank.
eliminates side-to-side stress on the guides that occurs with traditional
casting rod guide placement..
can allow fewer, smaller, and lower frame guides in the tip section.
This results in greater sensitivity and a crisp feel.
to what you might think, there is no loss in casting distance from a
properly built spiral wrapped casting rod. These are only available from
custom builders... Try one and you'll never go back.
wrapping works great on most bait casting, live bait, jigging, mooching, and
trolling rods. Even surf rods and heavy offshore big game rods can
benefit from this guide placement method.
in this photo (click
here) how the guides are placed such that, when the rod is stressed, the
line only contacts the base or top of the guide ring. This is an example
of a proper spiral guide placement designed for a specific rod and reel...
something that you can't get from a mass-produced rod.
is a function of the weight and stiffness of the rod. The stiffer and
lighter the rod, the more sensitive to vibration it will be. A rod can
be made more or less sensitive depending on how it is built. For
instance, lighter guides on the tip section will create a more sensitive tip
because of the weight reduction. Single foot guides are
dramatically lighter than double foot guides on the tip section because they
require half the thread and finish that would be required for securing double foot
The grip material plays a
significant role in transmitting
vibration to the anglers hand. The lighter and more dense the grip material, the
more effective it will be at transmitting vibration. Also, the method
for attaching the reel seat to the blank can make a big difference in the
sensitivity of the rod. When done properly, the reel seat is attached
with methods that minimize weight while maximizing the strength of the
bond. Reel seats may have
a section of exposed blank to allow the finger to actually contact the blank
sensitivity is important, it is only one aspect of the overall rod
action. With custom rods, the goal is to design a rod with the
action that is most appropriate for its intended use. For some
applications a stiffer blank is not necessarily appropriate. For example, for sturgeon
fishing and other live bait applications, a soft and flexible tip
is often preferred so that soft bites can be visually detected and so that
there is minimal resistance on the bait. In this example, the overall
rod action becomes more important than sensitivity per se. These subtle nuances will be considered and discussed when selecting your rod blank to
assure a proper fit to your fishing application.
Grips may be designed for specific attributes that the
angler is in search of. These include lightness of weight, durability,
sensitivity, comfort, and aesthetic appeal. Most often, the angler is in
search of several of these properties. Popular grip materials include:
Cork - a man-made cork composite that is very light, dense, aesthetically
appealing, and economical.
Cork - the standard for freshwater rods... light, firm, and supple.
However, high grade natural cork is now in short supply and becoming quite
expensive relative to other materials such as burl cork.
Foam - Ethylene Vinyle Acetate synthetic foam material. Available in
various grades and hardnesses, the more firm variety makes an excellent
and lightweight rod grip material. Not as resilient as Hypalon, but
considerably lighter in weight.
- While it is used in a variety of industrial applications, it has
long been used with good results in the form of rod grips. Somewhat heavy
and less firm than EVA,
but extremely resistant to sunlight, solvents and detergents.
Tape - Usually comprised of a composite of cork and rubber.
Primarily used for large diameter surf rods.
Grip - A hard vulcanized rubber that is applied as a heavy duty heat
shrink, usually on large diameter surf rods. Much more durable than
cork tape. May be somewhat less aesthetically appealing to some.
Rod Photos page shows some examples of many of these types of grip materials.
my other life I am involved in the field of occupational ergonomics. I design grips to fit the angler... so the angler doesn't have
to fit the grips. I take into consideration such things as the size of
the anglers hand, the length of the forearm, and the type of grasp the angler
prefers when holding the rod for casting and reeling.
distance can be maximized with the proper guide placement. Whenever
possible, I will request that customers provide me with the reel loaded with the line that will be used
on the rod being built so that the guides can be placed in the optimum position
for maximum performance.
This involves test casting and adjusting guide position and size appropriately so that
distance-robbing line slap and bunching is minimized, shock leader knots (if
used) are passed easily through the guides, and casting distance is
maximized. Particularly with spinning rods, you will rarely find an
off-the shelf rod that performs as well as a properly built custom rod
designed in this manner. The smooth and noiseless efficiency of casting a custom built
spinning rod is truly a thing of beauty.
on the style of fishing, rod balance can play a significant role on the
fatigue you feel after a long day's fishing. By understanding your
fishing style, I can do a lot to reduce strain and stress by properly
balancing the rod. A steelhead fisherman, for instance, would gain
tremendous benefit from a properly balanced rod, even if it meant adding a bit
of weight to the butt to put the rod in proper balance. The stress on
the muscles of the hand and forearm can otherwise become quite significant, possibly even causing one to cut the day short because of