Fishing is enjoyed by millions around the globe. The peaceful waters, the surrounding scenery, and of course, the thrill of the chase, are all anticipated as you plan that fishing trip. If there is anything that can make the experience better, it’s a custom rod.
How can you build a fishing rod? To build your own custom fishing rod, you will need to purchase some basic items such as a rod blank, customer cork handles, a Reel Seat, a set of guides, threads, and two-part epoxy. It is also best to use a holder, such as a wooden set up to hold the blank as you wrap the guides.
This may sound like a daunting task; however, an experienced builder can completely build a rod in a couple of days. Were it not for the curing process, the rod could be built in a matter of hours. If you are a beginner and are wondering if you can take on this task, you have come to the right place.
Following this guide will arm you with the information you need to build your own handcrafted fishing rod.
How to Build a DIY Fishing Rod (5-Steps)
The range of fishing rods on the market is becoming more diverse and with internet shopping, you have many choices at your disposal.
However, you can have the ultimate in customizations as well as the pride of ownership when you do it yourself. You can determine all of the specifications for your rod including the length, the weight, the color, and even the sensitivity.
Still, you may wonder if it is possible to build your own rod without becoming extremely frustrated. It is very possible and you will learn a lot and have fun in the process.
Materials Needed to Build a DIY Fishing Rod
- Rod Blank Spine
- Main Rod Parts:
- Reel seat
- Casting seat
- Tip Top
- Fishing Rod Guides
- 2-Part Epoxy Glue
- Masking Tape
- Paper Towels
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Razor Blade
- Needle-Nose Pliers
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Overview of How to Build a DIY Fishing Rod
There are five main steps to building a DIY fishing rod. They are:
- Find the Rod Blank Spine
- Install Main Rod Parts
- Attach the Tip Top
- Install Fishing Rod Guides
- Cure Rod
A Complete Walkthrough of Building a DIY Fishing Rod
Before Starting: Selecting Parts
You’ll need to select a rod blank spine to start building your DIY fishing rod. Once you have selected your blank, you should select a Reel Seat. Determine if you want a spinning Reel Seat or a casting seat.
Choose the size of the Reel Seat by determining the appropriate size for your blank as well as for your own hand comfort. Finally, you will need to choose your handles and grips. Like the rod and Reel Seat, these come in an abundance of colors and designs.
Step #1: Find the Rod Blank Spine
The first thing you will need to do is find the Spine. The spine is the Flat Spot of Your Rod Blank. This is very important because understanding the location of the spine and building your rod accordingly creates a much better performance experience.
Holding the blank diagonally, find the spine by placing one end in your non-dominant hand and the other end on a stiff, flat surface such as a work table, roll the blank back and forth until you find the spine or flat spot.
Keep in mind that there may be several flat spots located along the spin of the blank. You are looking for one that is the most pronounced. Use a Chine Marker to place a 3-4 inch mark on the flat spot.
The inside of the bend is used for spinning; in this case, you will want to put a mark on the inside of the curve. The outside is used for a conventional or casting rod; in this case, make the mark on the inside.
Step #2: Install the Main Rod Parts
Next comes installing the rod parts. This step can be broken up into smaller other steps to make the process easier.
- You will start by laying out each component flat alongside the blank, according to where they will actually be affixed to the blank.
- First, align the handle or Rear Grip, then the Reel Seat, and lastly, align the Foregrip to the rod blank.
- Place a mark on the rod blank for the starting point and ending point for each component. You will need to ream or widen the cork centers in order for them to fit onto the blank. You will use a Reamer to accomplish this.
- Take the Rear Grip and ream it progressively to remove the excess cork. Be careful not to remove too much or the fit will be too loose on the rod blank.
- Tap out the cork dust and fit the Rear Grip to its designated section on the blank. Do not force the cork onto the blank; simply wiggle it to the proper place.
- Remove the cork from the blank and remove any extra material until the cork fits properly on the blank.
- It is best to use Two-Part Epoxy to affix the rod parts to the rod blank. Prepare the epoxy in equal parts. For the epoxy to be effective, you have to mix the same amount of the resin and the hardener together thoroughly until they are uniform in color.
- Apply the epoxy mixture to the area where the Rear Grip will be affixed to the blank and then spin the Rear Grip into place to allow the epoxy to permeate the cork and then attach the Butt Cap, applying extra epoxy if there is not a sufficient amount left from the installation of the Rear Grip.
- You will want to make sure you clean up any excess epoxy for a clean finish to your new rod. You can use a paper towel or slightly dampened rag saturated with Isopropyl Alcohol to clean up any excess epoxy.
- Installing the Reel Seat is a bit trickier than installing the other two pieces because the inside of the Reel Seat is much too large to simply be affixed to the rod blank. You will first have to create tape arbors to build up the section of the rod designated to the Reel Seat.
- Use 1/24 inch Rod Building Masking tape and apply it in the three sections where the Reel Seat will be located. The sections should line up to each end, as well as the middle of the Reel Seat.
- Fit the Reel Seat to the rod to ensure it is flush. It should fit over the arbors but also have a snug fit. This is also a good time to ensure that the Foregrip fits properly into its designated place.
- If it does not fit, ream the cork again making sure not to ream too much. You can always ream out additional cork, but if you room too much, you create a bigger problem.
- As a safety precaution, go ahead and cover the Reel Seat’s threads with masking tape to prevent the threads from being damaged by the epoxy.
- Apply epoxy liberally on top of and in between the sections of arbors of masking tape and then slide the Reel Seat over the epoxy and masking tape, spinning the Reel Seat around as you slide it down the rod blank.
- Clean up any excess epoxy surrounding the Reel seat with a paper towel saturated with Isopropyl Alcohol.
- Finally, you will need to apply the epoxy mixture liberally to the area where the Foregrip handle will be affixed to the blank. Spin the Foregrip as you slide it down the rod blank. Make sure you clean up the excess epoxy once more.
- Remove the tape from the Reel Seat that was used to protect its threads and then slide on the Winding check.
- Now that each of the main rod parts are attached, make sure that the Reel Seat is aligned with the spine. If necessary, making small, gentle adjustments to its alignment.
Step #3: Attach the Tip Top
Before you apply glue to the Tip Top, you should perform a test of the Tip Top to ensure that it fits properly fit to the top of the blank. Once you are sure the fit is correct, use a Razor Blade to cut a very small piece glue from a glue stick fine enough to fit inside the tube of the Tip Top.
Insert the glue into the Tip Top and then use Needle Nose Pliers to hold the Tip Top near your heat source until the glue melts. Once the glue is melted, place the Tip Top onto the blank and rotate it into place.
Step #4: Install the Fishing Rod Guides
This step can also be broken up into smaller other steps to make the process easier.
- Prior to attaching the guides to the rod blank, the foot of each guide needs to be smooth enough to allow for an easy transition for the thread to move up from the rod to the guide foot during the wrapping process.
- File the foot of the guides and then smooth them down with sandpaper.
- Use a tape measure to properly measure the appropriate distance between each of the guides.
- Mark each section of the rod where you will affix a guide. The marks should line up with the ring of the guide foot.
- Unless you are customizing the number of guides you are using, refer to the spacing guide that accompanied the guides when you purchased them. Attach the guides to their respective positions using masking tape, lining the ring of the guide up with the mark that you placed on the rod blank.
- If the guides do not have a smooth transition to the surface of the blank, you will need to file the guide foot and smooth it with the sandpaper once again.
- Place the blank into the wrapping jig. Start by wrapping the thread around the blank twice by hand to form a knot. Then advance the thread over the tag end.
- Clip the excess thread and continue wrapping the thread around the blank being sure to keep the thread nice and tight. You must ensure you have the proper amount of tension to keep the thread from unraveling.
- A Burnisher is the best tool to assist you in keeping the thread nice and tight.
- Once the thread reaches the tape, slowly remove the tape. The guide should now be locked into place by the thread.
- Continue wrapping the thread up the guide, using the Burnisher to ensure the thread is wrapped closely and tightly together.
- Create and insert a loop of thread, commonly called a pull-through, and insert it into the wrapped thread once you get to the incline of the guide. It is helpful if the pull-through thread is a different color.
- Continue wrapping until you reach the guide foot and then clip the thread leaving approximately one inch of thread loose. Insert the tag end into the loop and pull it through.
- Use the razor blade to trim the tag flush with the wrapped thread and then use the Burnisher to ensure that the entire wrapping is smooth and flush with the blank.
- Use this method to wrap all of the guides. Once they are all wrapped, check the alignment of the guides to ensure that they align perfectly. If the guides need minor adjustments, move them very gently into their new position.
Step #5: Cure the Rod
Now it’s finally time to cure your new rod! Before you begin the curing process, you will want to clean up all of the marks on the rod that you made with the China Marker. All you need to do is rub a piece of thread back and forth over each of the marks. If you don’t clean them up, they may be there permanently after the curing process.
Make sure your dryer motor is clamped down, and place your new rod onto either a wooden stand or a rotating stand. Measure exactly two milliliters of flexible epoxy and place it into a small disposable cup. Stir the epoxy very slowly or else you will create air bubbles.
Turn on the dryer and brush on a few layers of the epoxy as the rod rotates, making sure to apply the epoxy around the entire guide wrap.
Coat each end of the guide wraps thoroughly as well. Fill in the gaps at each end of the guide wrap. Be careful not to overload the thread with the epoxy; too much will cause sagging.
Once you have completed the epoxy application, flash the soot-less flame against the application for a few seconds two or three times. Once you have completed the epoxy application, remove all excess epoxy with a clean brush for a clean effect.
Allow your rod dry for a full 24 hours. This is very important! If you don’t allow your rod to cure thoroughly, the pieces can quickly unravel and render your rod useless.
6 Tips For Building The Best Fishing Rod
Now that you are familiar with all of the steps involved in building your custom rod, there are a few tips and trips that you should keep in mind as you build your rod.
These tips will reduce your error rate and help you to avoid some of the common mistakes that anglers make when they first attempt to make their own custom rod.
Overview of Tips For Building the Best Fishing Rod
- Use the Burnishing tool
- Prep your work area
- Wrap the Tip Top
- Slow and Steady Reaming
- Pace yourself
- Be Wise When Using Epoxy
More Information on Tips for Building the Best Fishing Rod
#1 Using Burnishing Tool
The Burnishing tool is sadly overlooked, but it cannot be stressed enough how critical it is to ensure that you thread your guides to the rod with the proper amount of tension. The burnishing tool will help you with this.
#2 Prepping Your Work Area
Always prep your work area prior to starting. Ensure you have all the components for each step laid out. It is very frustrating to get started and not be able to find the component that you need for the next step, so use this guide!
#3 Wrapping the Tip Top
Wrap the Tip Top to make sure it stays in place. Wrapping thread up to the Tip Top is a common way for anglers to improve the security of the Tip Top on the rod blank and to prevent it coming loose from simple use.
This is a must-do step if you commonly leave your rods in your car and they can be exposed to high temperatures.
#4 Slow and Steady Reaming
When reaming, slow, and steady is the rule. This is not the step where you want to become impatient and begin to work too fast. Removing too much cork will result in a rod that simply just doesn’t work well. It will become a showpiece for your wall at home.
#5 Pacing Yourself
Pace yourself. Don’t be married to the idea that you have to complete the rod in one day. Make sure you understand the steps and take your time. Above all, have fun and enjoy the process.
Be wise when using epoxy. There are general tips to keep in mind when using epoxy; otherwise, this can be one of the trickier parts of the process. Many a mistake is made using epoxy – from leaving paper towels around with epoxy still on them to epoxy overuse on the rod blank.
#6 Using Epoxy Wisely
Keep the bottles of epoxy in your shirt pocket until you are ready to use them. This will keep them warm and the measuring process will be much easier.
Epoxy must be used in equal parts. Use syringes to ensure you get the measurements correctly.
Epoxy has been known to cause skin irritation. Work carefully and immediately throw away paper towels that have been used to clean up the epoxy. This will prevent you from getting it on your hands.
Be careful not to wrap too much thread up the guide foot or else when applying epoxy, the epoxy can actually seal off the guide’s eye.
When stirring epoxy, stir slowly to prevent the creation of an excessive amount of bubbles. Also, if you employ a method of rotating from stirring counterclockwise to stirring clockwise, the bubbles will dissipate more evenly.
If you pour mixed epoxy into an aluminum dish or if you line a small dish with aluminum foil, the life of the epoxy will be extended and remaining air bubbles will be released.
When flashing the epoxy and thread, be sure that you do not hold the flame too close to the thread for too long or else the epoxy finish will be permanently damaged.
How do you determine if the curing process is complete? Keep the container of excess epoxy nearby. When it has hardened, the epoxy on your rod should be hardened as well. Regardless, ensure that you allow the rod to cure for at least 24 hours.
Components Needed For a DIY Fishing Rod
Rod building is the process of assembling a fishing rod from its main components. The components necessary to build a rod are now readily available in local hunting and fishing stores as well as online.
The beauty of building your own fishing rod is being able to customize it to your liking.
Overview of Basic Components for a DIY Fishing Rod
There are some basic components that will always be needed when building a DIY fishing rod.
A Closer Look at the Basic Components for a DIY Fishing Rod
Rod Blanks and Reel Seats
The rod blank is the core pole that you will use to build your new fishing rod. You can purchase these in a variety of colors and sizes. The purpose of the Reel Seat, on the other hand, is to hold the reel to the rod securely.
Handles, Rear Grips, Foregrips and Thread
The Handle or Rear grip is used to hold the fishing rod, while the Foregrip is used for further hand support as you fishing. In addition, the Thread is used to wrap the guides to your rod blank.
Finally, the guides are circular in shape; each has a foot on one end that is wrapped to your fishing line. They provide more control for the thread as your rod is cast.
Overview of Ultimate Tools & Supplies for a DIY Fishing Rod
There is always the individual that likes to go all out and really strut their gear. To ensure efficiency and to reduce frustration while building your rod, invest in a few extras.
And with additional customizations, you will make sure that your custom rod stands out.
Your custom rod can stand out with the following tools and supplies:
- Power Wrapper & Driver
- Guide Foot Adhesive
- Thread Clippers
Ultimate Tools & Supplies In Depth
Power Wrappers and Drivers
A Power Wrapper and Driver is the perfect all in one tool to allow you to wrap the threading around the guides and dry your rod during the curing process.
Guide Foot Adhesive
Guide foot adhesive can be used as an alternative to rod building masking tape to hold guides in place prior to wrapping. It is fast and easy to use.
Use thread clippers instead of a flat razor. It’s safer and more precise, providing less room for error.
Overview of Ultimate Customizations for a DIY Fishing Rod
Where there are ultimate supplies, there are also ultimate customizations, such as:
Looking Closely at Ultimate Customizations for a DIY Fishing Rod
Chrome-Plated Guides and Custom Decals
Add flair to your rod by using chrome-plated guides. Additionally, you can advertise your business, your favorite sports team, or simply brand your new rod with your name and contact information with custom-made decals.
Carbon Fiber Handles
Add carbon fiber grip handles instead of standard rubber. These grips are lighter and more sensitive, which should translate into more bites.
The list of items that can be used to customize your rod is massive. Simply looking at the selection of items at your disposal will make you excited about custom building and designing your own rod.
Building Your Own Fishing Rod: Pros And Cons
Still not sold yet on building your own rod? It may seem like a great deal of work when rods are readily available in shops locally as well as online.
By examining the pros and cons of building your own fishing rod, you will see the wonderful benefits of not sticking to the status quo but will want to invest time and effort into building your own rod.
Pros of Building Your Own Fishing Rod
- Blanks are readily available
- Choose your rod dimensions
- Increased casting distance
- Not paying for someone’s else’s labor
- Designed specifically for you by you
Pro #1: Blanks Are Readily Available
Blanks are readily available. So it’s not as if you have to go out, chop down a tree, build a blank from scratch, and paint it yourself. A decent blank should cost you around $100.
Pro #2: You Can Choose Your Rod Dimensions
Building your own rod means that you get to choose the size, length, and color that appeal to you.
Pro #3: You Can Get Increased Casting Distance
Many anglers agree that adding more guides to a rod increases the casting distance. The science behind this is that the increased amount of guides allow the line to be kept away from the blank. Fewer guides leave room for the line to hit up against the blank, effectively slowing the line down.
Pro #4: No Paying Extra for Someone Else’s Labor
When you buy a rod off the shelf be at your local hunting and fishing store or online, you are paying for someone else’s labor. When you put in the time and effort yourself, you’re paying with your own time and energy.
Pro #5: It’s Designed Specifically for You, by You
And the biggest benefit of all of building your own custom rod is that you now have a rod that is designed specifically for you. If you branded it with customer decals, it now also has your personal touch even further.
Now, what about the flip side? Even though there are many benefits to building your own rod, there are drawbacks as well. Let’s examine a few.
Cons of Building Your Own Fishing Rod
- Lack of expertise
- Must purchase tools and equipment
- Need for precision
Con #1: You May Not Be an Expert
If you have never built a rod before, then you lack expertise. You will likely run into challenges that you did not anticipate. There are techniques practiced by experienced rod builders repeatedly of which you do not yet have firsthand knowledge.
Con #2: You’ll Most Likely Need to Purchase Tools and Materials
You will likely need to purchase some tools and equipment that you do not keep with your current collection of tools. For instance, not many people just have a wrapping jig sitting in their garage at their disposal. Though this purchase has to be made, it is beneficial to know that basic units can be purchased for under $20.
Con #3: You’ll Need Precision
And finally, there is a need for precision when building your own rod. The epoxy needs to be mixed just so. Guides should be properly spaced out as well as sanded and wrapped tightly. Failing to follow these steps properly could result in a rod that does not work very well.
Should I Build my Own Fishing Rod?
Understanding all of the steps involved along with the pros and cons of building your own rod, you may still wonder if you should build your own rod.
There are a lot of steps involved. You may not currently own all of the tools necessary to build your own rod. Even so, it is plain to see that the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
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Reasons for Building Your Own Fishing Rod
- The power of choice
- The ability to customization
- Pride of workmanship
Power of Choice and Ability to Customize
The power of choice is the key. You can choose from literally hundreds of styles of lengths and colors for rod blanks. You can select the most lavish and highly customized grips and guides.
You can determine for yourself the placement of the guides perhaps allowing you to cast your line further. In doing so, you can optimize your rod for the fishing experience that is most gratifying for you.
Unique and even complex, intricate color patterns can be created using different color patterns of threads. The most creative rod builders even weave the thread around the rod blank to make images, logos, and initials.
Pride of Workmanship
Regardless of whether you are the creative type or not, catching fish using a rod you created with your own two hands will give you a sense of pride and enjoyment, only adding to fishing experiences. It will add more life and more meaning to your fishing trips.