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Guys fishing the rods they build
Posted by: Stuart Mackenzie (---.ozemail.com.au)
Date: June 29, 2001 08:12PM

I thought i would ask the question how many rod builders hear on this board use the type of rods they build on a reguler basis, ie Game rods, casting, chair rods, I thought it is a valid question that most of us should consider. Think about it i know rod builders hear in Australia that build rods that they have not even tryed them selves so how can you know what should and shouldent go into that rod. Such things like if the customer asks why are the roller guides put there for and why is the blank that long for this particuler fishing situation is there stress points in between those guides and how much what size guides do i need to run a 400 or 600pnd wind-on leader. If we are going to build rods we should be experianced in that feild so we answer there questions with honesty and not rubbish. It would make and does make you a far better rod builder to experiance the feel of the rods you are building. I wouldnt tell people i can rebuild your old car engine and turn it to a full blown race engine if i have never done it before how do i know what should go into it i have never used one or raced it so i cant offer the true experiance that it deserves. Just a thought thats all.

Stuart mackenzie
Precision Rods

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Re: Guys fishing the rods they build
Posted by: Pete (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: June 29, 2001 09:14PM

I agree. I tend to stay away from building rods for types of fishing that I don't do, unless I have a really firm grasp of what is required and how to go about it. I know some will build anything and that's okay but at least they should consult with those who do that type of fishing or go to other builders who know how to do those type of rods. That is where this board is likely to be a godsend for many people. But as Stuart said, you probably will build best those rod types you use yourself.

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Then I suppose...
Posted by: William (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: June 29, 2001 09:50PM

... all us rod builders need to spend more time out there fishing for as many different fish and in as many different ways as possible so we can better address our customer's needs. What a great excuse to go fishing!!!!

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Technically speaking you are correct but......
Posted by: Mike Bolt (---.50.55.47.rlgh.grid.net)
Date: June 30, 2001 09:28AM

.........in most cases that is not practicle. Although most of us have fished most types of rods, most of us have not fished all types of rods.

Rod building for the most part is a never ending learning experience. The technical aspects of building one rod applies to all rods. Just because I haven't been stand up fishing for black marlin doesn't mean that I can't use basic knowledge of building a heavy duty rod and apply it to building a standup rod. If I have studied and asked the proper questions there is no reason to believe that I can't design and build the proper setup.

I have never built or fished a spiral wrapped rod. I don't like them and see very few uses for the effort involved. Does that mean that I 'couldn't' build it? No. There is a wealth of design information available to build a spiral wrapped rod.

The same applies to repairing fishing reels. Have I had the opportunity to fish a 130# FinNor? No. But, I have cleaned and repaired them using the basic principles used to clean and repair all reels.

Using your analogy of the engine there are a gazillion sources of information on how to modify most any engine you can name to increase power, torque and speed. You simply read the information and apply it to the engine you are working with. If you need help with a certain task, you find someone that has done it before and ask the question.

If a potential customer asks if you have ever built a specific rod before and you haven't, you can give one of two answers; I haven't built that specific rod before but I have the knowledge and experience to meet your expectations, or simply say that you aren't comfortable building that type of rod and refer the customer to someone that can.

Two scenarios as usual:

The customer gives you the parameters and you design and build the rod. The customer is at the mercy of the builder and if you don't meet the parameters the customer can decide that he doesn't want the rod. You the builder either didn't do your homework or simply didn't understand what the customer wanted. Either way you didn't meet the customer's expectations.
The customer gives you every detail and you simply build the rod. The customer must pay for the rod.

Just my most humble opinion.

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Re: Technically speaking you are correct but......
Posted by: Capt. Bill Hobbs (---.tampabay.rr.com)
Date: June 30, 2001 10:46AM

That's why I made my post. I fish probably 300 days a year and I use many styles of rods and in my post I asked about a 6'6" spinning rod for bass , I never used this type of rod for that because I use baitcasters for bass. I know how to buid that rod but I needed guidance to pick the right blank to toss his light spinners. This is the best place to be for that info.

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Re: Technically speaking you are correct but......
Posted by: Petro Chem (---.nas3-mcl.interaccess.com)
Date: June 30, 2001 12:32PM

Hi everyone. You have all made good points in your posts. I'm also glad we have places like this to talk about rods, rodbuilding, etc.

I tend to join in (and learn) on threads that relate to the tackle that I enjoy using myself, while I read (and learn) from the posts that relate to other aspects of rodbuilding.

I agree that rodbuilding is always evolving and there's always something new to learn. I think that's why I enjoy building rods so much. Every rod is different and a new challenge.

Going back to the spiral wrap example from a previous post- I haven't built any yet for myself. It seems like a great idea- the concept has merit, and based on the reports of others who build & use, or just use, rods assembled in that configuration, it works. It works really well.

But I wouldn't want to be the one who builds it for the first time for another person- I would rather refer them to someone who is more comfortable with the project. I would want to build it for myself first and try it out.

It's better both for the other person and myself- we'll both be happier. I go my speed, they go theirs.

I would want to first build some for myself and get a feel for it.

I gotta say, I respect what what other rodbuilders before me and around me have done and I'm glad to have a place to talk to 'em about it. There are so many facets to fishing (I like that) and a different rod for all of them (I like that, too!). Sometimes one rod design won't cover every aspect of targeting a particular species. My jig sticks and my trolling rods are very different, but both can catch fish of the same species- but utilizing different techniques. My trolling rods work great for trolling but they suck when it comes to jigging, casting, or bottom fishing. I would not want to use a bent butt stand-up rod to catch snapper, grouper or AJ's on most days, either. I would choose something else, for sure. If I were on the (giant) marlin grounds my choice would be very, very, different.

In different parts of the world anglers fish differently- all valid approaches that catch fish- but I don't feel it's my place to determine what's right or wrong. But I'm always open to learning something new....

Much respect to everyone here, I do not mean to offend, if I did I'm sorry.

Just my 2 cents. Gotta go tuna hunting.


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Re: Technically speaking you are correct but......
Posted by: Rich Garbowski (---.voyageur.ca)
Date: June 30, 2001 04:06PM

I agree with many of the thoughts here, but believe Mike Bolt hit on a lot of good fundamentals. A custom rodbuilder has the basic skills achieved to know what a certain application of materials is for, like wrapping a guide is basically universal, and is a 'technique' based activity. Sure, we go from there and have to know which size thread, double or even triple wrap, etc. This could also apply to choosing guides, etc.

It is nice, but not always practical to test each and every type of rod we might have an interest in building. Knowing the fundamentals of materials and procedures are important to adapt to various rods types. Being the craft that it is, we get feedback from those using our rods. Often this is professional fishermen who will input for us to make rods more functional.

There is nothing more satisfactory than 'field testing' our own work, but even more satisfying is hearing positive results from the person using your custom built rod.
I know a lot of rodbuilders would like personal recognition as to his (or her) brand attatched to a particular type of rod, and indeed many become know for this quality. Also, some rodbuilders can be recognized for the amazing artistry without as much consideration to the rod performance design.
I don't diminish the 'specialty' aspect of certain rodbuilders that will spend a great effort to knowing and using a specific rod type, but it also is fun and interesting for rodbuilders with an inclination to build other kind of rods, and are able to do so with great purpose.

One thing, for example, we can build a beautifully functional smallmouth bass rod or salmon fly rod, on the other hand no one complains about our 'muskie catching machines' or spiral wrapped rods. Choose the right blank, place the correct guides, and wrap the threads for appearance and function, choosing the right components all go to building the right rod for the right application. Why limit your talents, if you want to expand your horizons in rodbuilding?

Just my take on the issue.


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Re: Technically speaking you are correct but......
Posted by: Neil (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: July 02, 2001 04:06PM

I'm no pro but have been in the roll your own operation for a very,very long time. I've yet to build a number of different types of rods. I don't like to build a rod for a discipline I've no experience in. If I'm approached about building such a rod I have no qualms in recommending someone else. I do however write down the request and then go to a tackle shop or builder or a board like this and learn all I can. I'm constantly,it seems, reading up on the latest topics I can find in the industry. I just don't like to build a rod for an unfamiliar discipline because of that ephemeral thing called "feel". When a friend wants a rod and I get it created to the point of final assembly I like the person to take it out in its current set-up and play with it for an hour or two.Obviously there limitations to this in the preconstructon phase but I believe in doing it, so the owner can let me know how the rod'feels' to him/her. I probably build 35-40 rods per year including ones for myself. I refuse to be rushed and never promise a date nor do I promise perfection, the folks I build for know after many years that If they're not satisfied I'll re do the work until I get it right. Also refuse to build a rod that I know isn't correct for the job,I just tell 'em to go to "so and so's"but I'm just not gonna do it. I have the option of being a real bloody pain about such things whereas you pros don't.At any rate that's $.02 worth + from yours truly. Neil

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Re: Technically speaking you are correct but......
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (---.dialinx.net)
Date: July 02, 2001 04:45PM

Neil, You really make some good points. I was in the business for many years and probably turned down as many rod orders as I accepted. Not so much from being unfamiliar with a particular rod type, but from the standpoint of not honoring customer requests that I knew would not work.

Far too many rod builders are so afraid of not making every sale, that they often compromise their own judgement. If a customer asks for something that your experience as a rod builder tells you won't work, you're better off not doing it.


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Re: Tom, you just made me laugh at my self
Posted by: Capt Neil Faulkner (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: July 03, 2001 11:17AM

Hi Tom.

While reading your post when you said people are afraid of losing a sale I started to laugh at myself.

I am NOT a very good SALES CLOSER. Actually the worst!!!

If I'm contacted by someone, I give them the info they need and then let them spool my reel. I am not a hook setter.

I probalby loose sales due to not being aggressive.

I feel if they are really interested then THEY will call back. I guess if you want me to build you a custom rod you had better show up at the shop, force the down payment $$$$$ into my hand and ask for a receipt.

This way seems to work for me, at least so far. Right now fortunately, I'm too busy to take a couple days a week to go fishing with my grandchildren and friends.

I have taken 2 orders that I later regretted and learned from.

Capt Neil

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Re: Tom, you just made me laugh at my self
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (---.dialinx.net)
Date: July 03, 2001 01:51PM


Don't be too sure. Sometimes if it appears that you have something of value, but aren't too concerned that others have it, they will decide you're holding back on them and demand it! Make sense? In other words, sometimes the guys who push hardest to make the sale may appear the most desperate.

But this is not meant to disparage those who are good salesmen and know how to "close" a deal. There is a difference.


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Neil, "The Soft Sell Approach"
Posted by: Rich Garbowski (---.voyageur.ca)
Date: July 04, 2001 11:17AM

I've leared a lot over the past 5 years with "self marketing "and the custom tackle business. Neil can be correct that for some customers the "I'm hard to get" approach can bring an exclusive type of sale and it can be very satisfying. Demand for your custom rod by word of mouth, and the soft sell approach with some 'field testing' of your product at times can be very effective and usually 'lock in' a sale.

As for 'training' your customers for getting a receipt, etc. you have done well, ha! And your're right, the customer will call back if interested. I find that anyone truly interested in your custom rod work will inquire several times and you need to have quite a bit of their input. The nice thing is that usually that customer will be for the long term and almost can bet they will return for another rod for themselves or someone they know. I guess this may be called a 'personable' approach and just being friendly and knowledgeable about the subject at hand (rodbuilding or a fishing technique, product, etc.) will bring confidence for wrapping up the sale.

There can be another aspect to selling and can be sensed by some to be 'hard sell' and there is a particular time and place to do this. For example paid advertising by whatever venue (sponsorship of tournaments, internet sites, outdoor journals) is sort of in your face, but again, with a proper message brought to your viewers attention with friendly contact can bring you back to the stage of 'soft sell' as Neil described in dealings with prospective customers.

The real point is to be fair, friendly, and strive for successful outcomes for your customer. This is a truly win-win situation that will bring satisfaction. As for the craft of rodbuilding, the best approach is to have your customers become aware of why they will like your particular custom rod. No sense in spending a lot of time comparing to any particular brand of store rod, but just letting them know what you do that goes into making the custom rod for their situation.

We all seem to learn from a few 'regrettable' sales as Neil points out, but it just goes with the territory. As Tom pointed out, it probably is a good idea to not be too influenced by having a customer build a rod that you are sure will not work, because that will not result in a positive outcome. It always helps to get to know the needs of your customers as much as possible, and the 'interview' about a custom rod order is usually a very good first step. As Kenny Rogers song proclaims: "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" could be a good thing to remember at times.

Best Regards,

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Re: Neil, "The Soft Sell Approach"
Posted by: Capt Neil Faulkner (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: July 04, 2001 03:16PM

Hi Rich.

Well said.

In the early stages of this thread I was in the middle of responding twice. Along the way I hit a wrong key and lost the replies.

However, the responders covered all that I could have added.

If I can, I like to offer rods that I have tested and enjoyed fishing with.

I like to find blanks that most buyers have no idea that they exist.

My biggest problem when I started serious building/selling was each year i was turned on by another companies blanks. It went St Croix, Loomis, Lamiglas, Seeker , Calstar and other smaller companies. All excellent companies. I have narrowed it down to 3 companies. I am afraid to try Graphite USA and AllStar (excellent choices) blanks for the tail spin I might end up in! HA!!!

Do we test before selling or sell blanks we haven't tested or built on before?? Many customers know more about fishing than I will ever know. But they don't know how to build a rod for various reasons. Just go on the stripersonline board and read how some of these surfcasters critique different blanks. This is knowledge from their many hours of fishing. The info they share is enormous. If they asked me to build them a rod from a certain blank I would not hesitate. They know it will work for them especially with the added value the custom rod builder can incorporate in it.

Each of us craftsmen hopes tp attract a certain type of customer. Sometimes we can chose and sometimes we can't.

I have met the ultimate craftsmen who command several thousand $$$$'s for their custom rods. These people are like Michaelangelo. I have also met assemblers. This is the other extreme. I suspect most of us fall in between, custom rod craftsmen/ladies. Our customers will range from someone who just wants a good rod to fish with to specialty rods that fall within his /her price range. Now it is up to us to over satisfy them.

Happy 4th.

Capt Neil

PS. Hi Stuart. You started a good thread. How's things down under?

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Re: Neil, "The Soft Sell Approach"
Posted by: Robert Balcombe (REELMAN) (---.131.usr.olynet.com)
Date: July 11, 2001 12:42AM

Hi I never build a rod for fish I have never fished for . I live in Washington State (USA) Which is located on the Pacific Ocean. So don't ask me to build a rod for a DEVILE FISH Where in the AU do you hang your hat..My folks live in PERTH..The only way they fish is juging.. Hop to hear from you

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