Custom Rods

18 Sep

Custom Rods

Guide to Custom Rods

You don’t need to be a professional rod builder to design great custom rods. Rod building starts with selecting the components and the layout of your rod, and then assembling the wrap design and color. One big thing to remember during this process is that rod building is very subjective and listening to the advice of others can be a big pitfall when trying to design your own rod. There is no “right” rod to use, it all depends who you’re talking to. Two fisherman might be fishing for the same fish in the same spot and have completely different opinions on what rod to fish with. That being said, this guide is intended to help you through the process and result in a feeling that you putt together the best rod for you and the type of fishing you’re into.

One easy way to divide the type of rod is simply freshwater or saltwater. Saltwater rods will obviously take considerably more abuse than freshwater rods and therefor need to be accounted for. Also, if you’re a rock-jumping shorecaster who drops his rod onto the rocks you’ll probably want a more durable rod than you’re boat fishing friends.

When starting your rod-building adventure however we’ll break down the 3 arguably most important components of your rod: type of  Blank, Handle, and Reel.


Blanks can cary wildly but the major areas you’ll want to focus on are the rods Power, Taper, and Length. The power of the blanks is often referred to in terms of light, medium, and heavy; however these terms are often relative depending on the type of fish you’re going for. For example a “heavy” bass rod will not be the same animal as a “light” tuna rod.  When coming from a manufacturer the “recommended lure weights” will give you a good idea of the type of power the rod can provide.  The taper of the rod results from where the rod flexes under load; which is referred to as the “action”. Action is defined as slow, moderate, fast, and extra fast. Slow rods can flex from the tip of the rod almost all the way to the butt of the rod under heavy load. Fast and extra fast action rods tend to bend only from the top section. (See graph on left) Fast action rods put more force in the cast resulting in a longer cast of the bait or lure. Slow rods on the other hand bend more and take the pressure off the line, resulting in less snapped lines when fighting fish. Although theres a large variation the majority of fisherman end up somewhere in the moderate range for their day-to-day blank.  The rod is length is one of the easiest ways to define your fishing style. Longer rods (9,10,11 Feet) are better for surfcasting and can provide more distance while shorter rods (6,7,8 feet) are more common on boats where you may be trolling or just dropping a weighted lure to the bottom and jigging. In the middle, an 8 foot rod may be great for a boat fisherman looking to cast into rocky shorelines. It all depends on your preferred fishing environment. Specialized blanks like Lamiglas (used on Barry Thurston Rods) are the most popular choice for surf rods.


The number of grips you can get seem endless however the most popular choices are: Cork Rings, EVA, Hypalon, Cork Tape, Cord, Wood, and Shrink tube. Grips are often just the personal preference of the fisherman. For this reason we opted to use the standard cork grips on our Barry Thurston Rods to keep their vintage look and feel.


Guides are the rings which the line is put through on the rod. Although we wont go into detail on the various combinations of guides just be aware that there are different style available  to suit your needs.

Custom Color Wraps: 

Much like a fine firearm with beautiful checkered wood stock and intricate engraving, a custom rod can be embellished with beautiful decorative wraps that make it uniquely your own. Many custom rod builders are true craftsmen who create rods that not only perform at the top level, but become genuine heirlooms to be passed down through generations. Wraps can come in as many styles and patterns as their are rod builder. They can come with pretty much any color combination you desired depending on the builder. Custom color wraps can really make the rod a unique one of a kind piece of fishing equipment.


Spin Casting Reels:

Spin casting reels are ideal for beginner fishermen because they are inexpensive and easy to use.  Spinning reels are more expensive and more versatile than spin casting reels, and they can cast lures farther as well.  Bait casting reels, also known as casting reels, afford the fisherman more control when casting and when fighting a fish.  However, they are rather difficult to use and are susceptible to backlash, a condition in which the line becomes tangled.  Fly-fishing reels are used by fly fishermen to hold the fly-fishing line and, in some cases, to fight strong fish with their drag systems, but they are not involved in the casting process.

Spinning Reels

A spinning reel has a fixed spool that doesn’t turn during the cast or retrieve.  Instead, line is retrieved through a pickup mechanism called a bail, which turns around the spool as you turn the hand.  Many people, especially beginner anglers, choose spinning reels because their mechanisms eliminate tangle-producing backlashes.  Spinning reels come in varied sizes that depend upon the line size being used.

Bait Casting Reels

Unlike spinning reels, bait casting reels are small revolving spool reels, many of which have level wind mechanisms.  Today’s bait casting reels are popular because they offer a combination of free-spool casting and adjustable drags.  Other improvements include anti-backlash aids, multiple ball bearings, and variable gearing.  Some bait casting reels even offer an anti-reverse, which means the handle can rotate backward similar to older types of bait casting reels.  The point of this is to allow small amounts of line to be let off the fishing reel by cranking backward.  There are two basic families of bait casting reels.  Round reels have round end plates, and have a greater line capacity than the other family.  Round reels are best used in salt water and for long-running freshwater fish.  The other type of bait casting reel is smaller and lighter in weight, and has elliptical end plates.  Because these reels are designed to cast farther and more efficiently, they are particularly well suited to bass anglers.

Fly Reels

Most fly reels are single action, meaning that they have no gears.  Instead, the spool goes around one turn every time the crank is turned.  Automatic fly reels are another type of reel, most often used for light freshwater fishing.  These reels have no crank handle whatsoever.  Instead, line is retrieved by winding up a spring mechanism and then pressing a trigger.  The type of fly reel you use becomes a real consideration once you fish in saltwater or fish larger, longer-running freshwater fish.  Reels used in fighting and bringing in fish must have a larger capacity in order to hold the fly line, as well as a quantity of backing line.  If you are angling for offshore fish, the single-action reel should be passed over in favor of a more rugged machined mode

Big Game Reels

If you are fishing for big game, chances are you’ll need “tournament” class tackle.  Some of the highest quality — not to mention the highest priced — reels fit into this category.  Big game reels are generally divided into two categories.  Star-drag reels are sturdy, dependable reels that feature a free spool lever and separate star-drag mechanism.  Lever-drag reels, by comparison, combine the free spool and the drag-setting lever into one unit.  These reels allow drag changes, which is a huge advantage over star-drag reels.


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