The idea of building a custom fishing rod may be a little intimidating at first, but putting together a rod that looks good and will fish like a dream is possible for anyone with a little bit of patience and some free time every now and then.
Getting started can be as simple or as complex as an angler wants to make it. There is no shortage of literature on the subject, and various tackle shops and catalogue companies will put together a kit with all the necessary components, or sell each component individually.
While learning to build a rod from a book or magazine is possible, often the best way to get started is to take a class on the subject or find an experienced builder willing to pass on some knowledge.
George McDowell, owner of Mac's Rod Shop in Soldotna, teaches a class through the Soldotna Community Schools every spring and has put together 900 rods over the past 24 years.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Members of the class gather around McDowell as he outlines the next step in the process of building a fishing rod.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"By taking the class, you've eliminated two and a half years of trial and error," said McDowell, who called himself the 'King of Acetone' in his early days of rod building for the amount of excess glue he found himself scrubbing off the blanks.
"You can do it from a book, but when you can see it demonstrated, it makes it so much easier."
"All the helpful hints made it so much easier," said Josie Breeding after taking the Soldotna Community Schools class, adding that having an experienced builder to call when things didn't seem to be fitting together properly eliminated the anxiety of building a rod for the first time.
"Just hearing about the mistakes (others have made), and how to do it without making those mistakes, it was easier than if I had tried to do it out of a book."
Mark Hutton, himself an experienced rod builder, said that taking a class gave him some insight into ways to improve his own technique.
"I knew how to do everything Mac taught us, but he showed us some better ways and some more professional ways," Hutton said. "I consider myself an advanced rod builder, but everything he showed us, I'll use."
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