Fishing Rod Building Tips

February 21, 2009 by  

By Taylor Fitterer
Making your own custom fishing rods can be a fun experience. Each rod normally takes about 2-3 hours to manufacture, and the finish drying time can take from a few hours to a few days depending on the type of finish, temperature and humidity. We have learned through trial and error and I hope this will save you a few errors while building your fishing rod.
Let’s start with the tools needed. This will be very basic, but essential to rod building. A lot of this stuff can be purchased at hardware stores. Some can be purchased at the big name stores, or through online rod building web sites. We recommend trying a fishing rod kit the first time around. Most kits come with all the components needed, excluding a few household items. This is the list we’ve accumulated of the essentials.

fish cleaning 1. Sharp, thin knife (we use an exacto knife)2. Lighter

3.Thread (size B or C)

4. Guides (eyelets)

5. Blank (a bare rod)

6. Color saver

7. Cork handle (and reel seat if needed)

8. Winding Chuck (plastic ring, goes on top of handle)

8. Masking tape

9.”rat tail” file

10. Epoxy (5 minute drying time)

11.Tiny paintbrush

12.Finish (epoxy that goes on the thread to hold)

13. Rod tip glue

14. Rubber bands

15. Tape Measure

16. Paint Thinner

17. Magic Marker

fish cleaning The next thing that will need to be done is to build, find or buy something that will hold the blank horizontally. We built our own, and added velvet in the valleys to prevent scratching.
fish cleaning Also something will be needed to hold the thread with some tension on it, we did build ours, but a very heavy book or a small brick will work.
fish cleaning The last item that is needed is a “dryer”. This is the device that spins the rod at a very slow pace, so that all the epoxy does not end up on one side. We did purchase ours, but an old record player spinning on it slowest setting could work.
fish cleaning Ok, let’s get started. The first thing is to find the backbone of the blank. To find the backbone grab the blank and put the bottom (the thick end) on a hard surface. Then grab about two feet down from the tip and bend just a little and roll back and forth when the blank snaps, or rolls quickly you have just found the backbone. Mark that spot with tape or a marker, this is the side of the blank you will wrap your guides on.
fish cleaning The next step is to apply the handle. Grab the cork and the “Rat Tail” file, and file the interior of the handle until it’s able to slide all the way down to butt of the blank. Most handles come in three pieces; this allows less time for filing.
Rod Building Tips Next slide the reel seat down; there will be some extra space. Take the masking tape and wrap tightly around the blank this will fill in that void. File the top portion of cork so it’s slides down to the reel seat, keep the opening as small as possible, this will help hold the cork in place. Then mix the epoxy together, and apply to the blank, with the handle and reel seat off. Slide the handle back on and line up the pieces so they fit. Remove excess epoxy by wiping down with a rag and some paint thinner. Secure with rubber bands to keep the handle tight. Let set for 10-20 minutes.
Rod Building Tips Now that the handle is on, it’s time to apply the guides. The length of the rod will determine were the guides will be located. You can measure an existing rod, or I think some kits come with a sheet telling the measurements. Mark each spot with a small piece of tape, or a magic marker like we have.
Rod Building Tips Start with the largest guide, which will be place closest to the handle. Take the rod tip glue and the lighter, heat the bottom of the guide for 5-10 seconds and run over the top of the glue, by applying the rod tip glue it will hold the guide in place without the thread.
Rod Building Tips Now comes the fun part. Get your thread ready and make sure it has some tension on it, and wrap around the guide 5-6 times, then start winding over those 5-6 threads to hold it in place.
Rod Building Tips Make sure the thread is tight and lines up side by side.
Rod Building Tips After you have wrapped the entire foot wrap a few more on the blank, with about 5 wraps to go you will need to take a separate piece of thread, make a loop and lay down where you will wrap over the top of this loop keeping the loop pointed in the direction you are wrapping.
Rod Building Tips Hold the last wrap in place and cut the thread. Take the cut end and run through the loop.
Rod Building Tips Now hold the cut end in one hand and pull on the opposite end of the loop.
Rod Building Tips The thread should pull back under to hold in place.
Rod Building Tips Trim the extra, but don’t cut what you have wrapped or it will all un-ravel. Finish by wrapping the rest of the guides like the first. Make sure they all line up. This is the hardest process and takes some practice, but be patient, it’s like blowing a short reed goose call for the first time, each time you will get better.
Rod Building Tips After all the guides are on, then comes the tip. Place the tip on the end of the blank and mark with tape or chalk. Take the tip off and wrap a ½ inch area on the blank before the mark with thread. To apply the tip you can either use epoxy, or the rod tip glue. We like the epoxy because it’s stronger. If you ever need to pull the tip off, heat with a lighter for 5 seconds and pull it off. Apply glue/epoxy to the tip of the blank, slide guide/tip onto rod, line up with the other guides, and let dry for 10-20 minutes.
Rod Building Tips The last two steps are to apply a coat of color preserve, and finisher to the thread on the guides. Place butt of handle into the dryer, or rig to an old record player and attach securely.
Rod Building Tips Turn the drying device on and apply color preserve. Depending on the type it will go on white, but will dry clear. Let it dry for a few hours, but check by touching if not “tacky” your on to the last step. Keep the dryer running and apply finish according to the directions of the type of finish you choose. We have found if it’s a runny type of finish do not touch the threads, just spread the bead at the bottom of the blank as it’s turning. Two or even three coats will be needed if it’s the runny type.
Rod Building Tips Another type you can glob on and heat with a lighter until it’s runny. This is the type we prefer since one coat usually will do it. Let dry until no longer “tacky”, do not bend for at least two days some of the finishes out there need a long time to cure.
Rod Building Tips I hope this article helps simplify the process in building your own fishing rod. These processes we have found to work best for the two of us. There is no right or wrong way in building a fishing rod, so experiment with all of the processes. You will find a greater satisfaction in catching fish when you know you built the rod your fishing with. Have a safe and enjoyable season.Waterwolf (Taylor – on left) Browndog (Todd – on right)


17 Comments on "Fishing Rod Building Tips"

  1. FERNANDO on Tue, 10th Nov 2009 7:17 pm 



  2. Rems Heiny on Mon, 8th Mar 2010 11:26 am 

    I was trying to use a foil wrapped nylon thread and found it impossible to pull the tag end under the wraps using my method.
    Seeing your method of using a different thread “loop” to pull under the last five or six wraps to secure the tag end looks like the solution to my challenge.

    Thank you!

  3. Sudin on Thu, 8th Jul 2010 9:10 pm 

    hello. i like to ask u about the “dryer” can i buy it from u..if u don’t mind..i’am looking for this things for long times

  4. WalleyeGuy on Mon, 26th Jul 2010 9:51 pm 

    Awesome guide. This is really a great start for someone who wants to build their own rod.

  5. Aaron on Fri, 30th Jul 2010 9:34 am 

    Guys this is the simplest yet complete explanation I hae found.
    I will be passing this onto my mate’s.

    Im off to make my first rod.
    cant wait till I can make one for my son.

  6. Floyd Reynolds on Mon, 9th Aug 2010 10:31 am 

    The last rod i build was about 50 years ago. After reading your artical I think I will try again THANKS

  7. matthew tate on Fri, 8th Oct 2010 4:14 am 

    i thought this was a good site i was interested in making my own rod and this was the best 1 that explained it step by step

  8. Richard Meeks on Wed, 20th Oct 2010 9:29 am 

    Thanks for the word
    I am looking for a place I can buy telescoping rods that I can build my own poles with
    Anybody know a manufacture that well sell me direct

  9. dom on Wed, 8th Dec 2010 10:17 am 

    Great guide guys. How do I know the right type of finishing epoxy? I’m in south africa, so rather than a brandname would like to know what properties to look out for.

  10. Clint on Tue, 28th Dec 2010 10:36 am 

    Nice article Taylor. Lays it out nice and simple. I started making some of my own a few years ago. My reason was I couldn’t find a perch rod for winter or summer that functioned the way I wanted it too. I found that by taking a fiberglass composite blank, putting it in a drill, and sanding the tip down I was able to create a rod that has a super soft tip that works almost like a spring bobber and enough has enough backbone to bring in the biggest walleye. Other problem with perch rods is the eyes are always so small. Especially the tips and that creates a problem when there’s ice on the line. Instead of a normal tip, I use a single foot spinning guide. For summer perch on DL, we’d find the fish were in the trees. Problem we had there was most ultra light rods allow the fish enough time during the hook set to get wrapped up in the debris on the lake bottom. I found by using a 5 1/2 foot ugly stick blank and sanding down the tip like we do on our ice rods we created a rod with a spring bobber type tip, but enough backbone that when you’d set the hook the rod would pull the fish 2 or 3 feet off the bottom and get them out of the debris. Our summer catch treat increased dramatically.

    Just a couple more reasons to get into making your own rods your way.

  11. william on Thu, 6th Jan 2011 3:30 pm 

    that was amazing but i dont want to be a pain but if i wanted to make a diffrent sort of rod thets say a beach rod. Because i really want to make a beach caster rod pleace can u put a diffrent step by step guide on nmakeing diffrent sorts of rods.

    thank u ever so much

  12. Thomas Maraschiello on Fri, 18th Feb 2011 12:18 pm 

    I used rod tip glue a few times and the tip was’nt secure.After reading your article I will use 2 ton epoxy on my project.I’m converting a shakespeare ugly stick “Dypsey diver”10 foot rod into a Musky rod.I cut off 20 inches from the tip,and filled the top section with gorrila glue to make it a solid tip again and Put Pacific bay salt water stainless steel braced guides and tip top on it.I wrapped the guides with 30LB Stren braided line,because I want the rod to last under stress.I think braided line is superior to guide wrap.I had a rod with wire wrapped guides once,why not use superline.Thank you for the great article.

  13. Luke on Mon, 21st Mar 2011 6:28 pm 

    Very nice write up! I have always wonder about doing this, but I usually only here of people making fly rods. I might have to give this a try.

  14. Duane D on Sun, 22nd Apr 2012 7:49 am 

    thanks for the great artical. Now i have a better understanding of what Iam doing . Thanks agian great job.

  15. Car.l on Sun, 27th May 2012 8:57 am 

    Can you shorten a 6′ Rod to a 5′ Rod From the Butt and not the Tip. I like the action and rating but people around want to just hack it off the tip area and that will make it more like a broom handle

  16. Car.l on Tue, 29th May 2012 5:44 pm 

    Car.l on Sun, 27th May 2012 8:57 am 

    Can you shorten a 6′ Rod to a 5′ Rod From the Butt and not the Tip. I like the action and rating but people around want to just hack it off the tip area and that will make it more like a broom handle

  17. Car.l on Sat, 2nd Jun 2012 1:04 pm 

    Car.l on Tue, 29th May 2012 5:44 pm 

    Car.l on Sun, 27th May 2012 8:57 am 
    Can you shorten a 6′ Rod to a 5′ Rod From the Butt and not the Tip. I like the action and rating but people around want to just hack it off the tip area and that will make it more like a broom handle

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