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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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)