Customization and personalization of today’s consumer products of any kind will soon become a national standard. Why is this? It’s because people are individuals and its part of their human nature to want to express their individuality. And the most common form of expressing this individuality is through color.
We have our favorite colors, even starting at the age of 3, we gravitate toward certain colors, and a year or two later, we have our favorites. Whether it’s a particular sporting team, or just pure attraction towards a particular color, we realized that colors are important, probably one of the most important aspects of life… after all, it is YOUR individuality that you want others to see.
So our custom rod building philosophy has been to make bold rods that reflect their owner’s personal identity. As you may see many rods that have a WOW factor and really stand out, we also realize that some individuals really want that all black, built like a tank look and feel. It’s all up to you; after all, it’s going to be YOUR rod.
Part 1 – Which Fish to Fish?
The first thing you need to consider after realizing you want a custom rod so bad you need it is: What kind of fish do you want to catch with it? This is the first step to narrowing the vast choices of blanks, guides, handles, etc., that are available. Some choices are obvious like you won’t use a trout rod to catch a tuna, but as I talk to more and more fishing folks, they really don’t know how to start their selection process or which components are what. This article is going to inform you of what choices you have and I’ll attempt to give you concrete examples so that you can determine what will suit your fishing needs best.
Yellowtail, Tuna, Dorado (Mahi Mahi)
We could call this our West Coast Chart and there are specific reasons we chose these categories. First off, most people can identify the type of fishing with the type of fish. I know, that sounds almost silly, but each fish really does have a specific type of rod that is traditionally used to catch that particular category of fish.
Yes, you can use a light weight Trout rod that is suited for use with 1lb thru 6lb test line to catch a Freshwater Bass, but when that Bass grabs the end of your line and strips off that 4lb test line off your reel like a bottle rocket and makes it back to that tree you didn’t see under the water, you’ll quickly find out why you should have used 12lb test and a Freshwater Bass Rod to catch him. That line you heard snap and those bubbles coming up from the water is his way of laughing at you. We’ll try to help you avoid these situations.
By selecting from one of these categories, what happens is that you fall into a particular weight class of rod, and when we say rod, we are talking about the entire stick you fish with, pretty rings that the line goes through and all. But at the heart of that rod, essentially that tapered piece of graphite that looks like a straight stick that is bigger at the end you’re holding and ends with a very thin tip at the top; underneath the pretty colors and soft grip is the BLANK, the most important piece of a Custom Rod.
A Trout rod is a trout rod because it is typically quite ‘whippy’ meaning it bends real easy. The technical term for that would be: Light Action. This has been the norm since trout can see the line in the water and it is very common to use 4, 3 and even 2lb test line, and very tiny hooks. So as not to break the line or the hook, you need to use a very ‘forgiving’ rod that allows all the pulling the fish does to be absorbed by the rod instead.
A Freshwater Bass rod is normally defined as a medium to medium-fast action rod that is predominantly geared to be cast thousands of times. As you read further, you will know why most Freshwater Bass rods are Fast Taper bending rods.
The Saltwater Bass rod is typically stiffer due to a few reasons: you typically use heavier sinkers / jig heads, almost always encounter some sort of structure, including the ever challenging KELP patties. And there is always a great chance that you can hook into something huge since you are in the ocean!
A Yellowtail, Tuna, Dorado rod is quite specific due to the speed and size of the fish. Even though each of these fish have a distinctive fighting pattern, they all can bite in the same exact situation. And we are talking about fish that weigh 8 to 40lbs as this is the most common for the West Coast fishing scene. We recommend a slightly longer 8ft+ rod than most people are used to due to the advantages: casting farther and the ability to fish behind people that are on the rail of the boat.
The Tuna rod is plain and simply needed to pull weight. No frills, just nice, steady lifting power. Your Tuna rod should have a Parabolic bend, and below we explain what that means.
There are many aspects to rod blanks, especially since each rod blank manufacturer feels they have the correct formula for building the ultimate fishing machine. We can write a book about blanks, but to make it simpler for the average fisherman, we will discuss what we feel are the most important aspects to a fishing rod blank.
Sensitivity – We define sensitivity as the ability to feel the fish biting at the end of your line. Since the most critical time to setting the hook on a fish is when they suck your bait into their mouth and that bump you feel is your bait hitting the back of their larynx. You’re supposed to set the hook (jerk) at this time and before the next second, when they try to spit your bait out! So typically, the thinner and lighter the rod, the better you can feel the bite, and also it’s how soft the tip is, not the softer the better, but a softer tip is generally more sensitive.
Parabolic vs. Fast Taper – What in the world are we talking about? Isn’t it funny how that math class really did matter now that you want a custom fishing rod?! To keep it simple, a parabolic rod bends almost evenly from the tip to the butt, like a hunting bow. It is more advantageous when fighting a big fish and sticking to the rail. A Fast Taper rod bends at the tip and bends less and less as force in increased. Fast Taper rods are ideal when you need to cast live bait/lures. These are the general principals regarding these types of rods and remember there is always a compromise. The more you can cast it, the less fish fighting power it has.
Action – The action is how fast the rod blank reacts to either a fish pulling or the setting of the hook (jerking). For certain types of fishing you want either a very slow reacting rod (Light action), which bends easily or a very fast reacting rod (Extra Fast action), but those are the extremes. For most fishing conditions you want Medium-Light thru Fast action blanks. I know this by experience since I used to like Extra Fast Action blanks, through personal experience, after breaking my line 3 times in a row to those quick and pesky Yellowtail, I knew that under those conditions, that was the wrong type of blank.
Line Rating – A rod blank is usually stamped with the minimum and maximum strength of line to be used on it from the manufacturer. This basically tells you the ‘power’ or what a lot of Anglers refer to as “the backbone” the rod has. With today’s braided lines, this seems to be a more interesting topic with each passing seminar. The Line Rating designation was, the be all, and end all, to picking the ‘perfect’ blank, but now with the fancy graphite and/or carbon fiber blanks, and the variety of hardened guides; you really can put 2 to 3 times more stress on the rod then it says you can. It’s just ‘not recommended’. We recommend going as light as possible, but not so much as you have to go around the boat 3 times and 30 minutes later you need to gaff that 14” Sand bass on one of those amazing “Fishing with Phil” twilight trips to bring it into the boat.
We’ve got a great start, we will talk about Handle Choices and Guides during Part 2.
I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, so feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org