Want To Build Your Own Fishing Rod: Read This First

Anyone who has been fishing long enough knows that refining their tactics and customizing gear is a huge part of advancing their skills on the water.  After all, the pros are pros for a reason.  Sure, they spend thousands of hours on the water but they also have learned how to select, and use, all the best equipment to their advantage.

It’s this very concept that usually leads many anglers to wonder if building their own custom fishing rods is a logical next step in mastering the challenges of fishing.

There are a lot of good reasons for building your own fishing rods but there are some draw backs as well.  With some guidance from more experienced anglers, we investigate why building your own fishing rod isn’t the craziest idea out there.  

Now, let’s dive in and see if building a custom rod is right for you.

Are custom built rods worth it 

There is a vast selection of mass produced fishing rods available at most sporting good stores.  Many of which are decent quality and perfectly adequate for most anglers.  Naturally, the first question we asked is if a custom built or homemade fishing rod is actually worth the effort and cost?

It’s a fair question.  Yet, to honestly answer, it requires a realistic assessment of your dedication towards improving your fishing prowess.

In general, the average angler won’t catch more fish simply by buying or making custom fishing rods.  Too many other, and more critical, variables factor into your success on the water.  On the flip side, professional anglers, guides or avid anglers utilizing highly specific techniques could see a meaningful boost in success with custom rods tailored to their needs.

However, there is more than just your fish catching success to consider when deciding if building your own rod is worth while.  And this is precisely what we asked a friend of ours experienced with building rods.  

According to him, building your own fishing rod and catching a fish with it is a highly fulfilling achievement.  For anyone with a passion for fishing, building a custom rod is something that deepens your enjoyment of the hobby.  It allows you to expand your knowledge and satisfies restlessness in the off-season too.

To sum it up, the casual angler won’t get much value from building their own fishing rod.  Yet, a passionate or dedicated angler may find rod building well worth it. 

Why build your own fishing rod from scratch

Since we kind of decided that building your own rod is worth while for a limited group of anglers, let’s go one step further and look at specific reasons why you might build a rod in the first place.  

  • You are unable to find the exact balance of sensitivity, power, length, weight and grip style that you prefer from a limited selection of store bought rods.
  • You want to own a one-of-a-kind rod that is aesthetically eye catching.
  • You want a fun hobby related to fishing that you can do in the off-season.
  • You want to learn how to repair your own rods for lifetime use.
  • You plan to start a side hustle and sell custom rods to make extra money. 

These are all great reasons to get started.  Honestly though, any reason you have for wanting to build your own fishing rod is a good enough reason to give it a try.  As long as you have realistic expectations about the costs and actual success on the water, you probably won’t be disappointed.    

How much does it cost to make a fishing rod

So, you decided you are the kind of angler who could benefit from building your own rod.  But what is it going to cost you to get started on this endeavor?

To start, you need some rod building equipment.  Your best bet is to buy a kit that includes all the tools and essentials to build your first rod.  Several suppliers exist but mudhole.com is our preferred source.  Amazon also carriers rod building kits and is worth checking out to compare prices.

– Start-up tool kits range in price from $200 to $300 depending on what is included.  However, frequent sales bring the price to around $120 to $200 for beginner and advanced kits.

That cost is just for the essential tools and various supplies you need.  The actual rod blank, handle material, reel seat, threads and guides are sold separate.  You can either buy each rod piece individually or buy curated kits with customizable grip and color choices.  

A complete rod kit is going to cost anywhere from $50 to over $200 depending on the type of rod.  Average price though is $75 for a quality kit.

Next, factor in any additional tools or components you didn’t even know you needed.  Things like additional tape, glues, epoxy or work area modifications all add some minor costs.  

– Let’s say $25 to $50 for miscellaneous supplies.

For those keeping track, the very first rod you build is going to cost a minimum of $250 if you get some, or all, of it on sale.  Without sale prices and a need for the best rod building components, it could cost upwards of $500. 

Keep in mind, that is the cost of the very first rod you build.  After your initial investment, it does get cheaper.  Other than replenishing some inexpensive supplies, you now only need to buy the rod components, which can cost as little as $50.

Is it cheaper to build your own rod

Now that we have a better idea what building a custom rod is going to cost, it’s time to find out if it is actually cheaper than buying premade fishing rods.  It’s important however, to make sure our comparison is an apples to apples sort of thing.

After all, there are plenty of inexpensive combos or introductory rods available at big box stores for less than $50.  Many of which suit novice anglers looking for a rod to take out to the lake once or twice a year.  Obviously, these are significantly cheaper and are the oranges we’ll avoid comparing to.

Instead, a home-built rod is best compared to mid or upper tier store bought rods and custom rods from top name brands.  Since we can’t possibly compare prices to every rod out there, lets take a generalized approach.  

On our last trip to BassPro, we found that popular brand-named, mass produced rods can range in price from $80 all the way up to $300 or $400.  Custom, technique specific rods from St. Croix, G. Loomis and others often cost $500 or more.  

Building your own rod comparable to custom rods from elite brands requires purchasing the highest quality blanks and components.  Based on our estimates, you would need to fork out $200 to $450.  Not including the tools to make it.  

In short, building a high quality custom fishing rod yourself is likely to cost the same or slightly less than a premade custom style rod from elite manufacturers.  If all you want is a mid-level rod with decent quality parts, it’s probably cheaper to just buy one.

What do you need to build a fishing rod

As mentioned earlier, all you really need are some basic tools, supplies and fishing rod components for rod building.  We highly recommend just buying a start-up kit to get your essential tools and a rod component kit for all the parts.

It’s a good way to build a quality rod and get comfortable with the process.  Once you learn more advanced skills, then you can add additional equipment and select your own parts.

But it’s not just tools and rod parts you need.  You also need space to work and time to commit to it.

You don’t need a lot of space but it should be a dedicated space.  Your dinner table would work fine but you might have to eat dinner on the sofa for the next couple days.  Gluing up the handle and coating thread wraps with epoxy takes up to 24 hours.

If you build one-piece rods, you’ll need a bit more space to work.  A work bench in the garage or craft table somewhere in the house is perfect.  Also, make sure you have a comfortable seat since wrapping thread around all the guides takes some time.

That leads us to the next thing you need.  Time.  Building a rod, especially one that looks nice, takes patience and time.  Wrapping thread on the blank, shaping the handle grip and adding all the finishing touches takes hours.  

At a minimum, expect to commit at least 2 days for one rod.  And that is a basic, no frills rod.  If you want to add fancy inlays or complicated wrapping patterns, expect to dedicate some serious time to it.  Some people spend weeks on a single rod.  And the beautiful end product is worth it.

Where do you get rod building supplies

A quick Google search will show plenty of websites (including Amazon) that sell rod building supplies.  Most are very reputable and provide quality stuff.  However, we honestly think mudhole.com is the best option for most anglers.  

Mud Hole has an extensive supply of tools, equipment, kits and rod components.  Plus, they have all the resources to help you learn how to build your first rod.  You can request a free catalog and get everything you need from one place.  They also have good prices.  

(We are not sponsored or paid by Mud Hole in any way.  We just have experience with their company and are impressed enough to recommend them.) 

Can you make money building custom rods

Surprisingly, there is a pretty big market among anglers for locally built custom rods.  Now days, people appreciate unique fishing gear that is tailored to their needs and style.  Therefore, building fishing rods for a little side money (or as a serious business) isn’t such an off-the-wall idea.  

But is rod building a side hustle that just anyone can make money at?  

We think so.  If you truly enjoy rod building and have some reasonable talent, all you really need is to establish a reputation among a few of your angling buddies.  Word spreads fast if your work is good and soon you’ll have enough orders to keep you busy.  You probably won’t get rich but your rod building hobby could pay for itself quickly.

Developing a serious business out of custom rod building will take some more effort though.  You’ll need to establish a marketable brand based on your reputation as an angler as well as your rod building craftsmanship.  That takes time and some prowess in the business world.

However, most of us are better off making rods for our personal use while occasionally making a rod or two for friends.  After all, building a rod start to finish takes a fair bit of time.  And that means less fishing time for you.  

Most anglers who pursue money making ventures as anglers spend less time fishing and more time maintaining a business.

How to have a custom rod built for you

If you aren’t convinced that making your own custom fishing rod is worth the effort, we get it.  But maybe you are still craving a one-of-a-kind custom rod to give you a slight edge on the water.  

Lucky for you, there are many skilled rod builders whose expertise you can use.  Most of them build rods right out of their own home.  Problem is, it’s difficult tracking them down, even with the help of the internet.  Trusting some random person is tough when your hard earned money is on the line.

So where do you find skilled individuals that build truly unique rods with quality unsurpassed by the mass produced stuff?  

Obviously, you can do a Google search and reach out to a few people that show up in the search.  You can also ask fellow anglers if they know anyone who builds customized rods.  Or try out a larger company like Thorne Bro’s that offer some degree of customization.   

But for those who want one-of-a-kind rods built to your exact specifications, there might be another option.  

Take a look at rodseek.com.  It’s an online market place that connects you with skilled builders that focus more on quality than scale.  These are small scale builders that really understand what anglers need.  Plus, with an ever growing network of builders, you’ll probably find one you can trust to build exactly what you want.  

Wrapping it up

Making custom fishing equipment and tackle is how most anglers naturally evolve their interest in fishing into a full blown passion.  

Just like a fly fisherman coaxing a wary trout to take a hand-tied elk hair caddis, building a fishing rod from scratch and boating your first fish with it is an awesome experience.  

Even if you don’t think a custom rod will boost your success, making one could still be a worthwhile and fun endeavor.