Custom Fishing Rods: Fishing Rod Basics & How to Easily Make Fishing Rods

Custom fishing rod
Written by Neal Walker

Custom fishing rods are flexible, long shafts used for catching fish, which are made according to the specifications of an individual. The simplest form of a shaft design consists of a pole/stick attached to a fishing line with a hook at the end. Normally, most rods are two to twenty feet in length and the major difference between traditional and contemporary poles is the stick/pole material.

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Readymade shafts are constructed from carbon fiber or fiberglass while the traditional ones are made from bamboo. Contemporary made rods are usually expensive, and it is up to you to adapt to the design. However, you can avoid all that by designing your own fishing rod.

The process can be a bit challenging, but the how-to steps provided in this article will help you through. You will be an expert in no time.

The Basics of A Fishing Rod

There are many kinds of rods to choose from. Your choice depends entirely on the type of fishing you plan to do. The following are the most popular designs you can choose from.

Fly Fishing Rods: These shafts are available in one-piece, two-piece, and three-piece construction. The most popular model is the two-piece construction. They range in weight from 2.5 ounces to 5.0 ounces, and in length from 6.0 feet to 9.5 feet. You should choose a fly rod with respect to your personal preference, and the type of fishing you want to do.

Fly Fishing Rods

Spin-Casting Rods: They use special spin-cast reels, which are installed moderately high on the reel seat; although, many spin-casting poles have bait-casting reels. The guides on spin-casting designs are fairly large. Their lengths range from 6.0 feet to 6.5 feet. Therefore, these rods are normally light action, and they work best with light lines.

Spin Casting Rods

Bait-Casting Rods: These rods are similar to spin-casting rods. However, they use a revolving spool bait-casting reel, which is mounted lower on the reel seat. The length of bait-casting rods ranges from 5.5 feet to 6.5 feet. They use a matching line that tests from 6 pounds to 25 pounds. Generally, they account for a considerable percentage of poles that are currently in use.

Bait Casting Rods

Spinning Rods – These rods have unique designs since the reel seats are situated near the center of the handle; the guides are over-sized; and the shaft is normally long and light action. Their lengths range from 4.5 feet to 14.0 feet. In addition, the line pours from fixed-spool to open-faced spinning reels. They are also quite popular in the market.

Spinning Rods

Other Fishing Rods: Other fishing shafts include boat & bay rods (have two-handed handles and are short in length with rigid action), surf sticks (they are relatively heavy because of the weight of the tackle used as well as the casting distance involved), ice fishing bars (are made of simple design and used to catch small fish through a hole), and deep sea poles (they are firmly constructed for catching big game fish).

Important Features to Consider

Material of the Rod

The very first consideration that you have to make is the rod material. As aforementioned, there are various materials you can use, such as bamboo, fiberglass and carbon.

Bamboo: This is the best material for a starter fly rod maker. A fly rod custom-made from bamboo is the easiest design you can make as a beginner. The finished bamboo rod is usually a solid six-sided shaft. You can produce a shaft that is unmatched in appearance by polishing and varnishing the bamboo. Most of the steps involved in constructing bamboo are handcrafted by using hand tools.

Raw bamboo is graded as well as sorted. Strips are usually cut from bamboo poles and then tapered on a milling machine to tolerance of thousands of an inch.

Bamboo Fly Rods

Fiberglass: This is the first synthetic material that has been used to make fly rods. Over the years, fiberglass has been improved with innovative resin systems along with fibers that are more consistent in their properties. Rods made of fiberglass are hollow and round, since they are created by wrapping fiberglass around mandrel or stainless steel, under pressure.

When compared to bamboo, fiberglass is normally lighter. However, it has to bend more in order to provide the same power. Therefore, fiberglass loses its power when stressed on a long, powerful cast. This is an inexpensive raw material, and its fabrication process needs much less labor. The only problem is that they are easy to break.

Graphite: This is a polyester carbon fiber that has been subjected to intense heat as well as pressure. The material comprises of thousands of minute, hair-like filaments that are held together by some kind of resin system and a layer of strengthening fibers. Coming up with a graphite rod is quite a complex process. This is so because each rod is a combination of different elements and processes.

Design Features

Rod Performance 

The rod performance is one of the most important considerations when learning how to make a fishing rod. The key determinants of rod performance are weight, action, and length. The rod weight regulates the power and strength delivered. There are about six weight classes, including: extra-heavy, heavy, medium heavy, medium, light, and ultra-light.

See also: Best Telescopic Fishing Rod: Fish Wherever You Are

Heavier rods work best with heavier fishing lines and vice versa. To be able to choose a rod with the desired weight, you need to know the strength, size and type of fish you intend to catch.

Rod Performance

Rod action refers to the flexibility of a rod when casted, which is categorized as follows: slow, medium, moderate, fast, and extra-fast.

  • Slow action has the least taper, meaning that it flexes constantly over its entire length.
  • Extra-fast action has the greatest taper, thus bending takes place at the top third of the rod’s length.

You will find the terminology contrary to what common sense would suggest, but everything will be clear once you understand that a fast action rod is more sensitive to vibration when compared to a slow-action rod.

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The length of the rod determines the casting distance. Shorter rods are easy to store and transport, but their cast is shorter when compared to longer rods. However, you need enough strength to be able to apply leverage with longer rods.


The reel you use must balance with your rod for good casting performance and sensitivity. You can confirm this by checking the lure as well as line weight commendations on both your reel and rod to ensure they match. If you attempt to use a reel made for twelve-pound to twenty-pound line with a rod made for four-pound to eight-pound line, the outcome is butt-heavy design.

Check the balance

Reels with a rear drag control are a good choice. Frequently, adjustment of the drag is necessary when dealing with a large catch.

Fishing Lines

The most popular types of fishing lines are:

  1. Fluorocarbon Lines. They are more transparent in water when compared to other fishing lines. The line is actually invisible to the fish, allowing you to catch more of them. It is the best for bass anglers, and it is strong and durable. You can choose one of the many fluorocarbon lines in the market. The idea is to ensure that the fish cannot detect the line attached to the lure.
  2. Braided Lines. These lines are created by braiding several fibers together. Therefore, they are stronger per diameter. A braided line can deliver 60 pounds of breaking strength. They are known to cut through the water faster, and they cast farther than monofilament. They are a good choice for saltwater bottom fishing or trolling. They do not break down because of sunlight.
  3. Monofilament Lines. These lines are thin, water-resistant, strong, and they have outstanding knot strength. They are more resistant to abrasion, and have a tendency to stretch. They do not retain loops when coming off the spool. They are; however, susceptible to breakage when they are exposed to sunlight. Therefore, you will be forced to change lines more frequently.

How to Make A Fishing Pole

Step 1 – Choose the Right Blank

The sensitivity, power, crush resistance, hoop strength, and action all depend on the quality of the rod blank. This is actually the heart of your fishing rod, because all the modifications are based on its design. Therefore, you should choose the best blank possible.

Choose the Right Blank

The blank you choose should take into consideration all the above mentioned features, including: action, taper, material, length, and weight.

Step 2 – Finding the Spine

Once you have selected your blank, the next step is finding the spine. This is the most critical phase of custom-made rod building. This will certainly give you a better rod when compared to the ones you will find in a commercial store. There are two pieces of equipment that you need: a flat surface and a marker.

Place the butt end on the flat surface, and place your hand approximately a quarter of the way up from the tip of the blank. Then, deflect the blank with the other hand holding onto position so as to locate the spine. As you deflect the blank, it will keep on popping up until it stops at one point. The spine is the point at which the blank stopped popping up. Use the market to mark the inside of the spine.

Step 3 – Basic Configurations & fit The Grip

You need to come up with basic configurations. To give yourself an idea of where the fittings land, you will have to mark the sections for your butt cap, reel seat, and fore-grip. To ensure that the butt cap fits perfectly, you have to make sure that diameters are smaller, and also slide it in to confirm.

Basic Configurations & fit The Grip

Fix the butt cap and remember to use glue in order to ensure it stays in place once you have pushed it from the top downwards towards the end mark.

Step 4 – Fitting the Reel Seat & Fore-Grip

The reel seat will occupy the section you had marked above the butt cap from the butt upwards. You first need to clean the excess glue from fixing the grip. You can make the reel seat firm by tapping a few bands three times at a few inches intervals within the seat marked section. Then apply glue over and in between the tapping gaps.

Then gently push the reel seat inside and over the tapping. Make sure the tapping is not too tight. Push the reel seat into position, and then wipe off the excess glue.

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Once the reel seat is in position, go ahead and fit in the foregrip handle. Apply glue to the section you had marked for the foregrip handle, and then gently slide it into position. Make sure you get rid of the excess glue before sliding the full grip into position.

Step 5 – Installing a Tip Top

You need an alcohol burner with some denatured alcohol in it, go ahead and light it up. Take ferrule cement and cut a little sliver out of it, and put it inside the tip. Using a pair of tongs, grab the frame tip and put it on the flame for about five seconds. Then quickly put it on the road, and make a single rotation, and align the tip top with your reel seat. Allow it to cool for a few minutes.

Step 6 – Guide Wrapping

Obtain a length of heavy-duty fluorocarbon and tie a knot. Tape the guide into position, and then cross over the thread. Make the initial wrap around the blank and add a couple more. Make sure you maintain pressure as well as tension on the thread. Push up the thread tightly using your thumb after six to seven wraps. Prudently, cut chip end off with a tactical knife. For more tips on how to string a fishing pole, check out our earlier piece on this.

DIY fishing rod

Go on winding up foot of the guide. Use strong nylon to place a loop and continue wrapping over the nylon loop. Then cut off the strand leaving four centimeters. Go ahead and pass the strand through the nylon loop. Lightly pull the nylon loop outwards. This action should pull the wrapping strand end cap out-and-in below the whippings. Then cut the waste strand, and do the finishing.

Step 7

Apply Finish and confirm that everything is installed correctly.

In Conclusion

By the time you finish reading the “how to” steps, you will have acquired proper beginner skills for making a resourceful fishing rod. Your first rod may not be classy or sophisticated, but you will certainly create a rod that has better performance when compared to commercial fishing rods.

The secret to making a good fishing pole is the basics. Knowing the basics is the key to making a reliable rod. The how to steps provided should help you make a basic custom fishing rod. However, as your skills develop you will be able to make sophisticated custom-made rods that are far much better than the commercial ones.

Still, if you prefer buying your own, check out our review of the best affordable fishing rods that are spot- on!

Do you think we have missed any fishing rod making steps? If so, let us know in comments.


Neal Walker

Neal Walker started fishing when he was 4. His father took him to the fishing trips all over USA and Canada. Later he took Angling Education Program at Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, but most of his knowledge comes from experience. Now he takes his sons with him to share his passion.