Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rebuild your favorite fishing rod!

Stay tuned for a series of posts on how to rebuild your fishing rod back to as good as new.  In fact, if done right, it may be better than new!

We are going to start putting together weekly lessons on how to rebuild fishing rods.  We will use real life examples of how to strip down a rod from start to finish.  We hope to start doing these presentations starting by the end of next week.  We will include plenty of pictures and real down home talk.

UPDATE 6-25-15:

The weekly lessons never happened unfortunately.  We had many things changes as you may have seen from other posts.  However, we are still intending to post some pictures and video of the break down process of rod building.  I have some video of me working on a rod handle done and have been working at getting other pictures ready as well.

We hope to start getting some of this posted in the next couple weeks!

UPDATE 8-17-15:

It finally happened!  We have finally started up a separate page on how to rebuild your fishing rod!  You'll see it at the top of the page as a tab.  It actually is a separate blog that will allow commenting and collaboration on your ideas and thoughts on rebuilding your favorite rod.  Questions will always be allowed and I will try my best to answer them or find the answers to your questions.

Go check it out!  http://TexasRodBuilder.blogspot.com

Tight Lines Y'all!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Excellent article on handle length - must read!

This article is an excellent article on the length of rod handles.  Reasons for both long and short handles.  Very good read!

Some Thoughts On Rod Handles -- By Fred Everson

First new rod completed

Finished up the first new rod. Should be delivering it this Saturday. Will try to get some pics of this rod before we let go of it and post them here. Fitted out our first rebuild rod this weekend and should have it done by the end of the week.   By middle November we hope to have a whole selection of rods ready to go to stores.

Looks like are going to be doing a lot or rod rebuilding. There seems to be quite a few rods out there to be rebuilt. The trick is finding them and we have apparently been doing a decent job of that as we now have well over 30 rods to rebuild in our shop right now.  We have a very good assortment of high end rods like G.Loomis, AllStar, Castaway, American Rodsmith, Falcon, and more.

We really want to be able to provide rods for our fellow man at a price that is affordable.  If someone wants a $1000 rod, I'll build it, but really, how many of us can afford or want to afford spending that much money on a rod right now?  Enter the rebuilt rod.  By rebuilding 6-15 year old G.Loomis, AllStar, and any other high quality graphite or glass rods, we can provide a quality rod for under $200 that performs much like the $500-$1000 rods you'll find at our local monster sporting goods retailers.

Of course, one of the main reason that people don't rebuild rods is that many rods are worn out after years of use.  Some rods will slowly give out in such a way that they turn from a fast action to a slow action.  So we have to carefully inspect each of the blanks we get to make sure they are still the action they were officially labelled.  If a fast action turns into a medium-fast, then we'll relabel it accordingly as it should still have years of use left on it.  But if a fast action turns into a slow action, then that rod goes in the junk pile.  This often happens with fiberglass rods.  Good graphite rods tend to hold up better - especially the higher end rods.

So we are constantly looking for more used rods. If you run across any used rods, let us know!  We would love to have someone who is constantly on the look out for rods.  We usually pay around $15 or more for used G.Loomis rods that are missing guides, etc.  Of course, the blank has to be in good condition to be useful at all.

In the future we are going to go through detailed instructions on how we rebuild a rod.  I hope to include pictures of every step.  Some we've already posted, but we figure a step by step might help others if they ever decide to build their own rods.

As always, we love to help people help themselves.  If you have questions about rebuilding a rod, let us know!



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rod shop in full swing

Thought I'd share some of what we are working on right now.
Currently, I am working on a new Batson light 6ft spinning rod. It's almost done. Hopefully will make a young man quite happy. I matched it up to an Abu Garcia Cardinal 101 spinning reel. During the test casting I was very pleased with how it casts. It should be a real joy to fish with this rod! 
Check out the wraps on this!
Last Friday we hit the motherload of used fishing rods.  There was a "pre-garage" sale going on in Georgetown and we managed to get there first.  I was glad I took several hundred dollars along as we were able to get a very nice selection of graphite rods and a nice collection of mid-water crankbaits!  As you can see below, there are some real nice rods in this collection. These will be added to our certified pre-owned collection. These rods below are just the "Good" rods, there were more lesser quality rods besides these. Two of these are G. Loomis rods.

These are my first collection of crankbaits. I can't wait to try them out!

We have already stripped down one rod and are working on some others.  These are by far the best collection of rods I've been able to find off Craigslist. The gentleman who I bought them from had no idea what I was going to do until I showed him one of my new rods I had in truck with me.  I think his eyes practically popped out of his head.  :-D

As you may remember from a previous article, manufactured rods are a lot like manufactured homes.  There are a few really good manufactured homes, but most are pretty much trash and eventually fall apart.  The same holds true for manufactured rods.  This can be seen below.  This rod is a 6'6" Castaway that was generally still intact except for peeling paint and damaged guides.  And while the handle below was in fair shape before we tore it to shreds (see pic above - there are 3 CWYs), the workmanship of the reel seat assembly shows through when you see that it was mounted on a cardboard "toilet paper" type roll. The only thing holding the reel seat on was a *half* ring of epoxy on the butt end and a minimal ring of epoxy on the other.  It's a wonder it didn't fall off already!

Below you can see me working on scraping the above rod.  I use the razor blade method (the way I was taught) because with the proper grip and attention, you can tell when you are touching graphite and not push further.  This method works especially well with rods with old finish. This particular rod was actually quite easy to clean off once we got the lump of epoxy off the butt end of the reel seat area.  I'm glad the manufacturer didn't put it on any better or it would have been a real fight!

If you look at the first picture at the top, you'll see a blank laying next to the rod in the jig.  That blank is the Castaway rod that I'm cleaning above.

Here it is up close after the first coat.  We hope to restore these to better than brand new condition.

How can I say that?

Because these rods will have a urethane finish applied by hand (finger) so it fills the pores of the blank which resists peeling, the finished rods will be splined, they will have the correct amount of guides on them, the reel seats will be thoroughly glued, the wrappings will have underwraps to protect the rod from damage under heavy use, and finally, the finish on the guides will not be so heavy that the rods loses some of its action.  All of these "features" are called "Custom rod standards" and you will only find them on hand-built rods.  The work that goes into these pre-owned rods is why I like to refer to the finish product as "certified pre-owned".

I know when I'm done rebuilding a rod that it will be not only be a piece of art, it will be fully functional as a tool to catch fish that won't break down when you need it most - with a fish on!

I am planning on taking these rods to our local bait shop where I will have them displayed for less than their original price. I have already spoken with the owner and he already offered to sell rods for me.  Once I have a couple to sell I'm going to take them to him to see what he thinks.

We want to know what you think as well!  Are you a rod builder?  Give us some tips on things we can do to make life easier for ourselves.  I'm sure there are more creative ways to tear a rod down so if you have some tips, please share them.

I will keep posting more pictures as I have time.


Mike for HCFR.

Monday, October 15, 2012

New rod order on the way!

Finally got our fall rod order completed.  We primarily use Angler's Workshop but we also use AcidRod.com for some things.  Acid Rod tends to have all the Batson blanks in stock including rod kits and Angler's Workshop generally has the best price around.

So hopefully by the end of the week the rod shop will be humming again!  We ran out of rod varnish and it kinda irritated me because when I've got itch to get a rod done, I want to keep working till all I can do is watch paint dry... well, rod finish.

Looks like the first rod out the door this season will be a light Batson 6ft LF for a young friend of mine. It's a bit of a surprise and I've been looking at it too long and its time to finish it.   The next thing to work on is a 9'6" LF Spinning rod to use in the kayak.  I've seen both sides of the argument for shorter rods in a kayak and longer rods in a kayak. Both made sense and since I already have short rods and have used them, I think it's time to try a longer rod to see if it works.  When I'm done "Testing" it, I'll send it off to sell at my local country store / bait shop.  Should bring at least $120.

Next on the list are the several "certified pre-owned" rods that I've been cleaning up.  Think I should be able to finish up a couple by the end of the month.  They'll also go to the baitshop.  I'm hoping by the time these are all done, my website will be done and we'll start getting some custom rod orders.

We are thinking about doing a promotion where we'll give discounts to the first 4 people who post on the site here starting with 40%, then 30%, 20% then 10%. 

So whoever you are, if you are the first person to post a comment on this blog, give me a call at the number on the right and we'll give you 40% off on whatever rod you have us custom build for you!

Tight lines!

Hill Country Fishing Rods

Sunday, October 14, 2012

First ride in the Big Tuna

Finally went fishing in our new kayak today.

First time ever fishing in a kayak and I must say it was quite fun.  Didn't catch any fish, but it was great learning how to deal functions of a large kayak and figure out what we wanted to fish with and then rig up the rods.  We went to Inks lake and the weather was perfect.  The post-frontal wind wasn't too bad and over all it was a very enjoyable trip.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been to catch some fish!

We tried a variety of topwater lures, bass assassins, and other spinner baits, but nothing seemed to stir the hearts of the bass today.  Even saw a large bass do a full body jump out of the water within 30ft of the boat.   I think my problem is that my freshwater lure collection is getting a little slim these days.  Other than my lures for saltwater, my freshwater collection needs a complete revamping.

Oh well...  we mainly went out to get used to the boat since we'll be taking it to the coast next month.  Hopefully we'll do better down there with the redfish!

UPDATE 11/27:   We had a blast on the Big Tuna on the coast last week.  It did way better than I imagined in the waves and such.  We didn't take it into the surf or anything but we did get into some choppy water on Aransas bay and it didn't hardly even bounce.  I'm debating on if I want to try it in the surf now!   One trip out on Copano bay, we saw dolphins within 100ft of the kayak.  Quite the thrill!

Regarding rod length and kayak fishing:  We found that me sitting in the back it was nice to have a longer rod (8'6") but my wife sitting in the front had a 7ft rod.  This kept us from interfering with each other too much.  The longer rod let me cast over her head without worry about snagging her - which I doubt she would have appreciated.

Tights lines,


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fishing rods for the common man - Used rod rebuilding

I have the rebuild bug again. 

I am collecting old and broken fishing rods of all sorts to strip down and rebuild from scratch.  For most rod builders this may seem like a fool's errand, but for me it's a way to encourage folks with smaller incomes to purchase a custom built rod for less.

So how much is less?  Well, it depends on the quality of the rebuild.  Some older rods have exceptional blanks, but the workmanship to put the rod together is lacking.   For some, the reel seats aren't mounted well, the cork may disintegrate quickly, or it may be that the guides are simply not on the spine.  Older rods often have guides missing or the tip top may be broken off.   Any of these things will cause many fisherman to dump the rod for "better" options at their local Walmart. Most fisherman don't realize that having that rod rebuilt could turn it into a much better rod than anything they could find at Wally World.  And generally rebuilding a rod costs less than $30 in parts which means I can add $40-60 in labor and still make a few bucks without making people break the bank.

Many fiberglass rods from the 70's and 80's had wonderful actions.  In fact my all time favorite ultralight rod is a fiberglass rod.  Most people dove into the graphite revolution and so graphite has become a very popular product.  But if glass were such a horrible option, why do the best rod companies still make fiberglass rods?   Because there are some fisherman who say that graphite doesn't have the exact properties they are looking for in a rod. Fiberglass just has a slightly different feel from graphite.  In many ways even the fastest action fiberglass rods still have a softness about them that makes graphite seem harsh and unforgiving.

And so, I offer rebuilt fiberglass rods.  I look for all kinds of rods.  I'll even rebuild the old "slow action" rods that most people hate now.  However, what most people don't realize is that fast action rods are not all they are cracked up to be.  Fly fisherman often prefer a slow action rod because that slow action allows them to fight a fish with light line.  What many bass fisherman don't know is that this holds true for spinning and casting as well.  If you want to fish 4# line for largemouth bass, you can - with a 9ft spinning rod with a slow action.  That slow action helps absorb the stress that would normally be present on a rod with a stiffer action and stress which normally breaks the line because the rod can't bend to "point" at the fish.  When the rod bends over like that and fish bucks around, the rod absorbs the tension and keeps constant pressure on the fish which tires them out quicker.  But I digress...

None the less, rebuilt graphite rods are an excellent opportunity for someone to get a high performing rod for under $100 that they can pass on to their grandchildren.  I get all excited when I find an IM6 or IM7 graphite rod with broken guides or dog chewed cork.  I know that I can rebuilt the rod back to premium condition and most likely sell it to someone who can't afford to spend $250 on a premium rod.

On top of that, when good ol' boy Billy Bob brings me his "old" graphite rod to rebuild thinking it will be a good patch job and comes back to find what appears to be a brand new rod, there's nothing that makes me happier than to see the look on his face.  Yeeehaaaaaw!

So I love making the "common" among us happy.  I like helping people find joy in the little things in life and if that means rebuilding your precious rod from grandpappy... 

Bring it on!

Hill Country Fishing Rods

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

G. Loomis - poor construction??

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

There I was standing in Cabela's in Buda Texas where I had purposely hunted down the most expensive G. Loomis rod I could find on the rack so I could check it out.  As many fisherman know, there are "store bought rods" and then there are "custom rods".  I had come to Cabelas to see if the most expensive rods they sold were just "store bought" or if they attained to the "custom" category.  Imagine my surprise when I took that expensive casting rod, bent it in line with the guides and it nearly popped out of my hands!  The guides weren't aligned on the spine!

What is this thing called a "spine", you ask?  It is something that exists in all rods from the old metal rods to the finest Sage and Winston rods.  The spine or spline is something that occurs naturally in any straight piece of material no matter what it is.  If you take a long, round, flexible, straight object and bend it in an arc, and then roll it in your fingers, you will feel the rod change it's flexibility.  Simply put - one side of the rod is more flexible than the other. On most rods there is a main spine and a sub spine though some rods only have one. Very few and generally the cheapest rods will have almost no spine.

How a rod builder arranges the guides on the spine will depend on the type of rod he is building.  Generally a custom rod builder will consult with his client to determine the exact arrangement for the guides.  Is the fisherman a streams and river fisherman?  Does he fish on the coast? If so, does he do Inshore, surf, or beyond?  Does the fisherman focus on accuracy in casting into brush or does he need more backbone for into-the-wind casting and a better fish fighting experience?  All of these things play into the decision the rod builder makes when placing the guides on the spine.

What happens if the guides are not centered correctly on the spine?  These days it's not as critical as it used to be.  Back when rods were still highly experimental and fiberglass was in its infancy, the centering of the guides on the spine was hyper-critical as a misplacement could result in a broken rod.   Now days with even light rods exhibiting the strength of an old world surf rod, you can pretty much throw the guides on any side of the rod and the rod will usually survive just fine... note the "usually" part.   When guides are placed on the side of the spine on a casting rod, the guides, the reel seat, and tip are all attempting to "slide" around to the bottom of the spine.

This "rod twist" isn't particularly noticeable with a normal sized fish that are no where near the rod's capacity.  But invariably, we will look at the line weight of the rod and go out and buy line that is at the maximum or even a little over the rod rating and go fishing off the channel in Port A.  That mackeral that hits your bait/lure at 20 knots isn't going to do your big casting rod any favors.  It's going to make you work so hard that you will wish you had spent a little more time in the gym.  With a custom built rod, this scenario would still be a win-win situation.  You have a fish that you can fight to the max and most likely make the most of your 30lb test line and 30lb rated rod.  

Not so with that "on the side" casting rod you picked up at the big "A"!  When that big one hits your bait, at the very least you will be fighting the rod as much as the fish and let me tell you, there's no amount of weight lifting you can do that will help you hang on to a rod where from the reel to the tip top, the rod wants to turn on it's side. It's entirely possible that your tip top will twist off the rod, your guides will rip themselves out of position and your blank snap at the tip. 

So back to that "G. Loomis" casting rod....  Why in the world would you spend $250-$500 on a rod where the guides are placed on the side of the spine???  I would rather take my chances on a $75 Shakespeare where I know it's "weak" than to spend half a 'G on a so-called high quality rod!

When I was a kid and learning how to build fishing rods from "Junior" Herron, I learned the simple concept of a spline (as he called it) and how to make sure you maximized the potential of the rod.  How is it that these rod manufactors ask you to spend exhorbinate amounts of hard earned cash on a rod that isn't designed much better than your $10 "Tournament Choice" rod?!   If they can't get the spine right, how do I know they got the reel seet glued to the rod properly?  I can't tell you how many rods I've torn down only to find the reel seat glued to the cork only and not even glued to the rod!

For $500 I can build a rod that will outclass and outperform most of the big name rods.  So far as I'm aware, the only rods you can find on the market that are worth the money paid for them cost much closer to a full G.  And they are probably worth it.  Unlike these $250 "store bought" garbage sporting the name of one of the fathers of modern fishing rods. 

If I was Gary Loomis, I'd be insulted.

My rant for the day,  :-)


Monday, October 8, 2012

It's rod building time!

The fall is upon us again.  The cool weather, a few rainy days, and plenty of dark hours to build rods!

We've been away all summer dealing with life in the fast lane.  Wishing we could be spending way more time on the coast or on a lake somewhere.  But now we're back and prepping for the next big trip to the coast.  Looks like it will be the weekend before Thanksgiving.  The big update on this is that we acquired a Jackson "Big Tuna" Kayak about a month ago.  Would you believe we haven't had a chance to get out and use it yet??  Between the rain and our day jobs, we haven't had a chance to go to the lake yet.  Hopefully this next weekend will change that!

Since this is our first kayak, we are researching rod building ideas and methods for building fishing rods that best match kayak fishing. We've seen some information that indicates shorter rods are better and we've seen information that says longer rods are better.   Since our kayak is a tandem kayak, we are thinking shorter is better so we aren't as likely to snag each other.  But then again, longer rods will put the bait, lure, etc further away from the person behind.   We are thinking that maybe the front person can use long or short and the back person will use a shorter rod.  The cool thing about our kayak is that the seats can be turned around, though we aren't sure about turning them around when we are out on the water...  hah
HCFR main bench when first getting started.
We are looking for your ideas on this!  We would like to hear from you and see what you think about fishing from a kayak - both solo and tandem.  Have you done it? What do you use? Casting, spinning, or fly rod? Ours has a stand up area so fly fishing is a possibility.

And finally, what are your favorite kayaking spots here in Texas?   Of course we don't expect you to reveal your exact favorite fishing hole, but in general terms. ;)


Mike and Sarah