Tuesday, March 15, 2016

HCFR Mission statement

So the other day I got to thinking about what makes HCFR different from other rod builders.  I've mentioned in the past that I've inspected high-end name brand rods that were so poorly made that when I attempted, I was able to twist the reel seat off the rod.

What makes HFCR different?

Anyone can purchase the parts to build a rod but only a few can truly craft those parts into a finely tuned angling instrument.  It takes many years of research and many more of perfecting skill to become a master craftsman. Many can learn to make a beautiful diamond wrap, but if the reel seat isn't mounted properly, your rod is nothing more than a piece of art. A quality rod built incorrectly becomes a broken rod very quickly.

To be certain, someone else's research is what I started with.  But I learned from and studied the best rod makers.  My mentor was Rich "Junior" Herron from Bridgeton Michigan and I have heavily studied the works of Dale P. Clemens.  

As a 14 year old kid, I didn't know that Junior was in agreement with Mr. Clemens 99% of the time. But later in life as I started to become more independent, I started reading books to check up on why Junior told me certain things.  I found out there were exact specific reasons for why Junior told me to do things certain ways. I now understand the science behind rod building and have personally proven many of the concepts myself.

So when I say that the specific construction of a custom rod is far more important that the aesthetic beauty of a rod, I'm most certainly not kidding!  There is much that goes into the proper construction of a handle to make sure that handle lasts you a lifetime.  Sure, you may have a pretty rod handle that lasts you 4 or 5 years, but how about a perfectly balanced, finely tuned instrument that lasts you a lifetime? 

Even with my limited knowledge of rod building at 14 or 15, I built an ultralight spinning rod that I am *still using regularly today*.  This rod is a phenomenal instrument that allows me to do things that other fishermen are unable to do with a normal spinning rod. When people tell you that you need a heavier rod to fight a big bass, they are obviously speaking from ignorance of what a properly built ultralight can do.

Doesn't the materials make the most difference though?

The quality of a blank, handle, guides, and thread do make up a small part of the total quality of a rod, but I can assure you that a rod built properly with even inferior materials can perform far better than a rod with extremely high-end materials and built so poorly that the rod is destroyed in a few years time.

I have proven this several times by taking a cheap used rod, stripped it down and rebuilt it from the ground up with medium quality parts. The finished product looks good enough to where most people think they are looking at a new rod several years later.  This is the quality of construction vs. the quality of the individual materials.  Of course, there are specific materials that I use to make this happen.  The right kind of epoxy, the right kind of thread, the right kind of guides, and the right kind of finish on the rod.  But application of these pieces is just as important!

For instance, when putting thread finish on the guide wraps, many companies (and rod builders!) fail to verify that the finish penetrates the windings and seals the thread to the rod. They trust in a epoxy finish that creates a large glob of "glue" over the thread.  They often fail to seal in the guide feet so water cannot get under a guide foot. Have you ever seen the red stain of rust from under a guide foot?

The method we use completely seals the guide foot but without turning the coating into a weight adding glob of glue.  Epoxy is inherently heavy.  Using epoxy to coat the windings on a rod adds a tremendous amount of weight to a rod. On some rods this can be a significant number of ounces. 

While this may not be noticeable on a surf rod or a boat rod, this quickly becomes an issue on any of the smaller rod types.  On fly rods weight is a critical factor that determines how well the rod handles the fly line and therefore fly presentation. On ultralight spinning rods it determines how much uncontrolled snap you get on the tip of the rod.  When the weight of the guides+epoxy is so heavy the rod can't support it's own weight with no load, we have a problem.

So ultimately, the sum of the construction is much more important that the individual parts used to build a fishing rod - which brings me to our mission statement here at HCFR:

At Hill Country Fishing Rods, we strive to not only produce aesthetically pleasing rods, we demand perfection when it comes to quality construction. We strive to build you an angling instrument that exceeds and beats all commercial standards of construction.

To be sure, a custom rod built with premium quality parts *and* premium quality construction is truly a scientific work of art. These instruments are so completely different in construction from the best rod you'll find in the store, that you'll begin to compare them to the difference between a Ford Shelby Cobra and a Lamborghini Aventador. They both are fast, but one totally out plays the other in both quality *and* construction.

Tight lines y'all!


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