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!


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hill Country Fishing Rods web site update

It's been a long time coming, but I finally upgraded the Hill Country Fishing Rods main site.  It's still knee deep in scaffolding and orange cones... otherwise known as "under construction"...  but it's a start and I was finally able to put up a photo gallery.

Hopefully I'll get to spend more time on it again in a near future. I seem to have gone from "busy" to worse as apparently I'm going to be working on getting my house rented out again!  Don't know anyone in central Texas that wants to live in the country and wants to have animals do ya? I've got a beautiful 3 bed, 2 bath that will be coming on the market in March - I hope!

Anyway, just wanted to post something on here to let you know I'm still alive!

Of course as always, you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram:  @TexasRodBuilder

Tight Line Y'all!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Fund Raiser for Heroes Night Out - Kayaking adventures


This is SHOUT OUT to all my fellow Central Texas...  how many of you could or would make the drive to Georgetown Texas to bring your kayak and participate in a fundraiser for Heroes Night Out?

Their web site is:  http://heroesnightout.org/

Heroes Night Out helps Veterans with acclimating with life again by giving them things to do and places to go to enjoy life and have some fun. This is a very simplistic view of the services they provide so go visit their site and watch the video below to see if you can get behind this.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fishing Pole or Fishing Rod?

When I was a young man, my mentor, "Junior Herron" caught me calling my fishing rod a "Pole".  I got to listen to several minutes of thorough instruction as to the differences between a "rod" and a "pole".  I intend to share those observations with you as well since I feel like many folks do not understand the concepts between the two.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Revelations on the type of rod needed for Texas rivers

We had a great time this last weekend!  Caught many fish and made some wonderful memories.

Even more so I am convinced that I need to build light spinning rods for catching river bass.  My ultra light rod was the best tool for the trip.  I was catching largemouth and smallmouth on the rod using the same small buzzbait.  The ability to fight a fish without the rod letting up on the fish was paramount to me catching fish after fish even in the weeds.

This appeared to be a 15.75in 1.75lb Guad with
very faint markings on the back. Gave me a huge fight!
So why do fisherman say you need a heavier rod to fight largemouth in weeds?  I always thought that this was because you could muscle the fish through the weeds without losing the fish.  What I found though is that this is not always the case.  The fact is, I was much more likely to have the fish throw the lure than I was to have the fish hook me on a weed.  Of all the many fish I caught over the weekend, I only lost a fish to weeds twice - one was obvious, the other wasn't so obvious.  The ultra light rod performed so well that I hardly picked up my other rods unless I wanted to fish a larger lure (Check out my GeeksFishToo blog).

My goal now is to work harder on getting a rod setup that will perform similarly to my ultra light in a longer rod.  The ultra light is only 5'9" and it's very flexible.  By going to a longer rod, I could go up a step in stiffness without sacrificing the ability to keep pressure on a fish.

Why am I going this route?  Ask a fly fisherman.  The way a fly rod works is what I'm looking for in a spinning rod. The ability of a fly rod to keep tension on a fish is how they keep from losing a hard fighting fish. This brings me to the type of fish you find in Texas rivers:  Hard fighting fish.  Particularly the Guadeloupe bass.  I call these fish "Texas Hot Water Trout" because they fight all the way to the boat and then some. Since they prefer smaller lures, you need a rod that can keep tension when the bass does a double-helix-back-flip. And yes, I had one do something insanely similar this trip. 

Most of the bass you'll find in Texas rivers generally fight very hard.  And I found that when using my super flexible ultra light rod that I didn't lose one of those super hard fighters.  The only fish I lost were largmouth bass which were less picky about where they went when fighting you.  Apparently Guadeloupe and smallmouth were more likely to head to open areas where largemouth would head for the bottom.

The problem with the smaller rod is that the reel I had was too light for the fish I was catching.  I completely tore up the drag on my Pfluger President reel. I had to lock it down to keep the drag from sliding.  This of course is risky when you have the possibility of catching a bass bigger than when the rod can take. So the solution to the problem is a longer rod that will handle a slightly bigger reel so the drag wont disintegrate. 

The Concept:
I've got a 9ft rod blank that I have a microwave guide set for but I need to put a different handle on it. It would seem that a conventional handle is too limiting in options so I am going to do a Tennessee handle with slip rings.  This is what my current ultra light has on it and I like it quite well.  The only change is that I intend to install a handle that is 16in long.  This has a two-fold purpose: 1. To provide built-in buoyancy to keep the rod a-float when dropped overboard. 2. To allow the possibility of using the rod as a fly rod. 

With a handle that allows unusual placement of guides, this should allow me to put either a fly reel or spinning reel on the rod.  And with the microwave guide system, it will keep a very small profile on the blank meaning less interference for the heavier fly line.  I'm afraid that the blank itself may not be flexible enough for a fly rod, but the concept would be sound over all and by building it this way, it will give me a way to try out the concept.

I'll keep you posted on my progress.  I'm going to attempt to order the handle tomorrow. I've got everything else ready to go.

Until then...

Tight Lines Y'all!