The first, and most important, thing a custom rod builder will do for you is what I will call the “spine test.” On any random rod blank, there will be a predisposed place the rod will want to bend when it is put under load. A rod builder will (or darn well should if he/she is worth anything at all) perform this test on every blank so that they line up the reel seat and guides to the natural bend in the rod. Now, the interesting thing about this is the following: a safe bet is that 90% of your factory assembled rods will be built wrong from the jump. How can this be? In a factory setting, time isn’t taken to ensure the spine is found and properly marked before installing the handle and reel seat and guides, which can all be done by different people and/or departments in the process. So, you may end up with 1 or 2 rods built “on the spine” just by random luck that the reel seat went on in the right orientation, but most likely it won’t be. Trust me when I tell you, if you are a serious angler, this will/should blow your mind.
As someone who purchased his first custom rod over 10 years ago, Paul assumed I knew all about the spine test and somehow it had never come up in conversation previously. It was all I could think about when my mind drifted to fishing and will stay with me as long as I’m in the fishing industry as a resort operator or an angler.
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