Now, this is not an attempt to say that those store-bought rods won’t work. They will work fine, of course, but you aren’t getting full value for your purchase when a rod isn’t built properly from the jump. Practice the spine test and check every rod you consider buying in the store before making a purchase. I know I will never look at rods the same again.
The 2nd significant difference in a custom rod vs factory rod is simple and easy to grasp. Custom rods will have an extra guide or 2 or 3. The reason for fewer guides on a factory rod is time/cost. More guides and more wrapping time increase the cost of a rod. More guides are a good thing though because you want your line following as closely to the bend of the rod as possible when under load. When that happens, the line has less resistance on each guide when there is weight on the end of the line. Fewer guides means they further apart and you will be going from guide to guide a on a steeper angle the more the rod bends over. You are now fighting the rod as well as the fish. A couple extra guides allow the rod and reel to do more of the work for you. There is some fancy math that explains the physics of it all, but you can trust me when I tell you that more guides are good, good, good. Less guides are bad, bad, bad.
Anglers are often a loyal bunch. We can be brought up on certain brands of equipment and become partial to them just because that is what we have always known. Sometimes budget can be an important consideration as well. I won’t try and convince you to throw away what you have and replace everything with custom built rods immediately, but I would urge you to consider a custom build the next time you are in the market to purchase a good quality rod. If you are spending anything near $150-$200 for walleye and bass rods or $200-$250 on muskie pole, you owe it to yourself to at least consider having someone build you a rod properly from the spine up. A good custom rod built properly on the spine of a quality blank, with the right number of guides using standard cork, reel seat, etc is surprising affordable if you are already buying higher end rods. You don’t have to break the bank, but you can certainly do some upgrades if you want more than the standard package.
We haven’t even talked about upgrades to handles (cork upgrade, wood, EVA foam etc), reel seats (aluminum w/ double nuts), guide wrap colors (is 1000 color options enough?) , tricked out guides (one word – holographic) and personalizing it completely with intricate thread art wraps that will make your rod stand out among all others. You can have it personalized with an inscription as well to make it even more memorable for yourself or that special someone in your life that loves to fish. We will talk about that all next time around, after your mind has calmed down and your world re-balances itself from the discovery that nearly all of the store bought, factory produced fishing rods you have been using for your entire fishing life have been built incorrectly. For those of you that are already using custom rods and didn’t know the 2 most important advantages, you can now tell your friends why your rods are better than theirs and have science to back you up.
I highly recommend you check out what Paul has been building. From St Croix to Mudhole to Rainshadow and more, he can access the right blank for you and your budget and work with you to get a rod that is perfect for how you fish and built properly from spine up. How much bling you give it is entirely up to you!
Tight lines, everyone!!