The perfect fishing rod does not exist. However, the perfect fishing rod for YOU does exist.
We’re talking about your own custom fishing rod that you can build with your own two hands.
But, why bother building your own fishing rod when you can buy the best fishing rods from the best rod makers by just clicking a few buttons?
Well, learning how to build fishing rods comes with a lot of satisfaction – especially if you have an innate love for fishing.
Along with personal enjoyment, there are also many vital skills that you can gain from this endeavor.
A basic, DIY fishing rod can be an incredibly useful survival tool in the event of an emergency.
There’s also the possibility that you can turn this enjoyable Sunday afternoon hobby into a second career.
Just ask Bill Oyster, the founder of the famous rod-making company Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods.
He started building custom fishing rods as a hobby and turned it into a full-fledged business.
Today, his custom rods sell for prices in the range of $2,500 – $13,000.
So, when it comes to rod building, fishers should never ask why, but how. Let’s address this important question in detail.
Here's What's In Store For You...
- How to Build Your Own Fishing Rod
- What Does It Mean to Build Your Own Fishing Rod?
- How to Build a Wooden Fishing Rod
- How to Build a PVC Fishing Rod
- How to Build a Bamboo Fishing Rod
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to Build Your Own Fishing Rod
What Does It Mean to Build Your Own Fishing Rod?
At its core, rod building has more to do with assembling and less to do with the building.
This statement is not meant to demean the skill of custom rod building but only to put this art into proper perspective.
To build a fishing rod, you’ll have to assemble a lot of different parts.
As long as you follow directions and use proper care, custom fishing rod building is not a difficult task at all. All fishing rods have the same basic parts.
They include – rod blanks, butt caps, grips, guides, tip-top, winding check, wrappings, and protective finishes.
The style, size, and designs of these parts all vary quite widely based on the type of custom fishing rod you’re building.
But, in general, all types of sportfishing rods feature these basic components.
So, obtaining the right components is the first major step in custom rod building.
The second most important task in DIY rod building is obtaining the right tools and supplies.
Here are two lists of the basic tools & components you’ll need to kickstart your custom rod building project –
Custom Fishing Rod Building Checklist: Components
- Rod blank
- Reel seat
- Butt cap or plate (if not included with reel seat)
- Bushings for reel seat (you can make your own with a maskingtape)
- Ferrules (the junctures that connect the rod blanks)
- Scrim (reinforcement for the rod blank’s arc to give it “hoop strength”)
- Epoxy glue (for reel seats, handles, and related parts)
- Hook-keeper (optional)
- Running Guides
- Stripping Guides
- Thread wraps
- Color preservers (optional)
- Brush cleaners (e.g., pure acetone)
- Cork sealant
- Rod bag or case
Custom Fishing Rod Building Checklist: Tools & Equipment
- Hand Saw
- Electrical Drill (variable-speed drill bit)
- Metal Snips
- Sharp knife
- Rat-tail files
- Slip caps
- Tapered Reamers
- Masking tape (¾ inch)
- Tape measures
- Sandpaper (grade should be between 100 & 400 grits)
- Fine emery cloth
- Fine, triangular file
- Razor blades
- Fly-tying scissors
- Burnishing tool
- Wrapping stands
- Stainless-steel measuring spoons
- Large paper clips
- Rubbing alcohol
- Rags and paper towels
- Wood glue (or flexible cement)
Minimal safety equipment is also needed for most rod-building tasks.
Following are some safety-related items you must assemble before you begin building your own fishing rod –
- Heavy workbench gloves.
- Workshop goggles to prevent the possibility of eye injuries.
- Worktable to work and store tools, materials, finished products, etc.
- Proper lighting, preferably ultra-bright, double-fluorescent “shop lights.”
- Woodworkers’ vise to hold wood securely and cut it to the right sizes/shapes.
- Face masks or breathing masks to avoid exposure to dust, paint fumes, and other risks.
- Aprons to prevent damage to your household clothing from cuts, tears, paint spills, etc.
Once you assemble your basic rod building kit, you’ll need to decide what type of fishing rod you need to build.
Now, there are many techniques that different rod builders have established throughout the ages.
To learn them all, you’ll need to take professional rod-building classes.
To get an idea of how big the world of custom fishing rod building is, take a look at this list of fishing rods.
Professional rod builders have built customized versions of all these fishing rods –
- Stick Rods
- One-Piece Rods
- Multipiece Rods
- Ultralight Spinning Rods
- Light Spinning Rods
- Tennessee Handle Rods
- Surf Spinning Rods
- Conventional Surf Rods
- Boat Spinning Rods
- Noodle Rods
- Casting Rods(detachable handle style and permanent handle style rods)
- Popping Rods
- Spin-Cast Rods
- Light/Heavy Fly Rods
- Boat Rods
- Offshore Trolling Rods
All these fishing rods can be made of various materials – graphite, steel, carbon fiber, PVC pipes, etc.
Small-scale rod builders (especially beginners) may have trouble getting their hands on such materials.
So, let’s address the rods you can build with materials that are relatively easier to get our hands on.
The materials are – wood, PVC, and bamboo. In this case, we’ll be building a 6½-foot custom fishing rod.
Technically, this rod is a “stick rod.” But, you can use it as a casting rod as well.
The directions will be generic and applicable to other custom rod building processes you might take on in the future.
How to Build a Wooden Fishing Rod
Start off by getting a strong wooden stick (preferably a straight and strong branch) somewhere between 9-11 feet long.
In addition to this wooden stick, your tools, & components, you’ll also need the following items –
- Fishing hook
- Fishing line
- Coarse string (at least 20 feet in length)
The final version of your custom fishing rod won’t be longer than 6½ to 7 feet. But, it’s always better to start bigger. You can trim off any extra wood.
Step 1: Wood Treatment
- Clean off all leaves, branches, and dust from the wooden stick.
- Use sandpaper (80 to 120 grit) to sand down any imperfections sticking out on the sides of the wooden branch.
- Cut off all weak spots (areas of the wood that are extra dry or rotten) from the wooden branch.
Avoid working with wooden branches or sticks that contain too many weak spots.
Cutting these sections off doesn’t make sense if most of the wood is rotten or weak. Also, buy local.
Importing timber and wood products from foreign countries means dealing with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Avoid these hassles and get your wooden stick from local sellers.
They’ll probably understand your wood-related needs when you tell them you want to build your own fishing rod.
Step 2: Attach the Fishing Line
The amount of line you’ll need will depend on how much casting distance you require while fishing.
Want to build a fishing rod to simply jig in your local pond or reservoir? Then, you won’t require a lot of lines.
Want to reach long casting distances? Then, you’ll have to tie a lot of lines to your custom fishing rod.
Bear in mind – the longer the line, the harder it is to manage the fishing rod. If you’re new to rod building, start off by tying modestly short lines to your custom rods.
Step 3: Attach the Coarse String
Before you tie the fishing line, take these steps –
- Take the 20+ feet long coarse string. Tie it to the wooden stick’s tip or tag end (the narrowest region of the stick). The string should be between 2-4 inches from the end of the wooden stick.
- Tie the string tightly. Wrap any remaining regions of the thread around the wooden stick.
- Take some fishing line. Tie the lineto the end section of the string. Now, the string will act as your fishing line’s backing. You can use the line to cast.
- Tie the hook to the end of the fishing line. Use a tight loop knot for this step.
There you have it – a basic, DIY casting rod made of wood. It’s not the best jerkbait spinning rod in the world.
But, it will catch fish. Unwind the strings and the fishing line. Drop the rod into the water and start fishing.
How to Build a PVC Fishing Rod
This is a more advanced form of rod building. You’ll need the following items to build your own homemade PVC fishing rod –
- Four PVC pipes (you’ll only need two but get two extra in case of mistakes_
- Two to four slip caps(approximately ½ to ¾ inches in size)
- Drill bit (electrical drill & 3/32 bit)
- Fishing reel seatof your choosing
The PVC pipes should be 3½ to 4½ feet long. The final version of your custom fishing rod won’t be longer than 6½ feet.
The total length of the two PVC pieces will be the final length of your custom rod.
Always use longer pipes as we can easily trim off any extra regions if necessary.
Step 1: Cut the PVC Pipes
Take only two pieces of pipes. Cut each pipe until they’re approximately 3½ to 4½ feet long. Use sandpaper to eliminate any imperfections on the pipes. Keep rubbing until the pipes’ surfaces are super-smooth.
Step 2: Attach Two Slip Caps
Attach two slip caps by slipping them over the pipes. Attach the threaded connector in a similar way. Don’t glue them. That’s for later.
Step 3: Drill Holes and Attach Eyelets
Use the drill bit to create four to six holes through the PVC pipes (depending on how long your custom rod is).
The holes should be evenly spaced apart. Now, attach the eyelets by taking the following steps –
- Get four to six binder clips, depending on how many holes there are on the rod (they’ll be your custom rod’seyelets)
- Use pliers to twist one side of the binder clip across the other.
- On one end of the pipe, there should be two legs pointing inwards (towards each other). On the other side, there should be a closed loop.
- Clip the legs into the four drilled holes on the pipe. Repeat this step until each hole on the pipe has its own eyelet.
- The open loop (the two legs point directly at each other) will serve as your rod’s eyelets.
Step 4: Attach Fishing Reel
Choose an appropriately sized reel seat. Attach it to the larger sections of the PVC pipes.
Use the same drill bit to drill two holes. Then, use a screwdriver to screw the fishing reel in its position.
Note: with custom fishing rods, it’s always better to use lighter lures and baits.
Don’t use heavy reels because if you attach heavy lures to them, they’ll weigh down the entire rod.
Step 5: Combine the Two Pipes
This time, glue the two slop caps together to combine the two mini PVC pipes.
There you have it – your own fishing rod made of PVC. Run the line through the rod’s eyes.
Attach a hook & start fishing with some lightweight lure.
During storage or transport, separate the two sections of your custom rod for safety and convenience.
How to Build a Bamboo Fishing Rod
A high-quality custom fishing rod made of bamboo can fetch you as much as $4,600.
Bamboo is an incredibly strong and flexible material.
Rods made of bamboo hold up exceptionally well with bigger fish.
You’ll need pretty much the same items required to build a wooden rod. This includes:
- A strong bamboo stick (preferably a strong stick) is approximately 9 to 11 feet long.
- Fishing Hook
- Fishing Line
- String (at least 20 feet in length)
Again, trim off any extra bamboo as the final version of your custom fishing rod will be approximately 6½ to 7 feet long.
Step 1: Prepare the Bamboo
Repeat the process of preparing the wooden stick/branch.
Trim and smooth your bamboo stick. Cut off any weak spots.
The rod shouldn’t be wider than two inches in girth.
Use a sharp knife to make these modifications.
Use sandpaper to eliminate all bumps or imperfections on the bamboo stick’s surface. Use a saw to trim the edges.
Step 2: Dry the Bamboo
Tie the 6½ to 7 feet long bamboo stick horizontally on a hanging line in a spot that receives direct sunlight (e.g., your backyard).
Leave it there to dry for a few weeks until it’s fully dry, brown in color, and sturdy enough to hold your fish.
Step 3: Attach the Fishing Line
Take the fishing line and attach it to the dry bamboo stick.
- To ensure the stick doesn’t bend when you’re fighting fish, tie the line roundabout two inches above the rod’s handle.
- Run it up the entire length of the bamboo stick until you get to the tag end.
- By doing so, you’ll ensure that extra pressure doesn’t fall on the fishing line when you’re fighting fish.
- Loop the line around the fishing rod& towards the handle. Create the same loops at a few regions leading up to the rod’s tip.
- If there’s any extra line left, take it from the handle loop & keep running it through the other loops.
Keep repeating the last step until you reach the end of the rod.
There you have it – a perfectly usable casting line for your fishing rod.
The remaining loops will help keep the fishing line in place. Hit the local pond to test your bamboo fishing rod.
There’s a high probability that the first few custom fishing rods you build don’t look like refined pieces of art.
But, don’t let that affect your rod-building dreams.
Badly wrapped lines. Shaky handles. Flaws in the paint job on the wooden rod blank.
These are some common issues that most first-time builders of custom rods face.
As long as these flaws don’t affect the rod’s performance in the water – these flaws don’t matter.
Your workmanship skills will improve with every custom rod you build. So, take the first step.
Use this guide to build a basic custom fishing rod made of low-cost and easy-to-access materials like wood, PVC, or bamboo.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you make money building fishing rods?
Yes. Many custom rod makers start off as hobbyists. Once they master their skills, people see their creations as handcrafted works of art. Needless to say, these items draw a lot of money.
How do you make a fishing rod from scratch?
Try the DIY methods mentioned in this article. If you want to make steel, graphite, or carbon fiber rods, it’s better to learn face-to-face from professionals in a rod-building class.
How long does it take to build custom fishing rods?
It depends on your skill level. It can take 2-4 weeks for an amateur rod maker. An expert will be able to build a custom fishing rod in less than 10 hours.
How long should my custom fishing rod be?
To make short casts, a short 6-foot tall rod will do. If pinpoint accuracy isn’t required, build a longer casting rod around 7 to 8 feet tall.