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Custom fishing rod building – Part 3, building a rod for seatrout and redfish

Catching fish is not the only thing that makes anglers happy. A growing number of enthusiastic anglers are discovering the joys and benefits of building their own fishing rod. They find a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that the fish they caught was on a rod they built themselves.

Custom rods can be as fancy as the builder desires.
Ron Presley

To put it simply, custom rod building is all about constructing your own rod to fit your own preferences and fishing style. Components are getting easier to obtain and rod-building classes are available, including online, to guide you through each step of building your own custom rod. This is the third of a 3-part series on building custom fishing rods.

Building a specialty rod for seatrout and redfish

Part 2 of this series described building a relatively heavy rod for cobia and similar sized fish. The major variation between that build and a lighter seatrout rod is the scale of the build. Mud Hole rod building instructor Brook Oliva says, “That’s a great aspect of rod building in general. Regardless of what your building, the techniques and overall build processes are the same, only the selection of components vary.”

Seatrout are abundant in coastal waters, but the average fish will be less that 5 pounds. It is common knowledge that seatrout can be a bit spooky and the bigger fish are normally caught further from the boat. A long rod with a flexible tip will load better and produce longer casts. Anglers should also consider the possibility of catching a big gator seatrout in which case the rod will need adequate backbone.

“It’s just my preference,” says Brook, “but when I’m setting up a seatrout rod I don’t usually build over 7-foot. Selecting my blank is easy. I immediately pull my favorite SJ842 by MHX. This particular blank is the Spin Jig series, and is incredibly versatile, extremely light and amazingly sensitive. I use this blank for just about every style of light tackle fishing. Whether it’s a poppin’ cork or a top water lure, this is the blank I want in my hands.”

As with any build, the next choice is the handle and it is very much a personal preference. “Every one of my inshore builds for the past 5 years have been split grip style handles. The choice is more for style than function, but it gives me the freedom of placing the real seat anywhere on the blank I desire. Not being limited by predetermined length or pre-shaped rear grips I can set the reel seat where it feels most comfortable to me.”

Brook reveals that because his baitcasting skills are limited he prefers to build spinning rods for his light tackle fishing. This means his seat and guides will be on the same side of the blank that carries the white mark where you marked the spine (See Part 1 on how to find the spine). “My favorite seat is an American Tackle Aero seat. For those not familiar with this style of seat it has an ergonomic “hump” on the back that forms to your hand creating one of the most comfortable seats available. “A lot of builders both OEM and Custom have been moving towards split seats, but I find that there is no support on your hand and they are ultimately uncomfortable.”

Brook runs micro guides for his guide train on the light tackle rods. The industry classifies any ring of 5mm or smaller a micro guide. “Not all of the guides are that size,” states Brook. “On a micro guide set-up, the first three guides do the majority of the work in terms of ‘taming’ the fishing line. I use high frame spinning guides for those first three (I like titanium so I usually use the NIA frames from American Tackle). I rely on these three guides to ‘choke’ the line and straighten it out, so they rapidly get smaller as opposed to the gradual reduction over the course of several guides more common on ‘cone of flight’ style guide trains.”

Brook begins with a 20mm, and then a 10mm, followed by a 6mm micro guide. “I follow the three line tamers with all 4mm or 5mm micro guides all the way out to the tip. The quantity will vary depending on the length of the rod and the action; usually these set-ups wind up with any where from 11 to 14 guides.”

Brook also described a new guide system that he has begun to use. “One of the newest and more impressive guide layouts on the market is the Microwave Guide System. Also made by American Tackle, this set up features a unique stripper guide that is essentially a guide within a guide.” The stripper guide immediately controls the line, allowing it to shoot through the remaining guides almost perfectly straight with no friction. “This set up allows for an amazingly effortless cast to achieve long distances with accuracy. It translates into more casts on the water without wearing your arm out!”

Regardless of guide system, the build described above is a great universal inshore and even freshwater set up. “My SJ842 has been with me just about everywhere I fish. It has landed monster trout and big bull reds. When I’m on the inshore water it’s usually the first rod I pick up and the last rod I set down.”

Ryan Dangel, another rod building instructor sums it up when he says, “There is just something special about building your own rod, picking out the colors, adding your own ideas and putting your name on it. It is just an enjoyable thing to do.”

Note: This is the last in a 3-Part series on custom rod building. Part 1 describes the basics of rod building and Part 2 describes the process of building a heavier rod such as would be use on cobia, stripers and other similar sized fish.

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