Fly fishing gear

How to Build Your Own Fishing Rod: Surf Rods

Hooking up with the striped bass on the beach means covering the water, sometimes walking miles of sand in the process. To be ready for those days, I built myself the ultimate all-rounder surf rod. This nine foot stick can throw oversized swim caps, bucktails and all the rest so I can change my technique without changing the rod. Plus, it’s built with components that can withstand the punishment of the intertidal zone for decades to come.

I built my first rod about 20 years ago, a spinning rod with enough backbone to handle a full size plotter, but with a handle small enough to fit my young cousin’s pre-teen hands. Since then, I have assembled countless rods for everything including flying, surfing, coastal boating and freshwater applications. I still buy rack rods, but rod building has become a hobby for me. This allows me to craft the perfect cane for any situation. If you’re prowling the waves chasing striped bass or blue fish, I think the following rod is about the best you can get for a wide variety of conditions.

To start

You probably won’t save a sizable amount of money by building your own fishing rod – you might even end up spending more because you’ll inevitably be upgrading components. But in the end, you will have a rod configured just the way you want it to be. To start building your own canes, you will need specialized equipment. It doesn’t have to be fancy; I built my first cane on a homemade packing jig that I put together using a common board in about 20 minutes. Now you can buy much more user-friendly entry-level starter kits from vendors like Mud Hole Custom Tackle, with just about everything you need for around $ 150. Take a basic packing jig, a rod dryer, watch some videos, and you can assemble your own cane.

Homemade surf rod materials

How to select a blank for a homemade fishing rod

Selecting a blank is the most important part of the rod manufacturing process, as nothing else affects the performance of the finished rod more. Length and action are probably the most important factors in choosing a blank, along with the weight of the lure and the ranking of the line. Another big concern is the material: graphite tends to offer the fastest actions and fastest recovery times, while fiberglass offers a slower, uniform curvature that absorbs shock and protects lines. Graphite / fiberglass composites offer a certain compromise between the two, the action being determined by the ratio of materials.

The most important part of a fishing rod is the blank. Joseph Albanian

Because I wanted this rod to serve as a versatile surf pole and jetty for the Striper Coast, I looked for a versatile blank that could handle a wide variety of lures. I opted for a ODM Rods NEX1 blank, rated for ½ to 3 ½ ounces. The moderate nine-foot action is perfect for bucktails, darts, pencils, swimmers and boxes that I throw when the wind howls, and the parabolic turn soaks up the powerful strokes of big fish without putting too much shock on your body. leader. The blank is fairly light, but not at the expense of durability, with layered graphite that won’t break easily.

Find the right guides for your surf rod

There are more and more different types of guides on the market. Some are built to minimize weight, others are developed to maximize a specific fishing technique, and some are simply built to withstand. Fuji’s new TORZITE Titanium Rings have been designed to withstand the worst you can throw at them and keep fishing. Titanium frames save weight, but they are extremely strong thanks to the slight curvature that Fuji incorporates in them – think of U-channels or I-beams used as beams.

Fishing rod guides on a table.
The latest Fuji guides are strong and light. Joseph Albanian

The rings themselves are made from TORZITE, the first material created specifically for rod guides. The new material is tailor-made for the most abrasive braids. They are smoother, smoother, and stronger than previous benchmark silicon carbide rings, also known as SiC. Despite the added strength, TORZITE guides weigh approximately 30 percent less than SiC. The rings I choose use Fuji’s KR concept, also known as “rapid choke” geometry to provide a smooth and quick transition from reel to racing rings. This allows the line to flow freely from the reel for maximum casting distance.

How to find the best grip material for a custom surf rod

There are many different grip materials that you can use. Cork tape is the most traditional on a surf stick, but more modern offerings such as Winn Grips, which have made their way to the fishing rods of tennis rackets and golf clubs, are replacing them. Heat shrink tubing with a variety of textures are increasingly popular, for ease of use and durability. But I have found the carbon fiber grips to be particularly well suited for a rod that is going to live its life in the surf zone. They have a unique semi-smooth finish that manages to offer a lot of buying even when wet.

carbon fiber fishing rod components
Carbon fiber works well as a gripping material on saltwater rods. Joseph Albanian

Building a rod with a carbon fiber handle previously involved training it yourself; place a carbon tube on an arbor that you have shaped to your liking and coat it with resin. You can now get prepreg carbon grips built on open cell foam cores that can be easily shaped to fit a rod blank. Custom tackle for mud hole manufactures such handles, but they are currently designed for freshwater rods. To adapt it to the larger diameter surf blank, the carbon fiber requires a little massage with a rotary tool. To protect the blank and complete the grip of my surf rod, I applied black rubberized surf tape above and below the reel seat. I used a shorter section as the front grip and covered the ass almost all the way, finishing it with another carbon grip and EVA cap.

Select a thread to finish building your homemade surf rod

Custom packaging adds a touch of class to any build, but weaving decorative patterns takes extra work. To give my rod a bit of personality without any ornate wraps, I used Mud Hole Custom Tackle’s Pro Wrap Fusion variegated yarn. The dyeing process gives the yarn a unique look when wound up, with bands of alternating colors. After all of the wrapping was done, I gave the rod four coats of epoxy to prevent damage and increase durability.

winding threads on a fishing rod.
Mud Hole offers wraps that can be used to create an attractive pattern. Joseph Albanian

The verdict

After finishing the rod I found it to be one of the lightest and most responsive surf rods I have ever had the privilege of using. The blank is even sensitive enough to pick up the bites of the wayward summer plaice, but has the backbone to quickly end fights with big stripers. I haven’t put on more than 30 pounds on it yet, but I’m confident the cane can turn a heavyweight from a jetty groin and get it to the beach quickly. The rod paired well with one of Tsunami’s SaltX reels, providing good balance. So far, the sealed coil has stood up to all the dunks it has endured without a hiccup. The lightweight nature of the rod and reel combo means I can throw caps all night long and not be exhausted when the sun comes up.

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