March 28, 2011
Making a Rod Customized To Your Cast
By John Merwin
Rod-building has been mentioned by several readers here off and on, so let’s get into that just a bit. I guess I’ve built maybe a dozen rods over the years, by which I mean installing components on a rod blank and not making the blank itself.
Almost always I’ve done this not to just save money but to get a rod that I can’t get any other way. The surfcasting rods I’ve made, for example, have rod grips specifically detailed to my hand size and arm length, which makes casting a lot easier. My favorite, though, and what I’d call my secret weapon, is a 9-foot, fast-action ultralight spinning rod.
I wanted to be able to cast extremely light jigs and lures in larger rivers for trout, while at the same time having the extra reach of a longer rod to better control the drift. I found long, light-line steelhead rods, but the actions were too soft among the rods I looked at (remember “noodle” rods?).
So I got a fairly cheap 9-foot, 4-piece, 4-weight graphite fly rod blank and wrapped it up as a spinning rod. I used the lightest possible components so as not to overwhelm with rod’s action with added weight.
This worked just great. The fast-action gave terrific castability, allowing me to throw a one-sixteenth-ounce jig somewhere into next week using a wide-spool ultralight spinning reel and 4-pound-test FireLine braid. Because I could cover much more water on larger rivers like the White and Norfork in Arkansas, I was catching many more trout.
It also allowed me to adequately cast a small Thill strike indicator and a weighted nymph such as I sometimes use when flyfishing. It was much easier with that long, light spinning rod, though. I could then fish the indicator rig at longer distances and with far fewer problems of drag.
No, that’s not flyfishing. At least not technically. But I’m not going to say it’s cheating, either. It was just plain fun to do....