. . . . . Rod Fit
. . . . Component Selection
. . . Rod Blank
. . Set Up
. . . Rod Balance
. . . . . Consulting
. . . . . . . The Spine
. . . . . . . . . Aesthetics

Joe Kassuba, His rod shop
An Introduction To Custom Fishing Rods

There are many high quality fishing rods available to the serious angler today. A visit to your local specialty retailer will most likely expose you to an array of rods, each one claiming to be the pinnacle of perfection for the task at hand. Not one of them is a “custom” rod and cannot be compared on an equal footing with true custom-built fishing rods. The custom rod stands apart and above all manufactured rods. Wow! A strong statement! What I have to say is not about “theirs” versus “mine.” As a quality custom builder I acknowledge the quality found in today’s manufactured rods. What I want to do is point out some of the features that make a true custom rod distinctly different enough from a good quality manufactured rod hence, to make comparison is meaningless. Apples and oranges cannot be compared because they are different yet both fruits. Let’s look at some factors that make a custom fishing rod different from the manufactured rod.
Rod Fit

Rod fitting is a critical step for comfort, balance, distance and accuracy.
No two people are the same. Yet the manufacturing process dictates a rod built to fit the “average” person. Very few of us are “average” so we all make some concessions to proper fit with a manufactured rod.

In designing your custom fishing rod, I will take your physical factors into account when building your rod. The size of your hand dictates the diameter of the butt and fore grips. The length of your forearm and the overall length of your arm dictates the butt grip length for casting and spinning rods as well as the placement of stripping guides on a fly rod. These are just some of your physical factors that I will consider for the design of your rod.

Your casting style (the motion of your wrist, arm and torso) has developed over a lifetime. It generates a unique combination of motions to accomplish the cast. Custom fitting will not “fight” these motions but rather will “complement” them for optimum performance.
Component Selection

Quality components affect fit and function, the longevity and durability of your rod as well as its “cast-ability.” More specifically, quality components, due to reduced friction and proper placement produce dramatic improvements in your rod. Careful de-burring, polishing and guide foot adjustment all reduce “guide abrasion” against your rod blank, and improve the durability of your custom rod. Reel seat type and placement are important for the fit and function of a rod. Proper sizing along with the aesthetic attributes of all the rods components are important. Careful attention to these and other small details are beyond the economics of mass manufacturing.
Finally, don’t be confused by components that “look” the same. The quality of cork rings used in the cork handle and their fit will become very evident as the rod is fished. How the line guides are made and designed contribute to the durability, fit and functionality of a rod. To what degree the insert is polished (finished), what alloys are used (corrosion resistance), and how the inserts are mounted and glued for durability are not readily seen. Beauty is skin deep, true quality more than offsets the small cost increase of high quality components.

Overall weight is a significant factor for virtually all rods, component selection is a vital part of achieving this goal.

I have the experience and the availability of components to address all of these factors for you. I will inform you of the available trade offs between fit, function and cost and assure you of achieving a quality custom crafted rod that satisfies you the customer.
Rod Blank

Modern composite rod blanks come in a dizzying array of actions and compositions from the ultra light high modulus engineering wonder to solid glass blanks. I will select from literally thousands of action and composition combinations from blank manufacturers to precisely match your application. Choice of blank is a hallmark of the custom rod. It is the starting place, after the consultation phase, for the realization of your desires.
Set Up

Everybody’s casting style varies slightly if not dramatically. How you hold your rod dictates the opportunity to customize your cork grip to fit you in such a way that causes your rod to be in the exact same position every time you cast. This will result in a dramatic improvement in casting accuracy. Guide placement can affect both the length and accuracy of your casting. Each rod describes a unique curve when put under deflection. The goal is to place guides for optimum performance. By preventing ‘line slap’ against the rod shaft, the custom builder is able to reduce friction to allow for longer and smoother casts. Guide opening size and spacing is critical in dampening line oscillation that is set up during the cast. The fishing line as it travels from reel to rod tip needs to experience the least amount of guide contact friction possible, while the line needs to properly load the rod blank in fighting a fish. Observance of the “nodal point” (the center of vibration between the rod tip and the butt portion) as a guide placement joint helps to dampen the rod vibration by equalizing upper and lower line balance effects. The line travel from the reel to intersection point along the spinning rod blank is important for the casting ability. Guide placement for downrigger, casting, trolling and stand up rods are important in eliminating rod twisting when the rod is loaded. Stripping guides placement and spacing are important factors in “straightening out” and damping oscillation of the fly line during casting.

Each point of set-up contributes to the whole, making the rod function at an optimum level. No “formula” for spacing will work for every rod simply because no two blanks exhibit exactly the same characteristics. This meticulous attention to detail is the hallmark of my custom crafted rods.
Rod Balance

Regardless of the actual weight (within reason), balance is the most important factor in making a rod “feel” good to you as well as reduce casting fatigue. For example, fly reels manufactured for the same line weight will vary in reel weight by several ounces from the lightest to the heaviest. This difference is more than enough to make a rod ‘tip-heavy’ or ‘butt-heavy’ in your hand. When the rod is properly balanced with your reel and line, the outfit feels “weightless,” allows for delicacy and accuracy, and is simply a joy to use for a fatigue-free day of fishing. For casting accuracy and effort, reel weights are very important elements in achieving proper balance. Proper balance is therefore (except for chance or blind luck for a reel to manufactured rod match up) a unique feature of a custom built rod.

Before I became a professional Rod Builder, I was a fisherman. The stimulus that prompted me to begin rod building was the desire for a rod that would better serve my favorite kind of fishing. I understand those special techniques and needs you have for your favorite kind of fishing. Because of my practical knowledge of fishing and custom rod designing I am a good source for a consultant. As a consultant I will use my intimate knowledge of the casting and fish fighting properties of literally hundreds of rod blank styles and rod tapers. My first hand experience regarding grip, reel seat and line guide performance and durability enable me to select the exact group of components that will meet your specific needs. Your physical stature, specific casting style, personal aesthetics, and equipment balance are all considered during the consulting phase. Consulting is the first step of the process that will culminate with the finest fishing implement you could hope to own.
The Spine

All modern composite rods blanks, when put under a bend, have a natural tendency to torque or twist into a position of “static comfort”. The outside of this curve is properly referred to as the rod’s “spine”. My custom crafted fishing rod uses this consistent source of a rod blank’s natural strength, in proper application, to the task at hand for your custom rod. You may have experienced rods that want to twist out of alignment, moving the reel to the right or left of center when under stress or rods that deliver your cast “off target” when all of your casting mechanics are proper. A major contributing factor to these performance characteristics is improper consideration of the “spine”. I will include the spine effects for your blank and will take the time to locate the spine and orient the blank to take best advantage of this natural feature. My custom tuned fishing rods are spine oriented to achieve optimum performance in casting accuracy, distance and fish fighting ability.

Custom rods are first and foremost weapons, but can also be works of art. My goal is to build a fine custom fishing rod that is pleasing to you. Beauty does not improve function, but does enhance pride of ownership. So too can you have your fishing rod. I can aesthetically convert your rod to a ‘work of art’ that is meant to please the only person that Pride of ownership of a custom rod should be driven by aesthetics and performance, not brand labels.
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