Factory vs. Custom rods

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by troutpocket, Dec 13, 2002.

  1. troutpocket Active Member

    Posts: 1,777
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +326 / 0
    Hey all - hope this topic isn't too played out. I'm looking to upgrade my 8wt single-hander for throwing sinktips. I don't have the budget for a super-dooper top-of-the-line ultra-sweet mega rod (i.e. factory built Sage XP, GLoomis IMX, etc) but I am looking at the St. Croix Legend-Ultra, GLoomis GL3 (already have a 6wt and love it), and Cabela's FT and SLi series. All these rods are around $300 and have good warranties.

    Now I've noticed there are a whole slough of custom rod builders on Ebay that will make me a Sage XP or whatever I want for closer to $400 . .. still well under factory built retail $$. All these folks tout the lifetime warranty of the blank and personally guarantee thier workmanship (how does that work, exactly? In case of breakage, do I send the rod to the manufacturer or the builder?). I suppose it comes down to trusting the custom builder vs. an established company. I'm kinda leaning towards the custom rod but I'd like to hear from folks that have gone this route. Regrets, problems, or recommended builders (pref western WA)?

    Thanks
    Rod
  2. Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

    I've built a number of rods to reduce the cost of owning a good rod. You can build a rod for a little more than half of what you would pay for a factory built rod. The process is fairly straightforward and their are a number of good books out there to help. What you're saving is the labor involved with wrapping the guides, fitting the cork to the rod, etc..

    My wife happened to break her Loomis GLX rod while fighting a fish and having the line wrap around the tip and then having the fish bolt. I took the rod blank into Loomis and they promptly gave me another tip section for this two piece rod.

    Most top rod manufacturers guarantee their blanks with the same warranties as their factory rods. The only difference is that if you break a "blank", a blank is what you'll get back from the warranty, not a finished section like you'd receive if you broke a factory rod.

    One advantage to having a custom rod is that you can choose the reel seats, guides, cork style etc. to meet your needs. If you're comtemplating having someone build you a rod, check out the list of options available and then take some time to make sure that you get what you want.

    I'd recommend looking into building the rod yourself, if you have the time. The book that I used to get me started is entitled, "Handcrafting a Graphite Fly Rod" by L.A. Garcia. The book was only about $16.00 when I bought it about 5 years ago. It has all the pictures and instruction you'll need to put together a nice rod on your first attempt.

    Hope that helps,
    Skinny
  3. troutpocket Active Member

    Posts: 1,777
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +326 / 0
    Skinny - thanks for your reply. Alas, craftsmanship is not a talent I posess. My grandfather was a skilled woodworker and fly fishing fanatic . . . I got half the genes. I'm looking to hire a builder or buy from a factory.

    Rod
  4. crockett New Member

    Posts: 184
    Kirkland, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I just got a custom-wrapped Burkheimer spey rod built by Jim Seaman at Mill Creek Fishing Rods in Mukilteo. Absolutely gorgeous rod with the highest quality components and fine workmanship. He mostly ties on Burkheimer blanks but he does work with Sage a lot. He stands by his work and rods come with tube and sleeve. You can get a hold of him up at 425-355-2530.

    -Crock
  5. Rob Blomquist Formerly Tight Loops

    Posts: 1,343
    Mountlake Terrace, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    Talk to Greg at Greg's Custom Rods (www.gregscustomrods.com) in Lake Stevens. He's a great guy that builds very nice rods. I only buy blanks and hardware from him, but I have seen his work, its nice.

    Rob
    ---------
    Genetic pollution damages wild
    stocks, bonk those Hatchery Zombies!
  6. alpinetrout Banned or Parked

    Posts: 3,892
    Hiding in your closet
    Ratings: +71 / 0
    Jim warranties his work and is a very well respected rod-builder, so if you ever needed a section rebuilt you could rest assured that it would get done. However, his prices are typically higher than what you would pay for the equivalent factory rod, so if you're looking to save money you might want to look elsewhere.

    I would question buying a cheap custom rod on ebay if you're concerned about warranty because you don't know the reputation of the builder. That's not to say the warranty is no good, just that it might be a 6 month turnaround before you get your replacement section, or a year from now that builder could be nowhere to be found and you're stuck with no one to honor your warranty.
  7. Denny Active Member

    Posts: 4,047
    Seattle, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    Factory, baby!

    I own both factory and custom rods, and I won't do custom again. I love 'em, but given the two options, I'd pick factory.

    The primary reason I prefer factory is because of convenience. The most likely time you'll break you rod is when you're using it (duh!). What I mean is it will likely be during some type of season. So, say you have a custom rod, and you didn't build it. IF you had it built by a custom builder that is in demand, you get in line and wait for when he 1) sends you rod in to the factory to get the correct piece fitted, and 2) when it's your turn. That can be months for some guys - and that's the honest truth. Factory generally will have a much quicker turn-around. How about Loomi's X-pedite program? $50 and they'll second day air you a new rod, with return postage for you to return your broken one to them. In two days you're back fishing again, and you never had to chase around a box, find a UPS guy, wait for 2 weeks plus to get your stick, etc.

    Many folks tout that you save money, but that's if you build the rod yourself. To do the job correctly, you need to buy a rod turner, of which the least expensive is in the $150 +/- range. Some folks will tell you can save money by making your own, but you'll find after chasing around the right motor, trial and error fabricating a stand and jig, etc., you should have bought a commercial unit. That's not the end of it. You'll buy a reamer and many other little goodies. After you have sunk costs into this equipment and bought the parts to build one or two rods, you could almost have paid for a commercial stick.

    Some claim you get better quality. Hmmmm, I'd rather have my rod built by someone who has assembled a 1,000 of them than someone who has built 50, or even a 100. Experience.

    Some say they cast better. Tell that to Steve Rajeff, Tim Rajeff, Randi Swisher, Brian O'Keefe, George Cook, Jerry Siem, et al.

    In my opinion, the only valid arguments for building a custom rod is 1) you get to use guides, reel seats that may not be available in that particular rod you want, and 2) you get to pick your thread color. Oh, I forgot pride of accomplishment for building your own rod.

    Saving money? Little, if not much. The first time you break it, if you had it built by someone else, you'll say "Boy, I should have listened to that Richard guy." Been there, done that, and didn't listen to the same advice provided to me when my first premium stick (a Loomis IMX) was built for me 11 years ago. I was in the hole (relative to the cost of a factory rod) after about the 2nd broken tip.

    Go to flyfish.com and be patient. You'll find your XP or GLX in the $300's.
  8. troutpocket Active Member

    Posts: 1,777
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +326 / 0
    Thanks everyone for your responses. I just picked up a Winston Ibis-series 9'6" 8wt 4pc. I casted it alongside a Sage VPS and found it significantly faster action and $100 less. Unconditional Lifetime warranty, fully anodized for saltwater fun, should be a real "rocket launcher" for my sink tips.

    Tight lines~
    Rod
  9. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,645
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,669 / 0
    What do I know---I'm just an old man

    There is a guy on this site that builds rods as he did one for me. A 9'6" 8wt on a St Croix Avid blank. I use a Rio Versitip on it and it casts like a dream. When I first got it and used it I couldn't do squat with it and now that I'm getting use to it,I wouldn't part with it.

    The one that built it is mtlhead. Does a very fine job.

    Jim :THUMBSUP
  10. Roper Idiot Savant

    Posts: 4,291
    Glenraven Ranch
    Ratings: +772 / 1
    Among us...

    ...is one fine rod builder, Metalhead. He displayed a couple of SCHHWWEEET rods at the Xmas party.

    Roper,

    Vincit Omina Veritas