After 30 years as an electric contractor, it was time to get serious about angling. I have been fishing the Wester Basin since 1978, and there was never any doubt where I wanted to be when I quit contracting. I bought a condo on the water at Green Cove and have been living my dream every since.
Between running charters , and fishing for fun I keep pretty busy from March till November. which leaves all winter to build rods. With 55 years experience of wearing out and breaking fishing tackle I have a lot of knowledge about what works, and especially what doesn't.
I started out rod building because I had a pile of rods with bent, broken, and rusted guides, and was too frugal to throw them away. After repairing mine there was always a friend or acquaintance who needed one fixed. That was back when graphite rods were coming on the market, and while I wanted one pretty bad, I couldn't talk myself into spending the money. That's when i got the idea to buy enough components to build extra rods, sell them to my buddies, and have mine for free.
It was time for another one of those life lessons.
I bought enough components to build 3 graphite spinning rods, then spent weeks turning them into junk. I threw one away, sold one for twenty dollars. and used the last one for a while until I couldn't stand it any more. I kept building and learning until I finally broke even on about the 12th sale. Now mind you that was on components, it was a long time until I finally got any compensation for my efforts.
Building custom rods is not a career for most of us. The very few folks that make a living off of building rods, spend as much or more time marketing and selling their rods than they do making them. Most of the custom rods being sold today are made by artisans, and the emphasis and value is in their beauty. That's not what I do.
I build rods for function, that's not to say I don't try to make them attractive. For me a custom rod should be more comfortable to handle, feel lighter in your hand, cast further, and be more sensitive than a mass-produced rod. Most important it should be perfect to pursue the species, and conditions you bought it for.