Do it yourself vs. factory rod

mike doughty

Honorary Member
me personally, i build my rods. partly because it is cheaper and partly becaus eit is a hobby and i just enjoy building them. i build them for friends all the time. if your just looking for one rod then you are probably better off just buying one. just my opinion.
Yes. Build a rod. You can go way cheaper than a factory rod, and get better components, especially if you like sexy things like fancy reel seats.

I recommend Gregs Custom Rods in Lake Stevens. For $20 or so you can take a class there and buy every thing to make a rod. Plus you get to meet other people making the rod and fishing.

I built my first rod for $40, knowing I would build others and wanting to get my feet wet, so to speak. Be aware, if you build one rod, you will not be happy and eventually it gets addictive. Anyway that $40 rod fishes pretty damn well. Now I'm building a 4 piece with a custom laminated and carved handle.

Go to and visit their sponsors. There are a lot of great blanks out there. For instance, Dan Fast is a custom rod builder whose rods are in the $500 range, but you can buy his blanks around $100. You'd have to add a lot of fancy components before you lost your price advantage.

In the latest issue of NW Fly Fishing, I saw an add for all kinds of blanks at $5/foot. Hard to go wrong.


Active Member
In my experience, you will save significant dollars building your own rod. The first rod I built was a St. Croix, 4 weight 4 piece Legend Ultra. My buddy had built a rod before and with minimal instruction from him I was able to put together a great fishable rod. Running your winding thread through a telephone book with a gallon milk jug on top of it is a great thread tensioner. You do need to spin your rod while drying to prevent the epoxy from sagging. You can do this by hand in front of the tube on a good viewing night.

Hook and Hackle in New York is a great place to buy blanks and components. They currently have a 20% off sale going on (they always have something like this). Their site indicates that the sale does not apply to blanks, but I've always received the discount when buying blanks.

Good luck, I think you will find it rewarding to catch fish on a rod that you've built and a fly that you've tied.

Thanks for all the input. I checked out some of the rodbuilding sites and read all the things you need to consider when building a rod, plus all the equipment or alternatives.
One of the fly fishing clubs has a class where you bring in all the materials to class, then they tell you how pick the best materials. Hmmm.
I think in the end I'm going to follow the advice of a fishing buddy who says "don't do it if you're doing it just to save money".
O man,

The rod building idea for me turns into The bamboo rod thing. My wife got me "The Garrison Book" and so I started reading. I got to looking online at the used rods but the decent ones are all pricey, even the fixeruppers. Then I start thinking Hey, why not just build one! So then you go hunting for bamboo, stanley block planes (with decent irons which supposedly only come on the old models) the planing forms (holy cow they are not cheap) and sharpening stones. Holy cow. Did I say that enough. Holy holy cow.

With the two kids, house and station wagon there's just no way to swing that.

But the brain don't turn off when I sleep so in the wee hours of the night when I wake up (nature calling) I have these thoughts like "Wouldn't two straight strips of maple ripped on the ole talble saw work instead of cold rolled steel (for the planing forms you see). But what about the grooves???? Then you wonder why you can't find a decent block plane anywhere (or else reportedly decent) for less than 20 bucks but you stumble on an article on making your own on Lowe's woodworking plans site. Hmmmmmmmm Then on a trip to my Dad's I read one of his woodworking mags and it talks about making your own replacement blades for antique planes and my Grandpa has a forge, cutting torch and anvil and I know where to get a few badly dull but high quality circular saw blades (another guy on a boatbuilding board posted about using these) that would make a nice nice iron for the plane....

Then I wonder about coming up with my own tapers instead of using the stock ones which is really silly because there are lots of Leonards, Paines and Garrison's that are published out there but I can't help it. When I'm sleeping it won't stop so one night I stay up till midnight after the kids are tucked in scouring the net for college projects and people who are also moderately insane (or really really (much much) smart (er than I am)) and crack open college math books that I haven't seen for years.....

And then I think, sheesh, if I'm gonna build a rod then why not build the spey rod that I've been wishing I had so then you start scouring the web looking for spey tapers (there's only a few that are published) to prove to yourself that you're not totally nuts........

and it goes on and on and on and on and on and on.

I'm like this about boats too. Stitch and glue or ply on frame. Found a design program that spits out plywood templates and .... this is already out of control.

But someday I might buy that good hard maple, cut up some circular saw blades, build a tensioner and make that spey rod. Ideas like this haunt me and I can't get them out of my head.

So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if you want to build a rod because it haunts you then do it. Then you can tell me how good it is and drive me even more nuts.


In my very humble view building your own rod is a very personal experience. It is not about money but rather your own self that is on the block. It is no different than tying a fly or anything else you build with your own hands. It is your creation and your joy! It is a piece of you! Anyone who has taken the time to create their own personal ultimate rod will know exactly what I mean.
You will build many rods and then you will decide to do your ultimate. The rod that is what is what you believe is you and you will build it. That rod will be your signature. I built mine and was really shocked but yet it is what and how I like to fish. At the time it was a whim but when it was finished it let me know exactly how I like to fish.



Steve Cole - Nisqually and Adjacent Environs
Hope is that Thing with Feathers..

Folks have just about covered many of the arguments for and against building your own but I thought I would add that often building your own rod is about the only way to get a particular model any more. G-Series Scott rods in 2 piece are not available any longer. The same is true of the Sage Light Line, RPL and RPL+ and Loomis GL4 so if you wanted one of these great rods you would have to build it yourself. I have a Scott G803 two piece and a Sage RPL 690-4 that I built and will never part with them. You do have to shop around for these blanks a bit but they are available. Some of the sources that I have found include Michael and Young Fly Shop in BC, the Madison River Fishing Company ( - who have a huge selection of discontinued blanks that are usually significantly discounted), The Fly Box Outfitters out of Bend Oregon had a number of Sage and Scott blanks that they were clearing out, and K&K Fly Fisher out of Kansas City also had some older blanks. I hardly ever buy new model blanks because there are just some many great older tapers and composites out there. Anyway, that's my rambling 2.5 cents worth.