Do it yourself vs. factory rod

Just got another fly fishing catalog in the mail and it took me a while to catch my breath after seeing the prices of some of the rods. I want to upgrade but would have to sell one of the kids to get one of those rods. Can they really be that much better? So, I checked out building a rod, thinking I could go up in quality and save a little money. What I want to know from this experienced group is whether you really do get more rod for your money by building it yourself, or, by the time all is said and done, does it work out about the same as getting a factory rod? I know I'd do a good job but I'm no professional.


Active Member
I guess it all depends on the difference in price between the rod and blank. Keep in mind that a reelseat, handle, guides, thread , and epoxy will add up. Also. Most blanks don't come with a tube or sock. I built one this summer and it campe out to the same price as a factory rod. I did upgrade the components a bit though. Look at the cost of parts vs. the difference in price. Lastly, warranties on blanks usually replace the blank if you break it, but you have to rebuild it so keep that in mind.

Jay Allyn

The Poor-Student Fly Fisher
Was it the Cabela's fly fishing catalog? I got it too and was thinking, more tempted really, of getting a Loomis GL3 blank that comes with every to make it(giuds, epoxy, handel, grip, thread, etc.) The price range was what caught me. For the blank only the pice was between $100-$130. For the kit and blank the price was between $120-$150. That's over $100 cheaper! I'm really tempted by the 9' 6wt...


Be the guide...
I wouldn't do it if all you are trying to do is reduce cost. There are many rods out there that you could pick up today that run $40 to $150, and are fine rods that do the job just fine, look pretty good, will last a while, and will save you lots of money. WWGrigg, Norhtwest X, TFO, fennwick, plflueger, and many others... For that price, you could by 3 or 4 rods of different weights\lengths and cover all your favorite types of fishing for the price of a brand name rod...

But if you are thinking of getting into the art\craft of building rods - and really appreciate the fine touches and care that can go into one of these sticks, and have the time and patience - then maybe this is a good idea for you.

I guess I all boils down to how you define 'better' ("can they really be that much better").


Another Flyfisherman
Ive got a custom built RPLXi. It worked out to be consideralby less money, and a friend who makes AMAZING rods did it up for me. I traded him a winston 9ft 5wt (which was a freebie) so I made out like a bandit and so did he. The only thing I dont like is that if the blank ever goes..the warranty will only cover a blank. I cant just send it back to him and have him duplicate it. If cost is an issue there are plenty of rods that will serve the purpose just fine - as others mentioned.

Or you will be in the same boat of most of the rest of us NON-High paying job holders do.....we just scrimp and save and get good toys whether we can afford it or not. This sure is an expensive hobby.....but it SURE IS FUN!!!


Active Member
If you decide to build a rod, don't go with a kit. The components that come with a kit are usually of lesser quality. One of the reasons I got into rodbuilding was because I could choose the look of my rod, thread colors, trim wraps, guide color/style, handle style, reel seat type/color, type of reel seat insert wood, and the list goes on. Your first rod, including cost of epoxies, and other equipment to get started, will probably not save you any money, but once you move on to your second rod, you'll already have the equipment and epoxies/glues, and you will/should be able to build a high quality custom rod for less money than a factory rod, plus it will look the way you want it to ;)

C Van

coming soon to a stream near you
i was having the same thoughts about building a rod, probably looking at the same catalog, how important is a power wrapper/dryer in the process. what are the other "start up" costs of building a rod?:dunno


Active Member
A power wrapper is not required at all. I wrap my rods by hand, and am finally upgraded to a nice hand made wooden hand wrapper, instead of my cardboard box ;) You can dry the rod by hand, but I recommend a slow 6-20RPM motor for the drying. Check out the rod building series on flyanglersonline, will give you an idea what you're in for ;) A cardboard box with notches in it makes a perfectly useable wrapper, using a phonebook for thread tension. Good luck. :beer2


Idiot Savant
To buy all the "stuff" to make your first rod is not a bargain. If you want a custom rod at the price of a factory rod, that works. I've made a few now and am over the ramp up costs. Ask MacRowdy if he's happy with the rod I helped him build and see if you might want to do the same.


Good things come to those who wade...
As a rough guide, a rod you build yourself will cost about half of its factory equivalent. A "kit" is a good project for a first rod, but it's nice to completely customize your rod to your taste. You can save money with, for instance, a cheap but functional reel seat, or you can upgrade to TiCh guides and a reel seat with a wood insert from the Mayflower, if you like.
You can do a fine job of wrapping the rod with a notched cardboard box and a book to tension the thread, but I've found that a power dryer is needed to get a reliably smooth finish. Cabela has a good cheap one, and the handy can cobble one together for even less.
Beware the trap, though: your savings will probably go into the components of the second rod that you'll soon be building, and the third...


Active Member
Take a look at and just spend a couple of hours reading the post and archives. Every question you will ever have about building a rod has already been answered there and you will come away with a much clearer idea about what to expect. In addition their list of sponsors is outstanding and every conceivable rod building goody can be provided by them. Ive
In Lake Stevens Gregs custome fishing rods is offering a Rod Building Class From 7 pm to 9 Pm on Jan 12 13 19 and 20th. the cost is 25 bucks there phone number is 425-335-1391. Dont know any other details then that might want to give a call see all what the class offers. Might be a good class who knows
I started building rods at the tender age of 16, and don't regret a single one. I'd guess that I've built close to forty fly rods.

My advice, take the class mentioned above. Use the cardboard box. Get a couple of rod dryer motors for $3.00 from and build it yourself from scrap for less than 5 bucks total. You will save some serious coin, find something to do on those blow out weekends like this one, and make something special for yourself.

The materials cost is nothing compared to buying new. Go to for info and check out some of the great small manufacturers of blanks out there these days. Companies like 5 Rivers make great guaranteed blanks for a fabulous cost. My last blank from them was light years ahead of any of the sages I have built, and cost less than a premium sage cost 23 years ago. Rob.
Rod building is a lot of fun. I liked it so much that one thing led to another, and I'm now making bamboo rods.

You don't need a power wrapper or drying motor. I've built about 15 graphite or fiberglass rods plus 26 bamboo rods without either of these. Running the thread through a book works well, or you can make a simple & cheap tensioning device. If anyone's interested, I could post a picture of the one I use. Rather than using a drying motor, I just turn the blank by hand until the varnish sets up. This takes an hour or two with epoxy, but less than 15 minutes with the fast drying Polyurethane varnish I use on the wraps of my rods.

You can take two different approaches, or something in between. One way would be to build a special custom rod that you'll be proud of. Get a nice cork grip ($20), a high end reel seat ($50-$100) and high quality guides. Do the wraps in your favorite color. Put small signature wraps 14" and 20" from the butt so you can measure the fish you hope to release. Another approach would be to save money by buying a nice blank and putting cheap but usable components on it.


Rob Blomquist

Formerly Tight Loops
Of the rods I fish, I bought 2 and built 5 now, and the 2 that I bought have been rebuilt.

In short, unless its a deal, I would never buy another rod prebuilt. first off, the prices are sky high, and they certainly aren't all that spiffy a rod, unless you think plain brown wraps are spiffy.

Now, if you know someone that has the equipment, you could probably use it when he is not. Mine just finished sitting around for 1 year. Now its back in action.

Then again, if you know a guy like me, I might be persuaded to build the rod you want for nothing, or maybe even barter for services or the whole thing.

And then there is the whole other side of rod building: blanks by makers that only rod builders know about. Rainshadow, Dan Craft, Tiger Eye to name a very few of them. And if someone disses any of these without trying one, they have no idea what they are missing.

Come to the darkside. Build a rod or have one built. You will never go back.

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