Author Topic: Building Your Own Rods  (Read 1565 times)

Offline DucksAndDogs

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Building Your Own Rods
« on: Nov 27, 2020, 06:53 PM »
Sorry if there is a more appropriate place to ask this...

Iím looking at getting some new rods this year for a few different applications and I was wondering if this might be an opportunity to save a few bucks by making my own.  Iím sure itís like most things where buying the absolute best components will likely end up costing more than an Ugly Stik off the shelf.

Something about building my own is appealing and it seems like it might be a good way to get the kids involved.

I guess what Iím looking to find out is - after the cost of admission, can a guy save money by doing it himself, all things considered?  If I were to use the same components as some of the custom guys, am I going to save a decent amount of money or are they operating on slim margins?  Iíve got no illusion about making anything close to their level of quality, but I do think itíd be fun to try, to get the kids involved, to have the flexibility to get what I want exactly how I want it, and to be able to justify it to the wife by saving a few nickels.

Thanks in advance!

Offline meandcuznalfy

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #1 on: Nov 27, 2020, 07:28 PM »
I think it'll save so money, you get a nicer rod than you can buy off the shelf, but cheaper than a custom built rod. Lots of places have fairly inexpensive kits you can buy or buy all the pieces on their own. If your kids are interested in building even better. It's nice to be a bit self sufficient, especially in a year like this when equipment has been hard to find.

Offline msaxbury

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #2 on: Nov 27, 2020, 09:02 PM »
Sorry if there is a more appropriate place to ask this...

Iím looking at getting some new rods this year for a few different applications and I was wondering if this might be an opportunity to save a few bucks by making my own.  Iím sure itís like most things where buying the absolute best components will likely end up costing more than an Ugly Stik off the shelf.

Something about building my own is appealing and it seems like it might be a good way to get the kids involved.

I guess what Iím looking to find out is - after the cost of admission, can a guy save money by doing it himself, all things considered?  If I were to use the same components as some of the custom guys, am I going to save a decent amount of money or are they operating on slim margins?  Iíve got no illusion about making anything close to their level of quality, but I do think itíd be fun to try, to get the kids involved, to have the flexibility to get what I want exactly how I want it, and to be able to justify it to the wife by saving a few nickels.

Thanks in advance!

I havenít built any ice rods yet, but I have built a few fly rods.  If you compare cost to a lower-end rod such as the Ugly Sticks, you will spend more in components, but youíll also have a much nicer rod. Where you really start saving money is if you start building rods to match the higher quality rods. For me, the biggest benefit of building my own rod is the enjoyment of knowing Iím catching fish on a rod that I built myself.

Offline DucksAndDogs

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #3 on: Nov 27, 2020, 10:04 PM »
I havenít built any ice rods yet, but I have built a few fly rods.  If you compare cost to a lower-end rod such as the Ugly Sticks, you will spend more in components, but youíll also have a much nicer rod. Where you really start saving money is if you start building rods to match the higher quality rods. For me, the biggest benefit of building my own rod is the enjoyment of knowing Iím catching fish on a rod that I built myself.



Definitely.  Thatís what I was getting at.  If I source top end components, Iím sure even that cost would be more than an Ugly Stick.  But if I got components on par with a custom rod from a custom maker, would I end up saving money, understanding that it would obviously be a far less quality build, having done it myself?

Does that make sense?


Offline msaxbury

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #4 on: Nov 27, 2020, 10:28 PM »


Definitely.  Thatís what I was getting at.  If I source top end components, Iím sure even that cost would be more than an Ugly Stick.  But if I got components on par with a custom rod from a custom maker, would I end up saving money, understanding that it would obviously be a far less quality build, having done it myself?

Does that make sense?

That does make sense, and that was what I was trying to say.  I think if you priced out quality components, and then compared it to the price of a custom build, you would absolutely save money, if you plan on making multiple rods.  In the beginning of course you would have to add in the cost of buying the tools(rod wrapper, dryer, etc.).  As far as quality goes, you would be surprised if you take your time how good of rod you can make on your own.

Offline DucksAndDogs

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #5 on: Nov 27, 2020, 10:58 PM »
That does make sense, and that was what I was trying to say.  I think if you priced out quality components, and then compared it to the price of a custom build, you would absolutely save money, if you plan on making multiple rods.  In the beginning of course you would have to add in the cost of buying the tools(rod wrapper, dryer, etc.).  As far as quality goes, you would be surprised if you take your time how good of rod you can make on your own.



This is exactly what I wanted to hear.  Is Mudhole the gold standard for beginner kits, or is there a recommended source/site sponsor for ice rod building?  Do ice building tools work for soft water rods?

Offline msaxbury

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #6 on: Nov 27, 2020, 11:06 PM »


This is exactly what I wanted to hear.  Is Mudhole the gold standard for beginner kits, or is there a recommended source/site sponsor for ice rod building?  Do ice building tools work for soft water rods?

I think Mudhole is a great place to start.  Like I say I haven't build an ice rod yet, but all the tools for ice rods should work for all rods.

Offline RyanW

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #7 on: Nov 28, 2020, 04:36 AM »
You WILL NOT save money on your first rod. However, youíll pretty much be set to build all other rods for cost of materials.

I use sportsmenís direct and mud-hole. You can also save A LOT of money by building the majority of your tools like the wrapping stand and drying system yourself out of scrap wood and cheap parts. Paying $300-$500 for a complete wrap/dry setup is asinine. Donít fall into it for your first rod thinking you need it. You really donít. Although, a $15 drying motor is, in my opinion, absolute essential. And the good thing is you can use your homemade wrapping stand as a drying stand too.

If you feel froggy and want to make your own tapers, wrap a masking tape cushion around the butt of the blank and chuck it into a drill. Boom....taper sanding lathe. Now you can make your own custom tapers by sanding the tip/blank while itís spinning in the drill. One can make some excellent power noodle rods this way.

As for ice rod tools working for summer rods. The answer is yes. The only thing that changes is the length and diameter of the blank meaning youíd just need more workspace and an extra stand or two.

When it comes to rod building, you can make this as expensive or as affordable as you want. You by no means need expensive tools and to be honest, most of them are just a more refined DIY version with a crazy markup.
ďWhen the fish are biting, it really doesnít matter what youíre using. When the fish arenít biting, it really doesnít matter what youíre usingĒ - Uncle Dave

Offline DucksAndDogs

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #8 on: Nov 28, 2020, 04:45 AM »
You WILL NOT save money on your first rod. However, youíll pretty much be set to build all other rods for cost of materials.

I use sportsmenís direct and mud-hole. You can also save A LOT of money by building the majority of your tools like the wrapping stand and drying system yourself out of scrap wood and cheap parts. Paying $300-$500 for a complete wrap/dry setup is asinine. Donít fall into it for your first rod thinking you need it. You really donít. Although, a $15 drying motor is, in my opinion, absolute essential. And the good thing is you can use your homemade wrapping stand as a drying stand too.

If you feel froggy and want to make your own tapers, wrap a masking tape cushion around the butt of the blank and chuck it into a drill. Boom....taper sanding lathe. Now you can make your own custom tapers by sanding the tip/blank while itís spinning in the drill. One can make some excellent power noodle rods this way.

As for ice rod tools working for summer rods. The answer is yes. The only thing that changes is the length and diameter of the blank meaning youíd just need more workspace and an extra stand or two.

When it comes to rod building, you can make this as expensive or as affordable as you want. You by no means need expensive tools and to be honest, most of them are just a more refined DIY version with a crazy markup.



Excellent.  I was under no illusion that Iíd save money early on.  But, living in Alaska, I could see us building 7-8 rods, per person (4), over the next several years.  We have everything we need already, just looking to upgrade.

Plus, I imagine if some friends see/hear that weíre doing it, there may be an opportunity to make a few for some other folks with a slight markup that would further offset the initial cost of equipment to get started.

What do you guys recommend for top of the line ice blanks available to the average Joe shopping online?

Offline meandcuznalfy

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #9 on: Nov 28, 2020, 07:22 AM »
Mudhole, plus has turnkey kits, basskhang, vline, lure parts online, Janns netcraft, lots of options to choose from. I just ordered a power noodle and perch blank from basskhang.

Offline rdhammah

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #10 on: Nov 28, 2020, 07:40 AM »
by the time you factor in all the accessories, epoxy, grips, guides, blanks, threads, hand wrapper, rod drier, etc, you can forget about saving money if you're building for yourself. I'm building for myself, using inexpensive blanks bought off of Ebay and Jann's Netcraft and still costing me $11 in raw materials. I am building for perch and crappie.

Offline RyanW

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #11 on: Nov 28, 2020, 08:27 AM »
Sportsmenís Direct blanks are fantastic for building your own. Also, they are extremely affordable. Like $7 for a 48Ē fiberglass blank. Iíve built around 6 rods using their extreme taper fiberglass blanks. If you want a noodle rod, get the longer blanks and trim to your desired length from the butt end (for rods >28Ē-30Ē). The diameter of the tips on the longer rods extends farther into the blank and offers more room to sand a perfect tip for bite detection but still transition quickly into a stout backbone. And, since they are cheap (in the best way possible) you can afford to order a few extras in case you make a mistake. Having said that, as long as you donít use too aggressive of an abrasive and go slow, you shouldnít really mess anything up. I tend to start around 400-grit, then go to 800-grit, then finish with 1000-grit (all wet sanded).

They are also great for general rod building without sanding a custom taper.
ďWhen the fish are biting, it really doesnít matter what youíre using. When the fish arenít biting, it really doesnít matter what youíre usingĒ - Uncle Dave

Offline defish

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #12 on: Nov 28, 2020, 08:55 AM »
One area to save money is to NOT fall for the Recoil guide thing that they magically repel ice - they don't, and as to being more "durable" an ice blank is going to be destroyed well before a standard guide. 

Doing fancy wraps and grips is a matter of personal taste (or in some cases, the lack there of...) and has NOTHING to do with performance - if anything the extensive wraps slightly detract from the rod's performance.

Like RyanW said, you can save a lot of money by making your own equipment.

What kind of fish do you intend to use the rods for?

Sportsmen Direct, Basskhang, Vline all offer great blanks.

Offline DucksAndDogs

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #13 on: Nov 28, 2020, 01:34 PM »
One area to save money is to NOT fall for the Recoil guide thing that they magically repel ice - they don't, and as to being more "durable" an ice blank is going to be destroyed well before a standard guide. 

Doing fancy wraps and grips is a matter of personal taste (or in some cases, the lack there of...) and has NOTHING to do with performance - if anything the extensive wraps slightly detract from the rod's performance.

Like RyanW said, you can save a lot of money by making your own equipment.

What kind of fish do you intend to use the rods for?

Sportsmen Direct, Basskhang, Vline all offer great blanks.



We have a bunch of different stuff up here.  Lakers, Burbot, Pike in some spots, tons of lakes around with small rainbows, Char, landlocked salmon, etc.  For quick trips with the kids to the lakes within minutes of the house, small/sensitive is ideal.  For some of the longer trips that might be a little less action packed for the kids, Iíd really like to target some big Lakers this year.

Offline esox_xtm

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #14 on: Nov 28, 2020, 02:15 PM »
x whatever number we're at on buying into high end equipment to start. Certainly, if you'll be manufacturing even at a limited level, that would make a difference but to build a few to start and see where it goes, well, that would just not be a "value purchase".

I made a dozen or so open water rods with little more than a sturdy cardboard box with a coupla "v" notches cut in it. I did graduate to a homemade stand with thread tensioners that cost me the spare parts I had laying around and some ingenuity. I am currently building a more professional wrapping stand with moveable blocks to accommodate guides, different lengths, etc. Wrapping will still be manual because I just don't do that many but there will be a provision for a motorized rod dryer for at least two or maybe three rods at a time.

As mentioned before, if you're inclined to spend a bit go for a motorized dryer. I've used Flex Coat finish for decades and it's about a two hour investment (depending on ambient temperature) in diligent turning to get an even, good looking finish. When you want to tell folks you "made it yourself" the appearance of knowing what you're doing allows you to pop an extra button or two  ;). Didn't used to mind turning. Timer, a few other small projects at the bench, glass of something good to sip on and it was fine. Now I've got better ways to spend two hours and I'm not gettin' any younger.

Even components can be had cheap or free depending on your needs. I've made a few ice rods from tip sections of otherwise busted open water rods, scavenged guides and even repurposed reel seats and handles from same. Granted, it is used but, especially when you're starting up it's a great way to practice and get some experience for next to nothing before you start using components you actually pay for.

Good luck with your new hobby. There's a few here that have way more experience at this than I do and they are usually very willing to share info and answer question from guys like you and me.
To fish or not to fish? That's a stupid question!



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Offline DucksAndDogs

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #15 on: Nov 28, 2020, 02:54 PM »
x whatever number we're at on buying into high end equipment to start. Certainly, if you'll be manufacturing even at a limited level, that would make a difference but to build a few to start and see where it goes, well, that would just not be a "value purchase".

I made a dozen or so open water rods with little more than a sturdy cardboard box with a coupla "v" notches cut in it. I did graduate to a homemade stand with thread tensioners that cost me the spare parts I had laying around and some ingenuity. I am currently building a more professional wrapping stand with moveable blocks to accommodate guides, different lengths, etc. Wrapping will still be manual because I just don't do that many but there will be a provision for a motorized rod dryer for at least two or maybe three rods at a time.

As mentioned before, if you're inclined to spend a bit go for a motorized dryer. I've used Flex Coat finish for decades and it's about a two hour investment (depending on ambient temperature) in diligent turning to get an even, good looking finish. When you want to tell folks you "made it yourself" the appearance of knowing what you're doing allows you to pop an extra button or two  ;). Didn't used to mind turning. Timer, a few other small projects at the bench, glass of something good to sip on and it was fine. Now I've got better ways to spend two hours and I'm not gettin' any younger.

Even components can be had cheap or free depending on your needs. I've made a few ice rods from tip sections of otherwise busted open water rods, scavenged guides and even repurposed reel seats and handles from same. Granted, it is used but, especially when you're starting up it's a great way to practice and get some experience for next to nothing before you start using components you actually pay for.

Good luck with your new hobby. There's a few here that have way more experience at this than I do and they are usually very willing to share info and answer question from guys like you and me.

Thank you for your input.  I think Iím going to pull the trigger.  I think knowing I made them myself, even if it goes nowhere and I only make 1-2, will be worth the price of admission.  Although, I do imagine there will be several made since Iíd like to upgrade everyoneís gear and would think that amounts to at least 4-5 rods per person in the family (4).

Iíll start looking at some of these vendors to try to figure out how to get my foot in the door and hopefully be up and running within a week, or two.

Offline meandcuznalfy

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #16 on: Nov 28, 2020, 07:33 PM »
You'll like it, after you do a few, you'll be looking for what one to build next. Nothing like catching fish on something you've made.

Offline DucksAndDogs

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #17 on: Nov 29, 2020, 01:52 PM »
My bad, guys.  I was just scrolling down to get to this thread this morning and saw the rod building sub-forum under jigging.  I honestly didn't think to look there so I apologize if this thread is misplaced.

Regardless, I went ahead and bought a kit from Mudhole last night and it should be here at the end of the week.  I only got the tools/equipment from them right now because I wanted to spend a little more time researching components for my first rod.

I think, for the first rod, I'd like to do the rod I imagine I'll use the most this year.  I'm really wanting to target Lake Trout this year and we can get some big ones up here.  It might be overkill, but I was really thinking about a heavy rod in the 34" - 36" range.  The plan going into this project is/was to build these rods out of top of the line components.  That said - what do you guys suggest for this first build?  I saw that Sportsman's Direct has a blank that looks like it'd work for this job, but they're currently out of stock.  I haven't found any other carbon blanks with these specs anywhere else, although I haven't looked too hard, just yet.

Any advice on guides?  Tip top?  Grip?  Spinning vs. casting?  I'd kinda wanted to make this one a casting rod because I have a handful of reels sitting around that would work well for the application, but I'm open to suggestions.

I'm pretty excited to bust this stuff out and see what happens!

Offline Pheasanttail

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #18 on: Nov 29, 2020, 02:47 PM »
Basskhang sells 40Ē and 48Ē carbon lake trout blanks. IMO, they are a MH power, but you could cut one down to make it stiffer if you want. Make sure to only cut small (~1/4Ē) pieces off at a time when cutting from the tip though as removing small pieces from the tip makes a big difference. If you want a casting rod, I donít see any reason to not make one as your first rod. I prefer fly guides (on spinning rods) or minima type guides as they are light weight and itís easier to get ice out of them. Just personal preference though.

Offline DaleL57

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #19 on: Nov 29, 2020, 04:42 PM »
Only thing I might add about Mudhole, it seems to take them forever to ship their product.
Not sure if theyíre on a island in Florida or what.
Have to be patient with them.
Might be home for the next 2 weeks cause of COVID.
Wanted to order product but not sure if Iíll get it in 2 weeks.

Offline meandcuznalfy

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #20 on: Nov 29, 2020, 05:12 PM »
Only thing I might add about Mudhole, it seems to take them forever to ship their product.
Not sure if theyíre on a island in Florida or what.
Have to be patient with them.
Might be home for the next 2 weeks cause of COVID.
Wanted to order product but not sure if Iíll get it in 2 weeks.

Everything I've ordered from them has gotten to me in 5 days, not had a problem with shipping.

Offline Iceassin

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #21 on: Nov 29, 2020, 05:14 PM »
Everything I've ordered from them has gotten to me in 5 days, not had a problem with shipping.

Same. Recent order took about a week.
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Offline DucksAndDogs

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #22 on: Nov 29, 2020, 06:09 PM »
Hopefully I have similar results with shipping.  Stuff always takes forever to get up here, anyways.  Maybe I'll give them a shout tomorrow and see if I can upgrade the shipping speed to make sure I have it by the end of the week.

Good call on cutting down the MH version from Basskhang.  I saw those rods but didn't think about cutting them.  I was under the impression that you need something special to cut carbon rods?  Is there some type of special tool/saw I need to cut them?  Does it matter since I'll be covering it with a tip top?  Also, I guess that also means I'd need to see how far I cut it before knowing which tip top to use since it would be getting larger in diameter as I cut more off?

Offline meandcuznalfy

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #23 on: Nov 29, 2020, 06:39 PM »
No, I just use a grinder with a cutoff wheel. Just cutoff the butt end and no need to worry about tip top size.

Offline Pheasanttail

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #24 on: Nov 29, 2020, 07:31 PM »
Mudholeís free shipping has always been glacially slow for me. I use a hack saw to cut the butt end of blanks and use a dremel with a cut off wheel on the tips. A coping saw works fine also. Fiberglass can splinter and carbon can chip if you get too aggressive with cutting. Basskhangís laker blanks are 1.75 mm at the tip, but most tips tops are sized in 64ths of an inch. I cut 1.25 inches off a 40Ē blank and used a 5.5/64ths tip on the rod. You may be looking for something heavier though, as power is very subjective.

Offline DucksAndDogs

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #25 on: Nov 29, 2020, 07:47 PM »
Good information.  I have a Foredom tool that should work just fine, then.

Seeing some different processes here. 

Seems like there would be a difference in the final product when cutting from the butt end vs. the tip?  For this rod, considering Iíll be fishing deep water with large lures, it seems like Iíd want a stiffer rod throughout, so cutting from the tip seems like itíd result in a better fit for purpose rod?  Seems like Iíd basically be choosing power over sensitivity by cutting from the tip and sensitivity over power by cutting from the butt?  So for more delicate applications, cut from the butt and when I need to get a good hook set with a 1oz lure in 120í of water, cut off from the tip?

Am I off the mark?

Offline meandcuznalfy

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #26 on: Nov 29, 2020, 08:55 PM »
Yep, I rarely need a stiff rod so looking for sensitivity. You seem to have it figured out.

Offline Pheasanttail

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #27 on: Nov 29, 2020, 09:20 PM »
Yep, definitely differences in the final product based on where you trim. Trimming the butt slows the action of the blank vs. trimming the tip which makes the action faster. If you were to trim 6Ē off the tip of a 40Ē basskhang laker blank, it would probably be worthless but you could trim 6Ē from the butt and it would be similar to the original 40Ē blank, just shorter. I built a rod on the 40Ē basskhang laker blank and I think itís great for fishing 3/8 - 3/4 oz jigs, but IMO itís a bit under powered for 1 oz jigs. So, I built another rod with the same blank but trimmed 1.25 inches off the tip, which makes a big difference in how the rod handles heavier jigs. I think of sensitivity being related to the blank material, carbon vs. fiberglass. Power (ultralight, light, medium, etc) and action (slow, moderate vs. fast, etc) are what change when you trim a blank. The good thing about trimming ice blanks is that they are relatively cheap compared to open water blanks. Both power and action are subjective based upon the user, builder and manufacturer. To get a sense of how a rod will fish with a certain weight jig, Iíll put a piece of masking tape on the tip of the blank then stick a jig hook of the desired weight through the tape.

Offline maddogg

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #28 on: Nov 30, 2020, 09:27 AM »
If your planning on a multi rod build plan ahead and order all your components at the same time and save on that dreaded shipping charge. Nothing worse than needing winding checks and paying $8 for shipping.

Offline DucksAndDogs

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Re: Building Your Own Rods
« Reply #29 on: Nov 30, 2020, 06:44 PM »
If your planning on a multi rod build plan ahead and order all your components at the same time and save on that dreaded shipping charge. Nothing worse than needing winding checks and paying $8 for shipping.


This is exactly what I did.  If I learned enough over the last few days and didn't miss anything glaringly obvious, I should have enough stuff here within the next few days to build 10 rods.  Plus, I got a bunch of extra Winn grips from Mudhole since they were 35% off for Cyber Monday.

I'm getting pretty excited to put one of these things together...

 



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