by Greg D
Custom rods (plus a Tenryu)
Spent some time this past winter playing around building custom bfs rods. I drew from some past experience of fly rod building and approached each one as a complete experiment. Having purchased and fished with the Tenyru Rayz I felt like that was the rod action to try to achieve on a custom build level, minus the perfect finish of course.
For handles, I turned a couple from cork which are nice and lite but I ended up favoring the Winn Grip handles for ease of use and grippy nature. Reel seats are all American Tackle G2 Vibe seats.
Here is a short detail of each build starting from the top but not necessarily in order of build. Note that all of these blanks are originally intended as spin rods.
St.Croix Avid 5'6" 2pc UL. This blank made a very good rod. I've ranged it at 3-5 gram. Not quite as light as I had hoped for but it would be hard to beat the fluid load and unload especially in a 2pc rod. Only bummer about St.Croix is they have just stopped selling rod blanks. They are now sold through a 3rd party company called Rod Geeks and models are limited.
American Tackle Matrix 5'6" UL 2pc. After testing this build I felt like it slightly nudged out the St.Croix. I range this rod at 3-5 gram. For the price this one is tough to beat. I would happily build this rod again.
MHX Ultra lite 5'4" 3pc. This rod is truly custom because it actually started out as 6'. It is an attempt to make a really small travel rod. I cut down the butt section to just long enough for the handle and seat. It turned out a nice rod but certainly not bfs trout lite. I range this at 4-6 gram and have found it to be a great UL bass rod as seen in the picture.
Janns Netcraft 5' fiberglass 1pc
I wanted to give fiberglass a try so I threw this rod together quickly and cheaply. It's fun but not my style. Very whippy. I know there should be a good fiberglass option out there but this is not it. I put a spin cast reel on it and gave it to the neighbor boy.
MHX 5' 1pc UL.
This was my first attempt at trout bfs. The blank is very thin and light. It easy ranges in 2-4 gram. The one piece gives it a very fluid load. If I would knock this blank for anything I feel like it is missing backbone. It fishes well until you have a strong fish hooked at which time you feel he is in control of you.
American Tackle Bushido 5'3" UL 1pc
While still a bare rod blank in the picture I have since finished and fished this build. Best so far and closest rod to the Tenyru. This blank has everything I was looking for. Fast, easy loading tip while progressing into a strong backbone. It has a satin black finish which I prefer over matte or gloss. As a true trout BFS rod this is the blank I'd recommend. The only downside is that it is a 1pc rod.
1pc vs 2pc
So can you build a custom rod equivalent to the action of a Tenyru? My answer is yes but only in a 1 piece. I have to give the Japanese rod crafter's credit for the perfection of multi piece rods. I also see this perfection in my heavier production built bass bfs rods.
Anyone who has custom built rods will tell you that you don't do this to save money. Not to mention it would be next to impossible to reproduce the fit and finish of a quality rod such as the Tenyru. I bring this point up because it is not my wish to encourage custom rod building. It's a fun hobby but outside of personal satisfaction there's really nothing to gain over the high quality, perfected actions of the production rods sold here. What my experiments have proven is that it is hard to even build a match in rod action alone.
For future builds I'd like to try a Phenix Mirage Rod blank and there is a AT Matrix 5' 1pc blank that might have some promise. Right now I'm busy fishing so it will be next winter before I get back to building.
Feel free to ask for more detail of any one of these particular builds.
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The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.