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Building Your Own Custom BFS Rod

by Greg D
(New Mexico)

Custom rods (plus a Tenryu)

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.

Comments for Building Your Own Custom BFS Rod

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May 18, 2019
Guide placement?
by: Craig

Curious if you have played with the number of guides, I know the Smith BST rods had the most the 4’3" had 8 and the 4’6" had 9 guides.

Someday I want to test some glass BFS rods just for the fun.

May 20, 2019
by: Greg D

Hey Craig, Answer is yes, but not intentionally. On my first builds I just copied the Tenyru. It wasn't until I decided to try American Tackle Microlite Microwave Guides that I took a hard look at spacing/guide count. I inquired with AT for guide spacing and they did not have specs for a 5ft rod but the advice I got was to space the first guide 18" from reel. According to them this was very important. Then from top start at 2" from tip top and add 0.5" to each guide down the line. When you get to that first guide you just have to start splitting the difference to equal out the spacing. This formula has worked very well on other builds with fuji concept guides. Now, this is very different from the Tenyru which has the first guide just 11" from reel. The Tenyru also uses a pretty large first guide, like a #8 I think. I believe why this spacing can make such a difference is while in a cast your line needs to have time to stabilize before the first guide for smoother casting. I have noticed on my early builds with closer spacing to reel that they seem to be more prone to backlash. But with that said then how does the Tenyru avoid that problem. Maybe the larger size fuji concept guide helps with that. I really don't know, just guessing. I've decided to build with Fuji concepts from now on because I like the quality and they wrap well. And I've adopted the spacing formula from AT. I feel like this formula gives me plenty of guides and less line resistance with in turn creates less backlash issues. Do you really need 18" from the reel? I think as long as your first guide is on the larger size this number could probably be reduced a couple inches without an ill effect. My most recent build is 5'3" and has 9 guides plus tip top and it cast very well. The Tenyru has 8 guides plus tip top with much wider spacing. It also cast very well.

May 20, 2019
Thanks for sharing!
by: Les Albjerg

Greg - Thanks for sharing your journey. I am currently building a BFS rod on a Phenix Mirage Blank. I like the blank. When I learned to build rods, I was encouraged to use strapping tape to put the guides on, and do some test casting before the final wrapping. That is where I am at right now in my build. Fishing, bear hunting, and my daughter's graduation, as well as the "honey do" list has slowed my build to a crawl. I also have two blanks coming from North Fork Composites. Gary Loomis couldn't stay out of the rod building business very long when he sold Loomis rods to Shimano. He had two blanks that looked promising! I agree, you don't build rods to save money. By the time you get all the goodies ordered, you are close in price to the rods offered here. That said, there is a certain satisfaction in fishing a rod that you have made to one's own liking. The Phenix Mirage I am building is going to be specific to the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 2500c. In another experiment, I did purchase a cheap Chinese BFS rod. All I can say is, you do most often get what you pay for! It is a stick with a whip tip!

May 20, 2019
Thank You Les
by: Greg D

I really look forward to hearing how your Phenix Mirage turns out. I've considered building on this blank many times.

Jul 12, 2020
Guide Spacing
by: Brett

I'm late to this party. I built a trout BFS baitcasting rod from a 6', 3 pc, #2 fly rod S-glass blank that I cut down to 58". Casts great, love the feel, and it can handle bigger fish, altho the fish is in charge. Also built one from a 8', 3 pc. #5 fly rod S-glass blank. I only used the top 2 sections, so total length is 65". This is my go to rod for freshwater trout and bass. Tight lines.

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The hooks are sharp.
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