Archive for the ‘June 2011’ Category

10 Years and Counting…

10 years ago this month, I launched  It was different from any other custom rod building forum around. In fact, it was different than most public internet forums of any kind. Participants were required to use their actual first and last names when posting. Insults, flames, obscene language and bad conduct in general were not to be tolerated.


More than a few builders didn’t like the rules. I routinely received emails to the effect of “You need to loosen up and let the guys have some fun or nobody will use the site” and “Nobody is going to put up with your harsh rules. Your forum will be gone in a few months” and quite a few harsher ones that I can’t publish here.


But, contrary to the advice of these savvy individuals, the forum succeeded precisely because of those rules. And when you think about it, they were really were nothing more than an admonishment to the users that good conduct was expected of each and every person who participated. To that end, in the 10 years RBO has been online, it has been the most successful and popular custom rod building website in existence, totaling some 365,000 posts (that’s an average of 100 per day) all centered around actual rod building topics (very little chit chat about anything else).


It’s been a handful to run at times – you can’t make everybody happy. The trick is learning that you can’t and needn’t. Out of the over 7000 registered users RBO has had, only 16 have been banned (proving that nobody gets banned for anything less than serious rules transgressions, and several of them at that). For the most part, the folks who use RBO have been courteous, friendly and very helpful. No doubt this plays a large role in why the forum has been so popular.


RBO has and continues to feature several additional aspects including a complete Rod Building Glossary, Photo Page, Rod Building FAQs, Rod Builder Locator, an Online Library of selected RodMaker articles and a Buy/Sell/Trade page. And everything has been and will continue to be… free.


Sure, there’s times when I wish I had never started a forum. But looking back at the thousands of builders who have been and are still being helped by it, I feel good about what we’ve accomplished. I have no idea if it’ll last another 10 years, but these past 10 have certainly been very worthwhile.


Tom Kirkman




We Need Your Help…

It’s hard to put any real numbers on custom rod building.  I’m not talking about just how many rod builders there are, but how those who do build rods carry on their rod building activities. Do they build mostly fresh or saltwater rods? How many rods a year do they build? Do most builders build for themselves and friends, or do they sell to the public? What business aspects convince them to purchase from one dealer over another? What products do they feel are most troublesome or which new products would they like to see brought to the marketplace? How many rod builders also tie flies or make lures? The list goes on and on.


The rod building industry has never had a good means of ascertaining any of this information. The only way to find out is to directly ask a wide cross section of rod builders. Which begs the question – how do you go about that?


Forget the internet forums and chat boards. There’s not enough builders there to accurately represent the mainstream rod building craft to allow any sort of accurate conclusions to be made. What you need is a direct means to communicate with thousands and thousands of builders of all types and descriptions. The answer, of course, is RodMaker Magazine.


RodMaker reaches more rod builders than any other single medium (and probably more than all the other mediums combined). With that in mind, the Volume 14 #3 issue, due out in another week or two, contains a questionnaire that I hope each of you will take the time to fill out and return.  It won’t cost you a dime – I’ve opened a return mail account and will foot the return postage in order to get this important work done. Business return mail is expensive – $1.19 per piece! But I’m doing it because this is important work and somebody needs to get it done.


The questions run a pretty wide gamut and will provide some real insight into the buying and related sporting habits of the mainstream custom rod builder. We can extrapolate percentages from whatever number of builders take part, but I’ll need at least 5000 folks to respond in order to get any sort of accurate picture. This is another reason why I made it possible for you to return the form at no cost to yourself. Please participate – it will help you and your craft in the long run.


Once all the results have been tallied, the information will be made available to those manufacturers and dealers who advertise in RodMaker Magazine. Shortly after that, the same information will be made available to the entire rod building industry. I think it’ll provide a great deal of eye opening information and help make tomorrow’s rod building products and services better than ever. Please join us in this worthwhile endeavor. Thanks.


Tom Kirkman




Get Ready…

RodMaker Magazine subscribers will soon have the unique opportunity to advise the custom rod building craft on a number of important issues. Stay tuned over the next few days for an important announcement!


Tom Kirkman



Overseas Magazines

When RodMaker was launched early in 1998, overseas subscriptions were available. Within a short while, nearly 400 rod builders from outside the U.S. were receiving the magazine. And it was a nightmare on my end…


With each issue published, I had to set aside 3 days to fill out, by hand, 400 individual customs forms. Then, the magazines were taken to the post office, where I stood in line for a bit and then took up a couple hours of a clerk’s time (and mine) while each magazine was weighed and scanned.


From there, about 50% of the magazines would eventually make it to their destinations. The other 50% were lost, damaged or stolen and required replacement.  Keep in mind that the postage cost to send a copy of RodMaker overseas ranged anywhere from $3 to $7 per copy. Thus, when a copy went missing, which was half of the time, the cost for a replacement copy plus postage was more than the entire margin on a year’s subscription.


While I hated to do it, I stopped selling overseas subscriptions after the first 3 or 4 years.  Since then, a handful of dealers in Australia, Europe and Canada have been purchasing RodMaker copies for resale in their respective areas.  They are not my agents nor do overseas subscriptions flow through me – each of the current distributors are independent business persons who set their own subscription prices and handle their own distribution.


While I continue to seek a better and more economical means to again direct deliver RodMaker to locations overseas, none has presented itself at this time.  For now overseas rod builders wishing a subscription may be able to obtain one from these dealers:


Custom Tackle Supply – (website)


RodPro – (email)


Ian Miller Rods – (email)



Tom Kirkman




Joy Dunlap Inventory

Many long time rod builders will recognize the name Joy Dunlap.  Joy has been involved in all forms of custom rod building for many, many decades. In fact, at this point in time he’s probably been at it longer than just about anyone else.


Sadly, Joy’s recent declining health now prohibits him from any futher rod work. As such, he has enlisted good friend Johhny Kuhne at the Angler’s Roost to help in liquidating his remaining inventory of blanks, guides, tools, finished rods, etc.


Interested parties should contact Johnny at:


Tom Kirkman