Archive for the ‘November 2011’ Category

Bernie Cohen

Esteemed rod builder Bernie Cohen passed away yesterday. The news came as a bit of a shock to me because it’s only been a few weeks since I received the letter below:




A little note to let you know that after almost 2 years of battling cancer I’m free of that dreaded disease. The last 3 scans showed the cancer was gone.  

The Chemo worked but left me very weak. I went fishing last week for the first time in 2 years and the party boat threw a party for me. But it wore me out.

I read your web site daily and it picks me up because there is so much good stuff there. I must tell you that when I read your comments or explanations I have to laugh because I keep shaking my head in agreement and I say to myself that I don’t know anyone beside my self who knows that.  I keep saying to myself I agree with all your comments and I don’t always do that with others.  Your knowledge about this craft is second to none. I mean that.

I truly appreciate all you have done for me and look forward to finally attending the Expo in February. It is something that I have wanted to do more than anything else in rod building.




We both thought that this was going to be the year that Bernie was finally going to make it to the Expo. Obviously, that won’t happen now, but it won’t diminish the outstanding work Bernie did over the years nor his tireless efforts to instruct any rod builder who asked for his help. Bernie was one of those guys who’ve made a real difference in the rod building craft. He’ll be missed.


Tom Kirkman



A Little Help

One of the most difficult things for so many custom rod builders is deciding what thread colors will complement each other, or the rod blank color. Builders want their rods to be attractive, but many feel that they’re just not up to the task when it comes to matters of aesthetics. But the thing is, you don’t have to be an artist or even have a sharp sense of aesthetics to make wise color decisions – it’s already been done for you. You just have to know where to look.


For instance, each day I make a short commute from my residence in Winston-Salem to the RodMaker office in High Point. It’s about 17 miles, one-way, and much of the route is covered with billboards, business signs, etc.  All of these were created and produced by folks who have a background in graphic art and design.  Very often I’ll notice that one or more really catches my eye due to the particular color scheme involved. Right there is a combination that’ll work on a custom rod!


So keep your eyes open – let those who are indeed schooled and/or well gifted in aesthetics to aid you, at no charge, on the color scheme for your next custom rod.


Tom Kirkman



Almost Full…

Spent the better part of today working on the floor plan for the upcoming International Custom Rod Building Expositionthe World’s largest event for the rod building craft and industry.


Even with a continued down economy, we’re down to just 8 booths left unsold! I’m releasing those to companies on the waiting list and thus expect we’ll be fully sold out in about another 2 weeks or so.


Following is the current list of Expo exhibitors as of November 26th:




American Tackle


Angler’s Envy 


Angler’s Resource (Fuji)


Angler’s Roost




Bingham Enterprises


Decal Connection 




Hydra Fishing, LLC 


Jim Upton Weaving 


Ken and Lana Preston Rods 


Lamiglas, Inc.


Mar Ktruz LDA Cork


Mickels Custom Rods 


Mud Hole Custom Tackle


NERBS – Northeast Rod Builders 


North Fork Composites


Pacific Bay, Inc. 


Renzetti, Inc.


Riley Rods 




RodMaker Magazine


Schlesinger Wood Turning


Seeker Rod Company 


Skin Shop USA


St. Croix Rods 


Sticks ‘N Bones 




Talon Graphite 


Tiage USA


Trondak U-40 


Woodworkers Shop 

Rod Builder Tables

By all accounts, the International Custom Rod Building Exposition has been immensely successful. The is one aspect of the Expo, however, that I wish more custom rod builders would take advantage of – the opportunity to present your business to serious fishermen.


It’s no secret that the Expo pulls in more than just rod builders – each year more and more general interest fishermen attend the Expo to see what’s new in the rod building world. They want to see the future of fishing rods, today, and the Expo allows them to do just that. Other fishermen attend in order to peruse and commission custom rod work. That’s right – they figure this is the place to be if you want to see the world’s best custom rods and perhaps place an order for a custom rod set.


To this end I long ago set aside rod builder specific booths (tables) that would allow custom rod builders to showcase their wares to interested fishermen. The rod builder tables sell for less than 1/2 of the regular booth price and the only prohibition is that you do not sell blanks and components. The tables also include a slightly smaller space than the standard 10×10 booths, measuring closer to 10×6 feet.


Considering the number of rod builders who spend many hundreds of dollars to attend, an additional $200 for one of the Expo rod building tables is only a small additional expense, and the sale of just one or two rods can easily pay for the table. Of course, as those savvy builders who already exhibit know, the goal of such a marketing presence at the Expo is less about sales at the show and more about building a brand image – name recognition and residual sales are the real goal.


As we wind down towards the Expo (February 25&26, 2012) there are still a few rod builder tables available. Interested rod builders should contact me ASAP for complete information. Shoot me an email at: and we’ll get you set up with all the details. This is a grand advertising opportunity for very little money.


Tom Kirkman



New Issue

Volume 14 #6 is being printed this week. It will mail early in December and most readers will get it around Christmas time.


Tom Kirkman



Gallery Photos

One of the most popular features of RodMaker Magazine down through the years has been the readers’ Photo Gallery.  Each issue’s gallery installment features some of the finest custom rod building work in the world.

The method in which the photos are presented highlights the work in the best manner possible and exposes a builder and his or her efforts to over 15,000 other rod builders. As popular as the RBO Photo Page is, it pales in comparison to the magazine photo gallery.

Readers often ask how to get their work into the magazine photo gallery. It’s very simple really but there are some requirements that must be heeded. First, the magazine is printed on a very high line screen (resolution) and photos must be high resolution, crisp and well lit.  The preferred file type is a tif file, at a minimum of 300 dpi and a physical size of at least 5×7 inches.  I can accept jpeg files as well, but they need to be as large as your camera can take them – such photos will often work very well. Finally, due to the high quality of the magazine and the desire to present a reader’s work in the best manner possible, photos should be well composed, i.e., don’t pose your rod on a dog bed or a bedspread. Try to keep the photo clear and uncluttered, utilizing simple backgrounds of solid, contrasting colors. Aquarium rocks, beach sand, water, solid color fun foam, etc., all make excellent backgrounds for such photographs.

Finally, large format photos don’t always transmit successfully via e-mail, so I suggest burning them to a CD and mailing them to:


RodMaker Photo Gallery

PO Box 1322

High Point, NC 27261


Feel free to submit your work as often as you like, but do make sure the photos are original and have not previously appeared elsewhere, including the RBO photo page. Good luck!


Tom Kirkman