Incomplete Rods

How many rod builders start a rod building project and then never finish it? I seem to do that more and more these days.  It’s been almost 15 years since I last built a rod for sale and since that time I’ve not really had much reason to build more rods for myself – I already have multiple rods for each type of fishing that I do.


But ideas for new rods still pop into my head on a constant basis. Often they stem from a method or technique I’m developing for the magazine. Other times they’re just ideas that I feel compelled to take from the mental to the physical stage. Rarely, however, do they entail completing the entire rod. As such, I’ve ended up with dozens of half-finished rod projects. Most only need to have guides wrapped and coated in order to be complete. But time is short and with no real need for the rod itself many of these half-finished rods have languished for years now.

Of course I’m occasionally forced to take a project all the way to completion – there are some ideas and techniques that require proving out in the real world before they can become a part of a RodMaker article. So new, completed rods, do still roll out of the RodMaker shop from time to time.


Still, wrapping guides was never much fun for me. I found it easy, but repetitive in nature and therefore I’m not much interested in finishing out rods that were never really required to be fished in the first place. So they sit, half completed, gathering dust.


I’m reminded of the rod builder I once met who showed me over a hundred beautiful custom rods he’d built, but which he had absolutely no use for. He said he didn’t fish – never had and never would. He just enjoyed the process of building rods.


Tom Kirkman




  1. Bill Beall on July 22, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Tom, I think a display of some of your unfinished projects at the Expo would be interesting to many builders.

    Bill Beall

  2. RobertH on July 22, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    There’s a LOT more than just what’s in the picture! Any visit to Tom’s shop building can show you a ton of oddball stuff that you wonder why you never saw before.

  3. Ken Preston on July 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I am willing to help you clear space… I’ll complete them and give them away to kid’s groups; PVA; Returned Serviceman’s League LOL

  4. Bertie on October 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    If you wrote an article about life we’d all reach elinghtennmet.You have a lot of knowledge about life in general, even though this was just about fishing rods.