Learning at the Expo

“Can a beginner learn anything at the Expo?” I must entertain this question at least a few hundred times before each Expo event. Novice builders often assume that such a large event must be geared to the experienced rod builder, not the beginner. But such is not the case. Sure – the latest and greatest rod building methods and techniques are on tap each year, however…

Just before the very first Expo, I contacted Jim Upton (master rod builder and thread weaver extraordinare) and asked him to put together a seminar covering every aspect of rod building that a first time builder would need to know. This wasn’t intended to be a hands-on class. Such is impractical when you have 75 to 150 guys in the room. Instead, it would center around demonstrating each and every step required to successfully build your own custom rod.

Jim Upton presenting at the 2004 National Rod Builders Show

Jim took the task very seriously and each year his presentation has gotten more polished. His seminar on basic rod building has proven so popular that it’s featured both days at the Expo. Typical attendance for Jim’s presentation runs about 100 to 125 people  on Saturday morning, and about 65 to 80 on Sunday morning. The audiovisual gear ensures that everybody can see what’s going on and because the seminar takes place in a two hour window, everyone has time to ask any and all questions they deem necessary in gaining the confidence they need to build that first rod.

Jim presenting at the 2010 International Custom Rod Building Exposition

The learning doesn’t end there, of course – aside from many other seminars, there is a constant exchange of information, methods and techniques going on in the exhibitors’ booths all weekend. All anyone has to do is ask, and somebody will step in to provide them with whatever information they’re seeking.

A first time builder will likely learn more in a single weekend at the Expo than he or she could possibly learn on their own in 10 years. That’s just a matter of fact any time you put 2000+ custom rod builders into the same hall over the same weekend.

Tom Kirkman