Most Wanted

If you could have any single improvement in some aspect of rod building materials or equipment, what would it be?  As the survey sheets continue to pour in, I find that most builders are more interested in having new, helpful rod building specialty tools than they are any type of new blank, guide or seat.


In fact, less than 1% of the over 4300 respondents thus far have asked for new types of blanks or components. Nearly all desire some type of shop tool instead – devices for painting blanks, grinding guide feet, aligning guides, etc. It appears the market is full up with every conceivable type of blank, reel seat, guide type and color, etc., but short on specialty rod building tools. At least, that’s what this aspect of the survey would seem to indicate.


For myself, the one item I’d most like to see is something that may still be a long ways off – a high performance, extremely durable rod blank. One of the biggest problems that custom rod builders face is rod breakage. When the worst happens, and it often does, even if you get a new blank at little or no money out, you’re faced with rebuilding a handle and rewrapping and finishing guides. Perhaps you’ll get paid for this, perhaps not. Either way, it’s the single great disadvantage that rod builders face compared against their contemporaries in knife making, gun building and wood turning. Those folks rarely have to deal with warranty claims.


Of course, building an unbreakable rod blank is certainly possible. Several companies have come close. But none have nor can build an unbreakable rod blank that retains the highest level of efficiency and performance. You still have to give up something on one end to obtain something on the other.


Hopefully, as the years roll by and material and manufacturing technology continue to advance, it will some day be possible to build a high performance rod blank that is also nearly unbreakable. If or when that day arrives, I think it will be the greatest boon to custom rod building that there’s ever been.


Tom Kirkman