2010 International Custom Rod Builders Expo


Wow! I just returned from what is I think my 6th or 7th ICRBE. I can’t remember exactly how many years thay have been happening, but I know I haven’t missed any. This year’s event, held last weekend in High Point, North Carolina, was outstanding.

The craft is getting more technologically sophisticated every year, and there are some incredibly gifted artists innovating design, material, and methods to advance the rod building craft. As materials get better, and the skills are passed along to other builders, the innovation breeds more innovation. In fact, pick up a Cabela’s or Bass Pro catalog, and look at the “State of the art” rods being offered by the big manufacturers. What you see in design concepts there were actually developed by and tested by custom builders several years ago. What concepts, you ask? Split grips, blank through seat construction, no foregrip, and more. There’s more happening now, but I’ll wait to share those new advances with you in a future post.

More Disturbing News From Obama

According to a recent online article on Shimano America’s website, our president has formed a “task force” to investigate closing waters in the Great Lakes and along the US coast to sportfishing. Like most everything else this president has tried to implement, it is a rush job, with 90 days to arrive at a conclusion. What is it with Mr. Obama? Why do you suppose he feels the need for every one of his initiatives to happen right now? Is it because he is a part of the generation growing up wanting everything, and right now? Or is he afraid he won’t get a second term in the White House to work on his new world order?

According to the author of this piece, “The original White House memo and not surprisingly the Task Force report contains multiple references to developing a national policy where Great Lakes and coastal regions are managed, “consistent with international law, including customary international law as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea” – a 300-page treaty the U.S. has never ratified.” Our president seems much more interested in complying with the wishes of the world community than he is interested in maintaining our country’s sovereignty.  

This effort, using a task force and circumventing the legislative branch of our government, is part of a disturbing trend of this administration as it tries to execute its agenda of left-wing liberalism. I know this isn’t a political blog, but you know, enough is enough!

I have a brother who was recently laid off because of the slowdown in the auto industry. He’s been fishing a lot while he waits to see if he is called back. Now, not only can he not go to work, Obama doesn’t want him to go fishing, either.

I urge you to read the article on this plan. The link above will take you there. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion.

Lake Norman Currents Magazine

Have you seen the Lake Norman Currents magazine? It’s a fairly new publication with articles and advertisements about Lake Norman area businesses and interesting people. The August issue just hit the stands, and on Page 67 you will find an article about me, and more specifically, my Build Your Own Fly Rod classes.

This is a free publication that you will find around town in stores, restaurants, and real estate offices. If you see one out there, pick it up. You’ll find lots of interesting articles about people and places around the lake.

My thanks to Todd, and Lori, for the opportunity to talk about what I do for an avocation.

Fly Rod Class Finished

We wrapped up another Build Your Own Fly Rod Class last night. Three students (two repeat offenders) all building a different rod. One student built on a nice SCIV 4wt 8′ 4 piece, a Father’s Day gift for his dad. Another builder finished a SCII 5wt 9′ 4 piece. The third, who already has a lot of fly rods, decided to build a two-piece spinning rod. A nice 6’6″ fast action 6-12 lb line weight with a split rear grip.

All three guys enjoyed themselves, and I know they will be getting a lot of use from their new rods. If you are interested in building your own rod, call me at 704-894-9729, or email me. One thing to remember; the reason for building your own fly rod is not to build it cheaper than you can buy one. Just like tying flies, it’s not a cost saving step, it’s an opportunity to be connected to fly fishing on a whole new level.

Here’s a few pictures from the class:

Best Inside


Hard at Work

Big Fish!

I got the opportunity to spend last thursday evening with my son fishing for cats on Badin Lake in New London. Friday was his birthday, and this was our “celebration.” We stopped at Bojangles on the way to the lake and got some chicken and biscuits for dinner in the boat, and headed to the launch.

We were catching bait at 6:45, my son throwing the cast net and me at the helm of the trolling motor.  We had our catfish lines in the water at 8:05 PM, and the first strike hit at 8:25. I grabbed the rod, and when he stopped his initial run, I set the hook hard twice, and he headed right for the boat as fast as he could swim. He was at the boat quick, and the real battle began to net the pig. We got it done, and the fish weighed between 35-40 pounds, a big blue cat.

Big Blue 2

Over the next three hours, we landed another eleven fish, all channel cats between 3-10 lbs. The second fish we landed flopped in the boat and jumped right into the Bojangles box, so dinner was a bust. We released all the fish, and got home around 2:00 AM.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than spending time on the lake, and no one I’d rather do it with than my son. He is becoming a proficient catfish hunter, and he makes me proud every day.

By the way, some of the fish he landed came on the spiral wrapped catfish rod he built with me. Makes it all the mre fun.

New Build Your Own Fly Rod Class Beginning

I have another “BYOFR” class scheduled to begin mid-May. I have some folks who want to build rods for gifts for their dads, because Father’s Day is fast approaching. If you or someone you know would like to get in the class, I have a few spots left. Classes are held to six students, so I can spend adequate time with each of them.

Classroom instruction is $75, and that includes a textbook that’s is yours to keep. Components fee is $100 plus the cost of the blank you choose. Blanks start around $75, and go up as high as you want. Blank choices range from Temple Fork Outfitters to St. Croix to Thomas & Thomas, with lots more choices in between.

Most students build a rod that ends up costing them about $300-$350, and they couldn’t buy the same rod any cheaper. Then they have the pleasure of catching fish on a rod they built. The goal here isn’t to build a rod cheap anyway. It’s to learn a craft or have a good time fishing with a handcrafted rod.

Interested? Give me a call or email me.

Fishing Rod Seminar

Did you ever walk into your local sporting goods retailer and marvel at the shear number of fishing rods for sale on display? Have you picked up ten or twenty, tried to understand what the difference was and walk out of the aisle more confused than when you arrived? Ever wonder what the difference was between a $29 rod and a $229 rod?

Well, here’s some help for you if you live in the Lake Norman area. On April 22 at 6:30 PM I will be joining local Lake Norman expert and guide Gus Gustafson for a two hour discussion on selecting the right rod & reel for you. We will meet at the Gander Mountain store in Mooresville, and at the end of the evening I guarantee you will leave with some good information on how to navigate through the fishing section of your retailer and make the right purchase decision.

Topics will include how rods are made, understanding power and action, how to pick the right one for your particular fishing preference, and a look at some of the newest innovation in fishing equipment. Mark your calendar and get there early if you want a seat.

2009 ICRBE

Well, after all the anticipation and waiting, the International Custom Rod Builders Expo has come and gone. It feels kind of like waiting all Thanksgiving Day for the turkey to get to the table, and 15  minutes later, you’re done eating. But just like on turkey day, I came away stuffed with ideas and innovations from the best builders in the world.

Some of the highlights for me were the seminars on micro guides and abalone. But there was so much more. Plenty of opportunity to pick up and feel new blank designs, new grip and seat materials and configurations, and a chance to reconnect with friends made at past events.

Here’s a few photos from this year’s Expo:

Jason Brunner, St. Croix Design Engineer

Jason Brunner, St. Croix Design Engineer



Anglers Resource - Our source for Fuji Components

Anglers Resource - Our source for Fuji Components



Abalone Underwrap

Abalone Underwrap


First Day on the Expo Floor

First Day on the Expo Floor

I hope these pictures give you a little taste of this year’s Expo. As soon as I perfect some of the innovative concepts I saw last weekend, I will post pictures of the results. To stick with the thanksgiving analogy, getting busy with the new ideas I picked up at the “table” is like going back for that late afternoon turkey sandwich and pumpkin pie.

If you were there, you know what I mean. If you weren’t, I hope you get to attend next year.

Spring Is In The Air

At least in the South. I can tell by the number of rod repairs I’m getting. As soon as anglers start getting antsy to be on the water, and are crossing days off their calendar to their first outing, they begin to assess the condition of their tackle.  Usually, there’s at least one favorite rod that needs a guide, or a tip to replace the one you left in the car door.

Got any “favorites” that need attention? Now’s the time to get them to your local repair person. If you don’t know where to take those rods, here’s an online directory for custom rod builders that might help. If you live in the Charlotte area, call or email me and I can help. Don’t wait much longer, though. You’ll want to be using those rods very soon.

Build your Own Fly Rod Class Done!

Last night my students completed their fly rods, applying Threadmaster rod wrap finish to the wraps they learned to do over the past three weeks. Each one built on a St. Croix SCIV four piece blank, fast action 4 weight. One was 8′, one 9′, and one 10′ long.

These guys were excited at the thought of catching that 20 incher on a fly they tied, attached to a rod they built. All they need to do now is learn to build a trout net, and it’s all them!

We’re scheduling another class for mid to late February. If you or someone you know would like to experience fishing on a rod you built, call or email me for dates. You’ll be glad you did!