Custom vs Factory built rods - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 07-19-2004, 10:44 AM
LabanTayo LabanTayo is offline
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Custom vs Factory built rods

What are the pros and cons of buying a custom built rod with a blank from sage, loomis or any of the 'big guys'? I know that price will be cheaper, but is that enough to warrant getting a custom? What about warrantee?
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Old 07-19-2004, 04:08 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
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Custom built pros: 1) you choose the grip size, shape, and diameter you prefer; 2) you choose the guide wrap colors you desire; 3) you can have oversize guides put on the rods, which helps in shooting line: 4) you choose the type of reel seat, color of reel seat, and type of wood insert for the reel seat; 5) you can have feather inlays added to the rod when it is made; 6) you choose the type and sizes of guides; 7) the rod blank will be spined (Sage and Loomis do not spline the blank) for optimal guide placement and rod performance; 8) the guides will be placed where static defection indicates are the optimal distances from guide to guide; 9) the cosmetics and finish will nearly always be much better than a factory rod; and 10) you can have things like your name placed on the rod in thread.

The cons: 1) the warrenty only covers the blank, not the wrapped and finished rod; therefore, it something breaks, only the blank is covered, not the guide placement and wrapping or handle buidling; 2) if the rod breaks, the blank replacement may be your responsibility because it may be due to incorrect building (this is rare if done by someone who knows what they are doing); 3) not all rod manufactures offer all of their blanks for sale (CND has no blanks for sale that I am aware of and loomis doesn't offer its GLX and only a few of its other series for sale as blanks); 4) a well-made custom rod built by someone for you is usually a little more expensive than a factory rod; and 5) a factory rod can be had by simply going to a dealer, purchasing it, and you can fish it the same day-a custom rod will take some time for you to get it.
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Old 07-19-2004, 06:49 PM
FKrow FKrow is offline
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I have noticed the custom built rods on the best blanks have a very poor resale value. A local shop will take used rods in trade and the factory originals will obtain much higher trade in allowance, they have a difficult time selling used customs. Check out eBay and other sources for used custom rods and compare the prices to used factory rods.

I own several very well made custom rods and many factory originals, the much hyped better performance by the custom makers is not apparent to my casting style.

If you can make the rod yourself it is very economical and a great learing experience. IMHO paying more than factory for a custom is a poor investment.

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Old 07-19-2004, 08:11 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
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You are absolutely correct that a custom rod will not offer more performance than a factory rod of the same blank model simip0ly because a blank performs in a given way regardless of whether assembled by the factory or a custom builder. However, a factory will not let you have difference thread colors, won't put feather inlays on a rod, won't let you have a differently shaped grip, won't put on a different reel seat or use a different wood insert in the reel seat, won't put oversize guides on the rod for you, won't put your name in thread on the rod, and won't put different guides on the rods for you. For example, Sage will not put gold thread, Fuji SIC strippers, oversize TiCH snake guides, make the grip larger diameter (or smaller diameter), or an engraved REC reel seat on the rod for you. To get those, you either have to built it yourself from the Sage blank or have a custom rod builder build it and put this things on it for you and be prepared to pay more because the reel seat and TiCH guides cost more.

Some rod manufacturers (like Meiser and Orvis) will do these things for you as a non-refundable special order; but the price might very well be than the standard factory rod because the components could be more expensive and the time it takes to add feather inlays or thread weaves.

That said, there blanks on the market that are not available as finished rods, and the only way to get a rod made on one of them is by either building it yourself or having it built for you.

It still comes down to whether 1) you want to have different size grips, different reel seats, different strippers and snake guides, different color threads, etc. than the factory puts on the rod; or 2) you want a thread weave, feather inlays, or your name in thread on the rod; or 3) if you want to save a little money by building it yourself.

As to whether a rod is an investment or not, I submit that a rod is never an investment (unless you get a bamboo from one of the high end makers and never fish it). Instead it is a fishing tool that you should buy because it fits the flies sizes you are going to fish, fits the fish you are going fishing for, suits your casting style, and you are happy with its cosmetics. Any rod, other than the high-end bamboos, are going to depreciate as soon as you take them home from the store. This is true for factory rods and custom rods. The big reason shops can get more for a factory rod than a custom is that the manufacturer's warrantee applies to the whole factory rod; but only to the blank of the custom rod.

For example, you buy a Sage 9141-4 used and break the tip section, Sage will replace it for you at no charge. However, if you buy a used custom built on the Sage 9141-4 blank and break the tip section, Sage might replace the tip section of the blank; but Sage will not give you a new complete tip section. You will have to buy the guides and pay someone to wrap the guides on the blank and finish the thread wraps with epoxy. Thus, it will cost you money if you break the one custom built on the Sage 9141-4 blank to have it fixed, and it will cost you nothing if you break the Sage factory built 9141-4.
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Old 07-19-2004, 09:28 PM
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loco_alto loco_alto is offline
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if you break a custom rod section, then simply ask for the broken section back and you strip off the guides and seat to reuse as needed. You can't reuse the cork. Guides are cheap (unless they're not! e.g., TiCH, SIC)
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Old 07-19-2004, 09:59 PM
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North Island North Island is offline
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Everything Flyter points out is absolutly true and good reasons to get a custom rod.

However no one has mentioned the pride of ownership factor. Fishing fine tackle adds to the enjoyment in my opinion. It's great to show up at the river and spend your hard earned free time with tackle which is a pleasure to use. If fish are hooked so much the better!

Cheers N I
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Old 07-19-2004, 10:35 PM
LabanTayo LabanTayo is offline
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Thanks everyone for the great input. My main concern was the warrantee. I would love a custom sage, someday, but for now, I will have to stick with a factory sage (or whatever I decide to get) because I'm not the most balanced walker around the woods. I have a custom St. Croix 3wt. now that I love, but I didnt pay an arm and a leg for it. Now, I just need to find a good deal on some rods. Now my delima is deciding between an XP and the SLT.

Last edited by LabanTayo; 07-19-2004 at 10:40 PM.
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Old 07-20-2004, 12:30 PM
FishHawk FishHawk is offline
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Let me chime in here . I have built 7 custom Sage rods and when I show them to other anglers they always say" did you make that.?" I use only the best components like REC reel seats and Perfection snake guides with Fuji stripping guides . You can't find these components on factory rods. Pride of ownership and the fact that I wrapped the blank myself makes the rod special to me. If you can tie flies you can wrap your own rod.
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Old 07-21-2004, 03:12 PM
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flyfisha1 flyfisha1 is offline
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I always try to build rather than "buy off the rack", for the following reasons:

1. I take a lot of pride in catching fish on a rod that built and on a fly that I tied.
2. I like to use better/different hardware than manufacturers do on stock rods.
3. I like to save money.

Not to say that my rods are better or worse than stock rods, but I feel that my enjoyment of them is greater because I took the time to hand craft them.
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Old 11-15-2004, 03:09 PM
rosskess rosskess is offline
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Factory vs custom

I used to wrap all of 'em myself. It gives me something to get through the winter doldrums, teaches the builder a good bit about the tools they use for catching fish, has the pride of buildership thing to boot. I gave up on building my salt H2O rods because I believe that they are an item that breaks a lot. I rarely go through a year without breaking one (the last 2 I've been lucky) . I don't mind re-wrapping a tip or mid section but butt sections suck.

The warrantee issue in reality is a non-issue replacement parts are usually about 30-50 bucks and "handling fees" for warrantee repairs are around 30-50 bucks.

The warrantee thing has always been a joke. Before all the companies jumped on the Orvis bandwagon they usually did repairs for free or a small fee but that is a different discussion for a different day.
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Old 11-15-2004, 03:22 PM
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Fly-Rod Fly-Rod is offline
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Originally Posted by flytyer
For example, you buy a Sage 9141-4 used and break the tip section, Sage will replace it for you at no charge.

As far as I know, lifetime warrantees only cover the original registered owner. Am I right? So, if you buy a used Sage and you break it, say good bye.
Nestled together, rows on rows,
With their keen, sharp pointed toes,
Here's a Hare's Ear, there a Glory,
A Royal Coach with a wonderous story.

~ H. Wheeler Perce (Fly Box)
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Old 11-17-2004, 10:17 AM
hnl hnl is offline
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Given the downside (cost, wait time, warranty, after market) of having a STOCK blank custom wrapped for you, I can't see the point in buying one.
However, I can understand why a fly fisherman would want a trully custom rod made for him/her. A custom rod built from the ground up meaning: you pick the action, stiffness, length, finish, cork quality, grip shape and size, guides, seat fighting butt or not, windings, epoxy coat the blank (heavier) or seal the blank but no epoxy (lighter). The custom rod manufacturer will build a blank for you and go from there. The time is about 3-4 months and the cost is about the same as a premium rod from a major manufacturer because there is no middle man.
The greater majority of "custom" rod manufacturers simply give you custom trimmings on a stock blank. The only truly custom rod manufacturer I am aware of is C.F. Burkheimer in Wasougal Washington - 360 835-1420, Although I am sure there has to be more. I own three of his rods which are the smoothest, non-tiring rods I own. They also enjoy a great resale value for those that know them. The downside to a custom rod is that the buyer has to be experianced enough to explain - in detail - what he/she wants the rod to perform like. However adjustments can be made. For instance, since my casting style has changed during the three years I have owned my Burkheimer 9wt, I now want it a little faster. They will build me a new stiffer Butt section to speed the rod up a bit. I will then have a rod that is almost a mid-flex for clousers and close-up casting and by changing the butt I can go to a faster action. He is going to build me a new sock and tube to house and travel with all four pieces. No way can you have that kind of flexibility and performance with a stock blank.
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Old 11-17-2004, 03:38 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
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Bob Meiser's rods and blanks built on his own blank designs are true custom rods as well and he can also make adjustments to the blank to better fit the desires and preferences of the customer.
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Old 11-17-2004, 08:34 PM
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highlander2 highlander2 is offline
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My thoughts exactly!!! Nothing compares to having a rod built around your particular style of casting and fishing. Maybe the initial cost is a little more but you will have a tool that fits you, instead of buying rods and selling them off looking for the right one. The thought of being able to adapt that rod later down the line as a caster progresses is the ultimate scenerio. Its good to know that there are custom rod builders/ desighners like Bob Meiser and Kerry Burkhiemer.
Brian, drowning in newf drewl
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