Promoting Custom Rods and Custom Rod Building
From Volume 5 - Issue #3

By Tom Kirkman

RodMaker Magazine
As a percentage of the total number of fishing rods sold each year, custom rods make up a very tiny number of that total. Likewise, the number of fishermen who build their own rods is also a puny percentage of the total number of people who participate in fishing. Sure, the numbers of custom rods and custom rod builders are large enough in themselves to support a small industry of dealers and manufactures, but that's about it. No large areas of growth nor any real increase in interest among fishermen to own or build a custom rod in ages.

For the most part, no one is this industry has ever really tried to encourage anyone to build their own rod. Or to buy a custom rod. At least not on any scale large enough to create a spike in the numbers. And that's a shame as it would be so easy to do that you could conceivably double the demand for custom rods and certainly add many hundreds of new custom rod builders in just a year's time.

Let's say a couple guys spent a weekend photographing the steps involved in making a custom rod. A set of slides would then be produced. Then, a narrative was written which would explain what was taking place in each slide. The steps to building a custom rod would be explained, along with the advantages of building your own, or just the benefits of owning a quality custom rod.

This custom rod building presentation could be produced in some number of copies and would be available to rod builders, or dealers, or manufacturers who might wish to use it. There are thousands of fishing clubs across the US and Canada just aching to get something like this on their monthly programs. Even large scale events like the various fishing shows that take place during the winter each year would love to have such a program to offer along with other programs they already have at their events. (I have spoken with some and they expressed genuine enthusiasm for such a rod building program.)

Unlike a hands-on rod building class, which is limited by the number of instructors and the various tasks which must be performed by the class participants, the program I am speaking of could be deliver to 5 or 500 viewers at one time. And just by one presenter! The narrative would negate the need for the presenter to be a great public speaker, although some ad-libing would only add to the overall presentation. Of the tens of thousands of fishermen who might view this program each year, some would decide to take a hands-on class, others would strike out on their own and try their hand at building that first rod. Many others, who might not want to actually build their own, might just decide that they do want to own a custom rod and come see you about that. In fact, the single greatest result from such a program, I believe, would be a giant increase in demand for custom rods in general. In the end, the custom rod builders craft wins all the way around - the dealers and manufacturers get more business and the custom rod builders, those who build professionally, get more orders.

Far too often I have watched those in this industry fight over enlarging their piece from the same sized pie, usually to the detriment of their competitors or vice versa. Their energies would be far better spent in trying to bake a larger pie. This presentation would effectively bake a larger pie.

The program I have outlined above could easily double the demand for custom rods in a single year. It would be inexpensive to produce, present and maintain. Of course, without any large national rod building organization or industry trade group, who will step forward and get the ball rolling? Don't look at me - I came up with the idea and will let those in the industry wise enough to see the enormous potential of this thing take the first step. I hope they will. The benefits for the entire craft would be huge. ~ TK

Publishers note:

If you have any tips or techniques, send them along! Help out your fellow rodmakers! ~ Publisher, FAOL

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