High End Mass Produced Production vs. CustomHigh End Mass Produced Production vs. Custom
That is the question?
By Jeff Howell
Many a time I have seen the same question come up on the boards: Should I buy a “Brand X” top of the line rod for $350-400 or have someone build a custom rod me? Many times I have been guilty of saying, just get the “Brand X” because you can have it in a couple days and you will be happy. Maybe sometimes that is true. I have bought several rods in this price range and for the most part, I have always been “happy with them.” But on my favorite jig rod, the hook keeper would be better placed on the other side. On my go-to Texas rig rod the guides could be different, and if all of the rod companies continue to do away with fore grips, I might never buy another production rod. These are my preferences, but maybe you are a little OCD and like all the colors to match, or you wish you could take “Rod A” and put that same grip on “Rod B”. Guess what, you are the perfect candidate for a custom rod.
I own four custom rods that were built specifically for me. The rods include every little detail I wanted, from the guide wrap colors, to the grip styles, to the guides and even where I want those dang hook keepers that are always not in the exact location I want them. I have often heard people refer to a rod as “The Perfect Senko Rod” or “The Perfect Jig Rod” only to have bought these rods and just been happy with them. Perfect to you and perfect to me are often times two totally different things, and if I am going to spend my hard earned money on my “Perfect Rod”, I am going to have it built specifically the way I want it, not how the rod companies think I want it.
I want to go over with you my latest custom rod that I had built. I wanted this rod to be a direct comparison to one of my most used rods. This rod is for ½-ounce jigs specifically with a craw trailer. The total weight of the jig and trailer I use weigh up to but not more than 3/4oz, so the sweet spot of this rod needed to be in the 1/2- to ¾-ounce weight rating.
The current rod I use for this setup is a 7’1’’ heavy power/fast action rod from a top manufacturer with weight ratings of 5/16- to ¾-ounce and line weight ratings of 14- to 20-pound line. I will say that even though my jig/trailer combo is at the top of this weight rating, I have found this is actually the sweet spot of this rod, and I actually have two of these exact rods. They retail in the $400+ price range, and there are only a couple little things I would change on them. I guess you could say I am “happy with them.”
The rod blank I chose for this comparison is the Batson Enterprises Immortal Series 7’2’’ medium heavy/fast power rod with weight ratings of 3/8-1oz and line weight ratings of 12- to 20-pound line. The first thing you might notice is my primary jig rod is rated “Heavy Power” and this rod is rated “Medium Heavy” power, yet the lure weight ratings are higher on the “Medium Heavy” rod. This is because there is no industry standard, and one of the reasons I never recommend a rod to someone based off of power ratings, but most often off of lure weight ratings. I talked this decision over with one of Batson Enterprises employees who has many years of experience with these rods and he assured me this would be the best blank to compare the two.
The next decision was to choose guides. One of the things about my primary jig rod that I did not particularly like was the guide train used for the rod. I now got to choose the exact guides I wanted, as well as the size and number of guides to put on the rod. In fact, I chose to put two extra guides on the custom rod. This is something many people balk at when building a custom rod that just does not make any sense to me. If you can hold 9 guides in one hand and 11 in the other and tell the difference you have a special talent and should look into a job where you can use those skills and be paid mightily for them! I chose the appropriate ALPS guides in the exact color I wanted and the exact sizes I wanted.
The next decision was choosing a reel seat. The current rod I own has a reel seat I really like. I wanted the same reel seat for this rod. Imagine that, Batson made one with the exact dimensions and feel that I was used to. The reel seat I went with for this build is the ALPS TexTouch trigger reel seat with double locking nuts. I really like the double locking nut feature because I have often had locking nuts back off during the course of fishing and not realized it. Although I have never had a reel fall off while battling a fish, I could imagine eventually it will happen with a single locking nut reel seat design.
The last important decision was the grips. I could choose any configuration I wanted from cork, to EVA- full grip, split grip, with a fore grip or without. This is totally up to me and not the rod manufacturer, and I like that! I chose super grade split grip cork with a fore grip for this rod. The looks are top notch to go with the quality.
I chose some fancy aluminum winding cheeks and trim rings to really set off this rod. These additions are completely unnecessary but totally cool! The last piece of hardware to choose was that dang hook keeper. Not only did I get to choose a style that I like different from my primary rod, but the location on the build is exactly where I want it. Completely out of the way except when I need to use it!
Now the easy part of the project was choosing thread wrap colors and the rest of the personal touches I wanted. Sit back and wait, and in no time, the rod was being delivered to my door. I was like a kid on Christmas morning opening the package and then mounting a reel on it. First thing I did was go into the yard and pitch a jig. With a big smile on my face, I knew I was not just “happy with it”, but had found my “New Primary Jig Rod”, you know the one that I can now say is the “Perfect Jig Rod” when someone asks that question on the board!
So if you are a weekend warrior looking for your “Perfect Rod” or just a tackle enthusiast, look into a custom next time! For more information, check out www.rainshadowrodblanks.com and www.alpsforecast.com.
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