Trends in rod building

It doesn't matter if you’re looking at a rack of rods at your local tackle shop or those offered by an online retailer. Chances are good that at least some of the parts and pieces used to construct those rods were made by Fuji — the world’s top producer of rod components. 

Fuji has been in business for decades, leading the way in innovation and product development since the beginning. And through their advancements in materials and technology, today’s rod builders have a wide range of options in the components they choose. About the only thing they don’t offer are rod blanks themselves.

Regal brands like Loomis, Shimano, St. Croix, Falcon, Lamiglas — all rely on Fuji’s guides, reel seats, grips and other components to ensure superior quality and functionality in the products they offer. And the same goes for smaller independents who produce high-end custom rods.

Production vs. custom

According to Jim Ising, marketing director for Anglers Resource (North American distributors for Fuji), purchases made by small builders versus large manufacturers has been about equal, but the scales are beginning to tilt. 

Ising states, “For the most part, our business has been split 50 percent with factories, 50 percent custom builders. But we’re seeing a slight increase with custom builders in recent years,”

He believes two factors are the reason for the swing. One includes Mud Hole, a major wholesale/retail supplier of rod-building materials. The other is how factories are pricing their high-end rods.

“Mud Hole has done a fantastic job of promoting the hobby,” says Ising.” They do Facebook Live events, conduct rod-building classes nationwide, and they have a tremendous amount of resources. They’ve grown the market like no one before. And now that factories are pricing their upper-end rods in the $450 to $550 range, consumers are realizing they can get a really nice custom rod for the same money.” 

For many anglers, however, rods off the shelf make more sense. They’re readily available, and the better ones come in good actions with quality components and strong warranties. That’s not to say custom builders don’t warranty their work. Most do. But replacement can and usually takes time, whereas a broken production rod can, oftentimes, be replaced over the counter.