OK, so I have some questions, not about the actual building part, but the actual practicality of it. Let me explain a bit....
You see, I have been watching FlyrodFanatic's Youttube series on building your own rod (as well as browsing the numerous pages here). In it he says "you can build your own rod using name brand blanks for a fraction of the cost." So I did some very cursory checking, and using a TFO rod blank (for an example) I priced out an already built rod as being $75 more. A decent savings, though I then see pricing out simple other needs like reel seat, guides, handles, etc. cuts into this cost. So now I am wondering if rod building is really not the cost saving concept I think it might be. You see, I don't have a whole lot of free funds to spread around. I already have a bunch of other hobbies (besides just fishing) that consume precious little funds already. Hiking (mostly in the gas involved getting to places ), hunting, shooting, ammo reloading, kayaking (and like hiking most of that is in gas ) and now I have also decided to start doing fly tying, so building a stockpile of even just simple materials is going to start eroding funds.
Now, I get the whole concept of "building your own". I do. It is a big part of why I do the ammo reloading for hunting and shooting. A bunch of accessories on my kayak I made myself. Making something yourself has a huge appeal to me. But since I don't have a huge amount of cash to lay out, I can't see building TOO many rods. As I see it right now I could imagine wanting to add a couple rods to my collection....and I admit that is just for right now (we all know how it all starts with one or two and then you start finding a reason to turn that into three, four and before you know it a dozen ).
So I guess all this is a roundabout way of asking if it is worth considering building my own rods under the above conditions, or should I just stick to shopping for rods on closeout deals?
There are a lot of choices regarding components and they will significantly impact the cost. For example there are reel seats on ebay and elsewhere that'll run you $10 or less or you can spend 20, 30, 60 for nicer ones. I like Snake Brand guides because they are good quality and easy to wrap but they run $2-$3 apiece, but you can find other snake and single foot guides that are dirt cheap. They might not be as good of quality, require prep work, but you save money. Same with grips, stripping guides, etc etc. Thread is cheap and finish can cost less than $20. Also blanks, don't know what the TFO is running you but Batson RX6, Ye Old English Fly Shop, Roger on ebay, and Sevier Manufacturing (call don't order online) might come in for less and I personally like them all.
All that said, I wouldn't do it to save money. If it's about cash, factor in the hours spent building it and you could come out ahead putting in extra hours at work or doing an odd job or whatever. I do it because I like it, enjoy picking components and colors to personalize the rod, and get a lot of personal satisfaction out of it. I've found I can build a rod I love for a price I'm happy with
Yeah, that is the general gist I am getting the more I look into this. I did check into some of the rod blanks you mentioned on eBay, and while it looks like there are deals to be had, it does not appear to be "a fraction of the cost" mentioned in the rod building video (which, to be fair, I think was from 2008). The TFO rod was nothing in particular I was looking at, just happened to be one of the first blanks I looked into on a retailer who sells blanks, and to get a general idea I ran a quick search for the same rod, already built from TFO, to compare the blank cost to the built cost. Savings for the blank were, as I mentioned, $75, but without anything else....reel seats, cork, guides, thread, etc.
Brian: I agree with your assessment and what William has said about rod building. To me it is more about taking some product and carefully building something very special, just the way you dream it should look and feel, not so much about saving a few dollars. If that is your goal, you would be way ahead at looking at fly rods on EBay and picking up an overstock name brand rod at a substantial discount or a gently used rod again at a very nice discount. Typically the rod makers, when they come out with the latest and greatest rod, they discontinue one of the previous models. Sage for example came out with the One and discontinued the Z-Axis, I snatched up a new Z-Axis 7 wt rod for streamer fishing at a huge discount. Personally, I don't buy new rods at retail, I buy almost all of my rods off EBay whether they are new or not, with the exception of a few rods I have bought off members of this forum who are down sizing their rod collection. Later on I bought a relatively new Sage One 5 wt off EBay, paying $200 below retail. There are plenty of deals to be had if you know what you are looking for. Also if you look carefully there are a number of fly shops dealing on EBay that are doing trade in upgrade programs, they then turn around and sell the rod that you or someone else traded in and stand behind the description of the rod they sell on EBay and usually have a pretty good return policy if not satisfied with the rod's condition as advertised.
What Bash said ... except there is a pragmatic side.
The first rod I built was because I wanted to do it, and I didnt' surf the web for blanks. I bought one from the shop that was offering the "rod building class" so I bought a "cheap" Sage blank. And I bought all the components from the shop. (Anyone wonder why flyshops offer rod building classes in the winter?)
That rod probably came in just about 50% of retail, so yes, I saved money and learned some stuff. Then I made a few more.
Fast forward to today ... I found a premium blank on ebay and decided what I was willing to pay for it. I got it. I could buy inexpensive components and build a totally suitable rod for again, maybe 50-60% of retail. But then you start looking ... and I've already built up a few nice blank on the cheap, so I've decided to find the best deals but not scrimp on the components.
So I'll lay it out: the XP blank was $230 shipped. I've got $80 in Recoil guides and an REC reel seat, another 30 bucks in cork for the grip. I'll have to buy some glue, epoxy and thread (because I don't have color I want for this rod). So in the end this rod will come in under $400, but that was my decision. I could easily have chosen parts that would make it a perfectly functional rod for maybe half the price of components ... so maybe it could be a brand new XP for $325! That's a screamin deal in my book, plus I gained the experience and joy of designing the rod.
So, you can save some money, but like everything else you have to make the initial investment. Like the guys asking about fly tying and will it save money. Well, you probably will have $500 worth of materials, but you don't have to buy $2.50 flies any more! To build a rod you need at the least a turner, which will run you appx. $75 or so. If you make more rods, the cost comes down. Like buying a nice vise. In the end, if you think you can do it to save $ on one rod, it probably won't work. And TFO's are hard to beat on factory price vs. the blanks. I made one last winter for my brother and ended up saving maybe 25% off factory, and I used inexpensive components.
Location: Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada border
Re: Practicality questions....
Originally Posted by brian miville
it does not appear to be "a fraction of the cost" mentioned in the rod building video.
Maybe a $75 factory rod is not the best way to judge that by. I picked up a really good deal on a Winston Blank and will be putting the rod together for under $300. It's a nearly $800 rod. I'd call that a fraction and I still have better than $75 in components in it. Swap out my blank for the TFO and you loose the fraction part. I'm going to have about $650 in my 17' Thomas and Thomas and it will be worth more than double that. If you try and do a rod that is dirt cheap to begin with, it's hard to get your fraction of the cost factor.
I found I didn't save money building with retail priced components. Once I got my business license and could work wholesale, then things became more reasonable. Of course, you make a lot less rods for yourself when you get that direction. I also recently found a local shop that sells for less than many wholesale deals. There are gems out there but it's not usually the mainstream retail sites
Location: Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada border
Re: Practicality questions....
Originally Posted by tedp
I also recently found a local shop that sells for less than many wholesale deals.
If you have them that do that, and the companies that sell to them find out about it they may stop selling to them. Name redacted when you open a factory account with them, states clearly in the contract it is a reason to terminate the contract. Cabela's was selling Pac Bay guides at wholesale in their retail catalog. It caused problems. I'd keep the fact they are doing that under your hat. If they get in trouble for being outed, Well you won't be getting that great pricing from them in the future.
One more thing that gets them in trouble is business license or not, if you don't have a store front and a wholesaler sells you certain things at wholesale will violate the factory contract as well. A very large wholesaler of rod parts had that happen a few years ago when they were selling reels at wholesale to builders that did not have actual store fronts. They sold the remaining reels off at factory cost and bad mouthed the snot out of them.
Just watch what you say and who you say it to about cheap parts. It may save you some grief down the road.
My intent was not to put anyone in jeopardy. My main intent was to state that you don't really save a heck of a lot of money building your own at retail prices. Once you get into wholesale pricing is where the potential for money saving (or profit) comes in.