Custom Built Fly Rods

By Peter Stitcher @ Ascent Fly Fishing

Over a lifetime on the water, you are going to own a number of fly rods, but as your arsenal of rods grows, your first fly rod will always hold a special place in your heart!  While decades have elapsed since I purchased my first fly rod, I remember keenly the anticipation and vast investment that went into that purchase.  Having hoarded my allowance, checks from birthdays, and my every penny from my first job, I decided to go big and order a custom 9-foot 6-weight rod from a Wyoming rod builder.  The $300 spent felt like a fortune, and the months of waiting seemed like an eternity, but once I received my rod and held it for the first time, the rod felt like an extension of my arm like only a custom-built rod can feel.  After fishing this rod on three continents and using it to net numerous cold and warm water fish species, I decided to look into purchasing another custom rod and was pleasantly surprised to find how easy and affordable the process has become!

Jon Hill of Yellowfin Custom Fly Rods was introduced to me a couple of months back and it was evident within 5 minutes of conversation that he was passionate about building fly rods!  Proficient at building in both fiberglass and graphite, and able to knowledgeably speak to the specific considerations that go into small creek rods vs. light-weight and far-reaching euro nymphing rods, I wanted to address the elephant in the room and ask him how much a custom rod would cost before getting my hopes up.  I was blown away when Jon told me that getting a custom rod built wasn’t just quick and easy (taking just 3 weeks from design to holding a finished rod), but relatively inexpensive costing just $225 for standard-length  (7′ 6″ – 9′) fiberglass or graphite rod!  While the price was tempting, I had to put these rods to the test and see how they stacked up to go-to Sage, Scott, and Thomas & Thomas rods.  With the action proving incredible and the price tantalizingly low, I commissioned Jon to build me an 8 weight for Bonefish and Tiger Muskie. 

Picking Your Rod Blank & Components

With more than 12 colors of rod blanks, dozens of different reel seat and cork options, and an infinite array of thread colors with which to wrap and accent the rod, it is easy to create a one-of-a-kind rod to match your personality and tastes.  Staying true to our no-frills brand of fly fishing and pulling colors from our logo, I chose a matte black rod blank with gunmetal guides and reel seat, grey and tan cork, and burnt orange, white, and black thread for the wraps.  Jon sent me a photo with the different components that matched my criteria and in just a couple of minutes, I finalized my order.

Feedback Driven Production

When I placed the order, I had selected white thread as the primary color wrap for the guides on the line.  Apart from choosing fly tying materials, I don’t get to choose many colors in our home (if my wife asks me my opinion on a paint color, I trust her to give me one)!   In my mind, I thought that white would look cool, but when wrapped to the rod Jon went the extra mile and shared some sample photos and provided some artistic suggestions.  He allowed me to backtrack, going with a black wrap as my primary, with white and orange as accents, and the results were killer! 

A Made-to-Order Fly Rod in 3 Weeks

I was on a call when I saw the notification from Yellowfin beep through with photo attachments and quickly made my excuses to cut the call short.  The rod looked better than I could have imagined, and when I received it later that day, I found that it cast like a dream as well.  Standing in the street and double hauling an articulated streamer down the road with ease, I could not have been more pleased with my new rod. 
Final ThoughtsIn a sport crowded with big brands and expensive gear, working with Yellowfin Custom Rods to create a custom rod for an honest price was a breath of fresh air.  Like Ascent Fly Fishing in the fly space, there are a number of startup rod, reel, fly line, and tool companies that are pushing back the veneer of fly fishing being a sport of the wealthy and elite and providing exceptional products at prices the everyday fly fisher can afford. More than 30 years into fly fishing I have more fly rods than most, but I look forward to using this new 8-weight and anticipate that it will find a special place in my heart in the years to come.