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Do-It-Yourself Tackle Project

How to make the rod you need
      There are essentially two types of light-tackle sport-fishing reels — spinning and casting. The spin reel has a fixed-line spool mechanism positioned along the rod’s axis and mounted below the rod. Line is evenly wound onto the reel spool by an armature that circles the spool. Lures and baits are cast out by disengaging the armature, allowing the line to be pulled off of the cylindrical spool with little or no resistance as the lure is thrown. Virtually tangle-free and easy to use, the spin reel is the most popular type in use.
     The casting reel, in contrast, is more compact than the spin reel. Positioned above the rod, it utilizes a revolving spool mechanism that retrieves and holds the line. Lures and baits are cast out by putting the reel into free spool, then throwing the lure. The lure’s weight pulls the line from the turning spool. The spool’s revolutions are controlled by built-in feathering mechanisms plus some delicate angler thumb pressure that prevents line tangles. 
     Working a rocky shoreline last fall for white perch with a light finesse-actioned casting outfit, I was once again disappointed. The newly acquired rig didn’t cast the light one-sixth-ounce spinner bait very far or with any amount of accuracy. Yet this rod was clearly marked for lures as light as one-eighth-ounce, and the reel was optimally tuned for light lures. I had been experiencing this problem for some time with a number of different casting rigs.
     Why didn’t I turn to ultra-light spin tackle? The primary advantage of a spinning outfit is no resistance to throwing virtually any weight lure. Birds-nests (aka backlashes or spool overruns), the bane of casting-gear, are rare. 
     I would have made that choice if all anglers were of a uniformly logical and mentally balanced nature. Unfortunately that is not the situation, especially among ultra-light tackle fanatics. A few of us are nuts, at least when it comes to tackle preferences.
     I wanted the extra control a casting reel gives in adjusting for range and direction with properly applied thumb pressure. I admire the exacting nature of the reel, with its complex, delicate gears and spool-braking mechanisms. Its fish-fighting drag system is far smoother, stronger and more sensitive, and I’m fond of the fine whirring noise the reel makes as the line speeds out on a long cast. Also, the learned skill that it takes to ­continually work a shoreline, cast after cast without incident, is rewarding in itself.
      After musing on the problem, I decided on an experiment. Putting a small, low-profile casting reel onto a six-foot, ultra-light-action spin rod marked for a minimum lure size of one-16th-ounce, I tied a one-sixth-ounce lure on my makeshift rig and walked out on my front porch. With a casual effort, I sent the bait flying the length of my yard, completely over the front street and well into the bushes of the house across from me. Those spin rod specifications were the solution to my quest.
      Researching the catalogs of every rod manufacturer I could think of, I discovered another interesting situation. No casting rods could mimic that rod action or that lure range. None; not even close. 
     Continuing to use the casting reel on the spin rod was not a realistic solution because the guides did not align properly with the reel and the reel seat was in an awkward location. But that was a minor problem because I know that it’s simple to make a fishing rod of just about any specification yourself. 
      Accessing a rod-building website and choosing a couple of spin rod blanks of the type I desired, plus the cork handles and reel seats that were appropriate for a casting reel, some rod epoxy and the proper thread and correct rod guides, I called in an order, sat back and waited for my items to arrive.
     Next week: Building the rods.