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A custom built rod can greatly improve your chances

The idea of having a custom built rod for some reading this article may seem extreme when there are so many fishing poles already available on the market. I think anyone who really gets into a hobby or sport will eventually move toward specialization. Bowlers will get custom bowling balls with special grips and even change balls for changing lane conditions. Golfers will get special clubs with custom grips that are fitted to length. Musicians will develop a relationship with their instrument and even customize it to their liking. Artists can paint with any brush, but will develop a preference for special brushes, and have many available that can do for them what they ask, to achieve what they are creating. The analogies can go on and on.

As you progress in your fishing passion, you will discover your need for different rods to do different things, as you use different techniques. You will develop likes and dislikes with features on rods, reels, lines, and lures. The ability to customize is part of the fun of progressing and improving.

It all starts with a fishing rod, which is the business end in your hand that telegraphs what is going on at the other end of your fishing line. It is important to use a good quality rod and reel to improve your odds and reduce the frustrations poor equipment can create. Having the right fishing rod in your hand can make a good fisherman even better. I believe the sensitivity and comfort of a custom rod in hand makes a difference for my customers and myself.

I had a great end to 2010. The Sunday and Monday after Christmas day I had the pleasure and honor of taking instruction on custom fishing rod building from Jerie Eckholdt of Rochester. He has operated "Fine Line Lures" for over 35 years, supplying hand tied bucktail jigs and custom fishing rods, to some of the best fisherman in the country. Jerie is a great rod builder and an even better person. He has built 2,000 rods and repaired or re-customized hundreds of other fishing rods. He has been a mentor to me.

What a privilege to be able to learn custom rod building from him. I count myself lucky to be able to call Jerie and his beautiful wife Barb, friends. He is humble about what he does, and I appreciate how patient he was in teaching me this craft. I look forward to the opportunity to carry on the tradition of making quality custom rods for fisherman.

Always remember, when introducing kids to this wonderful sport, please put quality, working equipment in their hands. The same goes for any new person you are introducing to fishing. Make it enjoyable and fun. We want to turn people on to, not away from this sport.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)