When I first reached out to Chuck Deremer of Chuck’s Custom Rods for an interview, I made the mistake of trying to schedule one on a summer weekend.“Not a chance,” said Chuck. “I’ll be fishing then.”
We finally managed to speak while it was raining.
“You can always build something better than you can buy,” Chuck started. “I’m an avid fisherman, so with that philosophy it was only a matter of time until I started dabbling with making rods. I got serious about it 15 years ago when I took a class, dug in, and started crafting the real deal. Now I teach people how to make their own rods, which is a great way to keep myself busy in my retirement while sharing the art.”
“When people come into my class to make a rod, they start with a big, solid piece of graphite composite. The length they will cut it to depends on how they plan to use it. Big fish and long casts demand a longer rod, while a shorter one is better for smaller fish, as well as portability. Like golf clubs, no one rod does everything.”
“My class makes their handles out of cork most of the time, but we use foam and wood as well. There is no perfect handle. Cork is both comfortable and durable, but it chips, stains, and is delicious to mice. Foam is resistant to damage, but it’s not the most attractive material. A wood handle is the most beautiful by far, and the most sensitive. Its biggest drawback is that it can get a little slippery, but that’s not a big one. As is usually the case, the handle comes down to personal taste.”
“Using quality guides is key. I teach how to identify them, so people who have taken my class can pick the ones that best suit their needs without wasting money. The best advice I can give about guides is never to damage them by reeling in too far. That can chip the front guide’s ceramic insert, which may fray the line as it’s cast. Inattention and beer are the worst enemies of guides.”
When you take a class with Chuck’s Custom Rods, you get to spend a Friday evening and all day on Saturday making your very own fishing rod. Chuck also lays out the ins and outs of rod maintenance, repair, and the merits of different rod lengths and materials. He also explains what to look for when buying a new rod — but after one of Chuck’s classes, you may never even need that knowledge.
“You couldn’t buy a rod from the store that will be as nice as the one you’ll make in my class, just in terms of quality alone” said Chuck. “Of course, that rod will be one you’ve made with your own two hands. You just can’t put a price tag on that kind of thing.”
Chuck’s classes cost $150 for the two day session. He begins scheduling them in November, and conducts them January through April so neither he nor his students need fear missing a precious minute of good fishing weather. If you’ve got an angler on your Christmas list, plan ahead if you’d like to give them yet another point of pride the next time they land a big one. Email Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to learn more.
By David Scheller