“Make sure you keep the tension on this.”
It was a familiar fishing tip in an unusual setting. Because I wasn’t standing on a boat, but in the shop of Snake River Custom Rods owners, Ricky and Goldie Prieto. And the line I was holding tight wasn’t attached to a fish – it was the wire that held the guides in place on my first handmade fishing rod.
Custom rod building has become very popular in the fishing community, and the Prietos are some of the best Idahoans in the business. Ricky has been making fishing rods for almost a decade and he turned his passion into a family business by launching Snake River Custom Rods in 2019.
“We love to build and spend time together in the store,” Ricky said. “For us, it’s an art.
The Prietos turned their garage into a full rodmaking lab, including a paint booth, wood lathe, various saws, hundreds of rods in all shapes and sizes, a laser engraver, 3D printers, and a filled wall. of colorful threads used to personalize each rod design.
For my construction, we chose an ice fishing rod (it’s the season!). It started out as a 31 inch fiberglass ‘virgin’, but in no time we selected a matching reel seat, rod tip and guides. For my guide wires, I honored my alma mater with a blue and orange theme. I was even able to add my Tight Lines 208 logo!
Before I started putting this thing together, I had to ask – aside from satisfying a creative itch, why go through all this trouble to build a fishing rod?
“There are a lot of benefits,” Ricky said. “You get better components and have more control over the design than buying something that is made in bulk. The quality and functionality are better – and there is something really satisfying about catching a fish on a rod you designed and built.
Prieto immediately proved his point with a “spine test” on my cane. Each fishing rod has a natural curvature that it wants to follow. By building the rod over the spine, you maximize its effectiveness every time it bends or loads, leading to better performance in casting and fighting fish. Store-bought equipment – even the most expensive items – often lags slightly.
Once on the spine, my reel seat secured quite easily with tape and epoxy. The longest part is to wind the guides on the rod by hand with wire. For a seasoned pro like Ricky, packing each guide only takes a minute or two. For a newbie like me, it took around 20. But with patience and expert help, a cool looking ice bar started to take shape. Once everything was in place, we sealed the guidewires with brush-on epoxy, which cured on a spinning rack for 24 hours.
“I really like this rod,” Ricky said. “Ice cream sticks are delicate because they are so small. Obviously you will get better and faster with more builds under your belt, but this rod is going to catch a lot of fish!
Snake River Custom Rods make everything from ice canes to large sturgeon rigs. The Prietos customize 60 to 80 rods per year, and there are some beauties. While I was building Goldie was making a Wonder Woman themed yellow, red and blue rod. The intricacy of its yarn weaving pattern is amazing!
In addition to crafting custom canes (which make great gifts), the Prietos also do repairs, sell individual cane components, and offer cane building lessons for anyone who wants to try it out.
For me, the process was more complex than I had ever imagined. But I enjoyed my time in the lab, and thanks to a little elbow grease and a lot of good coaching, I have a brand new custom ice cane.
After the hours of wrestling with wire and epoxy, I can’t wait to put it to the test. Tight lines!
Interested in building or ordering a custom fishing rod? Check out Snake River Custom Rods on Facebook or call Ricky Prieto at (208) 283-1920.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing in Idaho waters since he was a teenager. Share your fish stories, adventures and questions with him on [email protected], or visit www.tightlines208.com for the latest local fishing reports and upcoming course offers.