September 11, 2023
Fly fishing allows us to be more connected to our gear than most other outdoor pursuits. We understand the artistry behind the sport, from getting the perfect wrap of hackle on our flies to making sure our loop knot is seated to perfection before making a cast, the idiosyncrasies are what make us a community of our own.
If you would have told me a year ago that I would have an opportunity to travel to Florida to build my own, one-of-a-kind, fly rod, I would have brushed you off. However, here I am being featured in a video series that I have watched for years.
Hidden in the shadow of Orlando’s bright lights and famous theme parks lies Oviedo, Florida which is the home of Mud Hole Rod Building & Tackle. Mud Hole’s HQ is a mecca for all things rod building, boasting the title of the world’s largest supplier of rod building and tackle crafting supplies. And when you walk into the Mud Hole facility you can see why.
When I was asked what type of fly rod I wanted to build, the answer was a no-brainer. Growing up in New England, striped bass have always been the fish that get my blood pumping the most. I have been lucky enough to travel all over North America chasing incredible species with a fly rod, but my heart will always belong to the fish that started the obsession. With the spring and summer coming up I knew wanted to create a 9-weight tailor-made for the hard-fighting and unforgiving New England striped bass.
Striped bass are a diverse species; they can be found in deep offshore structure, cruising tidal rips, or tailing sand flats. My favorite way to target them is sight casting to them on the flats, meaning that I needed a rod with feel and a stiff spine so I could make those long accurate casts at fish coming down the pike. The team at Mud Hole took each of these notes into consideration and the final product is more than I could’ve imagined. This season I have put this fly rod through its paces landing a lot of quality fish, and it has checked every box.
Building your own custom fly rod is certainly a testament to your dedication to the sport. It goes beyond merely owning a piece of equipment–it's about forging a connection with your gear and the water you fish. When you put in the effort to build your rod, each cast becomes a symphony of precision and passion, making the angling experience even more satisfying. Every time you feel the rod flex under the weight of a powerful fish, you'll know that you've created something truly special.
Keith Marlor is Outdoor Sportsmans Group’s Social Media Manager for fishing brands.