How to make a custom fly rod


BACK TO MAY, I drove to Yarmouth, Maine, to visit the Maine Fly Co. I was there to pick up a custom fly rod they had made for me and go fishing with owner and founder Jeff Davis. I expected to find a warehouse with heavy machinery and assembly lines, but instead I found Davis’ small workshop in an old brick building overlooking the Royal River.

Over the past two years, Maine Fly Co. has grown from a one-man show in Davis’ barn to a workshop with four employees filling orders from around the country. But Davis has managed to retain what made the rods he builds special in the first place and his company’s deep connection to the Pine Tree State.

Many of the rods in Maine Fly Co.’s signature series. are inspired by and named after Maine fishing. Davis also offers limited-edition rods like the Magalloway — a tribute to one of the state’s most famous rivers — and custom rods with options for specific blanks, reel colors, reel seats and grips. All Maine Fly Co. rods. they are made by hand, once and for all, and cost a fraction of the price of the competition.

Davis and his team spend their free time chasing landlocked salmon and brook trout—two classic Maine species that inspire the reel colors, design and intended purpose of many of Davis’ rods. But no matter what you’re fishing for, the craftsmanship behind a Maine Fly Co. rod. appears in every caste.

making fly rods

Jeff Davis puts the finishing touches on a custom rod in his shop as two rod builders wind the threads at build stations. This small shop will open to the public on October 27, 2022.

butterfly rod making workstation

Rod builder Loren Soucie reels the guides into a Maine Fly Co. Signature Series rod. Wrapping the guides is one of the first steps in the rod building process.

cut fly rod wrapper

Soucie makes the final pull on a reel for a 3-weight Little River rod.

reeling fly rod guide

Wrapping the guides with thread holds them in place before the epoxy is applied. The thread color and design behind this Little River 3-weight was inspired by the brook trout and small streams where anglers find them.

epoxy fly rod wrap

Rod builder LeeAnne Conway applies epoxy finish coatings to Little River 3-weight reels. Epoxy seals and secures the coils to the rod.

cleanroom fly rod construction

Conway sits on the table in the “clean room” as he applies the final coats of epoxy and turns the rod so it dries evenly. This small room allows for better temperature control and fewer outside elements, making it an ideal space for applying wraps.

fly rod building materials

A rod blank lies next to the wood grips and spool seats for a limited edition Magalloway rod. A container of winding checks, which serve as a transition from rod to handle, is located in a small box on the right.

fly rod polishing wood handle

Conway polishes the handle and reel control on a limited edition Magalloway rod. This rod was inspired by the famous Magalloway River in western Maine, which supports strong populations of landlocked brook trout and salmon.

Davis writes on the fly rod

Davis uses a metal pen to write the inscription on a custom rod—one of the final steps in the rod-building process. Customers can request that their name or a phrase be written on the bar.

view of the river from the fly rod construction station

One of the rod building stations overlooking the Royal River. Davis set out to find a workspace near the water when he was looking to expand Maine Fly Co.

brand fly rod handle

Davis Brands 9 foot 4 weight author custom fly rod. This serves as a seal of approval and proof that the bar has been inspected prior to delivery.

inscription on the fly rod

The length and weight of the rod and the author’s last name inscribed on his custom rod right above the handle.

Magalloway River

The author, Davis, and Dan Masselli hike Magalloway in search of brook trout and landlocked salmon. The winding rivers, native fish and towering pines throughout the Northwoods serve as inspiration for many Maine Fly Co. rods.

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