How do I deal with cabin fever?
This is a question all fishermen have to deal with. We can only wash the boat so many times, we can only organize our tackle so much. So how can we overcome the winter blues and cabin fever?
For me, it started about 5 years ago. A buddy and I were sitting around having a few cocktails in his heated garage when I spotted a bunch of rods all balled up in the corner.
I said to him, “What’s up with those rods over in the corner”?
He said “Oh, those. Some have broken tips, some have guides that are missin’ … just a bunch of rods that I should throw away!”
As I stared at the pile with a blank look on my face, my buddy could tell the wheels in my head were turning.
He said, “Why? What are you thinking?”
I paused for another minute and said, “I wonder if I could fix them?”
He said, “Yeah, right, do you know how to fix rods?”
I said, “No, but I can learn how.”
For the past 25 years, I’ve had my own construction company and thought to myself, “Heck, If I can build a house, I can fix a rod!”
So for the next couple of weekends, my buddy and I would revisit that heated garage, have a few cocktails, and watch videos on basics of rod building and repair. We were as obsessed with this as we were fishing.
We drove our wives nuts – all we would talk about is rod building and not fishing anymore.
This consumed our evenings after work: We made a list of tools, supplies, places to buy from, and everything we needed to fix these rods. We set up a little spot in the garage and went at it. We repaired those broken rod tips, replaced some of those broken guides and got that pile of dusty rods back in the rod locker. We had a modest setup with just the amount of tools needed to do the repairs. And that’s when it happened! We became addicted to rod building!
Next, we started talking about where we were going to set up our rod-building stations in our houses. We compared ideas and helped each other design our setups. I went to my shop and found some leftover walnut boards and made us each our own rod wrappers. We spent more evenings turning lofts and spare rooms into rod-building stations. Heck, my buddy built rods on his dining room table for six months (and his wife never complained … lol).
Five years later, Galaxy Custom Rods was born. My buddy opened his own rod-building company, but things in life got busy for him, and he had to slow down. But I’m still around and spending my winters building rods.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying give up your day job and start building rods (God knows I didn’t), but my point to this story is this: If you’re looking for a great way to spend the winter when fishing slows down, give a serious look into rod building. There is a great sense of satisfaction in catching a fish on a rod you built.
It really isn’t that hard. It’s just nerve wracking getting started. You are always worried about making a mistake. But start slow – you don’t have to go out and spend top dollar on your first build. As a matter of fact, I recommend that you stay as cheap as possible for your first one.
First, there are tons of online videos on rod building that you can learn from.
Next: You will need some basic tools to get started, but in the long run, nothing compares to a custom-built rod. The initial investment if you go all out (for tools and supplies) will be a couple hundred bucks (at least a couple hundred on something that I can keep … not on lures that get lost in trees … lol). You can build on some top-name brand blanks like St.Croix, and there are other companies that just sell blanks to custom rod builders like the MHX line of blanks.
There are endless places to get supplies from, and I could never list them all. I just want people to know my story and how cabin fever got me into a great hobby that can be fun for the whole family. So if cabin fever is getting you down, step up and look into rod building.
If you have any questions about rod building or want to pick my brain, leave me a message here, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Maybe I’ll write a blog about basic rod repair … I know you all have some broken guides or tips on favorite rods that need repairing! Good luck and have fun!
by Jim Strawbridge