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Featured Builder, Rods Bent Customs... Christopher Bohr

TackleZoom is pleased to Showcase Christopher Bohr and Rods Bent Customs!!!

If you are interested in having Rods Bent Customs build your next Fishing Rod please contact Chris at

My first experience with rod building was in 1982. I was 20 and working for a Bait & Tackle shop on Cape Cod. The owner's father was an old school builder that hand-turned his rods using a simple jig and rig. He taught me to do tip and guide repair for the shop. I learned the basics of building from him and still have my first rod I built using Spar varnish on the threads. I repaired my own rods for years and an occasional friend's rods too. I taught myself reel repair, cutting my teeth on Penn reels. I still have my original Penns I bought with my shop discount 41 years ago, an old 704z, 716z and a Squidder.

Fast forward to14 years ago. I had an opportunity to buy a lot of rod building supplies on Ebay. Mostly saltwater stuff. I was working as a corporate trainer, traveling a lot then so I dabbled in my "spare" time, mainly rehabbing my old gear. Part of the Ebay gear included a Pac-Bay kit, 6'6" UL with a spinning reel seat. I made my own rod stands and thread jig then built the kit. I used Perma Gloss to finish it and made a big mess. Man that stuff stinks!

Fast forward to 2019. The Dr. had diagnosed me with a failing liver from years of progressively worse alcohol abuse. I was told 18 months to live, give or take and that my Liver might be too far gone to heal itself. I have a broken back as well that's inoperable and behind my rib cage area, suffering daily excruciating pain. The wife and I had always wanted to retire in FL. This sped things up. We cashed out an IRA and bought a house in Bradenton. We got down there in May of 2019. I could barely walk. I was at my end, or so I thought. It took me almost a year to fully dry out then a funny thing happened, I improved. I had thrown myself into rod building by then, it helped me not think about drinking. I was a sponge for information. My friend Ebay gave me another boon. I bought a Lot of 100 blanks at auction from a Rod and Tackle shop in Santa Rosa, CA. All 6'6" two-piece, Medium power, Moderate action, hollow fiberglass blanks, unpainted. About 25 of them had bad sets in the tips so 75 usable blanks. These blanks launched me. I started building. And build I did! I cut down butts and tips, added length to butts then fished the rods to learn the affects. Through this process I learned SO many things about rod building and blank painting, applying many old school practices then mixing them with modern methods. I had the Flex Coat books and cross wrap fold outs from years ago to reference, I also bought Dale Clemons' books on everything rod building. YouTube videos, and the Custom Rod Builders Guild provided me necessary educational material which I attacked voraciously. Those 75 blanks served well. I kept many of my first builds then gave away many more. Eventually I was consistently building sound, durable rods, made to be fished hard and often. I started giving away my rods to organizations to use for fundraising. I really started to care about aesthetics. My builds became more detailed. My color schemes started to Pop. My threadwork was improving exponentially with elaborate Chevron and Diamond patterns and variations on the JTOB at first, evolving into intricate 4 and 8 axis closed wraps.

By now I had started to craft my own grips. Cork, EVA Foam, stacked Birch bark, exotic wood, hard wood, Palm bark, epoxied leather. I experimented. My first lathe was hand made using an electric drill. Now I have a shop full of power tools and 3 bench top lathes among other tools. I've hand crafted all my rod building tools; roller stands, hand wrappers, thread jigs, rod dryers, reaming tools, epoxy application spinners and cross-wrap lay out tool. I figure that when something breaks, I sure know how to fix it. Currently, I'm several hundred rods built. My business is all word of mouth and I usually have 4 or 5 rods on a waiting list. I've built ice rods, fly rods, bass and walleye rods all the way up to Heavers, Big Game rods and Wall Hangers. I spend half my time in Florida and the other in Wisconsin (I have rod building equipment and supplies at both houses, my main shop being in FL) I've built rods for famous authors, CEO's of Corporations, Golf Pros, pro series fisherman and countless Charter Captains.

I deal with my physical limitations from a broken back, however I'm a motorcycle enthusiast and, oddly enough, the vibration from the motor is comforting to my back. However, I dread the pain associated with the getting on and off part (my expression of pain says it all. You should see it. I'm told it's not pretty) My HD Softail in WI has two rod holders welded on to the rear. I fish.

In summary, through a lifetime of fishing and self-taught skills along with trials and errors from countless builds, I still feel that I am but a lowly builder with a world of improvement in front of me. Every build is better than the last, but I strive to make that Perfect, flawless rod. No matter what, there will always be that one tiny blemish microscopic thread gap made larger by the lens effect of epoxy or miniscule opportunity of improvement needed that only I, or other accomplished rod builders can see. I like to build a rod so pretty you'll be afraid to fish it. I live for and strive toward the Perfect Build! "You're never truly happy until your Rod's Bent"

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