At the Jersey Shore, the itch for one-of-a-kind tackle brings House of Rods to the rescue. We asked its founder, Chuck, about his go-to products.
How did you get started in this business?
C: I grew up in a bodyshop, then worked in a jobber store, so I already had the skillset to to physically work with my hands. I had been a custom painter and painted with House of Kolor for years. I’m not an airbrush guy, but give me tape to line out a design and I’m your man. Back in 2013, I custom painted a Camaro for a friend, and once I finished I realized that painting cars wasn’t for me. But I’ve always had a creative side and loved the artistic side of painting. One day, while I was out fishing, it dawned on me that I could apply that passion to fishing rods.
You mentioned that you use a mix of products alongside 5 STAR Xtreme in your shop. Have you always stuck by these brands?
C: Yes, I use the 5 STAR 2:1 Euro Klear, the adhesion promoter, and now I’m using the Stealth Klear. And I am a House of Kolor freak. I’ve been using House of Kolor for 25 years, and I have the complete Shimrin 2 mixing system, a ton of the UK kandies, all the dry flakes, the neons, and a lot of flip colors that they no longer make. I have the glow-in-the-dark stuff for customers who want it on their lures. I also make custom fishing rod holders and other pieces out of live-edge wood.
What makes your rods stand out?
C: I pride myself on the colors, because nobody does colors like we do. What I tell customers is “Give me colors that you like and let me do what I do.” A new rod takes about 2 weeks from start to finish. I cut and make all my own handles with cork and EVA foam, then I follow up with what’s called thread art before I epoxy and clear. I also do acrylic inserts and paracord. The rods are stunning. I have a reputation for making crazy handles.
Do you get asked for advice on starting a fishing rod business?
C: I tell everybody who wants to start out to be patient. In 2015, our first year, we sold two rods. We kept honing our skills and later started doing trade shows, and our business kept growing from there. I remember at our first show we sold only four rods, and I was so disappointed. But the takeaway from it was that everybody said my work was phenomenal. The fishing rod industry has taken off like you wouldn’t believe. We’re on pace to sell 100-120 rods this year, and as of May we’ve already repaired 50.
Is your business mostly new sales?
C: Well, car doors and tailgates are my best friends for fixing rods. You would be shocked at how many people break off their rod tips, so we also do rod repair. I’m partnered with a couple of big bait and tackle stores in the area and I do all their repairs and sell my rods in their stores, and online as well. We ship across the country, but most of my sales are word-of-mouth. I do a lot of offshore rods, and our flyrod and freshwater division will be up and running this July.