This is the fishing history of my life – plain and simple how I got where I am.
I have loved to fish since I was two – yes two. My grandpa really started me fishing, and he and I spent countless hours together. He was an amazing man. He grew up in northern Wisconsin during the Great Depression, and fishing was not just for fun all the time, it was often a matter of eating or not. Grandpa also was part of the D-Day assault at Omaha Beach, one of the few who lived to tell the story.
So I learned to fish from someone who figured it out because it was a matter of eating or not - no casual try this color of bait or that kind of approach. And someone that knew the value of life as well. I learned from the best. My mom, dad, and brother all fished too – it was like our family culture.
As I grew up in southern Wisconsin, I was attracted to all kinds of tackle crafting, trying to figure ways to catch more fish. By age 10 I was tying my own jigs and flies and had landed my first legal musky, which was a harder task back then (1984) than it is today. And Grandpa and I were traveling the state of Wisconsin catching most everything that swims here. We caught muskie, northern pike, walleye, sauger, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, perch, white bass, rock bass, rainbow, brown, and brook trout, great lakes trout and salmon, catfish, carp, bullheads – if it had fins it was fair game! My brother and I often caught our own live bait too, and spent hours catching grasshoppers, crayfish, or stalking nightcrawlers, whatever we thought would catch more fish.
In my teens I remember shopping at the big stores with all the rods – 100’s of them – and couldn’t find one that was just right. One had the right tip, but a goofy handle. One would have the right handle, but the wrong action. One would be a nice rod, but the guides weren’t right. And so I figured I’d just build what I want, and got started.
Over the course of the next 15 years or so I kept building rods as a hobby, learning from books and VHS tapes, while I worked at the family machine shop as my real job. My interests grew in to fly fishing more in addition to all the other types fishing. And then my parents decided to sell the machine shop – which had been my sole employment – and I needed to figure something else to do.
After some thought, my wife and I sold the house in southern Wisconsin, and moved to northern Wisconsin with our three kids (because we love it here – our town doesn’t even have a stop light!), and started Elk River Custom Rods. We started building rods in the basement, then moved up to a one car garage converted in to a rod shop. After 10 years of learning more things the hard way than I would have ever imagined, we now have a full retail store on State Highway 13 in Phillips. We are a small family owned business, and I work here with my wife, my sister in-law, and a family friend. If you call, a real person will answer the phone, and they will actually care!
We carry quite a few rods in stock that we have designed, but also work to use our rod building knowledge to customize rods to your needs, or to create great one of a kind gifts. We build spinning and casting rods, fly rods, musky rods, and custom ice rods, and lot’s of personalized rods to make a great gift for those anglers that have everything.
I can’t end without saying thank you – to my wife, and mom and dad for all the support, and to Grandpa for taking the time to take me fishing.
Why Choose an Elk River Custom Rod?
U.S.A. Craftsman Quality - Every Elk River Custom Rod has been handcrafted by our family owned rod shop, in Phillips, WI.
Visually Pleasing - Eye-Catching custom artwork graphics, fish inlays, two-tone cork, feather inlays, sentimental saying or names printed on the rod.
Performance - Each rod is designed to have the properties needed to best pursue the species you're after: Extreme Sensitivity, Durability, casting accuracy, casting distance, easy to transport.
Superior Customer Service - Our goal is to exceed our customer's expectations. We are not simply looking to sell a fishing rod, but to build relationships with customers for a lifetime.
Personal Service - If you ever need assistance prior to, or after purchasing an Elk River Custom Rod, you can call and speak directly to a custom rod builder or the owner. You will not be put on hold or sent to an automated phone system (of course you are welcome to email anytime as well).
Money-Back 100% Satisfaction Guarantee - Simply put, if you don't like it, return it within 30 days of when we shipped it and you will have your money refunded.
"Five Year No-Hassle Warranty" - No complicated warranty claim process and you know in advance that in the event of an accident you won't have to spend a bundle to replace your rod.
Personalized/Custom Gifts - We can fully custom build as someone requests or simply place names, sentimental notations, etc. on the rod to create memorable gifts for years to come.