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Factory rods vs. custom rods

Jeff Goodwin, author photo,

By Jeff Goodwin
04/21/15 -- In preparation for my spring rainbow trout season this year, I decided to change out my older rods for some new ones. As I searched for a rod that would fit my needs, I learned there just wasn't anything out there that would do what I was looking for. I wanted to find a 9' 6" ultra-light spin rod that I could drift fish with, but would also double as a light bobber rod as well. Several rod companies make light action 9' 6", but they are more oriented to the steelhead class fishery. I wanted something that would allow my clients to experience the fight our Sacramento River rainbows have to offer. After a lengthy search, it was clear that I was going to have to go custom. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a top quality custom rod designer and builder for my new line up of trout rods. Through a mutual friend, I became acquainted with Chris Saiz of C4 Custom Rods. Chris is a great guy and as I learned more about his rod building business, I thought he would be the guy to get the job done. I explained what I was looking for and told him to give me a call if he could build what I was looking for. The following day, Chris called me back and said, "I think I found you the rod blank you are looking for". We went over the details of the rod and I gave him the green light for a prototype rod. In the meantime, I had a chance to meet Chris at the Anderson sportsman show in March shortly after ordering my prototype rod. We spent two days talking shop and learning a bit more about his background and his business in general.

Man fishing from boat, with C4 Custom Rod, photo by Jeff Goodwin
Finding the custom rod I needed to increase the enjoyment of taking on large rainbow trout took some research but it was well worth the time. Small improvements coupled with quality components can make a huge difference. Photo submitted by the author

Chris Saiz started building custom fishing rods in 1990. He always bought the high end gear (G. Loomis and Lamiglas) back in the day because he loved their product but didn't like the price. Chris decided to start building his own rods with their blanks to save some money. As time went on and he learned the art of rod building, he realized he could improve on what was offered by most big rod companies. Their rod guides were too big, the line rub on the blank was ridiculous, along with other small things here and there. Chris decided to do things a little different to accommodate what he wanted in a rod. He realized with some guidance of a childhood friend, Karry Batson, if he spiral wrapped his rods he could keep the guides significantly smaller allowing the blank to be much more lighter, eliminate the line rub, and keep the rod much more sensitive. He also switched over to a different grip system other than the traditional cork. He has gone to an Eva foam handle wrapped with "X Flock" by Batson Enterprises. This allowed him to keep the sensitivity and the weight of the rod down. Also this XFlock can be very easily cleaned or replaced, unlike traditional cork. For blank preference he has chosen to go with Rainshadow rod blanks. He has been using them for a quite a few years now with zero complaints. The Rainshadow staff are all avid fishermen who know what's what, and build rod blanks that have never failed him. Check out their website at and you will see just how big their rod blank product line really is. As far as rod components, he uses nothing but Alps and Forecast which are also owned and produced by Batson Enterprises. These components are all the top of the line components in the rod building industry. With these few but important changes, Chris feels he has developed a unique type of fishing rod that surpasses anything on the retail level for a very reasonable price. If you would like to check one out or even test one, give him a call at 916-496-5378 or check him out at C4 Custom Rods.

It didn't take long before Chris had my rod built and sent it up to me for its first water test. The build resulted in a long, sensitive rod that could handle the oversize jumbo Sacramento River trout and steelhead, but was light enough to feel the fight in these trout. Fortunately, I had several large Sac River trout that ended up participating in my rod testing. Needless to say, I was very happy with the performance of this custom rod so I ordered 5 more! The quality is excellent and the price point is very reasonable for a high end custom rod. For those of you out there that can't find what you are looking for online or in the sporting goods stores, getting a custom rod built is the way to go. Chris builds rods for all species of fish and they are filled with a few personal touches as well.

Jeff Goodwin specializes in guiding and fishing for salmon, trout and steelhead in Northern California and Southern Oregon rivers. He also has many associates who work with him and/or guide on other waters in this region. To learn more please visit or contact him at or at 707-616-1905.

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german brown trout in Modoc creek.
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