For three days he held their attention. Chuck DeRemer is excellent at it, combining a thorough knowledge of fishing rod construction with the enthusiasm of those eager to construct a custom-made fishing rod of their own.
DeRemer is the owner of Chuck's Custom Rods of Fargo. He's been building fishing rods for several years and teaching "how to" classes for the past six. When approached by the Northwest Anglers fishing club of Minot about teaching a class he readily agreed. The three-day class was held March 21-23 at the North Central Research and Extension Center south of the city.
"I took this class a couple of years ago and did nothing with it. A friend of mine wanted me to take it so I could show him," said Bruce Bolyard, Minot. "It's great. You learn so much. It's a wealth of information. The guy's very knowledgeable."
Chuck DeRemer, Chuck’s Custom Rods of Fargo, explains the performance of a fishing rod in relationship to the placement of line guides.
Brandon Reichen-berger, Minot, determines where to place line guides on a custom-made fishing rod.
Members of the Northwest Anglers were among those attending a custom rod building class held in Minot last weekend.
Other participants knew that too. They listened carefully to what DeRemer had to say and watched closely as he demonstrated the various aspects of a fishing rod, carefully explaining the importance of proper construction. DeRemer pointed out the differences between a commercially made fishing rod and the custom-made variety.
"Most fishermen don't pay much attention to how a rod is built," said DeRemer. "They think what they buy is real quality, but that's just not the case. You have to understand how to look for a good fishing rod."
For many anglers, a store-bought rod is good enough, maybe even worth bragging about. However, says DeRemer, there's nothing on the shelf that can match the performance of a properly constructed custom fishing rod.
"There are several things that go into it. You can design a rod to your specific needs and make it a good fit," explained DeRemer. "You can build a really nice rod that casts better than most commercial blanks."
DeRemer uses St. Croix blanks for his top-end custom made rods. During classes he points out the differences between commercial fishing rods and those his students will make on their own. One of the biggest items, says DeRemer, is the number of line guides on a fishing rod.
"The purpose of a fishing rod is to take the stress from the line and spread it over that blank, so the guides transfer that stress from the line to the blank," explained DeRemer.
The veteran rod builder's rule of thumb is that the number of guides on any fishing rod should be at least one more than the number of feet the fishing rod is long. In other words, a 7-foot fishing rod should have no less than eight line guides, and that doesn't include the tip-top or end guide. DeRemer reinforces his theory with demonstrations using store-bought and custom-made fishing rods. The difference quickly becomes clear to class participants.
"Just listening, you learn a lot of fascinating things," said Brandon Reichenberger, Minot, a class participant. "I've been a fisherman pretty much my whole life and figured it would be a good time to come and learn. Fishing with something you build would be kind of a rewarding thing."
"It's fun seeing guys finish their own fishing rods," said DeRemer. "It's a huge reward and they feel good about it. They can hardly wait to go fishing."
Baitcasting rods and reels may not be as popular in North Dakota as they are in other part of the United States. They are not popular with DeRemer either, at least not in the normal sense.
While DeRemer professes to using baitcasting reels, he does so with baitcasting rods that are unlike any you'll find on display in tackle stores. DeRemer's custom-made baitcasting rods come with a twist literally.
"The problem with baitcaster rods is that they are, generally, very poorly made in commercial versions. The blanks are the same as the spinning rods but the way they are put together, with guides all on top, creates pressure and torque twisting around in your rod," said DeRemer. "A spiral wrap is amazing."
A spiral wrap refers to the placement of line guides on a custom-made baitcasting rod. DeRemer places the first guide in its normal position on the top of the rod. However, ensuing guides are placed to the side and then underneath the baitcasting rod. The unusual guide placement assures that force applied by a fish will pull the rod down in a natural manner rather than require a solid grip by the fisherman to keep a baitcasting rod with traditional line guides from turning over.
"You don't want to be fighting that rod more than the fish," reasoned DeRemer. "Fishing is supposed to be fun, not work. Why not enjoy it?"
The spiral wrap guides do not impede casting. In fact, says DeRemer, they actually improve casting in most instances.
"You want a balanced rod. It will perform so nice," says DeRemer. "People will find that they are not grabbing with their hands so tight."
Chris Augustin of Minot, a founding member of the Nodak Anglers, has taken DeRemer's classes several times. He was attending again last weekend.
"It's amazing how much you can learn," said Augustin. "You can save a little money building you own rod and make a better fishing rod than you can buy. At the very least, you have a better idea of what to look for in a rod at the store."