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Craftsmanship Behind Building a Fishing Rod: with Jacob Wheeler & Duckett Fishing
Take a dive behind-the-scenes to get a look at how the magic happens when Jacob Wheeler and Duckett Fishing join forces to craft a rod series. We’re pulling back the curtain to reveal our process, from the idea to full production, for designing pro-driven fishing rods.
Step 1: Plotting for Success – This process begins with making decisions on which rod lengths, powers, and actions to create in a series. These choices are informed by expert feedback from endorsed Duckett Fishing pro anglers, like Jacob Wheeler, as well as our customers and fans.
“We’re not just tossing ideas around here. It’s about figuring out what really works when you’re out on the water chasing bass,” spills Sean, VP and Product Developer. “We’re strategists, setting the stage for what might give our tournament anglers an edge.”
“For the Select Series, you think of that really serious tournament angler. Originally, we designed the signature series to be a rod that was affordable while being useful for a variety of series. For the Select Series, I wanted to tailor each rod toward the serious/tournament angler, more dialed in to those nuances that can stack up to combine a big impact for tournaments. Jacob plays a large role in this process; nobody knows the feel of a rod in any given scenario like he does”
Once our lineup is decided, we move on to the construction of the rods.
Step 2: Weight & Sensitivity Game – We’re on the hunt for that sweet spot between weight, sensitivity, and durability. No one wants a rod that feels like lugging a brick. And at the same time, there is a fine line between durability and sensitivity. We’re picky about the materials because we know you’re picky about your gear, so we always opt for the most lightweight and sensitive rod we can possibly build at any price point.
We use a mix of high modulus graphite and carbon, providing strength without the weight. High-modulus graphite, the secret sauce for sensitivity, lets you feel the faintest bites and structure underwater. These materials are meticulously folded into the rod’s construction, creating a seamless blend of strength and responsiveness.
“For me, when developing a rod, it’s about how much the balance of your rod impacts performance. It’s about reducing the negative impact, and having a well-balanced rod gives you confidence. You can throw a bait and immediately know what’s right and wrong. Length plays a large part in this as well, allowing you to play with that balance. Balance is crucial for getting the most out of your rod, and the weight can bear down after a long day.” adds Jacob Wheeler.
“Sensitivity was really important – it is crucial to have an extra sensitive rod when fishing certain techniques. I’ve seen more fish spit out a bait in the last 3 years than the last 10 years. I need to know if a bass grabs a swimbait and spits it out because securing that hookup is extremely important.”
Step 3: Learning from Other Series – “You can’t design a killer rod from behind a desk. Jacob’s out there, getting his hands wet, and we’re right there with him. It’s a get-your-hands-dirty kind of deal,” shares Sean.
The largest contributors to our rod development are our pro anglers. They’re on the water daily, learning the ins and outs of every rod they touch. They provide us feedback on weight, balance, sensitivity, tapers, bends, strength, and more that they learn throughout their practice days and tournaments. With Jacob Wheeler’s Signature Series rod line in the 5th year of its lifespan, Jacob has valuable knowledge and input that helps us improve in every facet of a rod’s design.
Step 4: Prototyping in Action – “Prototyping is about getting down and dirty. Bend boards, balance boards – we’re tossing stuff around, testing it on the water. If it doesn’t cut it, back to the drawing board we go,” laughs Sean.
The design process lasts anywhere from 6 months to multiple years, and for good reason. Our philosophy is to build pro-driven rods, so we’re extremely diligent about making sure every line is crossed before deciding a rod is ready for production. We start with a batch of prototypes for testing, reaching out to valuable anglers like Jacob Wheeler and other pros. Even our local guides in Lake Guntersville and pro staff members on our team provide valuable insights. With each piece of feedback, we make notes and decide on changes for the next batch of prototypes. Then, we rinse and repeat until we’ve landed on something we can no longer improve.
“Every rod is more than just a product; it’s a piece of the legacy we’re building with Jacob Wheeler. It’s fishing to win a tournament every time you step out on the water,” says VP of Product Development, Sean.