Fish & Rod Stories | You Should Have Been There

Dan Kiefer testing the Crown Jewel

Although I had refurbished, restored, or repaired dozens of bamboo rods and vintage glass rods, I was still left with a dilemma, the rods remained relative ‘things of beauty’ and were rarely used by their new owners. I wanted to build rods people would use. I thought why not build new hi-tech graphite fly rods. Moving on to building Custom Rods I expressed my creativity and passion for fly rods, almost exclusively with Baston Rainshadow RX7 blanks.

I broadened my horizon soon after joining the Metro West Steelheaders club. I began to think about fishing the Great Lakes in a hi-tech fashion; my research began in earnest leading towards spiral trolling rods. At the International Custom Rod Builder Expo in High Point North Carolina, my wife and I met Karry and Bill Batson, (Batson Enterprises). We both found the conversation with the two of them fascinating. I was inspired to take their advice to build my first “spiral” rod. I picked up two Rainshadow (RDR86MH and RDR96MH) blanks and built two spiral trolling rods for the Great Lakes. The first rod was nicknamed The Crown Jewel by Eric Braden when he first saw it.

crown jewel test

The Crown Jewel Spiral Rod was put to the test during the Fall of 2010. September 9-11, 2010 I lent the rod to Captain Henry Nabors and Dan Keifer on “The Alternative”. With their wives Nancy and Heidi, they put it to the test during a club tournament on Lakes Charlevoix and Michigan.

“This is a beautiful area and the lake structure is outstanding. You can get to 350' of water within a couple of miles. There are lots of drop-offs right out from the harbor. It is a super place to have a late year tournament. One of the nice things about the location is that you have Lake Charlevoix at hand in case there is a blow day on the big lake.” Henry

On Friday they headed out on Lake Michigan out of Charlevoix; and although they marked lots of fish, they had trouble finding 55 degree water. That morning Dan landed a 13.5 pound King Salmon 100’ down in 230’ of water. Not bad for a christening. Dan said it was his favorite rod for the day, and claimed the rod as his for the duration of the trip.

testing the crown jewel

"It was a great moment. We felt like we had properly christened your nice rod when we landed that big guy! That was one of two big kings that both came to the boat still hotter than a firecracker. Netting the big kings is just as much fun as bringing them in on the rod. It was dicey to the last second - that fish was going to wind up in the cooler." Dan

Saturday they missed first place by .3 pounds or 1/8 inch. Then Sunday were forced back into Lake Charlevoix by the weather and caught more fish, including a 10 pound catfish on the spiral rod.

“We sure had a diversified weekend; Kings 4 for 42 pounds, Steelhead 2 for 16, Lakers 2, a Walleye, a Bass, and the Catfish!” Henry

In the end all I can hope for is that my custom rods will help the fisherman say their favorite words “Fish On”.