An interview with Richard Cake of Dorset Fishing Rods (custom rod builder)

One of the nicest guys you could hope to meet, Richard Cake is an utterly obsessed angler as well as a rather awesome custom rod builder, and I am so pleased to be able to report that he has decided to go full time with his unique rod building skills. He has just launched a new website (check here), so I thought it would be interesting to you tackle junkies (not me of course!!) if I put an interview up here that I have just done with Richard. I would like to wish him the absolute best of luck with his new venture. Not many anglers I know have landed two double figure bass in one day, on lures, from the shore. Read on…….

Richard, thanks for agreeing to the interview. Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be going at your custom rod building full time.

"As a family we had found that the work I was doing was creating more and more time away from home, which wasn’t great as not really seeing my family grow up. So, a decision was made for a change in lifestyle and what was almost a full time occupation before rod building turned into a full time vocation. I started rod building as a hobby some years back now doing odd repairs for friends, this then led onto me searching out other blanks for personal use as bass lure rods, as they say, the rest is history!

I live in a great part on England, Dorset where we have the Jurassic Coast to fish, open beaches and brilliant rivers like the Stour and Avon. I enjoy winter river fishing for chub, especially fishing matches with Gillingham and District Angling Association.  

When the bass have moved on I turn my lure fishing to freshwater, but alongside this saltwater HRF & LRF.

I have quite an addiction with the ‘shiny things’ in life, can’t help myself, but I have been told that have enough lures now and don’t need anymore! I don’t think my wife understands……"

What’s the process with an angler getting in touch with you and inquiring about a custom built fishing rod? How do you start down the road with them towards them ending up with a unique fishing rod?

"I can be contacted via my website ‘contact form’, email, phone call or text. I have quite openly admitted that I have not always been the easiest of person to contact; but now I am full time rod building this will no longer be the case.

Contact Form: http://www.dorsetfishingrods.co.uk/contact/

Initially I’ll try to find out what the customer is hoping to use the rod for, types of lures, ground they fish, length and casting weights, etc. Quite often people have looked through pictures of rods on my Facebook page, website or have tried other people’s rods, which is great, as they have some idea of what they can expect. The new website is full of information and pictures to help give some background information before they make contact.

A custom rod is exactly that, the reel seat is set to the customer’s perfect length, balanced to match the reel they use which is a priority to make the rod feel as light as possible due to how we spend our time with a rod in our hands for hours. Components chosen to match what they want and last but not least colours of choice to match on thread wraps."

Rod Information: http://www.dorsetfishingrods.co.uk/rod-blanks/

I know that you source and sell T-Russell rod blanks as well as your custom rod building, but now that you are full time at this, will you be looking to expand your range of blanks?

"Yes I do source other manufacturers blanks such as: St Croix, Century, Harrisons Advanced Rods, Batsons and Pacific Bay.

Each companies blanks have their uses, some may be more traditional in there feel and others are suited to singular use like perfect for soft plastics, but rods are a very personal choice to an individual and what suits one person may not be the favourite for another."

Bass Lure Rods: http://www.dorsetfishingrods.co.uk/bass-lure-rods/

I imagine that with the knowledge you have, you must surely be looking to design your own range of lure fishing blanks?

"This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while and hopefully it may become reality. My passion is with bass lure fishing and this is where I will most probably start, then into the other lure fishing styles.

I can’t say much more on this at present as I still have more research to do, but fingers crossed it will happen!"

Tell me a bit about working with Chesil Bait & Tackle. I understand you are in there most weekends and it must be a great place to talk about lure fishing tackle and pick your brains about lures, methods and of course custom rod building?

"I have been friends with the owners, Mike, Andy, Gill & Mandy ever since they opened the shop a few years back now. Every weekend would see me visiting the shop looking for new ‘shiny things’! So as I took the plunge to go it on my own with the rods they offered for me to work in the shop at weekends and do the shops rod repairs, how could I refuse…….all those ‘shiny things’ hanging up and I get to look through the catalogues and have input with lures for the shop.

It really is a great place to work (almost doesn’t feel like work), friendly atmosphere and always able to talk fishing, whether it’s about tackle, techniques or rod building.  

One of the best things is being able to get some information on new things that could be coming from overseas, just wish we could have better supplies of JDM tackle for us in the UK at reasonable prices.

If things go to plan for the future I hope to have a small range of rods available for sale from the shop."

Chesil Bait 'N' Tackle: http://www.chesilbaitntackle.co.uk/

If a client comes to you with a rod blank, can you give me a rough idea of your rod building charges, bearing in mind of course that you can offer so many different options as regards the components? And what’s the price of a “standard” lure rod that you might offer, as in blank plus custom build?

"There is no straight forward answer for the first part of the question to costs as it’s due to the components that someone would choose this can vary greatly just from the type of rod guides requested to go on a rod.

To answer the second part of the question a standard build could be described as the following for an 8ft6” original bass lure rod:

Split grip high density Japanese EVA, Matagi custom rod components (choice of colours ), Fuji IPS or VSS reel seat & Pacific Bay minima 4 rod guides in TiCH/TiCH ( titanium carbide coating over marine grade stainless steel frames ) - £289

The price of this could be less if a Fuji DPS screw winch seat was used, no split grip and no EVA screw cap and the opposite to increase price if Fuji ‘K’ guides were required in SiC or Torzite."

And talking about components, please tell me a bit about your preferred rings and reel seats.

"Rod guides are a very personal choice for individuals, but on almost all of my rods I have the Pacific Bay minima 4 single leg guides in TiCH/TiCH, I have been using them ever since they appeared on the UK market. The liner is pressed around the frame so no ceramic to crack, chip or break; which ultimately means that no expensive braid is going to get shredded and may save a lure going out to sea on a cast due to guide failure. They are extremely light which is what I aim for in the build of a rod, keeping the tip light and not destroying the action of the blank.

I tend to use and like the Fuji IPS and VSS reel seats with an EVA screw cap for my lure rods; the IPS has a larger profile and wider internal diameter for larger blanks and the VSS has a slimmer I.D and profile. With being a bit of a tackle tart I like to have the painted seats from Matagi in Japan (it helps being the UK distributor), a vast array of colours and they’ll even try to match the colour of a reel or blank to the colours you want!"

When you go fishing yourself, what rods do you use?

"Spoilt for choice, but my normal rod is the T-Russell 9ft6” rod. This length and casting weight of 8-28g has served me well being very versatile and can cover everything that I do. It covers what I need in the areas that I fish, hitting out hard plastics and working sp’s like the fiiish minnow. If I know I’m going for a short session of surface work I may switch to the 8ft6” T-Russell being slightly lighter and easier to work surface lures.

These rods are closely followed by The St Croix Legend Elite blanks, but I’d choose the 9ft blank as it can slot in between the two T-Russell blanks."

What do you think makes a good lure rod for our bass fishing?

"I favour the Japanese style of fast action lure rods, I like a rod that bends and gives you the pleasure of fighting a fish so that you see the rod curve over into it. For most of my fishing I require a fast action rod especially for surface work, can’t think of anything worse than trying to work a surface lure and you’re having to wait for the tip to recover!

There is no one rod that will do everything for me, but a few come close and I’m not the type to carry two rods so a small compromise I can live with."

Right, enough about rod building for the moment. Favourite place or area to go lure fishing, and what’s your most memorable fish? I have a feeling I know the answer!!

"I love Dorset and the many differing waters to fish from rock marks, open beaches and harbours, but something special happened last autumn (2014). I fished the Irish Bass Festival last summer for the first time and blanked, so a planned was hatched to return to the same area in the autumn.

After a few conversations with Cian at Absolute Fishing in Tramore, we decided to go in weather that wasn’t in our favour. I’d blanked for 2 days and watched Mark take a 13lb6oz bass on a surface lure……Eager with anticipation and wanting to catch we were into our last day of the trip, just before we were about to move onto another mark Martin took a fine bass which then changed our plan!

Red Letter Day: I hooked into what was a personal best fish of 11lb on the fiiish Black Minnow, blown away, in shock dreaming, I’d done it! But this wasn’t the end, followed that fish with a 7lb8oz before beating my earlier 11lb bass with one of 11lb8oz’s! In between this was another fish of around 3lb.

Thanks to Richard and Joe for the use of these photos. Some fish!!

Thanks to Richard and Joe for the use of these photos. Some fish!!

Ireland has always been a special place for me as I have family on the west coast and up until last year I hadn’t been over for a while, so who knows what this year will bring?

A return this year for the Irish Bass Festival and hopefully another trip in the autumn."

Your three favourite lures, and I know that like me you have a bit of a problem with the shiny stuff!!

"3 only 3! Where do I start……I have accumulated a collection over the years, and normally  keep a few spares of the ones that have a fatal attraction, to me that is!

To try and make this easy on myself….I’ll break it down to soft plastic, surface and sub-surface, but that’s still a hard question as it depends on conditions? The following 3 are normally always in my lure bag in one colour size or form…….

Soft plastic: Fiiish Black Minnow, 2 doubles in one session why wouldn’t I love it! Versatile, interchangeable heads and bodies. I still have the one that caught the Irish doubles, it's retired now to my workshop!

Surface:  Gunfish! Walk the dog, pop it, two lures in one, but quite often the fatal mistake a lot of people make is to try and work it to hard and fast. An absolute array of colours and sizes to go for. I love surface fishing.

Sub-surface:  Tackle House Feed Shallow, I love the 128 but last year the smaller 105 did well also. Waiting to get my hands on the new 155! This was the hardest one of all to choose."

Check out a review I did a while back of Richard's 9'6'' lure rod here. Best of luck with the new venture Richard. I am heading over to the Orlando based iCast show on Monday, and I will do my best to keep you updated here on the blog. I will be working with the Fiiish people as I did over there last year, but I might just manage to find some time to wander around that huge trade based fishing tackle show and generally fry my brain.