Ken Bellaire, the owner and founder of Hogman’s Custom Rods, is a passionate fisherman. In addition to competitive fishing, he finds the sport to be an ideal way to spend time in nature with family and friends. Part of his success on the lake is his knowledge of, and ability to build, custom rods – something he has done since 2012. Now, what started as a hobby has turned into a full-time business building rods, retailing high quality parts, and empowering other fishermen.
“I started building a few rods friends. Word of mouth spread and now I do this full time,” says Bellaire. He goes on to explain how he turned a challenge into an opportunity. “Hogman’s evolved to include an online product store last year after it became extremely difficult to get items delivered out of the USA.”
With a custom rod build, every component is considered. He builds to suit each client’s style: the type of fish they are going for; the power, speed and action required for that fish species; the water body type (lake, river, stream); the client’s budget; portability, storage and more are all taken into account. From there he builds the rod from scratch, choosing the handle (cork, foam, carbon fibre, custom hybrid), the guides (double or single foot), the frame (stainless steel or titanium), the ring (Aluminum Oxide, SiC), the reel seat (graphite, aluminum, or compressed carbon), the trim and the finish. The result? A rod incredibly specific to the user and the fish species – and an elevated, more enjoyable and productive fishing experience every time.
“Making a custom rod is a process,” Bellaire admits. “From the inception, it is all about communication with the client. From choosing components to thinking about the colours, a custom rod is one-of-a kind from start to finish. Custom rods are ultimately far superior in performance and most definitely in esthetics.”
Sometimes what goes into the rod transcends the customized materials in an even more personalized way.
Bellaire explains, “I was commissioned to do a rod for a man who lost a close friend. I kept it very simple but tried hard to capture the essence of the man who passed. It took me a long time, because I wanted to get it right. It had to be a representation of the man. One of the most moving things that has ever happened to me was that the guy who commissioned it cried when I gave it to him. He was moved by something that I created and said that I did exactly what I set out to do. This was one of my greatest achievements and I will forever be grateful that I was able to give that to him.”
For Bellaire, whether he is building a summer or winter rod, a gift for the fisherman in your life, or the rod that will help you sweep your next tournament, one thing is for certain: that rod is built with experience, passion, and will always be one-of-a-kind. You will be the only person that can wield the rod to its full potential. Kind of your own sword-in-the-stone moment, if you will.
But it’s about more than custom rods. Hogman’s supports other builders and anyone looking for quality parts. Bellaire’s online store has a selection of blanks, reels, grips, guides, tip tops, and reel seats that he ships to customers locally and abroad. He has developed relationships with manufacturers so he can offer specialized parts traditionally reserved for wholesale buyers. With Hogman’s, you can get the part you need without a quantity minimum.
He’s not stopping there.
Bellaire is developing a workshop to teach others how to build custom rods. This is a small-group, pandemic-safe experience that will engage any serious fisher’s desire to take their hobby to the next level. However, no experience is needed. Anyone can sign up – it’s a great Father’s or Mother’s Day gift, a way to check out a new hobby, a date night experience; the workshop is accessible to all.
For Bellaire, the passion is not just about fishing. It’s about the connection between you and nature. The time you spend bonding with friends and family. The efficiency in a humane catch. The thrill of competition. It’s all there on the lake, river, or stream. Bringing a custom rod to the experience or building your own with direct access the best parts on the market? Well, that’s the cherry on top.