Building custom fishing rods is a passion for Todd Spangler. He’s built upwards of a hundred rods in the past ten years…so many that he’s lost count. Like many rod building anglers, Todd knows that a custom rod performs better and feels more comfortable in his hand. The castability of a custom rod is a primary reason Todd prefers to build, rather than buy his rods off the shelf. He feels like he can really get his bait to the fish with his custom creations. Little did he know that building a custom CRB spinning rod would land him in the record books!
It Was a Cold Winter Day…
As with so many fishing tales, this one starts on a cold, quiet morning navigating calm waters. It was February 9th with temperatures in the high thirties, and Todd was popping a Z-man jerk shad on twenty-pound braid. The Lower Neuse River, along the coast of North Carolina, is one of Todd’s favorite fisheries, where he often puts out early in the morning after overnight shifts as a Lab Tech at the local phosphate mine. On this morning, his buddy Josh joined as well, and they didn’t get a single bite in their first hour on the water.
Fought Like a Striper
The two men decided to find a better location and moved to a residential harbor a little further up the river. On his first cast, Todd got a monster hit. While it was common to land seatrout in this part of the Neuse River, Todd was pretty sure he hadn’t hooked one. “It fought different…it never came up”, says Todd. “I was pretty sure I had a striper.” Even when he saw the fish flash below the boat, he thought he had a pretty sturdy striper. But when he finally brought it to the surface, Todd realized he had the largest speckled trout he had ever seen…or caught.
Not realizing that he had pulled in a state record, Todd continued to fish. But his friend Josh was curious and wanted to see how much the trout weighed. Their portable scale was showing 12.52 pounds, and the fish was longer than the 32-inch measuring stick they had on the boat - which prompted Josh to pull up the North Carolina state record stats on his phone. With the existing record listed as 12.25 pounds, the two anglers now realized that they just might have boated the state record! Not trusting their scale, they decided to call it a morning and get official measurements on a certified scale.
Neuse River Bait & Tackle in Grantsboro has a certified scale that showed 12.52 pounds as well. However, Todd waited a few hours for a state biologist to arrive who certified this monster fish as the official North Carolina state record:
- Weight: 12.50 pounds
- Length: 33.50 inches
- Girth: 18.00 inches
Custom Fishing Rods
Todd began building custom fishing rods about ten years ago. He really started enjoying the hobby after taking one of Mud Hole’s Custom Rod Building Classes. He had built two rods before the class and says that the Mud Hole workshop really taught him everything he had done wrong on his first two projects! …and how to do everything right moving forward.
Todd builds rods for himself for specific applications and fisheries, but also enjoys building for friends and for various charities. “I recently built a custom rod for a fundraiser supporting a local man whose house burned down. They auctioned the rod and put the money to good use.”
Todd landed the state record on a custom rod he had built only a couple of weeks prior. This was one of the first times he used the new rod. The record catching rod consists of:
Blank: CRB Color Series (Cool Gray) IS661M
Grips: Spit Grip with Winn Grips (color: Natural)
Reel Seat: Fuji Standard Graphite Spinning Reel Seat
Since landing the North Carolina speckled trout state record, Todd continues to fish and build custom rods. He fileted the record trout and made a few meals out of it. The fish’s ear bones were taken by a state biologist to determine the fish’s age, and he has a replica mount being prepared to commemorate his monumental achievement.
The world record spotted sea trout was caught in 1995 off of Ft. Pierce, FL, weighing in at 17 pounds, 7 ounces. We’re not sure whether Todd Spangler will eventually bag the new world record, but we know that he’ll be out there, after the overnight shift, ready for whatever comes his way with his custom-built fishing rods.