Made in the U.P.: Mags Custom Rods

North Central UP

GWINN, Mich. (WJMN) – Pat Magdaleno started making custom fishing rods in his spare bedroom in 2017 now, he employs four full -time employees and has a full shop in Gwinn.

Magdaleno says he started by just making a rod for himself, but realized others might be interested in them too.

“I just couldn’t find the right fishing rod for what I was doing, I was steelhead fishing at the time and I just figured I would make my own and I made one and it caught everyone’s attention and then it just kind of snowballed and here I am almost four years later and it’s a full-time job for me and a few other people,” said Magdaleno.

Custom rods give fishers more options in the weight, length and colors used.

“You can customize them from the top to bottom, different colors, different lengths, different actions, we use high-quality stuff too so and a lot of guys like to you know customize it to whatever color they want some people like loud colors and some people like a classy color,” said Magdaleno.

The first step to making the custom rods is attaching a handle.

“So you just fit it and sometimes you’ll have to tape it so it fits right on the taper of the blank and you glue it and you wait until the next day then you tie the eyes on with a thread,” said Magdaleno.

Handles are glued on and given time to dry before moving on to the next step. Then the eyes are tied on with a thread.

“You tie the hook keep on and you tie you know the guides on,” said Magdaleno. “This is probably the most time-consuming process because we can glue a lot of handles in one day but tying them is where it takes the most time.”

The threads are covered in epoxy next.

“We have our two-part epoxy that has to be perfect otherwise it doesn’t cure right and then we put them onto that and let them sit for about 12 hours then we can shut them off but they won’t fully cure for 24 hours,” said Magdaleno.

Then the rods dry and they are ready for customers to attach a reel and cast away.

“We have a pretty good system here, we have one guy that does all the handle work, two guys that do all the threadwork and then myself and Phil do all the epoxy work and just shipping alone is a job, I try to do all the shipping just so I can get the last look at the rod,” said Magdaleno.

Mags Custom Rods ships across the United States and out of the country. Magdaleno said if it weren’t for online sales it’s likely that COVID-19 would have caused some struggle in the business. On the other side, COVID-19 has meant more people getting outdoors and purchasing equipment.

“90% of our stuff is shipped out, we have rods in like 45 different states right now that we’ve shipped to and a handful of different countries so the online market is huge right now,” said Magdaleno.

He learned most of his rod building knowledge online and at conventions.

“I pretty much, when I first started, it was a lot of youtube and I went to a couple conventions, I went to one in Illinois, I went to one in Minnesota, and I would just go there and just learn how to do it the right way and then a little help from the internet and stuff, and the best thing was trial and error and just doing it myself and making the mistakes and finally now I have it down pretty good,” said Magdaleno.

Sadie Cornish, Magdaleno’s girlfriend, helps out at the shop. They met shortly after Magdaleno began building the rods and Cornish says seeing his passion is motivating.

“It’s been really rewarding watching it grow so big and seeing his passion is really, it’s really motivating actually to see how much, how far he’s come since day one,” said Cornish.

Cornish says she didn’t know much about fishing rods at first, but now she’s built rods for her parents for Christmas and helps with other things around the shop.

“I’ve learned so much from being with Pat and this business, like when he used to talk about these rods and different actions I had no idea but now it’s like you know I can help build a rod too,” said Cornish.

Magdaleno says in 2017 it started as a hobby, but in the past two years things have grown and it doesn’t look like that will stop soon.

“When I was three years old I always told my parents, I’m going to be a professional fisherman or something to do in the industry and just now that I’m 32 it’s happening and it’s pretty awesome to see it really start from nothing just four years ago and now to see people all over the world using my stuff and it’s just awesome it makes me want to work even harder to keep it going,” said Magdaleno.

As for other young people looking to start a business, Magdaleno tells them to work hard and anything can be achieved.

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