Custom rod maker mixes humor with work

IMG 6316This rod bites!

That was the impression one gets when they hold the custom rattlesnake rod made by former tournament angler and North Texas fishing guide turned custom rod maker Ron Grantham.

“That rod took a while because I looked for the right sized snake head,” he said. “I had a couple of guys hunting for them, but they just couldn’t get the correct size, so I found a polymer statue and cut the head off. But everything else is real rattlesnake.”

It’s customs like the rattlesnake rod that is getting Grantham noticed, but his regular custom fishing rods also put fish in the boat — something that keeps clients coming back.

Grantham had to stop guiding and fishing because of a bad back. But that didn’t stop him from finding a way to stay connected to the sport he loved.

So he and his wife, Tina, decided to start a rod-building company out of their home in Greenville.

The result was Reel Time Custom Rods, and after two years in business, business is picking up.

“I started this two years ago after being a guide on Lake Fork,” Grantham said. “It makes me feel good to put a rod in someone’s hand. When they catch a 10-pound bass, I feel like I had something to do with it.”

Grantham starts his rods with a blank, and can custom design just about anything for a client — including the rod with a rattlesnake head and snakeskin wraps.

Along with the rattlesnake rod, Grantham has built several other customs including a rod with a real pistol on the handle, camouflage rods, college team rods and even incorporated a shotgun shell for the end of the handle on several rods.

Grantham said the thing that separates his company from others is he can take a blank and totally change anything on the rod to fit the customer’s specifications.

“I can come up with a blank comparable to any other rods,” he said. “A lot of guys send me the reel they are going to use and we can weight it and balance it perfectly on the rod. We get a handle system in place and then start doing guide work.

“And we use all-American products here.”

Grantham said each custom rod takes about 15 hours for him to complete, and he’s been staying busy as word gets out about his rods. His custom rods start at around $150.

“December was our busiest month we’ve ever had and it hasn’t slowed down since,” he said. “We also do a lot of repairs .”

But do his rods catch fish?

According to current Lake Fork guide and Reel Time pro-staffer Andrew Grills, they do.

“I like everything about these rods,” Grills said. “It’s very special to get a rod exactly the way I want it. They are very light and sensitive. There just isn’t anything I don’t like about them.”

Each of Grantham’s rods come with a serial number in two places on the rod, and has helped catch thieves who have stolen the rods out of angler’s boats.

Tina Grantham said she never imagined they could make a living by making their own rods.

“I never really thought about it being a business,” she said. “I really thought, ‘Oh good, now he’s not going to be spending as much money on his own rods.’”

Grantham said the only advertising for his rods are by word of mouth and Facebook, but word is getting around.

“We love the sport and we love the people,” he said. “I just wanted to stay a part of it.”

Visit for a complete list of Grantham’s custom rods.