A Glass Fanatic's Guide to Buying a New, Fiberglass Fly Rod

Few fly shops stock fiberglass. Like it or not, glass fanatics must be skilled at internet shopping and phone/mail order. Thankfully, the majority of sales occur without a hitch. However, rods get lost/damaged in the mail, parts go out of stock, and builders have, er, um, cough..., issues. Unfortunately, the FFR admins can't ensure a problem transaction is made right. We recommend that you limit your risk before you buy. Because there is no Better Business Bureau for rod builders, we offer this buying guide.


Order a factory glass rod through your local fly shop.

A Safe Bet

Buy an in-stock, finished rod from a custom shop/builder.

A Custom Build

Commission a rod to be built on an in-stock blank with in-stock parts.

Gotta Have Some Trust

Place a deposit on a custom rod to be completed in the future (or ship a rod blank to a builder).

Too Much Trust

Payment in full for a rod to be completed sometime in the future.


Don't be afraid to call/e-mail your builder. Discuss your expectations with regards to rod action, feel, fittings, colors, and delivery. Follow up with a letter or e-mail detailing your requests. Ask your builder for a clear, written communication describing the build schedule, the deposit and payment schedule, the return policy, shipping details, and warranty. For a commissioned, custom rod, a signed letter of agreement from the builder is wise.


If at all possible, use PayPal. PayPal is the standard for internet purchases. In addition, PayPal offers a superlative record keeping system for both buyers and sellers. Most importantly, PayPal offers buyer's protection. However, PayPal disputes must be initiated within 180 days of the payment date, not the delivery date. If your rod does not arrive by the promised date, initiate a PayPal dispute. After the dispute is filed, the buyer and seller have 20 days to settle or escalate the dispute to a claim. If the rod arrives before the dispute period ends, the dispute is closed without consequence to the buyer or seller. Don't accept e-mails, promises, or excuses in lieu of your fly rod. File the PayPal dispute if the promised delivery is missed. DO NOT WAIT! Escalate it to a claim if the builder still does not deliver. While credit cards offer similar protection, many small builders are not able to accept them.

Delivery and Returns

Insist on insured delivery with a tracking number. Before you buy, ask your builder about his return policy, including the length of inspection time, acceptable reasons for a return, and what portion of the price is refundable. If the rod is damaged in transit notify the builder and file an insurance claim immediately. Like PayPal, shippers impose time limits on insurance claims.