Walton fishing rod maker crafts works of art

July 12, 2011

A close up of one of McCall's plaid designs. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Lifelong love of fishing reflected in craftsmanship

There are fishing poles and there are well-made rods designed to reel in a prize fish. Custom fishing rod maker Jeff McCall of Freeport knows the difference, and it is reflected in his hand made, colorful fiberglass reinforced custom rod designs.

Born in DeFuniak Springs, McCall has been fishing the area waters since he was 13-years-old. Growing up in Destin along the harbor, McCall began his fishing days on The Big Red with his uncle Bob McCall and business partner Ken Dukes.

“They would sell insurance four days a week, fish two and play golf one, all depending on the weather,” McCall quipped.

McCall’s father, Bert, managed Destin lumber during Jeff’s youth. Hoping off the bus after school, instead of heading straight to the store, Jeff was often sidetracked, stopping at A&J Custom Rods and learning the fine art of rod building. He would watch “Papa” Joy Dunlap and his partner Al Clark craft out custom rods for local charter boat captains.

Fascinated with the craft, McCall became inspired down the road to make custom rods himself. With years of fishing under his belt, McCall eventually created what he calls a “bulletproof design” for grouper, snapper and amberjack fishing.

Using ornate threadwork as well as abalone and carbon fiber inlays make McCall’s rods unique and sturdy. His rods can be found aboard Tommy Browning’s “Finest Kind,” Kelly Windes “Sunrise” in Destin and Jody Wesley’s Grayton Beach Charter boat.

“Jeff makes some of the best poles I have ever used,” captain Jody Wesley said. “He does a great job and every pole is spun right.”

McCall creates both salt and fresh water rods in a variety of custom sizes and design, with prices starting at $200.00.

To learn more about Jeff McCall’s work and his business S&M Rods, you can contact him at (850) 830-9558 or send him an email at hunkyfish@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook under S M Custom Rods.