WHAT A CATCH: Fishhead Custom Rods & Tackle Crafts Specialized Equipment
E.C.’s Mike Konzen creates 50-60 custom fishing rods every year for local anglers
Mike Konzen and his family were on a fishing trip in Belize a few years back, and everything seemed fairly normal. Beautiful weather on the water, wholesome family vibes all around, and fish were biting at increasing regularity when suddenly a 70-pound greater amberjack bit down on his youngest daughter’s fishing rod – and a battle began. After wrestling with the mighty fish, a neighboring tiger shark got hold of it first, leaving the Konezen family with nothing but the fish’s head to tell the tale. Little did Mike know however that the encounter would leave a lasting impression.
By day Mike owns and operates Employers Benefit Group LLC, an insurance agency to which he has devoted his professional career. But by night (and whenever else he has free time), he is fishing, thinking about fishing, or building fishing-related things. That is where his side business Fishhead Custom Rods & Tackle comes in: His hobby of building custom fishing rods blossomed into making fishing equipment for other lovers of the sport.
“I love my work, but it isn’t always conducive to being out and about,” Konzen said. “Rather than sitting on a couch in my spare time, I found it was more productive to do something with my hands that someone else was going to appreciate for a long time to come. It’s important to me to be able to create something that someone might even pass on to a loved one. It’s a much better use of time for me than watching television.”
“It’s important to me to be able to create something that someone might even pass on to a loved one. It’s a much better use of time for me than watching television.” –MIKE KONZEN, FISHHEAD CUSTOM RODS & TACKLE
Fishhead Custom Rods & Tackle cast itself into the Chippewa Valley fishing scene in 2018, and since then has supplied 50-60 rods to local fishermen every year. Konzen specializes in handcrafting fly fishing rods, ice fishing rods for various species, musky rods, sportfishing rods, and even a few bits of tackle when someone inquires for one.
Each rod Mike crafts starts with a quality blank made up of fiberglass, graphite, or other materials the buyer requests. From there he crafts a wide assortment of rods, ranging in size from 30 inches long, all the way to 10-foot rods for certain fishing conditions. Each rod is built to different customizable specifications, influencing the pricing of his creations to range anywhere from $50 to $400, depending on the job.
“When I was a kid, it didn’t matter what you fished with, because just being able to fish was great,” Konzen said. “But when I got older, and I was at the age where mom and dad weren’t buying the rods anymore, I recognized building the rods I’d like to use to fish was a worthwhile venture. It then morphed into building rods for others, and it has spread from there after seeing how happy they made people.”
A deep love for fishing has been a constant for Konzen since his formative years. When he thinks back to his early years of sitting on the end of a dock with a pail for caught perch in northern Ontario, Canada, with his grandfather, his love for the craft has only grown since then. Now with a family of his own, and a hobby of spreading that love for the craft to others, he said the comfort of capturing aquatic dwellers is something he finds solace in every day, and will for the rest of his life.
“There’s a sense of solitude fishing creates that is really comforting,” Konzen said. “That sense of comfort can then be shared with others at times, and it can create a sense of family and a perpetuation of traditions. It affords an opportunity to spend valuable time with people, or alone, and you can’t find that in many other aspects of life.”
For more information on Fishhead Custom Rods & Tackle, visit their Facebook page facebook.com/fishhead-custom-rods-tackle.