How to Paint a Fishing Rod

How to Paint a Fishing Rod

Whether you are wanting to paint a new fishing rod blank or restore an old pole, the steps to painting a fishing rod are very similar. The materials you will need are also similar. Some things to keep in mind while painting a fishing rod includes safety. Be sure you have plenty of ventilation or wear a painter’s mask to protect your lungs from the inhalation of the paint fumes. Wearing eye protection is important as well.

Materials Needed to Paint a Fishing Rod

There are many materials needed to paint a fishing rod. These materials are easily found and are versatile. 


You will need a primer if your paint is not a two-n-one. You should look for a white lacquer. Duplicolor is a great brand to use. 


Here is where the creativity comes through. There are several types of paint that will work when painting a fishing rod. You can use spray paint or airbrush. We prefer aerosol spray paint. Duplicolor isn’t just a brand you can choose for primer but it is also a sufficient paint brand. Duplicolor dries faster than the other two types of paint and it is similar to lacquer.

Automotive paint is designed to last and available in a wide range of colors. You may not need a topcoat of gloss when using automotive paint because it already has a gloss finish. Plastikote is our suggested brand of automotive paint. You can also use Krylon. Krylon is versatile and available in a variety of colors. You won’t need a primer if you use Krylon as there is already one built in. It is long lasting and resistant to chipping. One downfall of Krylon is that it takes a while to dry. 

Scuff Pad

It is important to clean off existing paint or coatings on the rod before you paint it. To do this, you will need a scuff pad. We prefer the Scotch Red Scuff pad.

Clear Top Coat

The clear top coat can be optional. As we stated earlier, if the paint has a glossy finish, you don’t have to use a top coat. It is a good idea, however, to use it because it will help make the paint job more durable. We like Max2K Gloss Clearcoat for painting fishing rods.

Paint Stripper

If the rod you are painting already has paint on it, you will need a paint stripper to get the paint off. The new paint will not stick on the old paint. We like Citristrip and Rustoleum paint strippers. If you are painting a rod blank, you should not need a paint stripper.

Other Materials

As we mentioned before, you will need some safety materials such as a painter’s mask, eye protection, or a tarp or newspaper to protect the surface you are applying the paint on. You will also need a way to stand your rod up vertically so that it is not touching any surfaces while being painted. This can be done by hanging on a string or setting the rod in a brick or block.

Steps to Paint a Blank Rod

Before getting started, set your rod up so that all sides of the rod can be painted at one time. This can be done by standing it up in a brick or block. You could also hang it from a ceiling, limb, or beam. Once you have set the rod up, you are ready to start the process of painting the blank rod.

Step 1: Lightly Sand Rod

When you begin, you will need to use the scuff pad to sand the fishing rod. The goal in this step is to remove the gloss coating on the rod. You want to dull the shine on the rod.

Step 2: Wipe Down

After you have sanded the rod, you will want to wipe the rod down with a rag of some sort. You will want to remove as much sanding dust as possible so the primer will stick to the rod.

Step 3: Prime

This step can be skipped if your paint has a built in primer. If it doesn’t have a primer, you will want to prime your rod. Spray the primer onto the rod in light coats. You will need to use 2-3 coats and let it dry at least 4 hours before painting.

Step 4: Sand

After you have primed the rod, sand it again. The surface of the rod needs to be sanded so the paint has somewhere to attach. After you have sanded, wipe the dust off again. This time, be sure to get all the dust as you want a smooth application of the paint. 

Step 5: Paint

Now is the time to start painting. Apply the paint with even coats. It is better to do multiple even, thin coats than a couple of thick coats that don’t dry evenly. Wait at least 20 minutes between each coat and allow to dry overnight when all coats have been applied. Keep in mind, the more paint you put on the rod, the more the rod will be affected. It can affect flexibility and sensitivity.

paintbrush for fishing rod

Step 6: Add Clear Coat

Much like the primer step, this step may not be needed. If your paint has a gloss finish, you will not need to add a clear coat. However, we strongly recommend adding a clear coat either way because it will add extra protection and durability.

Once the clear coat dries, you are ready to move onto the next step to making your blank rod usable.

Steps to Repainting a Fishing Rod

You might be asking, “Why would someone repaint a fishing rod?” Repainting a fishing rod may be done if you are trying to restore an old rod or if you don’t like the color of a rod you currently have. If you are looking at repainting a fishing rod, you will follow many of the same steps as painting a blank rod. 

Step 1: Remove Guides

Unlike painting a blank rod, you will need to take the guides off the rod you want to repaint. This will allow an even coat of paint to be applied. It will also prevent paint on the guides that can tear up your fishing line. 

Step 2: Strip the Old Paint

After removing the guides, you will need to strip the old paint. This can be done with a paint stripper or with the scuff pad. Removing the paint will allow the new paint to stick more permanently.

For steps 3-7, follow the same steps as if painting a blank rod. Don’t forget to stand your rod up vertically to be able to get all the way around it. 

Step 3: Wipe Down

You will want to wipe down the rod to ensure all dust and paint stripper is removed from the rod. 

Step 4: Prime

Apply 1-2 coats for a more even and smooth paint job. 

Step 5: Sand

Sand lightly to create a rough surface for the paint to stick to. 

Step 6: Paint

Apply light, even coats throughout the rod. Prevent smudges and dripping. Apply 3-4 coats with 20 minutes in between each coat.

Step 7: Add a Clear Coat

Just like painting a rod blank, we suggest adding a clear coat to keep the rod durable and protected.


Keep in mind that changing the paint on a rod will affect the performance of the rod. It may become less sensitive and less flexible. If by any means, we suggest leaving the original paint and only painting rod blanks. So whether you are repainting an old rod or painting a rod blank, we hope you find this guide useful. Remember, use your safety precautions and the best of luck!

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