The first thing I would recommend is that you start out simply. Don't try to make your first rod be anything too complicated. I also always suggest that your first efforts should NOT be something so complex as making your own bamboo rod from scratch. It takes a long time to acquire the tools & skills & knowledge to split, plane, & glue a bamboo rod from scratch. Besides, if you still want to make a bamboo rod after your first few synthetic rods, you'll have more knowledge about how they're made by then.
So I suggest your first rod be a graphite or fiberglass rod. That said, you have two ways to go: you can buy one of the many rod kits sold from many retailers, or you can refurbish an old rod.
Starting with a kit rod is the easiest way to go. Most of them include all of the stuff you're going to need to make the rod from guides, thread, the handle, & even the finish to coat the wraps. Most of these kits also include instructions that will help guide you through the process. Everything you need is right there in the box.
I must make one note about these kits: many times the components included in them aren't the best in quality. Often they include cheaper rubber winding checks, lesser quality lines guides, & pre-formed cork grips from lower grade cork. Just be sure to learn what components are included before you buy the kit.
Refurbishing an old rod takes a little more thought & work. You have to decide the guides you'll need (& their sizes), the color & type of thread you want, & assess any other repairs the rod needs. So while you might think that refurbishing an older rod could be the cheaper way to go, you might end up spending even more money in the end by the time you add up the cost of buying all those components individually & any tools you need. This can be a great way to get started, but just be sure you know what you're getting into before you begin.
The biggest challenge facing anyone who is making a rod for the first time is probably going to be wrapping the rod. Here you're going to need to take your time to make sure that you do a good job. I always suggest that you practice - A LOT - on a wooden dowel rod before you start wrapping the rod (& yes, you might have to buy an extra spool of thread). When you're comfortable making wraps on the dowel, then go ahead & wrap the rod. I show you a good way to get started with wraps over on the Tackle Tips page.
That dowel rod with all your practice wraps is also a great place to practice coating the wraps in finish. Mix up a batch of finish & practice coating the wraps on the dowel rod before you try it on the rod. This way you can get a feel for how the finish will spread over the thread.
Do you sense a theme here? Practice, practice, practice!!!
In addition, it won't hurt you to read a couple of books about rod building before you even start putting the rod together. After you've read these books, you'll see that the directions that came with your kit are pretty easy to follow. A couple of good books on the subject include:
-"Handcrafting A Graphite Fly Rod" by L.A. Garcia
-"The Custom Graphite Fly Rod" by Skip Morris
Of course it helps to know a full time rod maker if you run into any problems & need some suggestions. If you don't know a rod maker, contact me with your questions & you will!! I'm always here to help if I can.
As you finish up the work on your first rod, you'll know for certain if you want to continue on with more rods, or if you never want to make another one. Rod making isn't for everybody & that's okay.