Personality Profile

John Miles a local fellow best known as having ‘gone fishin’ ... for 51 years

Posted 3/20/17

With any committed relationship, a great deal of patience and faith has to be involved.

John Miles learned this important sentiment at an early age, as he has been involved in the fishing industry …

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Personality Profile

John Miles a local fellow best known as having ‘gone fishin’ ... for 51 years


With any committed relationship, a great deal of patience and faith has to be involved.

John Miles learned this important sentiment at an early age, as he has been involved in the fishing industry since 1966, 51 years spent on the open waters and helping others be able to lure in some whoppers.

With great mentors and giving his life to Jesus Christ, Miles has been able to stay the course and has made the most of a blessing and passion he was shown at an early age.

He said has lived true to one of his favorite Bible verses from Matthew 4:19, in which Jesus says: “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

“My faith is a part of every minute I am creating fishing rods,” said Miles, who owns J. Miles Custom Rods and works from his home in Cleveland. “I never take this blessing for granted, I am always amazed. Faith has not only been important, but it is the only thing.”

The journey all started for Miles one night after working third shift at a chemical plant in Chattanooga. After his buddy showed him a custom-built Walter Brennan fishing rod, he became interested and became a frequent visitor to Sportsman’s in Ooltewah.

Seeing his love for the sport, the owner of the store and Chattanooga baking, Sam Campbell, Miles was offered a job he could not refuse. At the shop he started to build rods and teach fly-casting and there met lifelong friends who would help shape his desire and expertise for fishing.

“Bill Huntley is 84 and still sharp as a tack and lethal with a fishing rod,” Miles said of his dear friend, who owns TH Marine in Athens, Ala., and has been inducted into two bass fishing halls of fame. “He mentored me and taught me how to fish the way I wanted to. I wanted to catch big smallmouth on a spinner-bait at night. I have fished with him for 35 years and he is the best, in my opinion, to have ever done that.”

Miles, who has attended Westwood Baptist Church his entire life, believes the only way someone reaches a great level in what they love to do is through great mentors. Another, Bill Frost, taught him an important lesson to the tricky sport.

“He taught me the technique [of] how to persevere,” Miles said. “He always told me one more cast, don’t give up, and throw it out there one more time. You can’t get to new levels in life without help. That is why I am so willing to help anyone else move forward.”

The lone operator of his business in a garage work station filled with everything a true fisherman would ever desire, the hard-working married man of 48 years to his wife, Janice, builds each rod with extreme care for his customers.

He builds each rod with sturdiness and durability so that it can be a trusted source of catches for years to come.

“I want to build a rod exactly how the customer wants it,” Miles said. “I listen to their goals and aim then I give them feedback and lead them to the perfect rod. I tell them you fish with it and if it is not perfect, bring it back and we will build another one or two to get what you want. I always make sure they are happy and content.”

With slick graphite handles and featherweight type heaviness in the hand, Miles has some unique designs for his customers.

Coining the phrase “imagination is the limitation,” when it comes to his customers’ choice of designs, Miles has used colors from purple, crimson, pink, lime and orange, to chartreuse and solid black.

He also adds spice to his design as he has sold many collegiate-themed rod wraps to customers and even added a unique one to his inventory.

From the “Power T” and Vols checkerboard to the Alabama Crimson Tide design to his new and unique real snakeskin wraps, customers can build a special, one-of-a-kind rod.

“My rods are built to where those who buy them will catch more fish,” said Miles, who can be contacted for business at 423-479-8808 or at “Fishing is OK, but catching is a lot better,” he quips. “So what we are trying to do is find a way to catch more fish, have fun and make sure what the customer buys from me works for them.”

One of Miles’ prize possessions and rods of choice is called “Slider,” which he helps design as a member of the pro staff for Charlie Brewer’s Slider Company in Lawrenceburg.

“They have a great company with amazing people,” he said. “I have been offered by a lot of companies over the years to do pro staff work, but I have never took anybody on but Charlie Brewer. It is amazing how many people I have fishing that little inch-and-three-quarter bait, and they are catching a lot of fish.”

The joy Miles receives from creating fishing rods and being out himself around some of his favorite spots, such as Nickajack Lake below the Chickamauga Dam, at the river park from Chattanooga State down. He also loves Watts Barr.

“I have probably fished every navigable body of water within 100 miles,” Miles said. “I have been blessed over a long period of time with this great hobby and outdoor sport. All my fish I catch I put back, and it’s good to see people doing that a lot more now. You don’t have to get it mounted for $200, you can get a large picture done at Walgreens for 15 bucks.”

Miles has enjoyed every minute of his blessing and continues to love what he does for a living.

“Every day when I come to work and am building rods I never dread it,” he said. “No day is ever the same. It is never mundane or boring. Like they say, if you have a job and are passionate about it and love it, you never have to work a day in your life.”


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