Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Fishing Rods: And how to avoid breaking them! PART 1

I titled my blog “Breaking Rods” because if you break a fishing rod it is a significant experience, painful if you have just stepped on your Sage or amazing if it happens whilst playing a trophy fish (and you still manage to land it).

So here are some tips drawn from my fifty years of experience of breaking and not breaking rods. My experience is mainly with fly rods but the principles can be applied generically. As you will see from the list sadly, most rods are not broken by big fish!

Threat No 1: The car door or boot lid (trunk lid in the USA). Sadly lots of rods get shut in car doors, by you, your pal, the kids or the wind. Similarly slamming shut the boot and then finding it won’t shut because it is squashing a rod ferrule is a sad experience.

Solution: Keep rods in cases when in cars or car boots. Whilst getting the rest of your kit together, having set a rod up, locate it somewhere safe where it cannot fall or be blown over. The magnetic rod holders you can clip on the side of your car are ideal, however, I have never owned one. I tend to lean the rod between the side of the car and the wing mirror, which could be courting disaster!

Threat No 2: The big foot. I am amazed at the number of fishers who leave rods lying horizontal on the ground waiting for themselves or some unsuspecting passer-by to crush it accidentally.

Solution: If you can lean the rod against something, even if it is your fishing bag and part of it is just elevated a couple of feet above the ground that makes it much more visible.  If I am teaching a group casting and they need to put their rods down, and there is no alternative, I have them lay the rods close to, and parallel with, the water’s edge. Hopefully there they are out of harms way.

Threat No 3: How you carry your rod.  If you are not very careful tips get broken off rods as you are walking along when they are carried horizontally pointing in front of you. This is because there is the danger of your wrist relaxing and the tip of the rod jamming into the ground and snapping off (see picture).
If you hold the rod tip higher there is a risk to your pal if he is walking in front of you and he turns round to say something and he gets jabbed in the eye.

Solution: Ideally hold the rod as shown in this picture. 
It is out of the way and if you go under low branches they will tend to push the top down. It is probably not a good idea to hold you rod high like this in electrical storms or anywhere where there are overhead power lines. It is appropriate to carry your rod horizontal and pointing in front of you when you are weaving your way through bankside shrubs and jungle!

Threat No 4: Using the rod to release a trapped fly.  We all get the odd fly stuck up a tree or on the bottom and we all give it a hard pull. However, some have been known to pull so hard they not only lose the fly they also break the rod!

Solution: Get hold of the line and pull that taking care to avoid cutting your hand with the line and getting the fly in your face. Years ago I read of a medic who pulled on a leader to get a fly out of a tree only to have the fly end up embedded in his eye. The irony of the situation was that he was an eye surgeon. I always wear eye protection when fishing and turn my face away when pulling trapped flies.

Threat No 5: Busting the blank.  This is when a rod joint has worked loose and the male ferrule ruptures the female ferrule. I had this happen to my 6 piece 15 foot salmon rod a few years ago when a fishing guide was demonstrating his version of the snap T cast to me. It was the largest section that got broke! Fortunately Fulling Mill provided a replacement section and the guide covered the cost. I warn new fishers that if when casting they sense a clicking of the rod then either their reel has come lose and is about to drop into the water or they have a loose rod joint.

Solution: Put the rod sections together firmly. I like to finish with a slight twist. If ferrule joints on single handed rods regularly work loose try rubbing candle wax on the male ferrule. Any form of Spey casting tends to work ferrule joints loose because of the twisting action. So Spey casters sometimes tape the joints. The way recommended by Michael Evans (suggested to him by a surgeon) is to put two longitudinal strips of tape covering the joint (the splints) and then on top of that wrap tape around the two strips. If you only wrap the tape around the joint the twisting action tends to loosen the tape.

See Part 2 (coming shortly) for some more rod breaking risks to avoid. If you have any other tips please feel free to contact me. Together let us ban broken rods!


  1. This was a good suggestion that you put up here...dude…..hope that it benefits all the ones who land up here. 

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  2. This is good information and there is a fresh point of view in this article. Thank you for the suggestions.
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