Introduction: Fishing rods are the foundation of your tackle and should be treated with special care as they bear the burden of landing those trophy fish we all dream about. With improvements in technology, available materials, and better construction techniques, the rods we fish with today offer incredibly high performance. But the one universal that remains is the fact that these tools can still be broken. While anglers will always place high demands on rods, there are 8 easy tips that can help you protect that investment for a lifetime of angling.
Choosing the right rod: Gary Loomis has a great saying “I could build a rod that you couldn’t break, but then you probably wouldn’t want to fish with it.” This is true for many anglers who demand the highest level of feel and sensitivity from their rods, but also yearn for more durability. The first step to protecting your rod is to choose the right rod for the right application. You could probably fish one rod for all applications and species of fish, but in many cases you would be seriously over or under rodded for the situation…usually resulting in either a poor fishing experience or a broken rod. Pay attention to the capabilities and specifications of each rod and choose a rod that will adequately meet your requirements. Bear in mind that there is no miracle rod that can do it all.
Multi-Piece rods: In the past multi-piece rods were the easiest to break since the ferrule sections of the rods represented breaking points in the arch of the rod and often times centralized stress on the connections would cause parts of the graphite to snap. New designs have not only made the action of multi-piece rods much more even, but also helped transfer stress to length of the entire rod. Rod connections can also be a problem when anglers jam them too tightly together and actually break the connections when trying to yank the portions apart. A little grease each time you connect the sections can go a long way. Since most of us don’t carry grease in our tackle boxes a little oil rubbed off your nose or paraffin wax will do just fine. This helps keeps rods tightly together when in use, and easy to separate at the end of your day.
Old cork doesn’t mean bad cork: Most high performance rods these days come with high quality Portuguese cork handles. Cork is favored over foam thanks to it’s low memory, soft feel, and accurate grip. The only downside to cork is that it is more prone to wear and tear. Anglers love holding brand new rods with pristine cork handles, but often marvel at how quickly the handles start to break apart or darken in color. the oils in our hands waste no time in changing the look and feel of cork, and there is simply no amount of washing that can keep them looking new. In addition small sections of your grips may come off, leaving small pits in the handle. While the handle doesn’t look new it should perform just as good as new.
Often times anglers make the mistake of scrubbing their handles with harsh cleansers, rubbing course sandpaper over them, or even pulling them off and changing them unnecessarily. The best thing to do, as long as your handle functions well, is to simply leave it alone. These days I look fondly at my well worn cork grips and consider the flaws simply as battle scars that build character Superlines: Braided and fused lines were touted as major breakthroughs when first introduced years ago, the problem was that rods simply were not ready for them. The older, softer guides simply couldn’t handle the abrasive surfaces of these new rods and they pitted old guides, causing reduced performance in casting, and often times a poor grainy feeling retrieve. If your going to use super lines then make sure to pick up a rod with guides that are rated to handle these contemporary lines. The new guides from Fuji do an excellent job of handling almost any line you can cast, and the new Fuji concept system helps ensure excellent line management.
Watch your guides: While superlines may not damage your high quality guides, lures sometimes will. Never hang your hooks on your guides, as the barbs of the hooks can scratch the surface of your guides. Use the hook hanger on your rod, its designed to handle the sharpest hooks. In addition try not to reel back that spinner or crankbait all the way to the tip of your rod as the impact can sometimes damage or knock loose your leading guide. Protect your guides and your rod will keep casting perfectly for years.
Never High stick: Anglers know that keeping your rod tip high maintains pressure on the fish, but in the excitement of the fight many anglers become overzealous when it comes to bringing that fish in. The term “high stick” refers to over angling the rod which in turn creates too much pressure on the rod tip, and can result in a snapped rod. When the fish is close to the boat try not to lift your rod any higher then 90 degrees. keeping the rod taught, but not over arched, will be sufficient for maintaining pressure on the fish, and reducing stress on your tip.
Transport: More then 80% of rod damage doesn’t occur during the act of fishing, but during the transport of rods. More rods are lost to truck beds, trunks, and car doors then to fish every year. There simply isn’t anything that can put a damper on a good trip then accidentally snapping your rod in an accident. In fact many rods that are actually broken during fishing are actually caused by damage to the rod’s graphite during transportation. There are many special new rod tools and storage devices that can help you stow your rod safely and protect them from the elements. The best thing to do is just be careful where you put your rod, and do your best to make sure that it is out of the way of any heavy objects that can damage the guides or the surface of your rod.
Clean: While more applicable to saltwater anglers, it is always a good idea to wipe down your favorite rods after each trip. this helps keep harmful contaminates from building up on your clear coat, or any corrosives that might be eating away at the rods metal components. Keeping your rod clean ensures that you will isolate any potential problems quickly, and will keep your rod looking as good as you want it to perform.
Conclusion: While there is a lot all of us can do to protect your rod investments, unfortunately the occasional broken rod can happen to the best of us. With the quest for bigger and badder fish pitted against the more sensitive and accurate rods the equation sometimes just adds up to a broken rod now and then. But follow these 8 simple steps and treat your rod well, and it will return the favor by treating you to a lifetime of those whopping lunkers.