Have you ever noticed how few rod failures are the fisherman’s fault?
Ask any number of anglers the question posed in the title of this article and they’ll likely all reply, “Why of course I do…why wouldn’t I?” Then drop by your local tackle dealer or custom rod shop and see what they might have to say about the way their customers care for their rods. You’ll likely get a very different answer.
The fact of the matter is that through advances in material science and endless quest for sensitivity, today’s high-modulus fishing rods are actually very delicate instruments and deserve special care. Tiny bruises and nicks, perhaps too tiny to see with the naked eye, can create stress risers that result in rods snapping in what could otherwise be considered normal use. Let’s take a look at some of the ways these can occur.
Transporting – Just lay ‘em in the bed of the truck? Lots of fishermen do. We see it all the time. Sure, it’s handy, but also an invitation to thieves if left unattended, even for a few minutes.
Besides theft, there’s the possibility of creating nicks and scuffs in rod blanks near critically stressed tip areas while banging against the tailgate as you roll down the road. Something else to consider is the possibly of dust and grit getting into your reels. A much better plan would be carrying your rods inside the cab of the truck. If you must carry them in the bed, remove the reels and place them in a tube-style case. An alternative to bare rods banging on the tailgate is placing them in protective jackets. Cheap insurance against damage and it only takes a second to slip one on.
Rod Tip Damage – You should cringe every time you see this, and if by chance you are guilty yourself…you need to stop!
OK, so you’re out on the bay and headed to another spot. Just wind the lures to the rod tips and slip them in the rod holders…right? Uh…no! That lure wagging in the breeze will be putting way too much stress on the tip section of the rod. It could also damage the tip guide, maybe even create a nick in the insert or knock the insert loose.
There is a much better way – simply secure the lure in the hook-keeper guide and wrap it with a piece of re-usable Gear Tie. The best part of this method is that it also keeps lures from getting loose while underway and flapping about in the breeze. Ever been snagged by a lure while driving the boat? It ain’t much fun.
Reaching Beyond the Handle to Gain Leverage – Oh my, is this ever a no-no! Never grab a fishing rod that is under load at any point above the rod handle. Fishing rods are designed to bend in a smooth arc from butt to tip, and can resist amazing loads when handled properly. We’ve seen them snap when lifting fish, even small fish, like the angler in the photo. Grabbing the rod above the handle while attempting to free a snagged lure is another bad idea.
“Normal Use” That Qualifies As Abuse – Manufacturer’s recommended lure weights are printed on your rod’s butt section. Typical for a light or medium-light, fast-action 7-foot rod, would be 1/8- to 3/8-ounce. Tying on a popping cork that weighs an ounce or more, plus the weight of a lure or bait, can greatly increase the risk of the rod failing when making a cast.
Allowing your rod to contact the gunwale of the boat while fighting a fish can result in the rod snapping. If not right then and there, you have likely created a weak spot that could fail soon.
How many times have you witnessed something as innocent as a bunch of rods leaning against a wall and a gust of wind sends them clattering to the concrete. You’re lucky if none are broken…but don’t be surprised if a tip snaps next time you rear back to set the hook.
Ever watched as a wade fisherman checks the water depth with his rod before exiting the boat? Okay, we’ve all done it. But please, if you’re using your rod tip as a depth-finder…do it very gingerly.
Bottomline here…show your rods the love they deserve and they’ll love you back. And, if by chance you abuse a rod and it fails, fess up. Your tackle dealer or rod builder deserve some love too.