Classic Pro Tips: How Not to Break Your Fly Rod

Leaning your rods against the car while you wader-up can lead to disaster. (Dramatization.)
Photo by Phil Monahan

[Editor’s Note: This was originally written a few years ago for an article in American Angler, but the information is important enough that I’ll probably repost it every year. Plus I love the above photo of Orvis’s Head of Rod & Tackle, Steve Hemkens.]

Sure, most fly rods come with a lifetime guarantee these days, but breaking your rod can be a real drag. It often means a ruined trip and some down time, while you wait for repairs. Here are 5 ways you can protect your favorite rod:

1. Keep it in its tube until you are ready to go fishing. We’ve all heard about ceiling fans and car windows snapping tips, but there are thousands of ways you can bust a rod by goofing off when you shouldn’t be. It’s very difficult to break a rod while it is in its case, so the more time it spends in the tube the safer it is. This is especially true in boats, where many stowed rods are broken by a falling angler or a misplaced step.

2. Even when it is in its case, don’t leave a rod baking in the hot sun, especially in a car. When a rod overheats, all manner of bad stuff can happen, from delamination to melting glue to cork problems. This is especially dangerous if you’ve put the rod away wet (which you also shouldn’t do). Keep the rod tubes in your car covered.

A loose ferrule can cause cracks in the female end or cause the male ferrule to break off.
Photo by Phil Monahan

3. Check your ferrules periodically while you’re fishing. As ferrules loosen, there’s less and less material keeping the two rod sections connected when the rod flexes. At a certain point, there’s simply not enough, and the material snaps. This is true of all kinds of ferrules. Check them often, and reseat them when necessary.

4. Use the butt section of the rod—its strongest part—to fight fish. If you rear back with a high rod tip, you put all the pressure on the thinnest part of the rod. And don’t grab the rod blank above the cork with your free hand. Instead of supporting the blank, this actually removes the butt section from the equation, giving you less power.

5. Learn to cast better. If you can keep from smashing a size 2 Conehead Woolly Bugger into your blank during the cast, you’ll get fewer nicks that could compromise the integrity of the blank.

14 thoughts on “Classic Pro Tips: How Not to Break Your Fly Rod”

  1. Thanks for the tip about laving the rod in a hot car…..guilty as charged. Hell to get apart afterwards.

  2. Guiding fly fishers I see a few rods get broken every year. It’s always a good idea to keep your rod in some kind of holder as you are dressing for, or undressing from, fishing. Try to save rigging up your rod for last. Same when you’re done for the day – take your rod down last thing.

  3. Note Not only have car doors, electric windows and boot lids been an issue as the unfortunate culprits of many a broken rod but now the folding exterior mirrors on newer vehicles can be added to that list!!

  4. Add “don’t carelessly lay your rod down by your feet while you rerig.” Been there, done that!

  5. Don’t leave rods for too long in a cold car for extended periods of time either. Extreme cold can cause cracks in some of the higher modulus graphite compounds out there

  6. I’m not expecting a reply but watch tf out for embankments behind you fishing on a lake. Constantly snagging grass behind you on a cast i think is the reason why I just broke my pole 20 minutes ago.

  7. Thanks for pointing out that as ferrules loosen, there’s less and less material keeping the two-rod sections connected when the rod flexes. My husband has been having problems with his rods breaking lately, and I think it might be the ferrules. I think I’m going to buy him some graphite ferrules so that he has extra and so that he can replace them when they need to be replaced so he can stop breaking his fishing rods.

  8. Embarrassed to say I left my rod in the car on what I thought was a not-so-hot day. The tip ended up pushed up against the windshield and melted into a bit of a curve.

  9. More detail needs to be given on how to pressure the butt and not the tip. A video, showing each (the right way and the wrong way). I see this helpful tip provided a lot, but no one illustrates it. It’s not self evident.

  10. Hey Albert, Thanks for your informative fishing tips article. I love fishing, that’s why I’m here to read your informative article. Here you mention about the “Break Your Fly Rod” I really support your article. Fishing is very important in our life because fishing give us a lot of things like Vitamin D, reduces stress, increase brain health, creates family bonding, keeps you physically fit, and you will get clean and fresh air. So that’s why fishing is good for us.

  11. I like how you mentioned that it is important to check your equipment while you are fishing. My uncle mentioned to me last night that he wants to experience a fly fishing trip for his birthday next week and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to do. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that it will be much better if they consult fly fishing trip services as they can answer all our inquiries and will provide great memories and experience.

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