Is there an angler alive that hasn’t broken a Rod? If there is I haven’t met him yet. Breaking a Rod is part of the game. In my early years I would break on average about three rods a year. When one would break the last thing I wanted to here from a manufacture was that it was my fault. Because of that I would by rods from manufactures and companies that had very liberal return polices. Even then and due to my frequent returns it wasn’t long before I was charged a modest fee to exchange or replace a broken Rod, especially when the Rod was outside the warranty period. Now days they call it a deductible. It was normal for me then to judge these companies very harshly. Now that I am older and wiser I have come to acknowledge that they were in fact being very generous to me at the time. Here is why.
The majority of the time breakages are caused by two reasons: high sticking a Rod or exceeding the limits of the Rod blank by using a line test the Rod wasn’t designed to handle, IE: using 80 pound test braid on a Rod designed for a maximum of 30 pound test. As anglers we commonly exceed these limits when using braid without ever having an issue; so when a Rod does get broken we do not always put the two together. Let me give you a few examples and some tips on how to avoid these pitfalls.
High Sticking a Rod is a term used to describe what happens when a Rod blank gets bent beyond a 90 degree angle at a given point and then snaps. The upper two thirds of the Rod blank is where most breakages occur when caused by high sticking a Rod. Real life examples are when flipping a fish in the boat using the Rod. If you are going to do that make sure you leave enough line out that it equals at least 75% of the rods length to tip ratio. If you are going to use your left hand to assist in swinging the fish in the boat never place you left hand beyond the first guide. Too short a line to tip ratio or placing your left hand too far up the Rod blank will cause a breakage 100% of the time. Common situations were breakage occurs by high sticking is when trying to get a lure unstuck, during hook sets, especially when the Rod tip is outside that 10 to 12 o’clock window, and when flipping fish in the boat. I’m not saying we can’t get away with it but just be conscious of the fact that when we do we enter the danger zone.
Breakages caused by exceeding pound test thresholds is a no brainer. Most bait casters can hold up to that abuse 90% of the time but spinning rods not so much. Just be mindful that Rod blanks have limits and when you exceed that limit it will break. If the Rod breaks nearer the handle than the tip it’s an obvious sign that we pushed the Rod to far.
It’s been years since I have broken a Rod but recently I’ve broken a couple. One was by high sticking it during a hook set and the other was because I was using braid and pushed the Rod to far trying to get unstuck from a brush pile. So why now all of a sudden? Because by the grace of god I’ve been able to afford to purchase a few higher end rods. Rods that are lighter and more sensitive (normally reflected by the price tag, haha).
Higher end rods have thinner blank walls and use denser carbon fibers in construction. This means they are more fragile than what I was accustomed to. In other words I have to change my “bull in the china shop” attitude towards the care and use of these higher quality rods. It doesn’t mean I need to walk on egg shells when using them. It just means I can’t abuse them as badly as I did my other ones .
Maybe my past mistakes can help save you from breaking that Rod you saved up all year to buy; or maybe not. But boy, I really hope it does.
God bless and save a few for me.
Jim Whittman is a regular VA Outdoors contributor and tournament angler.