Orvis–How NOT to Break Your Fly Rod

Written by: Phil Monahan

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 downtime, 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.