The selection of a new fishing rod can be anything from a quick run to a discount store, to a 2 month wait for a custom rod. The choices at a typical bait shop or discount store can be sorted out fairly quickly, while the selection at a big specialty store, such as Sports Authority, Sports Unlimited, or Bass Pro Shops, where they have hundreds to choose from, can be time consuming.
The custom rod builder can offer you a dazzling array of blanks, lengths, stiffness, colors, handles, and guide combinations. A fine custom rod can be almost a work of art, costing as much as several hundred dollars.
Most fishermen have more than one rod, and many of us have quite a few rods.
Special circumstances call for different lengths, stiffness, line weight, and sensitivity.
The materials used to create the actual rod blank determine the fish catching ability of rods, with fiberglass and graphite being the most common. The balance of graphite and fiberglass in a rod determines the characteristics of the rod, with an endless variation of material combinations.
Whether you opt for an off-the-shelf or custom rod, good care of the rod will extend the life of it, or prevent if from dying an early death.
Here are some common sense and not-so-common sense tips at keeping your rods safe and dependable.
A. Don't reel your bait/lures/swivels up to the tip. The eyelets are fragile, and easy to damage. Get in the habit of stopping your retrieve before the bait gets close to the tip.
B. Remove your terminal tackle, whether it is plugs, swivels, or whatever, anytime you are traveling with the rod. This serves several purposes. A bait reeled up to the end of the rod puts a lot of stress on the tip eye of the rod.
Also, traveling with a plug reeled to the end of a rod has caused many fishermen to require hooks removed by a doctor, hooks hung in foreign objects, and can damage the bait as well. Years ago I learned that the swivel on a spinnerbait can be smoked by leaving the bait spinning in the wind.
One other thing, clipping your line on the reel somewhere can be effective for short times, but be aware that a split shot or swivel on the line would then be free to slap against the rod body, causing a weak spot.
C. A very small impact or scratch can cause rod failure in a high stress situation. Use great care not to bang the rod against anything during transporting or using the rod.
D. Don't try to load an eight foot rod into a Honda Civic. When you have fishing rods in a vehicle, beware of doors and trunklids being closed on them. Kids are especially well trained at the slam-the-door-on-the-rod trick.
E. Use a rod case for carrying rods on commercial transportion. If you dont have one, you can make one easily from a piece of 4" PVC pipe. One of the "El Cheapo" metal and foam-filled camera cases available at most flea markets serves as a handy reel carry case as well, if you are transporting several high end reels.
F. Use a slip cover on the rod for travel and storage. USE IT!
G. Don't overload the rod. One of my friends uses 50 lb. braided line on rods rated for 17 lb. test. They keep breaking. DUUHH??
H. Keep it clean. After each use the rod should be washed and wiped down before storage. This is especially true of rods used in brackish water or saltwater.
I. Storage of rods should be without a load on the rod, and without exposure to direct sunlight, due to negative effects of sunlight on the windings, line, and plastic components.
According to custom rod craftsman Capt. Larry L. Fowler, it is extremely important not to let a rod repeatedly bang against the same spot, such as a window or a tailgate, as the continued impacts will cause hairline weak points that will cause eventual rod failure.
Beating an efficient predator in his own environment is tricky, and by maintaining your rods you can minimize the risk of rod failure in the equation.