How Not to Break Your Trout Rod

A lot of trout rods get broken every year. Even I broke a couple in my early days. Breaking a rod is a real shame because most breakages are a direct result of user error or a careless mistake.

When properly cared for, most trout rods potentially can last for decades.

Trout rods are ultralight gear, they are typically designed to fish 4 or 6lb line. They can not handle the same amount of pressure or stress as a medium to heavy bass rod.

In this article, I will cover the most common reasons why rods break and what can be done to prevent it from happening.

Do not point load your rod

Point loading is when all of the pressure is concentrated into a small section of the rod. This causes the blank to overload causing the rod to snap. Point loading typically occurs when you lift a rod too vertical when under pressure.

Point loading most commonly occurs in high modular graphite rods, the more concentrated the graphite the more prone to point loading they become. This is one of the main reasons why expensive rods seem to break more often than cheap ones.

To prevent point loading from occurring, do not hold your rod too vertical when it is under pressure. Have it no higher than the 11 o’clock position when fighting a fish, and the closer the fish is reduce the angle of your rod. I often prefer to apply sidewise pressure, with the rod at about the 10 o’clock position rather than vertical position.

If a fish goes on a powerful run, I often hold my rods nearly horizontally and rely entirely on the drag to slow the charge. I will only resume fighting the fish once it has calmed down.

Do not use the rod to free snags

Too many anglers use the rod to free snags, they fight the snag like it is some sort of heavy fish. When the snag does not move they tighten the drag and apply even more pressure. The more stubborn the snag the more pressure they apply until something gives.

For the sake of your rod and reel this is a terrible technique and I hear of more than a few rods getting snapped by snags every year. It is also possible to damage the gearing of your reel, and even bend the frame.

So, what is the best way to free a snag?

Okay, I do use my rod to begin with. I will apply pressure from various directions but I keep the drag light.

If this fails, I will tighten the drag slightly, and keep my rod perfectly horizontal and pull back on the snag. This way none of the pressure is being forced into my rod.

If this fails, I do not tighten my drag even more. I do not want to damage my reel. But I place the rod down in a safe location and start wrapping the line around a solid object. A smooth piece of hardwood works much better than your hand.

Then using the wood I start to pull on the line directly. I increase the pressure until the line breaks or the hook frees itself.

Do not powerfully strike fish

Trout have very soft mouths, they do not require a powerful strike to set the hook. Some anglers get a little over enthusiastic when they feel a bite and strike with their full force.

This causes a surge of sudden pressure to pulse through your rod, which can easily cause the rod blank to overload and snap.

Use an appropriate amount of drag

I have mentioned this in several of the previous sections, but it is of fundamental importance. Do not use too much drag.

If you are fishing with a 2-6lb rod, then that is what the rod is rated for. So never set the drag any higher than the maximum rated amount of the rod.

Even then, that is still too much, I suggest never using more drag than the minimum rated amount. It is still plenty to tire out any angry fish and it greatly reduces the risk of overloading your tackle.

Transport and treat your rod gently.

If I had to guess the number one cause for broken rods, it might just be slamming them in the car door. I have done it, I was rushing to get out of a downpour and did not notice the tip of the rod was not fully inside the car. Expensive lesson.

When transporting my rod, I always like to store them in the trunk of my boot and I always double check they are fully inside before closing it.

Also never store any heavy objects on top of a rod, make sure nothing is going to roll onto or hit them while driving. This is just asking for damage. A great way to protect a rod, is by storing them inside a rod tube, or even just a section of PVC pipe.

When walking, I always like to hold my rod facing backwards. This has several advantages, the most obvious is that it no longer acts as a lance and impales branches and twigs ahead, but if you happen to fall over, you are not going to fall on top of your rod. Your rod will most likely just be dropped and will roll off your back undamaged.

Common defects in new fishing rods?

Most rods are mass produced and manufactured as cheaply as possible. It is inevitable that the occasional defect will reach as the consumer. Such defects and manufacturing flaws are the reason way warranties exist.

Both cheap and expensive rods suffer from manufacturing defects. Although due to higher levels of quality control, they are usually less common on premium products.

What to look for in the store when buying a spinning rod?

Many defects are impossible to identify while in the store, but there are some things to look out for.

The main defect I look for is to make sure all of the guides and reel set are installed straight. On cheaper rods, sometimes a guide or two can be slightly out of alignment and that can be disastrous for pinpoint accuracy.

It is possible to tell if a rod is properly aligned just by looking at. I hold the rod out in front of me and stare down the guides to see if they are all nice and straight.

How big of an issue a misaligned guide is can be a matter of debate. If one of the lower guides are just a touch out, I doubt it will make a significant difference, but if the tip guide is a bit wonky it will certainly have an impact on accuracy.

Look for imperfections in the coating and underlying graphite

Any slight imperfection in the coat or underlying rod is a deal breaking to me. Even a small chip can cause a graphite rod to snap when under pressure.

So when looking at rods to buy, I scan my eyes along the blank to make sure everything is smooth and uniform. If I see anything resembling a chip, scratch or crack I will not buy the rod.

Sometimes, the imperfections are too small to easily identify, or they occur inside the blank. These imperfections normally show themselves fairly quickly once a rod is under pressure.

I have had a brand new Shimano rod explode after only a half dozen casts. Quite startling because it sounded like a gunshot.

When buying a new rod, make sure to take it out fishing shortly after buying. Make some casts, fight some fish and hopefully force any defects to reveal themselves. Making a warranty claim on a new rod is much easier than one that has been sitting in the shed unused for two years.

Final Words

Most trout rods break due to human error. Do not fight fish at too high of an angle, and keep your drag pressure well within the rated amount of the rod. Make sure to store your rod in a safe, and secure location while it is being transported.

If you have just broken your trout rod, and looking for a new one I have a guide here.

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