Ways to break a fly rod

Don Oliver | Special to the Drum

It seems amazing that a rod built to fight and land fish of all sizes and weights is so fragile. Just when I think a fly-fishing trip is going smoothly, I get reminded that fly rods are broken by all kinds of use and abuse.

Probably the biggest mistake that leads to a broken rod is someone not following the cardinal rule when booting and suiting. That rule is, “LOFI” or last out first in. If during the excitement of getting your gear out of the truck your fly rod comes out first, then is leaned against the truck, the chances of it being knocked over and stepped on are 100%. The reverse is true when standing at the truck at the end of the day. If you put it in first, the chances of it being slammed in a car door, or stepped on become nil.

On a fly-fishing trip I discovered that guiding a 9-foot rod, through an opening that has a swinging screen door would result in the door slamming shut when the rod is eight feet into the room. After doing this I checked with some of my fly-fishing buddies, to see if they had ever done this. And, to my surprise, they all knew about this particular law of physics. When taking a fly rod into the house, have it safely in its’ case.

If you’ve been housebound for weeks on end, and have a vaulted ceiling, do not under any circumstance decide to practice your casting. Things will happen, none of them good. Your indoor casts will snag on everything in sight and cause untold amounts of frustration. This frustration will make you hot and bothered. You will turn on the ceiling fan to cool off. Do I have to say anything else?

When fly-fishing with friends in Texas, on a private ranch, we were entertained by a wandering doe. As we were getting everything ready for a day of fishing she wandered up wanting her ears scratched. We thought it was cute and obliged. After fishing for a couple of hours one of the group members needed to exit the river to dry off. In doing so, he laid his rod against a bush and crawled out. As he did the doe walked up and calmly bit his rod in half. I have no advice on how to avoid a situation like this.

Even after avoiding the above pitfalls, fly rods still get broken. I know I have broken two this year. Sometimes, things just happen; so now what? Many rods now carry a “You break it, we replace it, no questions asked” warranty. If your rod is covered by a manufactures warranty just send it back. The rod eaten by the doe was covered and was replaced at no cost. However, the cost of the warranty is built into the rod price. This can make some rods really expensive. Also, a warranty won’t do you any good if the rod is broken while you’re fishing. The lesson here is always have a back-up rod.

Here is what I suggest you do to stay on the water. If you’re in the market for a new rod, find one in your price range, with a warranty. It makes life easier if you have to send a rod back numerous times for being clumsy. Next, get a backup rod and reel. These additions could be of a lower price with no warranty. That will help the bank account.

Now, be careful with your equipment, have fun, and catch lots of fish.

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