November 04, 2013
Thwarting Broken Rods and Captain Destructo
By Dave Wolak
Spend enough time on the water and you’re going to snap a few rods. Sometimes the circumstances surrounding the event make you wonder how it even happened. Other times you look back and realize exactly how you could have prevented the break. There are some great transport and storage devices out there now that do a great job of protecting rods, but they don’t do you much good on the water. Take it from someone who has broken more rods than he cares to count; the secret to prolonging the lives of your investments is forward-thinking and recognizing issues before they become rod-breakers.
On a bass boat, I would say the number one breaker of rods are the front and back cleats. Here's how it goes: You bend down to pick up your rod which is half draped over the side, and half comes with you and the other half stays under the cleat. Many newer boat models have flip down cleats, which are great when you remember to retract them. But what usually happens is you tie the boat to the dock after launching, then untie and never put the cleat down because you’re too excited to start fishing.
Always remember that the other guy on the boat doesn’t care about your stuff as much as you do. And though there are millions of ways to thwart Captain Destructo, there’s a simple two-point rule you should follow. Keep the rods off the train tracks and out of the other guy’s casting path. Ask yourself if the dude is going to walk up from the back quickly to net your fish. If the answer is yes, keep your rods out of that pathway. If he’s underhand casting a giant ugly spinnerbait, make sure the tips of your rods aren’t overhanging the boat anywhere near the path of his swing. You get the idea. If it can happen, it will happen.
Lastly, understand that many breaks start with a little ding. These lead to those violent breaks on a hook set that leave you asking what happened. It probably started with something like a ½-oz bullet weight that rifled back when you were stuck in a tree and deflected off the blank. Or maybe a hook set hit a branch when you were flipping bushes. If you feel you have a possible weak spot from a similar incident and the rod happens to be out of warranty, try taking it to a custom rod builder. Many times they can put on a brace of some that spans the weak spot. No guarantee it will hold forever, but great chance you'll get more life out of the rod.