Merwin: The Science of Rod Busting

We were talking the other day here about breaking fishing rods, which reminds of some testing I once did to see how much force is required to actually snap a rod. I took 7 brand-new medium-weight, one-piece casting and spinning rods and rigged each one in a fixture that held the rod rigidly by its grip at about 45 degrees above horizontal. Then I ran some parachute cord through the guides and tied it off to the reelseat. On the other end of the cord was a bucket, into which I kept adding lead weights until — _KAPOW!_–the rod snapped. This was pretty exciting, and you can read about the whole test here.

The rod with the weakest butt section (a Falcon model) snapped at 22.4 pounds. Among the strongest was a Shimano Clarus, which snapped at 44.6 pounds. The only rod I was unable to break was an Ugly Stik, which carried a weight of 55 pounds without snapping, at which point I gave up. I was really surprised at how much weight these rods could stand; certainly far more than I’d expect to put on a rod in actual fishing. And yes, Ugly Stiks are very strong and relatively inexpensive, but I also think they feel a little clunky and don’t often fish them for that reason….