Give Me a Break! Fishing Editor John Merwin Tortures Seven Rods Until They Snap

The Rods
So no fishing rod manufacturer would have a chance to surreptitiously soup up a test version, I picked out my "victims-¿ from retail outlets, paying between $28 and $80 for the kinds of midpriced models most people use most of the time. All were 6 or 6¿¿ feet long and one piece, so I didn't have to deal with ferrule-strength issues. To make the group comparable according to factory specs, I chose medium- to heavy-power rods, the kind commonly used in largemouth bass fishing, rated for lines testing to as much as 17 or 20 pounds. The Results
The breaking points of supposedly comparable rods varied widely, from a low of 22.4 pounds to a high of 44.6 pounds. The one rod that I was unable to send to a premature death-"a Shakespeare Ugly Stik-"carried an incredible 55-pound load without snapping (I ran out of weights at that point and gave up). Notably, strength was not related to suggested retail price; the Ugly Stik was the least expensive fishing rod I tested. Varied test results aside, these are (or were) all perfectly good fishing rods. For one thing, any monofilament line commonly used with any of them would break long before the rod did, and it's even more likely that the hooks would either straighten out or pull free from a big fish. And strength isn't the only consideration when you're choosing a rod; other attributes such as overall weight and action are important, too (a broomstick would likely have been stronger than any rod I tested). Mostly, I was surprised by the loads all of these rods could carry. I had expected much less. But I now know the type of stress I can put to bear in certain angling situations, such as fighting a trophy gamefish or hauling back hard to get free of a snag.
Spencer Jones
The Test: What It Takes to Snap a Rod
I built a fixture to clamp the rod grips rigidly at a 45-degree angle above horizontal. This is about the same angle at which I'd hold a rod to fight a big fish. I strung each rod with parachute cord, tying one end off at the reel seat, and the other to a bucket a few inches from the rod tip. By my side I had a pile of assorted lead ingots (for molding sinkers and jigs), and I dropped them in the bucket, one at a time, putting a bend in the rod that grew deeper with every step. Adding each weight was like tickling a dragon's tail, and I found myself wincing until, finally, KA-POW!-"the butt would snap. This was great fun. It was also dangerous, so don't try it at home. Then I weighed the bucket and its contents to determine what weight caused the rod to break. What breaks a rod
Field & Stream Online Editors
Shakespeare
Ugly Stiks have been among the world's bestselling rods since they were first introduced in 1976. Built of a graphite-fiberglass mix, they are unbelievably strong and tend to be heavier and use lower-end components than premium all-graphite rods. If sheer pulling power is your primary concern, this is your rod. shakespeare-fishing.com Rod Tested: Shakespeare
Model: Ugly Stik SPL1100
Price: $28
Length (ft.): 6
Lure Rating (oz.): ¿¿ -" ¿¿
Line Rating (lb.-test): 8 -" 20
Break Strenght (lb. deadlifted): 55 (unbroken)
Spencer Jones
Browning
With first-class components and based on a medium-stiff graphite fiber, the powerful Medallion GT is an exceptional value at $50. browning.com Rod Tested: Browning
Model: Medallion GT MD66MHS
Price: $50
Length (ft.): 6¿¿
Lure Rating (oz.): ¿¿ -" 5/8
Line Rating (lb.-test): 6 -" 17
Break Strenght (lb. deadlifted): 39.5
Spencer Jones
Bass Pro
This Bionic Blade spinning rod uses a higher-modulus graphite than most of the others tested and has a reinforced butt section. Notably, its butt cap is threaded to accept balance weights, a worthwhile feature. basspro.com Rod Tested: Bass Pro
Model: Bionic Blade BNC60MHS
Price: $60
Length (ft.): 6
Lure Rating (oz.): ¿¿ -" 5/8
Line Rating (lb.-test): 6 -" 17
Break Strenght (lb. deadlifted): 31.7
Spencer Jones
Cabela's
The Fish Eagle II graphite spinning rod is the most nicely finished of the bunch, with an attractive green blank topped by premium guides and a full-cork grip. cabelas.com **Rod Tested: Cabela's **
Model: Fish Eagle II GS665
Price: $80
Length (ft.): 6¿¿
Lure Rating (oz.): 3/8 -" 1
Line Rating (lb.-test): 8 -" 20
Break Strenght (lb. deadlifted): 30.6
Spencer Jones
Berkley
The Lightning Rod ProLite graphite spinning rod has an unusual Qwik-Lok reel seat that slides and locks in place to hold the reel. www.berkley-fishing.com **Rod Tested: Berkley **
Model: Lightning Rod ProLite LPLS601MH
Price: $50
Length (ft.): 6
Lure Rating (oz.): ¿¿ -" 1
Line Rating (lb.-test): 8 -" 17
Break Strenght (lb. deadlifted): 23.1
Spencer Jones
Falcon
The rod I tested is part of the company's Original series, which features 100 percent graphite construction. The medium-heavy-power model feels light in the hand relative to its strength, which enhances sensitivity in fishing. falconrods.com Rod Tested: Falcon
Model: FS-5-166
Price: $70
Length (ft.): 6¿¿
Lure Rating (oz.): ¿¿ -" 5/8
Line Rating (lb.-test): 10 -" 17
Break Strenght (lb. deadlifted): 22.4
Spencer Jones