I was in 8thgrade when Uncle Bob bought a new fly rod and passed his old rod down to me. It has been the only fly rod that I have ever owned. A couple days ago I decided to take advantage of the catch-and-release season and take my old rod out for some exercise before the April 13thfishing opener. It was a cold and windy day accompanied with a light sprinkle. Our first fish of the 2019 seasons was caught on a bead head pheasant tail nymph.
My old fly rod has been showing its age for several years. The metal tip guide is getting a little thin from polishing out tracking from line wear and a few of the windings need a little work. This rod has brought me pleasure for over 50 years but I am thinking it is about time for it to retire. Once you find a rod that is right for you, a little care is all it takes to make it last a long time.
After two decades of operating a fishing lodge, I believe that more fishing rods are damaged while being transported than are actually broken while fishing. Anglers need to take special care when placing rods near car doors and trunk lids. Improper rod storage in boats and canoes is another factor affecting rod longevity. The majority of the rod damage that I have seen is the result of putting a rod where it is either stepped on or crushed by something the angler owns!
Bushwhacking along a trout stream is an environment that is especially hazardous to a rod’s life. Extra care must be taken to avoid falling and striking a fishing rod against hard surfaces, like rocks or trees. When walking through heavy cover it often seems that every branch and twig is trying to snap your rod. I suggest trying to walk with the rod parallel to the ground and with the rod butt forward to reduce the risks of rod capture.
“High Sticking” is probably the most common cause for breaking a fishing rod while actually catching a fish. This occurs when the rod tip is raised vertically above your head. All of the pressure from a fighting fish is then concentrated to the rod’s tip section instead of spreading the load across the length of the rod. Another common cause of rod failure is when anglers use the rod to pull a lodged hook off a misplaced tree or an underwater snag. I recommend using your hands to pull a line when snagged — not your rod.
In its day my old fly rod was probably inexpensive but it feels right and it has been a trusted fishing partner. If I clean the guides, lubricate the ferrules with candle wax, repair a few windings and touch up the rod blanks with Pledge maybe I can postpone replacement for another year.
Whether you plan on an opening day visit or a fishing getaway later in the season you’ll find a wide variety of trout streams here in the Driftless Area that are waiting to be explored. Angling opportunities range from streams in open areas with easy access to streams that are definitely off the beaten path and surrounded in dense cover. Before arriving at your next fishing destination, spend some time to make sure that all of your fishing gear is ready for the next adventure.