Spare the rod
  |  First Published: April 2014

Last month in this column we looked at the maintenance and care needed to keep your fishing reels in tip-top condition. This time around, the focus shifts to rods.

The old saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” has become rather politically incorrect in this modern age, when dishing out physical punishment to kids is widely frowned upon. Perhaps we could alter it these days to apply to our fishing tackle instead… Something along the lines of, “Spare the care and spoil the rod!”

Thankfully, most modern fishing rods don’t demand an enormous amount of maintenance. However, a little bit of TLC (tender loving care) can certainly extend the life of your favourite rods.

One good habit to get into involves simply removing reels from rods when the outfit is not in use and storing all your rods in soft bags or socks, on racks or pegs, or in specially-made rod tubes. Taking multi-piece rods apart for storage is also an excellent idea and can help prevent the various bits from gumming up and sticking together, effectively creating one-piece rods!

A quick hose down after each outing (especially when fishing in saltwater) and an occasional wipe over with a wet, soapy cloth is also worthwhile. I’ve been known to take my rods into the shower with me after a hard day’s fishing, but I’ve also been told this is a tad extreme! Whichever method you choose, make sure the rod and all its fittings are completely dry before packing them away again, especially if they’re going into rod bags or tubes.

Once or twice each year (at least) I like to spray some aerosol lubricant onto a soft, clean rag and wipe the whole rod down, paying particular attention to the reel seat or winch mount, guide frames and ferrules or joins.

Between trips, rods are best stored horizontally or vertically on pegs or in racks, but you can also stand your rods in a corner, so long as they’re completely straight. Storing rods bent or under load can cause them to take on a ‘set’ and stay that way…forever.

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight degrades rod finishes and can ultimately weaken the blank material itself, so avoid leaving your rods on the roof of the car or out in the backyard for lengthy periods.

Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t do what a mate of mine did and leave your gear lying on the front lawn. He thought he’d lost his favourite surf-casting rod, until he mowed the long grass. Crunch, bang, sproing… Ouch! That’s certainly one way of turning a one-piece rod into a multi-piece.

Cracked, grooved or chipped guides (runners) or guide inserts can be a major issue with some rods, and will play havoc with your line, often causing mysterious break-offs whenever you hook a good fish. If you suspect a guide insert may be damaged, draw a section of lady’s stocking or pantyhose leg through it. Damaged guides will snag and pull at the fine material. If this happens, replace the guide immediately. If you’re not up to completing this job yourself, have it done by a reputable tackle shop or custom rod builder.

Rod care is mostly basic common sense, but you might be surprised at just how uncommon that valuable commodity is!


Count the rods! Tournament and competition anglers typically own (and use) dozens of rods. A little preventive maintenance will help keep them all in top working order.


Hmmm. Cobwebs in the guides and broken varnish coats could be an indication of a lack of maintenance!


Roller-runnered game rods demand extra attention. It’s important to keep those rollers clean and lightly lubricated to ensure that they work as they were intended to.

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