Breaking Fishing Rods

About this time last year I was in the early stages of preparing an article on how to identify the causes of rod breakage by examining the broken rod sections. Every break leaves behind telltale clues – you just have to know what to look for and understand what you’re seeing.

In order to provide the readers with photographs of what various types of breaks looked like, it was necessary to ensure that the appearance of each break type was, in fact, repeatable per each type of abuse or misuse. This required breaking many dozens of rod blanks – over 200 were purposely broken for the sake of the article’s accuracy. This process was somewhat unsettling for a rod builder accustomed to taking good care of his own rods, but in order to ensure that we were getting verbatim results each time, it had to be done. Just breaking a blank or two in a certain way and then stating that its particular appearance was indicative of all blanks broken that way wouldn’t be good enough – the results had to be borne out by observation of many, many verbatim breaks of each type.

And thus, the biggest problem with getting the article underway – who in the heck was going to pay for over 200 first quality, high-end graphite rod blanks, just to purposely bust them up?

The answer arrived one day when a package arrived from St. Croix Rod Company. Head blank designer Jason Brunner had discussed the project with me earlier and offered to send some first quality rod blanks for me to break and photograph. I expected to get about a dozen, which while helpful, wouldn’t be nearly enough to get the sort of dependable results I needed. So when I opened the box that Jason had sent I was pleasantly shocked and surprised to find over 100 rod blanks inside. Most importantly, about 75 of them were the exact same model which helped greatly with certain aspects of the project.

Not long afterwards, the folks at North Fork Composites sent a box. This one had a good number of multi-piece blanks, which helped the project even further. I tossed in another 50 blanks out of my own G. Loomis blank stock and began the project in earnest.

In December of 2009, the resulting article was published in the Volume 12 #6 Issue of RodMaker Magazine. A future article, which includes more data on other aspects of the test, will appear sometime in 2011. I knew the article would be popular, but perhaps the biggest surprise was to have so many commercial rod companies call and ask for copies of the magazine to share with their warranty departments. This was information that I had assumed all commercial rod operations would already have documented. As it turns out, most hadn’t and the RodMaker article was, according to them, a real help for their warranty inspectors.

It was an enlightening although unsettling process breaking all those blanks just to gain a little more knowledge. And it was made possible by Jason Brunner at St. Croix Rod Company, and Jon Bial and Gary Loomis at North Fork Composites. Only with their generous help were we able to break enough blanks to ensure that what we were seeing were repeatable, dependable results instead of mere happenstance.

Tom Kirkman


1 Comment

  1. Jacqueline Evancho on October 14, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Finally something that really make sense. Was looking for this elsewhere but never could find anything on explaning why rods break and how you can tell. This was what I was looking for.