UPDATED, 9-12, 8:45 A.M.–A lot of guys must think bass fishing rods are just like Teflon-titanium body armor. Since they spent a bunch of money for them, they figure they must be unbreakable.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Properly used, yes, they are remarkable tools. Yet, as incredibly strong and lightweight as today’s super high modulus graphites and resins may be, the fact is the material is brittle. And so you know, Ironman ain’t brittle, man.

For that reason, it’s time we all stepped up and faced the awful truth about rod failure.

First, it’s probably your fault. Ooh, I can hear the howls, but it’s true. Far more often than not, the one responsible for the broken rod is usually the owner/user. After all, he’s the guy who shoves it in the locker at the end of the day; the guy who won’t admit having a toe on the guide while it’s on the deck is not the same as stepping on it.

But more than that, he’s the guy if we video-taped his fish-landing method (read “bounce”) and put it on YouTube, everyone of his fishing buddies would scream: “Look at that hack!!!”

Sorry. The repeated over-stress of those fibers by creating an arc in the rod that brings the tip back parallel or beyond parallel to the shaft is producing irreparable, internal damage. In fact, if the forces used to lever/lift the full weight of a 4-5-pound fish or more are exerted enough times, the tip won’t not need reach that critical parallel position. That rod is going to fail based on previous damage to the fibers.

No history required:  Just because it never happened before doesn’t mean it’s not your fault. Yes, mass production, the nature of a specific action built into the rod [with too heavy of line] and damage in some phase of shipping are all possible reasons a rod might break. And for that, they have a warranty.

A painful loss: Paying more for a rod does not mean it won’t break. All it means is you will be more disappointed when it does.

Simple solutions: First, of course, would be to improve your fish-landing technique (if you’re willing to admit the deficiency). And if not, if you want a rod that won’t break, buy an Ugly Stik.



8 Responses to “The awful truth about broken bass rods”

Great topic, George! I experienced the same thing when I owned a Nextel cell phone business with regard to “liquid damaged” cell phone returned by people (like construction workers)who would bring in their phones swearing that they NEVER got wet. I regularly asked them if they answer their phones on the job site…and whether they perspire at all during the 100 degree summer days. Or if they ever drop their phones into their cup holders where they typically keep those Big Gulp cups that sweat especially after all that is left is ice. The smallest liquid amount on the old style keyboards or charging port can be the death of the phone albeit often days/weeks later.

George, you’ve nailed it with this topic regarding broken rods. It’s always a tough topic especially for the manufacturers who want to keep their customers happy but who also have to survive these tough economic times just like the rest of us.

With cell phones, corrosion from liquid damage does not always instantly kill the phone. Corrosion happens over time and the phones can fail weeks months later. With rods…the delayed reaction of a rod breakage can be much the same with “delayed reaction”.

Here is a valuable hint for liquid damaged cell phones/remotes etc: pop the battery out immediately and shake and wipe as much liquid out immediately. Then, drop the phone and battery into a zip lock filled with uncooked white rice for a day or two. This is the best chance to revive a liquid damaged phone or at least delay the inevitable corrosion that can/will occur.

LOL How true this is! That’s why I like you George! lol Sounds like the same stuff I say to people. Good read!

Setting the hook “against” the natural spline will accelerate the process, and I’d bet the greatest majority is a result of “side loading”. Even guides, or reels for that matter, of other rods bouncing on the blank will weaken it. It may take a while , but eventually, KERSNAP! I do think the “Oh my gawd I gotta have the lightest rod on the planet, I don’t care if it costs five hundred bucks” crowd sets themselves up for rod breakage. There is something to be said for balancing lightness vs. strength. Also, those carbon fibers are nothing you want to get under your skin…..


You are right on the money with this one, George!

Rods break because of misuse 99.9% of the time. After 30 years “in the business,” and thousands of hours using the products, I can count on one hand the amount of legitimate failures I have seen. Rod breakage is exceedingly rare when the product is used the way it is designed to be used. The sad truth is that most rods are broken by those who don’t know any better and are too ashamed to admit to their own ineptitude!

The sad truth is we would have much more sensitive higher modulus rods from manufacturers if they could figure a way around the breakage problems created by the donkeys who don’t know how to properly use the products. Several of my favorite, most sensitive rods are Shimano Canis/Sienna rods which were discontinued almost 20 years ago due to excessive breakage. The fiber was 60-mil modulus and way too brittle and fragile for the general public. I broke the tip off one of them 5 years ago while bouncing a 5lb calico (my fault), otherwise they have held up perfectly through thousands of fish.


Why do you think all the reel companies are now in the rod business? No small moving parts to have machined, and for the most part are the same for the last 3 decades and that is where the profit is. My guess is 4 times the profit in a rod than a reel for the reel mfg’s. That is why after beating a rod up for 10 years they replace them for almost nothing.

Right on target George. Today’s rods are truly showpieces of technology in materials and design. They’re lighter, cast better, and are a bunch more sensitive than ever before. But even a Ferrari will crunch a fender (or worse) if the driver handles it improperly.

Another factor contributing to negligent rod breakage: All that television footage of tournament pros highsticking their fish. People emulate that kind of equipment abuse.

Good observation, Fish_Food!