Most modern fly rods are well engineered pieces of equipment, and contrary to popular belief, they rarely break on their own. Often times an errant fly or a slight nick from the gunwale of a boat is actually the culprit of a rod that surprisingly ‘breaks for no reason.’
With that said, we’d be lying if we said we hadn’t broken plenty of fly rods. We once saw five rods broken in one step.. True story! It happens however, and rather than crying over splintered graphite, we like to think we’ve learned from our mistakes instead.
One of the most common mistakes we see each season that often leads to a broken butt section is holding the rod above the cork handle. During a long tussle with a big fish, for most of us, our casting hand gets pretty tired. After all, a fly rod isn’t exactly ergonomically correct! The natural reaction as your hand gets tired is to support the weight of the fish with your other hand just above the cork grip. Don’t!
Fly rods are designed to bend all the way down to the cork handle with a greater amount of flex than most realize. Holding a rod above this point while its under pressure cuts off the degree of flex is was built to endure, often causing the rod to shatter! There are exceptions of course, such as big game fly rods (think tarpon, billfish, etc.) where a grip is added above the conventional cork to allow for the rod to be fought with two hands, but these rods are built specifically for this purpose.
Keep your hands on the cork while fighting fish and you should be all set. That is, unless you fall victim of these 10 other common ways to break your fly rod.