Welcome to Rod Repair!

The following is reprinted from the January/February 2000 issue of RodMaker Magazine. Author Ralph O'Quinn is a staff writer for RodMaker as well as the formulator for the Trondak Company's line of U-40 rod finishing products, and Ferrule Lube. Our sincere thanks to RodMaker for sharing this information!

Putting It Back Together
Part One

Ralph O'Quinn
Story and Photos by Ralph O'Quinn

There are more and more of you out there fixing up old rods, even fixing up not so old rods. Your high-end graphite fly rods, spin rods, plug casting rods, etc., are not noted for their ruggedness or durability. They are noted for their delightful handling characteristics and their not so delightful cost. It almost seems as though the higher the cost - the easier they break. The manufacturers of these rods usually have an unconditional warranty. Stomp on it, run over it with your pickup - whatever - they will replace it. But the replacement is not always a painless process. If it gets broken on a weekend and you want to go fishing the next weekend, you had better have a substitute rod or two on hand, or else you will find yourself staying home and thinking about the nice trip you might have had if only . . .

I'm finding more and more of these high end rods that are repaired - sorta - then I get them after the repair needs repairing. Ordinarily if a rod is damaged and the damage is repaired, the manufacturer will not honor the warranty because it has been altered. So you make your choice - send it back - or have it repaired. But you donıt have it repaired for next week's long-planned trip, then send it to the manufacturer when you return. It's an either/or situation, not both.

For some reason more of the older rods are being repaired. I have repaired lots and lots of rods where the cost of the repair was substantially greater than what it would have been to replace the rod with a far better one. Sentimentality is usually involved here and I have no quarrel with that, as long as all the facts are laid on the table. The repairman must present all the facts of the poor economics of such, and the repairee must be of legal age and sound mind.

Quite a few of older rods are also being "re-worked" or "re-furbished", and the expertise necessary to properly accomplish this job falls within the repair category. Once a guy has fished with the same rod for 30 years, caught many a memory and developed a feel for that particular stick - he doesn't listen to all the hype about the reel seat being rusty and loose, the handle squishy and half gone, the guides mostly taped on. These things are irrelevant. He even goes with family and friends to local sports shops and handles literally dozens of new modern rods of a similar makeup - but nothing FEELS right. Then he learns about this guy that can make the old rod new again - at about twice the price of those he looked at in the shop!

Repair Skill

The skills involved in repairing a rod can be more demanding than the skills involved in building a rod. This statement, of course, will be challenged by the many fine craftsmen engaged in producing the excellent custom rods so prevalent in our fishing society, especially by those who have mastered thread art and specialize in beautiful butt wraps. However, from many of these fine craftsmen I see a lack of understanding of basic structural principals as well as a lack of knowledge of rudimentary rod blank construction. From very competent rod builders I have seen atrocious attempts at repair of the rod that they so expertly created. I think that a lot of this has to do with where the heart lies. If your heart isn't in it - forget it - don't clobber it up just to get it out of your hair. Probably one of the most common of repair jobs that any of us are asked to perform is the simple procedure of putting back together two pieces of a rod - usually tip sections - that were inadvertently separated. I have a few of these jobs in my shop at the present time, so letıs go through the repair of some of them and analyze the reasoning behind each one. I have selected some that are very common to all of us, simple tip sections of fly rods and light spin rods - and progressive in their complexity. All are of graphite construction.

    1. A 4-weight fly rod, broken in the center of the guide adjacent to the tip.

    2. A 6-weight fly rod, broken about a foot from the tip, between the second and third guide.

    3. Another 4-weight fly rod, broken about 9 inches from the ferrule.

    4. A medium-weight spin rod, crushed forward of the gathering guide.

    5. A crushed ferrule on a very cheap discount store special fly rod.


When we join two separated sections of a rod, the intent is that the completed repair be as structurally sound as the original and that it perform, feel and act as it did before it became disjointed. Therefore it follows that our repair materiel should represent as closely as possible the properties that are inherent in the original rod, i.e., have the same stiffness, flex etc, but it is more important that we maintain the properties of the ROD itself. It must retain the same balance, the same flexure, the same power, the same overall properties inherent in the original design. The only logical manner in which to join these broken rod tips is to use a tapered tubular section of similar materiel and make a splice. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff I've removed from repairs that went sour. Piano wire, small nails, wooden dowels, aluminum tubing, brass tubing, steel tubing, solid plastic rods like pieces of plastic chop sticks - you name it. Let's take the repair examples one at a time and analyze their differences and sameness. ~ R. O'Quinn

Next Time!

Rod Repair Articles
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice