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Bad habits that will break your rod and reel

Fishing Columnist Brad Laabs

This week's topic was stimulated by some repeat behavior from several different customers. It is the bad habit of hooking a jig or a hook in the guide on a fishing rod.

I tie hook holders on all my custom-built rods and they are for holding jigs, hooks, and lures. The problem with hooking a jig, hook, or lure into the guide is the risk of putting a scuff in the ceramic or ceramic guides or creating a burr in a metal guide. As the line winds though the guide it can fray or nick the line and create line break — usually at just the wrong time! If your rod does not have hook holders, do not use the cork or foam handle. Use the "foot" to the guide so it does not damage the guide or any part of your handle.

Another bad habit I see and intervene on quickly, is pulling the jig, hook, or lure back to hook it up by bending the rod or pulling straight back on the tip. This habit will eventually cause a rod break at the tip, either when you are doing it, or another time when the tip is under stress.

To hook yourself up, leave slack in the line, hook up the hook, and then reel the slack out of the line. Do not tighten to the point the rod is curved at all from the tension.

Another sure fire way to stress the tip that will eventually cause tip breakage (or will break at the time!) is to grab the rod in the middle to hoist a fish out of the lake or to try and get yourself free of a snag. Do not do that to your fishing rod. Use the whole rod to hoist a fish, or better yet, reach over and lift the fish itself or use a net.

If you are snagged, go back and try to remove from the same angle or try to pop it off a couple of times. If it does not come free right away, point the rod straight at the snag, hold the spool and pull straight away so the tension is on the line and not the rod.

A common problem creator I observe when it comes to reels is the way people lay them down. With an open face spinning reel, make sure the handle and bail spring are up and the weight of the rod/reel is not on the handle or bail spring. Laying them on the deck or floor or bouncing them across the lake can damage handles and for sure will weaken bail springs.

Whenever possible it is a good idea to strap the rods or stow them in rod lockers when traveling rough water or significant distances. Always lay your rod down in a location that is least likely to have it stepped on, sat on, or closed in a compartment lid.

I do many repairs each season of rod guides, tips, and broken rods from rods not being properly stowed by their owners. Remember, your rod and reel are your friend. Treat them right and they will treat you right when you need them!

(Brad Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)