Along with guiding (just finishing up my 31st season) I also build custom fishing rods and do rod repairs.
It is not uncommon to get to this time of the season and have had a rod issue. Most times it is a broken tip, ceramic knocked out of a guide or tip-top, a broken guide, or a loose handle. There are some easy fixes that can save you putting that rod down or throwing it away and buying a new one.
If just a few inches have broken off the tip, you can get a new tip top put on for only a few bucks. If the next guide down is too close, it can be removed by heating the epoxy covering the threading on the guide and using a razor blade to carefully remove the guide.
Tip tops can be bought at several bait shops in the area, or provided by a custom rod builder. Make sure it is the right size to slip easily onto the end of the rod, use tip glue or glue from a hot glue gun to attach the tip.
Most tips can easily be removed and replaced. Most tips can be heated and slipped off easily. If there is a little epoxy bead around the bottom edge, heat and carefully remove with a razor blade.
Some manufacturers of commercial rods use a permanent glue and when heated they will not slip off. In these situations, you can cut the tip off with a hack saw or dremel with a cutting blade. Re-fit with a replaceable, properly sized tip and attach with the tip glue. In the future these tip-tops can be easily replaced by heating and pulling off. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, myself and a few others can do this for you for a couple bucks.
If you knocked the ceramic out of a guide, you can’t re-install a ceramic ring. The guide must be replaced. If you are a DIY person, you can some instructions on YouTube and replacement guides can be ordered from companies like Mud Hole, Jan’s Netcraft, and Thorn Brothers.
Another option is to take it to a rod builder or repair shop to save yourself some time, effort, and money. Sometimes the ceramic in the tip-tops or guides gets worn, or groves cut into it that can cause line breaks.
Most of the no-stretch super lines will wear down ceramic, especially in the tip-tops. You can see the flaws most times with a magnify glass or test them by pulling a piece of tissue through it that will snag on the fragments. Sometimes you can extend their life by sanding with 600 grit sandpaper.
You can get away with that a few times, but know the best option after that is to just have the tip or guide replaced.
Most rod breakage comes from getting jammed into rod lockers, stepped on in the boat, closed in car doors, banged against the gunnel of the boat, or grabbed in the middle of the rod to hoist a fish or try to free from a snag. If the upper third of the rod is broken (not just a few inches off the tip) sorry, you will need to purchase a new rod. If it is broken halfway or more to the handle, many times these can be “sleeved” and saved. If you break the upper third of the rod, you may be able to add a handle and use it as an ice fishing rod. Components like guides, tips, and hook savers can be saved for repairs for others or your own future rods. I take broken rods off people’s hands and remove these components to help keep the cost of repairs down for others. Take care of your equipment so it can take care of you when it counts.
Columnist Brad Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.