Take Care of Your Fishing Rods

About the author

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens is the 2005 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and a four-time runner-up in the Bassmaster Classic. He's widely regarded as the best natural angler in the Elite Series.

Some guys really abuse their rods. I see it a lot with co-anglers and in local tournaments. They take real good care of everything else but for some reason they don’t seem to think their rods need anything. That’s not true. They need care and maintenance just like your other fishing tools.

Here are five easy steps to help you get the most out of your fishing rods:

1. Clean the guides

This is the most important one. Guides get a lot of use and abuse. Over time stuff builds up on them that can really damage your line. In some lakes and rivers it’s minerals and in others it’s grass and other kinds of vegetation. No matter, it needs to be removed.

I clean mine with a Q-tip and Reel Magic, WD-40 or, in extreme cases I have used Dawn dish soap. Soak the Q-tip real well and then rub all around the guide — inside and outside — until it’s perfectly clean. In cases you might want to use a soft plastic brush but never use a wire one. That’ll really wipe out a rod guide.

If it’s hot out and stuff is drying on my guides while I’m fishing I clean them real quick with water and my shirt just to get through the day. It only takes a couple of seconds, but it can make all the difference in the world.

2. Clean the handles and reel mounting hardware

This will help make your rod last longer and make it more efficient to handle. I use a white towel and rubbing alcohol. Soak the towel with the rubbing alcohol and then rub real hard. Everything will come clean and look like new. And you’ll be able to handle the rod without it sticking to your hand, which could cause you to lose a fish.

It’s really important to clean them when they’re new, too. There’s a lot of dirt on a new rod handle. You want to get all that off if you can. (Cork dust is nasty.) Besides, the alcohol will disinfect the handle in case there are any germs on it.

3. Make them look good

If you want the finish to last longer and look better wipe the blank off a couple of times a year with Pledge. It’ll repel water and make them shine. You can also use a carnauba based wax, but I personally think that’s a little extreme.

4. Store them properly

Store the rods you aren’t using in Rod Sleeves. That protects them and keeps them from getting all tangled up. They come in various sizes and different colors. They don’t cost that much, so buy the ones that fit your rods. I carry my rods from the garage, motel room or truck to the boat in cases. Megabass makes some of the best. I highly recommend them.

If possible, I always store my rods vertical. That keeps the blanks straight. If I have to lay them down, I never do it with a bend in the blank. Over time the rod will “take” that bend, and it’ll be ruined.

Never store a rod in a hot place like your car or truck. Heat can weaken them. And, never lay your rod over something hard like the boat gunnel or something in your truck and then let it bounce up and down on the same spot. That’ll weaken the blank and could cause it to break when it’s under pressure — like when you’re fighting a big bass.

5. Rods don't last forever

Replace your rods every so often, even if they look good.

All rods weaken over time. After several years they go soft and won’t hold up like when they were new. This is not a complaint about any particular make or manufacturer. It’s just the way it is in the real world. You can test this by taking an old rod and comparing it to an identical new rod. You’ll see and feel the difference immediately.

Take care of your rods, and they’ll take care of you.

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