These days, fishing rods are made to be light in weight. Blanks are made from high-modulus graphite that offer a great flex profile and that enables us to cast long, fish all day without tiring, and land lots of fish. If you disagree then put down your new graphite stick and pull out a 1950’s fiberglass rod. Over the past few decades fishing rods have come a long way.
There are as many reasons for rod tip breakage as there are rods. Sometimes we slam them in a car door, other times we accidentally stick them in a ceiling fan, and still other times we just hit them on a boat gunnel and fracture the graphite. They may not actually break until a few days or weeks later. Unless they make for a funny story, the reasons how rod tips break don’t really matter. What matters is getting back to fishing as soon as possible.
Every gear bag or tackle box should contain a few items that will allow us to make a quick repair and get back in action. The four simple items you need are: a variety of replacement tip tops to fit your rods, a hot glue stick, a pair of pliers, and a lighter. A fifth item, a tip gauge provides accurate measurements to match your new tip top tube to the diameter of your broken tip section. They’re the right way to go for creating a precise fit, but tip gauges are not necessary for an on-the-water repair.
1. Match a tip top to your broken tip. Tip tops range in size from 3.5-30. Measure one with a tip gauge or place different sized tip tops on the blank until you find a snug fit. Remove from the blank.
2. Heat the glue stick. Hold your lighter on the glue stick for 7-10 seconds until the glue melts. Coat the blank completely making sure that all the graphite or fiberglass is covered.
3. Slide on your tip top. Position the tip top slowly onto the tip. Push slowly so any air bubbles are forced out. Align with your guides and let it set for a minute or two.
Some pre-made kits are available and they range in price from about $5.00 to $150.00. Check for online sites that offer the kits as well as gauges, hot-melt glue, and a variety of tip tops. Or swing by your local tackle shop and assemble your own kit.
Tom Keer is a freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com.