How are fly anglers breaking all of these rods?



Well-known member
Nov 10, 2006
Broken rods are frequently mentioned here and after yrs of reading such comments I have to ask “how is this occurring so much?” I suspect that others and I could perhaps learn some lessons from those who have broken fly rods so that we might be more careful and avoid some usual and unusual pitfalls or situations that have led to broken rods in the past. Starting to shut a car door and at that very moment seeing a rod leaning against the car starting to slide into the gap between the car and the door frame seems like a common one for anglers of all categories, but fly rods seem to have their own knack for breakage. After all, what other type of rod comes with a spare tip?
I own bamboo, glass & graphite rods but have only broken two rods in my life, both due to some defect and both repaired under warranty.

The first was a brand new high end fiberglass rod that just snapped in half on a forward cast on its very first outing.

The second was a relatively new Tenkara rod that also just snapped in half as I was lifting my nymph from the bottom of a local creek.

I will add that I don't do anything stupid or careless with ANY fishing rods (including spinning & casting) like yanking hard on snags or getting them banged or scratched up needlessly. I also have a special rod & reel holder I made that keeps my rod out of harms way when setting up or tearing down by my car.

Maybe that's why I've been so lucky...

Some breaks may be blamed on whacking the rod with a beadhead fly or other heavy fly but I've done that AND clobbered conventional rods with some stuff WAY heavier than that (spinnerbaits, jigs, hard baits & soft plastic rigs) and I NEVER broke a spinning or casting rod which are almost all graphite and far from high priced.

Beats me...? :unsure:
I have never broken a fly rod in my life. I have only ever broken two rods in my life. One when I was a kid and I was riding bike to a pond to catch LMB. The rod tip got too low, hit the ground, and I kept riding on, so it got overly flexed and snapped.

The second rod I broke was a bait caster I shut in a car door....
My deceased old man broke a dozen in his life, I bet. He spent too many Saturday mornings watching BASS pros who don't pay for their rods lifting fish into the boat.

I broke the tip on a 3 weight once and I deserved it. Did not follow the adage of "gentle hands" when yanking a snag out of a tree on a tight creek where it had happened one too many times that day.

Otherwise, I think stepping on them, car doors, driving over them, etc. Some dudes just have a gift....
I broke a Cortland GRF on Green Spring about 35 yrs ago when my fly got caught in a tree after missing a hookset. I gently (the rod obviously disagreed) tried to shake the fly loose from an overhead limb and the top 3" of the rod snapped off. It is the only rod I've ever broken in 40+ yrs of fishing.
About 2000 years ago a buddy of mine slammed my Garcia Four Star Conolon fiberglass spinning rod in his car door and not only did the rod survive, I fished it for several years after that until I traded it in towards a discount on my first fly rod...

...which I still have, unbroken as well. ;)

Considering that my first spinning rod was an Eagle Claw Trailmaster in an aluminum tube, it made me recall that the Conolon was the ONLY rod of any kind that I ever owned then or since that DIDN'T come in a rod tube.

Since then I've bought a lot of different rods of different types since and if they didn't come with a tube, I bought one or fabricated a tube to protect the rod regardless of the price.

I guess that has something to do with my good luck too...
1. Car door
2. Yanking fly from tree (at least three times) -- a bad habit I still have sometimes
3. Hit rod tip on bridge abutment while trying to flip a fly under the bridge
4. Stepped on it while maneuvering to try to take a pic of a trout
5. While playing a trout -- bamboo, which I was instructed to play with the rod parallel to the stream and play off the reel. I was playing it as I do with my other rods --" giving it the butt!"
6. Was stuck on a branch; gently pulled the branch down to extract the fly; tip already broken.. I think rod fatigue was a contributing factor with this old, often-used rod.

These are the ones I remember. Geez, pretty clumsy or careless on most of them
Anything hard hitting the blank will do it. A small nick in a graphite blank and it’s game over. Splits shot or the lead eyes of a fly hitting it or even a piece of hard plastic in my case.

I had a horrible failure a few years ago. In my pursuit of trying new and creative things I decided to use a new and unique strike indicator. I was at a local tackle shop and saw these small clear hard plastic bubbles. I believe they are used by spin fisherman to fill with a little water and add weight to be able to cast a fly on spin gear. I wondered had anyone ever tried these for fly fishing? It had a little clear plastic peg to secure it in place and make adjustments easy. It was small enough I figured to get away with small short casts. Because it was clear I thought it would be super stealthy on spooky fish.

First day I added it about 5 feet up my leader to my fly rod setup with a march brown wet fly with a nymph dropper while on the stream. Adding it once I was at my spot was my only saving grace as I would soon find out. Three casts in a wham and I hooked and landed my biggest wild brown up to that point that spring. A beautiful 20-1/2” male couldn’t resist that March brown wet under an invisible dropper. I fished for a few hours and caught a few more small trout. Then things really went downhill.

After fishing a little while longer I decided to walk back to my car. Drove to a new spot and hiked in a long long ways. At the new spot I went to make a cast and my 9’ fly rod snapped in half on the very first false cast. Not thinking much off it ( I’ve broken many rods over the years, it’s just part of fishing) I walked back to my car and headed home.

Two days later I had some time in the evening so I rigged up another rod complete with my new hard plastic indicator and headed to a local stream. After another long hike in I got to a nice pool and started to cast. Very first false cast and snap another 9’ fly rod snapped in half! What the heck I thought. I definitely didn’t hit the blank with the fly’s or the indicator. I was slightly more frustrated this time and confused. I hadn’t broken s rod in roughly 5 years. Now i broke two in three days. But I am stubborn and it gets worse.

Two days later yet again, on a warm overcast afternoon I decided to head out again. Yet again with another 9’5weight. Same mistake, I rigged up at home. I got to the stream and once again walked a very long way to get to a specific stretch I like.

But as I walked I noticed something. Every step I took that tiny hard plastic bobber would tap against the rod blank making a small ticking sound. Over and over for hundreds of steps. I couldn’t help but start thinking. I wonder if that small ticking against the blank was somehow weakening it. So I decide to take a mental note of exactly where it was making contact. A little more than halfway up the rod and evenly spaced between between two eyes. I stepped into the water and nervously started to cast. On the forward motion of my first false cast. Snap my rod broke in two. At exactly where that stupid clear hard plastic bubble bobber piece of junk was at. Exactly where it was tapping the blank. Yes I feel dumb. That hard plastic taping the blank as I walked weakerned the graphite.

I got home and threw the rest of those spin bubbles in the trash. Lesson learned, the hard and stubborn way. Anything hard that puts even the smallest nick in the graphite blank can break a rod. Unfortunately it took me breaking 3 rods in 5 days to fully grasp this concept. I haven’t broken a rod since.

That about sums it up. Using equipment designed for spinning gear on a fly rod is one way fly fisherman are breaking all these rods. At least one way I did. Lesson definitely learned. 😢

All I can do now is look back and laugh. Hopefully you all got a laugh too!

Happy Easter!
Between my 2 Far & Fines, they've been back to Manchester 5-6 times for new tip sections since 1982-3. At least half of these events involved bridge abutments interacting with 4" brook trout. I have a pretty savage strike reflex..
...5. While playing a trout -- bamboo, which I was instructed to play with the rod parallel to the stream and play off the reel. I was playing it as I do with my other rods --" giving it the butt!"...

20+ years of fishing bamboo exclusively mellowed my approach to fishing everything else since...

...2. Yanking fly from tree (at least three times) -- a bad habit I still have sometimes...

Taking up Tenkara has helped even more because if you do #2, your screwed. ;)
According to a survey on this subject about 20 years ago car doors are the number one reason for broken rods. Second was ticking the rod as mentioned in a previous post. Many rods will take a split shot or just tick a tree limb and still fish OK for a while. Then the first pressure put it and the minor defect will break at the weakest point.
I rolled a San Francisco Scott G up in a rear car window on BFC. Another one was a switch rod that rolled off my truck bed cover. I tried to catch it and ended up holding the top 5" while the rest of the rod came to rest on the ground. I broke a guide off another switch trying to separate 2 sections. I still need to re-wrap that one.

Related, Scott fly rods has all of the mandrels for all of the rods they've ever produced. They can build you a new section if you break one. I started thinking, maybe they could wrap me an entire rod...maybe a model they discontinued. I emailed them about doing one of their warm water rods and they said they could do it. However, it was north of $1000. Too much for me.
I was in a hurry one afternoon and ran over my favorite rod. Luckily it was a Winston and I had it back completely repaired in a few weeks. I paid a good bit for that rod and also have so many good memories using it that I would have been heartbroken if it couldn't have been repaired.
I have broken one in a canoe when an anchor accidentally smashed it and another in a car trunk. That might be it for fly rods breaking. Have broken more spinning rods than I can count.
I also notice an increased frequency of broken rods being mentioned on PAFF lately.
I've broken one fly rod in my life, just last year. It was my Saint Croix Imperial 7' 3wt. I was heartbroken! I'm thinking this is probably one of the most bizarre ways to break one.

I planned to fish a certain stream the next day, where I could access it having my rod pre-strung. So, I layed it on the carpet in my living room, against the wall, where I thought it would be out of the way. I didn't have my fly on the keeper, because I didn't want a kink in my leader from sitting overnight with the tension, so I left slack in my line.

I commenced to vacuuming my carpet (you know what's coming), wanting to get my chores done before I went fishing.
As I'm doing this, I even reminded to myself not to get too close to that rod laying there. Everything was going well, until I heard a quick snapping sound! Here, my leader was further out from my rod than I "thought", and the vacum's brushroll grabbed that leader and snapped off 6"-7" of my rod tip. It also took about two feet of fly line with it! :)

I was lucky enough to be able to order a replacement tip section for $25, basically covering the cost of shipping. Live and learn!
The only rods I broke were at the ferrules the orvis trident and a t3 rods broke just above the 2end ferrule on a 4 pc rod. Hope the H3 fairs better been about 3 years now.
The high end fly rods are usually thin walled to reduce weight, and made with high modulus graphite, which provides great casting power, but it's brittle.

So, the rods cast great, but they are prone to breakage. It's a tradeoff.
I don't want to talk about it.


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Tips from fly impact (funny cause I pointed at the snag and pulled bag so I wouldn’t break the rod and the fly popped and hit the tip). Getting in/out of the boat and boot caught the reel. Falling off roof of truck. Abuse/use from an errant cast or hitting of a bridge or tree. It happens so I don’t worry about it and buy rods from company’s that have a good repair service (me breaking a rod isn’t a warranty issue).

From years of working with people, so many “high stick” a fish. Hard to explain other than keeping rod too vertical or pointed back when landing a fish, on a short line and all the pressure gets put on the top portion of the rod. Super quick and easy way to break a stick.
fishing deep in high water and hitting the weight against the tip on a bad pickup. Done it twice. I feel dumber every time I think about it.