How and Why Do Fishing Rods Not Break

how do fishing rods not break

Give a man a fish, he’ll eat well for one day.

Teach him how to operate a fishing rod and he will eat well for the rest of his life. Modern rods are amazing tools.

They’re flexible and versatile.

They can be used to fish in different types of water.

But, in the angling world, people tend to pay a lot of attention to boats and lures. But, angling rods are the actual stars.

For an experienced fisher, his/her fishing rod will do 90% of the hard work on any fishing trip.

New- fishing rods – be it fly rods or any other rods – are designed keeping the needs of fishers & anglers in mind.

They’re strong, affordable, can handle wide varieties of fish, and take harsh beatings every now and again. These poles are often built by and for experienced anglers.

But, whether you use small-stream wands less than 6 feet long or 15-foot, two-handed salmon sticks – no rod is unbreakable.

Just like all tools, poles break due to various reasons. No fisher wants to see a broken fishing rod.

When Fishing Rods Break

No fisher wants to hear the sound of their graphite poles snapping or splitting in half.

These sounds are usually followed by the sounds cash registers make because fishers have to spend heavy on getting replacements.

Breaking a fishing rod is definitely an unavoidable phenomenon. In the long run, all angling poles will crack or break – that’s the nature of all things.

But, many fishers break their rod tips or rod blanks – not because of overuse.

It’s one thing seeing poles crack after you’ve used them for fifteen or more years.

But, in many cases, fishers break their angling poles way too early. An avoidable accident or a stupid decision can easily lead to a broken fishing rod.

When such silliness causes fishers to lose their valuable angling poles, they tend to make up excuses. “Graphite rods break easily.” “

Most angling poles break within 6 to 18 months of use.” “More angling poles these days are being made for short-term use.”

These are the types of rumors fishers spread and believe in when their poles crack prematurely.

But – believe it or not – there are many experienced anglers and fishers who’ve never snapped their angling poles.

These experts know exactly what makes their poles tick.

More importantly, they know how do fishing rods not break.

There’s a science to ensuring your poles never break – at least not in normal, avoidable conditions.

Let’s understand this science. But first, let’s understand how poles break.

How Fishing Rod Breaks

young man fishing

Contrary to popular belief, a fishing rod breaking doesn’t always have to be a dramatic affair. In fact, most poles break due to simple, silly, and easily avoidable reasons.

The initial break or crack happens because of improper use, storage, or transportation.

Soon enough, the slightly broken fishing rod becomes unusable. Many new-age fiberglass poles or carbon poles don’t even break – they unravel.

Very small fractures become fatal blows when fishers use these poles to fight large fish.

On the other hand, a good rod may not break even when you exceed its rod rating threshold.

It may hold a lot more weight than its supposed to without losing its structural integrity.

So, what exactly causes these sticks to break?

What type of structural degradation undermines the reliability of high-quality poles?

This type of degradation can come in many forms

  • A clean and direct break at one of the weak points of the rod may cause it to snap into two or more pieces.
  • Poles with low rod ratings may shatter if fishers apply excessive pressure.
  • A small action rod may bend & break, but not separate if you happen to come across bigger fish in your small-scale, inland fishing adventure.
  • Shorter rods may also unravel spirally or split vertically because of loose hooks, broken reel seats, or damaged butt sections.

Exactly how poles break depends on the spots at which the cracks occur.

Clean and direct breaks typically happen on both ends of the fishing rod.

When rods shatter completely, it’s usually because the fishers apply excessive force to the rods’ pressure points.

Vertical splitting or spiral unraveling starts at the rod tip and works its way down. Either way, rods break when they’re subjected to excessive levels of trauma.

So, what type of trauma causes perfectly good spinning rods or surf rods to break?

This trauma can come from various sources:

1) Improper Transportation of the Fishing Rods 

When fishers transport their poles with loose hooks or other damaged parts, they expose them to various risks.

For instance, let’s say you’re driving a boat with your poles rigged in the back.

One loose hook can cause a very small fracture.

This fracture can easily become a full-scale crack. So, don’t rig the poles while transporting them and everything will be fine, right? Not quite.

  • If you transport the poles while they’re laid flat on the surface or against their tailgates, they can get fractured.
  • The car or boat in which you’re traveling may bounce up and down causing fractures to the poles. Even while walking, you can mistakenly jam the tip of your brand-new rod on the ground.
  • If your rod is dragged in uneven concrete for even a few seconds, it may pick up tiny fractures.
  • If the entire rod doesn’t crack and only the bottom parts have fractures – you’re probably overloading your fishing tool.
  • If you use weights that are too heavy for your rod to handle – it will overload and break.

That’s why experienced fishermen spend years teaching amateurs how to apply precise amounts of pressure on the fish.

The trick is to focus on the dish while keeping the rod rating and weight in mind.

If you only focus on the fish, you may cause damage to your poles without even noticing.

Hence, fishers have to spend years mastering how to use long fast action rods. The same goes for slow/medium action shorter rods.

Not using the rods’ strength in the right places can easily cause rods to overload and snap.

2) Using the Wrong Rod at the Wrong Time

Modern rods come in various styles and materials.

Every angling technique or practice requires a special type of rod made out of specific materials.

For instance, if you’re going fly fishing, you’ll need slender, fast-action graphite or fiberglass poles.

Similarly, for deep-sea water angling, you’ll need stronger carbon poles or surf rods made with corrosion-resistant materials.

Fighting fish isn’t universal, “one size fits all” process. Different fish respond to different types of poles.

Spinning rods made for river angling will bend or break very easily inside warm saltwater bodies.

Therefore, fishers need to account for a lot of factors before selecting the “right” poles for their missions.

These factors include – the water type, temperature, type of fish being targeted, and other external environmental elements.

3) High Sticking

High sticking is a mistake that many people who are new to angling make. They essentially lift up their poles too far.

When the poles are raised more than 90 degrees from the ground, they break.

The odd angle activates the rods’ weak points causing them to break easily.

To avoid such cracks and fractures, fishers must always respect the 90-degree angle rule.

Whenever you lift fish from the water surface, keep an eye on the rod’s angle.

4) Trauma and Stress

The poles used can experience a variety of trauma and stress.

Place your rod against rough concrete for a long period and it will eventually pick up cracks.

Even wood surfaces can damage your rod tips or butt sections.

You may accidentally strike a tree or hit the ceiling fan with your rods.

Hitting the poles against any hard surfaces is a no-no because these types of seemingly small-scale trauma often result in full-scale breakage.

5) Overuse

The poles are designed to be bashed against strong elements. But, if you bash them too much, they’ll eventually break.

Most anglers have multiple poles of the same type or material. They use their poles alternatively to ensure not one rod in their collections is overused.

So, they’ll have three or four spinning rods for freshwater fishing in their arsenal.

They’ll also have multiple tall and short rods in their collections.

The freedom to choose that comes with these collections ensures that they never overuse their precious poles.

A good fishing rod made of advanced materials can technically serve you well for decades.

But, if you use it daily and put huge amounts of stress on it every day – it will break prematurely.

6) Manufacturer Defects

Believe it or not, manufacturer defects in the fishing rod industry are very rare. When they happen, they’re spotted directly.

That’s because you’ll probably spot all manufacturer defects in a fishing rod the first time you use it.

Thankfully, top manufacturers of angling poles offer extensive warranties.

If you detect manufacturing defects in your poles, inform your seller immediately before they break.

7) Rod Not Matching the Tackle

Poles break almost instantly when fishers don’t match their strength with the tackle they use.

Not using matching tackles can cause even the most high-quality graphite poles to break within seconds.

How do you know that your rod is in danger and that it doesn’t match the tackle?

Just notice whether you’re stretching the rod too much while fighting fish.

If the struggle is unnecessarily extensive, know that your tackle doesn’t match your fishing rod.

That’s why using 25-pound tackles to catch big fish with slender carbon rods doesn’t make sense.

8) Bad Reels

A weak real seat or a poor fishing line can also cause your rod to snap. Fighting big fish with weak reels is impossible.

Unless your reel can handle 14 to 16 lbs. of pressure, line breaking is inevitable. As soon as the line breaks, the rod does too.

Poles with weak rod guides and reels are guaranteed to break in intense situations.

Why Do Fishing Rods Not Break?

maintaining the rod

Recently, a story of an 88-year-old fisher giving his decades-old fishing pole to his young grandson went viral.

The fisher had made this rod 70+ years ago with four pieces of bamboo.

This six-feet long makeshift rod is still in proper condition.

Now, bamboo has many structural qualities that make it a good material for making poles for catching fish. But, are bamboo rods unbreakable?

Absolutely not.

  • So, how did this man’s ancient rod serve him so well for so many decades?
  • How did fishing rods not break?

More importantly, can you make your rods last for similarly long amounts of time?

The answer is yes. While many fishing poles break after 5 to 6 years of use, many don’t.

Why and how do these fishing rods not break for such long periods?

There are many factors that contribute to the long-term preservation of poles.

They include – routine rod maintenance, using the right rods in the right spots in the right ways, and more.

Let’s explore how you can avoid rod breaks by incorporating these factors into your fishing practices:

1) Tracking and Maintaining the Rod’s Condition

In the earlier example involving the 70-year-old bamboo fishing rod, rod maintenance played a key part.

The fisher in question threaded and varnished his age-old bamboo rod multiple times over the years.

He maintained and stored his rod very carefully in friendly environments for several decades.

Only then was he able to pass it down to his grandson.

Modern angling poles can last just as long (if not longer) if they receive the same level of care and maintenance.

If you store your rods inside protective covers and place them securely on rod racks – they’ll last for decades.

Conversely, if you store them without proper covers inside cold garages where they’re constantly exposed to moisture and extreme temperature conditions – they’ll break much sooner than you expect.

2) Considering the Rod Materials

As stated above, different fishing poles made of different materials serve different purposes.

Modern fishing rods aren’t made of wood or bamboo anymore.

They’re made of advanced materials like fiberglass, graphite, carbon, and composite materials (a mixture of graphite and fiberglass).

The way you care for your fishing poles should vary based on their materials.

a) Graphite

These poles come in different degrees of strength and stiffness. The stiffer the rod, the less graphite it contains.

So, a light rod made for freshwater fishing may weigh less than a strong rod made for seawater fishing.

But, both will offer similar levels of stiffness and accuracy.

Inexperienced fishers often confuse stiffness with durability.

They assume that all fast or super-fast action graphite ones are the same. They’re not.

Different grades of graphite fishing poles (e.g., IM6, IM7, IM8, etc.) require different types of maintenance.

You can’t maintain your freshwater graphite poles the same way you maintain the saltwater ones.

Saltwater graphite fishing poles need extra care because they’re regularly exposed to harsher conditions.

b) Fiberglass

Most fiberglass rods are slow to medium-action fishing poles.

They’re light, cheap, and less easy to break than expensive graphite poles.

Since inexperienced fishers are likelier to use these poles, they’re also likelier to make technique-related errors.

That’s why most fiberglass rods crack at their tips. Inexperienced fishers either drag the on the floor or apply too much pressure on them.

c) Composite

These poles are made from a mixture of fiberglass and graphite.

Manufacturers also add other fibers to these poles to make them stronger.

However, many fishers are misled by the durability of these poles. Unlike strong graphite poles, composite sticks are not designed to lift heavy fish.

They may survive harsher weather conditions or not get damaged by salt. But, they’re definitely not as strong as pure graphite poles.

So, many fishers mistakenly apply too much pressure on their composite rods. They either overuse the poles or catch way larger fish than the poles are equipped to handle.

Strategic care and maintenance are essential for the long-term health of your poles. Here are some strategic maintenance practices.

  • Always clean and store your graphite poles in dry conditions. Never use one composite carbon fiber rod multiple times back to back.
  • Always carry multiple cheap fiberglass rods instead of fishing with only one or two. Even better – engineer your fishing sticks for extra strength.
  • A new-age top baitcasting rod will be engineered for extra strength. Manufacturers usually add Kevlar, stainless steel, silica, excess epoxy, and other strengthening agents to these poles. Find fishing sticks that feature these protective ingredients.

3) Thickness and Power

The thicker your fishing rod, the more power it offers.

Fishing rod power is the amount of pressure it takes to bend the rod.

Here are the different power ratings modern rods offer:

  • Ultra-light
  • Light
  • Medium-light
  • Medium
  • Medium-heavy
  • Heavy

So, does that mean heavy poles don’t break that often?


A heavy rod may break very easily if you use it to pick up fish in a vertical position. Similarly, an ultra-light rod will break easily if you use it to target larger fish.

Both low and high-power fishing rods offer different types of strength.

Light power fishing sticks can facilitate lighter tackle much better than their high-power counterparts.

If you’re setting small lures for Trout or Panfish, a high-power, the fast-action rod won’t be of much use.

Similarly, if you have to manage larger rigs & lures to catch catfish or bass, you’ll need thick, high-power poles.

Never mistake a rod’s thickness and power rating for its durability. These ratings only describe how and where the poles ought to be used.

They don’t indicate the level of care and maintenance the poles need. All fishing poles need and deserve proper care.

Never undersee the needs of your high-power, fast-action poles.

4) Flexibility

Fishing poles lose their flexibility over time.

Graphite rods in particular lose a lot of their flexibility as they age.

That’s because the bonds between the epoxy and graphite break down over time due to repetitive use.

The poles feel softer and weigh less with age.

Fishers often have to get lighter pole guides and weight lines to make their aging graphite rods perform optimally.

Needless to say, such inflexible poles are more prone to breaking and cracking.

To avoid these risks, take the following steps after each time you use your fishing poles –

  • Wash it down with fresh and warm water. Use soap to clean the rod blanks and the grips.
  • Apply reel grease on the rod guides to prevent corrosion-related risks.
  • Check all guides for very small fractures. If you find any, replace the damaged guides immediately.
  • Store all poles in secure rod covers. Store them on dry and spacious rod stands. Make sure the rod tips don’t touch any surface.

Typically, taller, ultra-light poles offer way more flexibility than shorter, ultra-heavy poles.

But they also have much lower break thresholds.

5) Storage and Transportation

Improper storage is the number one cause of fish rods breaking.

That’s why experienced fishermen have well-defined storage rituals that they follow.

These rituals include the following steps:

a) Pre-Storage Preparation

Thoroughly clean the poles and get rid of any dirt, saltwater, and minerals on the rods’ surfaces.

Storing a rod that still has dirt or saltwater on its surface will lead to corrosion and cracks.

b) Component Cleaning

Fishers don’t just clean their poles or rod blanks.

They also clean their fishing reels, lines, tackles, lures, and other components before storing them.

They send their fishing equipment for professional-grade servicing every year.

They even wax their rods’ joints to keep them flexible & friction-free.

c) Rod Racks

When your fishing poles are not in use or in transit, store them inside rod racks or rod holders.

These storage devices give fishing rods the safety and space they need.

Buy either a vertical or horizontal rod rack and use it to store your precious poles.

Your options include – wall rod racks, freestanding rod racks, and ceiling rod racks.

d) Storage Location

Place your rod rack in a dry and spacious spot. Your home’s garage or backyard bunker are good candidates.

If the room isn’t dry enough, buy a dehumidifier. Place silica gel pouches inside the fishing rod bags or covers.

Store these covers at room temperature conditions, away from direct sunlight exposure.

Loosen the drags of your fishing poles before storing them. Tight drags can damage the tiny mechanical pieces in your reels, causing them to snap.

Storing a rod with tight drags may also cause it to bend.

So, avoid these risks by loosening your rods’ drags. If there are any old, damaged lines attached to your poles, cut them off entirely.

If you’re transporting your poles, pack them properly.

Cover them in multiple layers of bubble wrap. Use packing tape to seal these protective layers.

Then, place the poles inside solid cardboard tubes or PVC tubes/pipes.

Fill up these boxes or tubes with packaging chips and fillers.


Not all fishing poles are created equal. Some outlive others for reasons that are hard to explain.

Some are designed for durability.

For instance, modern, collapsible fishing poles are made for fishers who travel frequently.

They’re easy to store & transport.

But, such a fishing rod also comes with extra maintenance responsibilities.

On the other hand, old-school single-piece fishing poles are harder to transport. But, they’re also sturdier and can function well with tiny fractures.

There’s no easy answer to the question – why and how do certain fishing poles break while others don’t?

Only one thing’s clear – care, maintenance, proper storage, and proper use are key to your fishing rod’s longevity.

So, always buy high-quality fishing poles from reliable sellers.

Then, follow the aforementioned care and maintenance guidelines to prevent them from breaking prematurely.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why do fishing rods break?

Fishing sticks can break because of various reasons. Improper use, application of too much pressure, and improper storage are the most common reasons why fishing sticks break.

Why is a fishing rod so flexible?

Fishing poles have always been flexible tools. From ancient bamboo rods to modern, ultra-light spin rods – flexibility is a key characteristic of fishing sticks. Their flexibility allows them to bend when fish are stuck on their hooks. The bending maintains tension on the line and prevents the rod from slacking and snapping in two. Fish also have a harder time pulling on the lines of flexible fishing rods. Fishers can also cast greater distances with flexible and bendable fishing rods.

Do all fishing poles break down?

No. Countless families have managed to preserve their angling poles for centuries. However, just like any other material object – all poles are prone to degeneration and loss of quality. Improper use, careless storage, and overuse may contribute to the deterioration of your fishing poles.

Can fishing poles snap in half?

Yes. Most of the time, angling sticks snap into two or more pieces due to the fisher’s fault. This happens when fishers apply too much pressure on the weak points of their rods. The pressure causes their fragile tips to snap.