How Long Do Fishing Rods Last?

how long do fishing rods last

“Life is like a river” – from author Emma Smith to the rock band Scorpions, many people have made this popular comparison.

After all, waterbodies blessed with an abundance of fish are the sources of all major civilizations in human history.

In the current era, rivers, ponds, lakes, and seas offer different pleasures to humans.

Fishing continues to be one of the most popular pastimes in North America.

There are 7+ million dedicated fishers & anglers in the US alone.

Every year, these fishers travel in groups to mountain lakes, trout streams, and other water bodies all across the country.

For these fishers, their fishing rods are the most important tools.

Without high-quality fishing rods, it’s impossible to fish in challenging waters.

However, just like all man-made tools, fishing rods aren’t 100% reliable all the time.

Many fishers (especially young, new-age fishers) don’t know how long their precious rods will last.

Many don’t even know how to maintain their rods.

That’s why the following question is on every fisher or aspiring fisher’s minds – do fishing rods go bad?

The answer is yes.

How Long Do Fiberglass Fishing Rods Last?

man with fishing rods

Why Fishing Rods “Go Bad”

Even the finest baitcaster rods have lifespans ranging from 30 to 50 years.

Of course, there are many fishing rods that have lasted for hundreds of years.

But those are rare cases. Many fishing rods don’t even last for a year.

These rods don’t break “out of the blue.” Usually, little things happen to the rods over time that ultimately lead up to them “going bad.”

There are many factors that can shorten your fishing rod’s lifespan.

They include:

  • Overexposure to heat, saltwater, and the UV rays of the sun.
  • Small fractures happen while transporting the rods; these cracks create weak points. Catching a big fish with such a weakened rod can cause it to snap completely.
  • Fishers may accidentally put excessive pressure at angles where the rods are not designed to withstand too much pressure.
  • Storing the jig head or hook inside the guides or guide frames can cause the rod guide to bend.
  • Even laying down the rods on truck beds or boat surfaces can cause them to bounce against each other. These bumps can lead to the formation of small fractures.
  • Using incorrect fishing techniques like “high fishing” can also put excessive pressure on the rods and cause them to snap.

There are countless subtle factors that can wear out your fishing rods without you even knowing about it. If you don’t notice them, you’ll think your fishing rods “went bad” for no reason.

But, if you pay attention to these damage risks, you’ll notice that fishing rods wear out because of solid reasons.

They never “go bad” all of a sudden for no reason. The wearing-out process can happen in many different ways.

]What do fishers need to know to prevent their rods from wearing out? Let’s explore.

How Long Should You Expect Your Fishing Rods to Last? 

rods on the cabin

Do fishing rods have expiry dates?


Modern fishing rods are built to be durable.

As long as fishers properly maintain & store their rods, they can make them last however long they want.

That being said, fishing rods made of different materials have specific life expectancies.

For instance, a wood or bamboo rod may last for 10 years on average.

That’s way shorter than the average life expectancy of graphite rods (20 to 50) years.

Rods made of modern, engineered materials of course have longer lifespans.

Here are the average lifespans of different fishing rod materials:

  • Carbon Fiber: 20 to 50 years
  • Graphite: 20 to 40 years
  • Fiberglass: 25 to 35 years
  • Wood: 10 to 30 years
  • Bamboo: 10 to 50 years

Of course, the material of your fishing rods is just one factor.

Just because you have a graphite fishing rod doesn’t mean that you can make it last for 30+ years.

Your fishing rod’s lifespan will also be affected by the following factors, no matter what material it’s made of:

  • How frequently do you use the rod? Fishing rods used in seawater in particular take a lot of damage. The salts and minerals from seawater can seriously corrode and weaken all types of fishing rods.
  • How many loads do you place the fishing rod under? All fishing rods have rod ratings signifying the amount of load they can bear. Exceed these limits and your fishing rod may bend, crack, and break.
  • How rigorously you clean & maintain the rods. Damage caused by environmental factors (saltwater, heat, etc.) can be stopped by regular rod cleaning & maintenance.
  • How do you pack and store the rods? Packing the rods in protective covers and storing them in safe, dry places will extend their lifespans significantly.

Taking these steps can prevent your fishing rods from wearing down.

Here’s how these rules of care and maintenance apply to different types of fishing rods

1) Carbon Fiber Rods

Modern fishing rod manufacturers use engineered carbon fibers to make rods.

This synthetic material doesn’t deteriorate nearly as fast as natural materials like bamboo.

But, the resin used to fuse the carbon fibers may decay due to various reasons.

They include – physical damage (e.g., due to improper fishing techniques), saltwater exposure, and overloading.

These are the risks carbon fiber rod owners need to watch out for.

2) Graphite Rods

This carbon-based material is relatively soft compared to carbon fiber rods.

So, graphite fishing rods are extra-prone to physical damage.

But, with proper storage and use – they can last just as long as carbon fiber rods.

Protecting graphite fishing rods from physical damage should be every fisher’s priority.

3) Fiberglass Rods

Despite being extremely strong and durable, age and overuse cause fiberglass rods to deteriorate in quality pretty fast.

To ensure these rods don’t lose their flexibility, fishers must use them sporadically.

Unlike graphite rods, fiberglass fishing rods are relatively inexpensive.

So, owning multiple rods made of this material is your best strategy against premature deterioration.

Always check for micro-cracks on the surfaces of these rods after your fishing trips.

If you notice tiny fractures, send the rods for professional-level care. Waxing and polishing may fix the micro-cracks in the resin of the rods.

4) Wooden and Bamboo Rods

Booth wood & bamboo are natural materials.

So, they’re subject to natural degradation due to aging.

Storing these rods in protective covers is the best way to make them last longer.

Also, apply water-resistant coatings on your wood & bamboo fishing rods to protect them from excessive water damage.

How to Tell If a Fishing Rod Is Worn Out

Most signs of damage on fishing rods are hard to spot. That’s why fishers don’t realize these damages until they become apparent and unfixable.

Here are the signs of small, early damage that fishers need to look for in their fishing rods:

  • Micro-cracks, scratches, and scuffs on the rod.
  • Dirt buildup on the rods. Dirt buildup on wooden/bamboo rods may trigger rotting at specific spots on your fishing rod.
  • Damaged or missing protective coatings. If the protective coating on your rod feels sticky or broken, take note. When the protective coating on fishing rods fades away, the scale of moisture damage increases tenfold.
  • Signs of discoloration on the rods. Fishing rods fade and lose their color when they’re overexposed to the UV rays from the sun.
  • Air bubbles in-between the rod material and the protective coating. These bubbles signify extensive water damage.
  • Damaged, cracked, or discolored guides, rod tips, and rod handles.

Do you see these signs of damage on your fishing rods?

If yes, then your precious fishing rod is wearing out. Any moment it can “go bad” and snap-in multiple pieces.

That’s the worst thing fishers can experience on fishing trips. So, never carry fishing rods that show such clear signs of damage to your fishing trips.

Instead, send these rods for professional-grade care and maintenance.

If your damaged and worn-out fishing rod is irredeemable and beyond repair, don’t worry.

You can use your old, broken fishing rod in many creative ways such as:

  • Décor items in your shed or cabin. Mount them against other items like old swords and line your walls.
  • Connect two or more damaged rod blanks with dowels and use them as stakes for your farm.
  • If only the rod is damaged, remove other spare parts like the line guide or the handle. Use them on other fishing rods.
  • Many collectors and thrift shops accept broken fishing rods. Sell or donate the rods that are beyond repair to these places.


Fishing rods don’t go bad for no reason. Several small factors contribute to their untimely demise.

Use this guide to learn about these factors and how to prevent them from damaging your rods.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do graphite fishing rods break easily?

No. Graphite fishing rods are typically extremely durable. On average, they last for several years if not decades. But, they’re not unbreakable. If you don’t maintain and care for your graphite rods properly, they may not last as long as you’d expect.

Are carbon fishing rods durable?

Yes. Modern carbon fishing rods are extremely durable. These rods are also light and versatile. You can use them to fish in different types of water and conditions.

How can I protect my fishing rods?

Always watch out for signs of rust and physical damage on your fishing rods. Clean your fishing rods regularly. Use rod covers, rod racks, and other storage devices to address these risks.