Fishing rods are an expensive investment and one which you want to make sure will last. Like many of you, I too have a number of rods, and while each has a use even in some cases if its only to bring back memories, storing them all so they are safe and accessible has always been a challenge. I recently found salvation through a storage system called the “Fishing Butler” which are simple in design and excellent in their application; more about Fishing Butlers later.
There are quite a number of ways you can break a rod and some of the materials rod blanks are made from are more susceptible to breakage than others. Graphite, while offering improved sensitivity over fiberglass, is also more brittle and prone to breakage if subjected to extreme stress at any one point along the shaft. Thus, watch the tips. All rods are hollow and lighter rods have thinner walls which also means damage to the rod blank can result in a weak area that could lead to breakage when under stress. Finally, rods are designed to absorb the strain of fighting a fish along the entire length of the rod. If you hold a rod along the blank above the handle while playing a fish, you have just reduced the rods ability to absorb the heavier strain of a fish through the thicker part of the rods shaft, quite possibly resulting in rod breakage.
Always give your rods a wipe down with a damp clean cloth and a mild soap after a days fishing. Not only will this remove any harmful substances from the rod, (Gas or motor oil, bug spray, fish scents), but will identify any damage the rod may have sustained such as a loose, bent or cracked guide, frayed wrapping, or fracture to the blank. Spotting problems at the end of a days fishing is far better than finding out when your about to tie on your first bait of the morning.
Given the percentage of time a rod lies in wait compared to the time it’s being used, it’s no wonder most rod damage occurs during storage or transportation. It’s therefore important that you make sure you have a safe place in your home, RV, truck, car or boat where you can store your rods. Investing in some good rod cases for use in transporting your rods is also a must. Cloth or plastic rod sacks might be good for keeping your rods clean, but they are no substitute for a proper case. Rod socks can be useful however when transporting more than one rod in a single hard-sided rod storage tube.
Rod tubes for the roof rack or bed of the pick-up can be made with a length of larger diameter plastic plumbing pipe by gluing on threaded end caps, or with vinyl fence post sleeves and end-caps held on with a long bolt or cotter pin. The advantage to using homemade rod cases when transporting rods outside of your vehicle is that they attract less attention, never mind costing a fraction of what store-bought rod tubes cost.
Try to avoid storing your rods by just standing them in the corner of your basement or closet. Not only are they subject to damage when they fall over or something heavy leans against them, but the constant curvature of the rod or its handle being in continuous contact with the concrete floor all add up to a reduced life span.
Store your rod out of direct sunlight to avoid long-term damage from UV rays, and in a dry climate to prevent mold. It isn’t necessary to store each rod in a hard tube or sock, as long as you have a way of keeping the rods straight and safe.
As mentioned earlier, I am now using Fishing Butlers to hang my rods (www.fishingbutler.com).
These simple little devices not only keep 2-piece rods together, avoiding the embarrassment and inconvenience of showing up for a day of fishing with a miss-matched fishing rod, but allow you to safely hang the rod on a wall or sealing without having to invest in costly rod holders.
Using two 4’ lengths of 1”x1” wood and a box of drywall nails, I made a rod hanging system on the sealing of my shop. I used the drywall nails because of their large heads, and spaced them out about a thumb width. I then fastened the two 4’ lengths of wood, each having about 40 nails, on the sealing about 3’ feet apart. The nails are on the horizontal. I’m now able to hang all my rods using the soft Fishing Butlers as the loops between the nails and the rods. Even if I lift up the rod it doesn’t make contact with the nails, just the wood.
I then installed some 3M self-adhesive hooks on the wall above the top bunk in my RV, and on the inner gunwale of the sides of LillyAnne II, my 20’ power catamaran, again spacing the hooks apart about 36”. Having used a similar pattern when installing the hooks in all three locations allows me to transfer my rods from the shop to either my RV or boat without having to reposition the Fishing Butlers on the rods. If need be, I can transport the rods in hard-sided rod cases without having to remove the Fishing Butlers. Removal of the Fishing Butlers from a rod takes about 10 seconds and they store in easily in a pocket as they are about the size of a small key ring each.
I quite enjoy being able to access my fishing rods easily whether on the boat, camping or at home in my shop. They are right there, ready to be admired, and yet they are safe from breakage. Who ever invented these little Butler things should be given a medal.