On the mend

As always, I was late. A couple of rod repairs had to be done before the season started. It is March now and anglers are out in force once again yet I had still not done my duty and repaired the rods. As a youth I loved making fishing rods and eschewed beautifully crafted Hardy’s for my own feeble attempts. I made so many in fact that I sold a good few to make a bit of money on the side. That was all a long time ago and now I’m too damn lazy to be bothered with that level of whipping and gluing. Even so, there will always be some rod repair jobs to be done and sure enough two small projects had waited patiently for my attention.

My mate fishes with some lovely fly rods, including a Sage Graphite IV, 12 foot 6 inch. Last season he noticed one of his lines was badly worn, despite being new that year. An examination of the Sage soon identified the problem, some wear on a few of the snake rings. This rod has seen a lot of use but I was still surprised to see such wear on a very expensive piece of kit. Anyway, the rod found its way to me along with an old Garcia which I could pilfer for similar snake rings.

A badly worn ring. Damage like this will shred a fly line

Firstly I removed the rings I wanted from the disused Garcia and cleaned them up. I checked them over and found them to be in perfect condition with no hint of wear. Next was the hard part of the job, removing the worn rings from the Sage. This is hard because modern rod rings are whipped on then the whippings coated with thick epoxy. These look great and lasts forever but if you need to remove these epoxy coated whippings it is a time consuming job. A sharp craft knife and a lot of care is required, one slip of the knife and you can ruin the blank of the rod with a deep cut. Patiently I worked on the worn rings, taking them off one at a time and replacing them so I kept the new rings perfectly in line.

Removing the old epoxy coated whippings from a damaged rod ring

To whip the new rings on I hold one leg of the snake ring in place with a sliver of electrical tape. Once the first whipping is done I remove the tape and repeat the process on the second leg. I won’t bore you all with a tutorial on how the whip rod rings, there are plenty of videos online which show how to do this much better than I can describe (yes, I know I should be making my own videos too!). A few hours later the job was done and I varnished the new whippings. It was not possible to get an exact colour match with the silk but the rings should give many more years of good service now.


The second job was a bit more complex. A couple of years ago I stupidly broke a feeder rod when I caught it under a dock cleat while fishing a lough in Cavan. I had bought the rod secondhand for a tiny sum so lost little sleep over its demise. I left the pieces in a corner and forgot about it until I stumbled over them last week. Could this old rod be repaired and brought back into use?

The break was a fairly clean one, the rod had snapped most of the way through at almost 90 degrees with very little splitting. I thought that if I could fashion an insert which would fit inside the break I could make a strong repair. This was a light feeder rod which I used for close in work for small fish so any repair was not going to come under great stress or strain. The casting action would be adversely affected but since long casts were not required that too was of little consequence. I figured it was worth a try. All I hoped to gain was a spare feeder rod, maybe one which could live in the car as a back up in case of emergency.

Ferreting around in my collection of old bits of long forgotten fishing rods I finally found a butt end of a childs fibreglass spinning rod. Don’t ask me where this bit of rubbish had come from, I have no idea how it ended up in my possession. Plastic handle, cheapest possible rings and dressed in bright blue this was not one of fishing’s finest accessories. Regardless, here was something I could potentially use to effect a repair. Roughly measuring it up against the broken section it did indeed appear to fit so I chopped it into a six inch length.

Ouch! The break was clean enough

Cutting the break to give me two clean ends was done with a tenon saw. I trimmed the blue fibreglass insert to give me sufficient grip inside the damaged blank. Once I was happy with the dimensions I roughened up the surface a little then applied some glue and popped the insert inside the thick end of the break. Pulling it into position, I next glued the protruding tip of blue glass and pushed the thin end of the break into position, taking care to line up the rings. That part of the job done I set it aside to dry.

The blue insert made out an old bit of cheap fibreglass rod.

The next day I returned to the job in hand. Some rough pulling at the repair seemed to show it was holding well so the next step was to whip over the whole joint. A few minutes winding some medium green rod whipping silk soon had the joint and an inch above it tightly bound. I will confess I was a bit rough and ready here, the rod will never be perfect and is just a spare so the wraps are not the neatest I have ever done. After that it was a case of successive coats of clear varnish.

air bubbles in the wet varnish, they disperse quickly

Leaving everything aside to set once the last coat of varnish had been applied I stopped to consider my handy work. The local tackle shops are inundated these days with rods for repair. Some of these are of course warranty jobs and if you have shelled out a small fortune for a rod then you have every right to expect replacement or repair. Other rods are left in for what I consider minor repairs such as a broken ring or a whipping which has come loose. It seems that modern anglers simply can’t be bothered to carry out small jobs and this is a pity in my book. Learning how to whip a ring takes only a few minutes of watching a tutorial on YouTube, the materials cost very little and you gain the satisfaction of fixing something yourself. I guess this is just me in ‘old fogy’ mode again!

Finished repair.

I am almost up to date with all my repairs which should have been done this winter. There are a couple of reels which require new drag washers but apart from that I am in good shape. Cold weather has settled over the country these past few days but soon we should see a change to slightly warmer temperatures and with that the fish will come on the feed once more. My angling year is about to take off!


One thought on “On the mend

  1. I’ll probably wait until the end of the UK coarse river fishing season, but I’ve some rings that have lost their linings to replace, some reels that need some TLC and some eBay reel purchases that need a varying amount of work.

    Not sure i can match your neatness though!



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