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Rod Care and Maintenance

Custom Rod Care and Maintenance

          By Bob & Ginny Riege


            When we come in from hunting we usually clean our game, brush out our dogs and clean our guns.  We even periodically take our guns apart and clean all the areas that cannot be cleaned from the outside or from breach to muzzle. We might go to the range to site in our guns, put on a new scope or make sure that we have reservations to our destinations, but we fail to maintain and care for our fishing rods.

            As fishermen we see the fish being cleaned, boats and trailers being inspected and proper storage of the boat for the winter.  One “tool” that does not get care and maintenance is the fishing rod.  We might replace the line occasionally and retie knots, maybe even clean the reel once in awhile, but little is done to take care of the fishing rod.

            Therefore, we contacted Kris Kristufek ( to get his opinion about the care and maintenance of a fishing rod.  Kris started by stating; “with reasonable care and routine maintenance, your rod will continue to serve you for years to come.”

            The first step is to make a visual inspection of your rod.  Believe it or not many of us don’t even do this.  We simply put the rod in the corner or leave it in the boat for the next fishing adventure.  One of the best ways to make a visual inspection is to rinse your fishing rod.  This is an important part of rod maintenance. This step may seem a bit of a pain, but really only takes a few minutes. Fishing in salt waters is a given, with the salt residue being an issue on your rod. Yet many freshwater fishermen do not realize that algae from the water can also end up harming your rod. By rinsing your rod with fresh, clean water you can remove dirt and residue that can be attached to guides and blanks. The best cleaner we have found for cleaning the blank and handle is warm water, along with a good dose of Dawn dish soap.  Using a soft sponge, scrub the blank and handle, then rinse. Dabbing problem areas with the soap mix for a few minutes before scrubbing can soften heavy build-up. Then wipe them down with a product called Liquid Gold or car wax using a soft cloth.  That will really make them shine. Check the rods finish; it should overlap the guide wrap sufficiently, to provide a waterproof barrier to the thread. This is a common area for finish failure. The thread can then rot and the foot of the guide will become loose. Check the reel seat for damage. Inspect the hoods and nuts that screw over the reel feet these may be damaged through over tightening or by direct blows.             Periodically clean the cork handles by using a mild detergent like Dawn dish soap and a plastic scouring pad. Clean the threads of the reel seat with a brush at the same time you are cleaning the cork. When fishing with the "Super Lines," always set the drag to allow for (some) slippage on hooksets.  If the drag is set too tight, hard hooksets may cause the rod to break or the hook to tear out resulting in a lost fish and / or personal injury. Kris noted; “Rods are much like a winch in that the energy is transferred to the butt section of the rod, this is where the power is, the tips are just a shock absorber.  Most of the time all that is necessary with the new super lines, is a "flick' of your wrist to set the hook.  There is no stretch in the line, so you are connected directly to the lure or hook.  Never try to free snags by using the rod to "bounce" the lure free or to break the line. Use a stick, boat paddle handle, boat cleat, etc. when freeing snagged lures or hooks (especially when using the "Super Lines").  Using a fishing rod for something it was not designed for is a foolish practice.  Remove a snag by pulling back in a straight line without bending the rod at all, until the $5 lure is either released or the line breaks.  Don't destroy any fishing rod using it as a lure retriever.”      At the end of the fishing day, back off the reel drag to keep the system new.

            Periodically run a cotton ball or a piece of nylon stocking through each line guide to check for line damaging burrs on the inside of the guides (these materials will easily snag on any burrs).  This is a great tip that many people do not understand.  They lose expensive baits thinking they were “bite off” when in fact the line severed due to a broken/cracked line guide insert.  This is especially true of tiptops. Inspect the blank for any cracks or dings in the blank.

            Kris Kristufek went on to explain; “The new composite carbon fiber materials available today are much different than what they were only 2 or 3 years ago.  The current rod blank materials today are lighter, but yet more durable and in some cases truly stronger than before.  But they still are exceedingly lightweight and fragile.  There is a lot of competition among the rod manufactures both domestically and off-shore to come up with new formulas for rod materials.  What is new today will be obsolete next year as the chemistry and physics of rod building is rapidly changing. Abuse such as dropping the rod on the dock or bottom of the boat where it could be stepped on is about the worse thing next to hitting the rod on the gunwale of the boat.”

            Another way that rod damage is done is when putting them in boats or vehicles.  Always carry your rod butt first.  The key to rod transportation is eliminating sharp impact to the blank. The best place for a rod to travel is inside a rod sock and a protective tube. If not carried in a tube, the rods should not be left to bounce against other rods or terminal rigging (weights, heavy swivels, lures, etc.).  At vehicle travel speed, sharp impacts from these items can fracture the rod blanks.

            The best way to transport multi-piece rods is with rubber bands holding the sections together. Always affix the sections tip-to-tip and butt-to-butt. This keeps the delicate tip from being crushed against the uneven and much larger handle. Also, do not use hair bands with a metal connecting clip on rods as the metal clip can scratch, or worse, fracture the blank.

            I must confess that this step has been the hardest for us to follow.  Storing a fishing rod with the fishing hook or lure in the guides is poor rod maintenance. The guides can really take a beating from the hooks and have chips, cracks or even breaks.  Always use the hook keeper to store your lures and hooks.  According to Kris Kristufek; “Stacking rods in the corner of the garage is probably one of the worst things that you can do to a rod. Rods should be stored in a rod locker horizontally in their socks to protect them, or vertically in a rod rack with clips to keep them in the correct position.

            Kris went onto explain; “Good rod maintenance can be as simple as visually checking the rod, or as complicated as occasionally recoating the rod wraps on the guides or even refinishing the whole thing. More extensive work involves replacing the guides, matching the thread colors and trim threads, handles, and tiptops, fixing loose reel seats, and the like.   I occasionally get a request to re-wrap a favorite rod of a client.  Maybe it was one of the original G. Loomis rods built in Woodland Washington, prior to Loomis being sold.  While this can certainly be accomplished, it is false economy in that we can’t make an old rod brand new. Sure if it were a prized rod that needs some TLC we can do that, but a new rod would really be the way to go.  With all the modern materials that are available, the sensitivity and the need for lightweight balance outfits, a LakeLady rod is the way to go.  We also offer professional reel cleaning and repair.  Reels should have the drag removed or backed off when storing the rods for winter or long nonuse.” 

            We would highly recommended that you contact, ship or bring your rods to Kris Kristufek at LakeLady Custom-Crafted Fishing Rods 29297 Piney Way Breezy Point, MN 56472 Phone: 218.562.4512 Email: According to Kris; “Quick turn-around on repairs and always a price quote before we begin work.”

Take care of your rods, and they’ll take care of you.