Original post made by Jim Hudson(Jhudson13) on December 27, 2003
Ok I know there are a lot of yall out there who have been fishing for many years and this information my be common sense for you but there are some of us who dont know some of the tricks to make a rod last a life time. I use a lot of custom built rods and here is some information on how I keep them ready to fish for years. And believe me if there is anyone out here who abuses a rod that would be me. Fishing for Tarpon, Sharks and Big cats, dropping a rod in the boat when you are trying to get the lines in so you buddy can fight a big shark, ray or cat. Will I have put together some information that has helped me and I hope it will help you as well.
A rod is a relatively low maintenance item. There is nothing to oil or grease. So just what maintenance is required for your rod?
The first thing you need to do is give your rod a bath. Just plain ole soap and water works great. To clean the cork, I apply dish soap to a scotch pad and scrub. The dirt and grime come off easily with this method. If your handle is cursed with some pits, you can use a stiff bristled brush to clean the pits. I dont recommend applying the cork sealers, as it tends to make the cork brittle over time. Use a toothbrush to clean inside of the guide frames and the ceramic inserts. Why do all this you may ask, well this way you can find problems that may go unnoticed until you have that once in a life time fish on the line and it all starts to go wrong.
One of the most important items to look at is that very important spot where your line contacts the guides. You must insure that there is no damaged or missing ceramic inserts in the frames. You can check for small cracks in the insert by running a cotton tipped swab inside the guide and twisting it. If there is a crack, the cotton fibers will be caught inside it, also check the tip this way as well. If the cotton gets caught inside any of the guide or the tip have them replaced before you use the rod again. The tip takes the most abuse of any of the guides as it is often shoved into car trunks, boats, docks rocks, and it takes the most pressure of any of the guides.
If you are using a rod with metal guides, check it closely for grooves. These grooves can and will result in line damage and breaking. Check the guides to insure they have not become loose with use. It is not uncommon to have a guide or two loosen or break free, when pulling them out of your rod locker. While your are there, look closely at the guide frames, to insure a piece of the frame has not been broken.
Id suggest that you check your reel seat for damage, especially the hoods and nut that screws over the reel feet. They may be damaged through over tightening or by direct blows to the area. Clean beneath the hoods to remove any dirt that may abrade the reel feet or inside of the hood and cause it to loosen over time. Clean the threads of the reel seat with a brush at the same time you are cleaning the cork.
Check the blank for any cracks or dings in the blank that may have occurred when it got shut in the rod locker last fall or thrown in the back of the truck. The area of the damage will likely determine its significance. Damage to the butt section is of less significance than damage to the tip section, which is more fragile. If there is some question, on the damage and where it is I would say the rod should be replaced. Big cats are some real bad boys an if any fish out there can find a weak sport in a rod it is a big flathead or a big blue. These boys show a rod no mercy.
What about protecting your rod from your daily fishing excursions? When I clean a used Rod, I apply a coat of Johnsons paste wax to the blank and reel seat. We have to worry about corrosion in our area, and it is a good idea to protect the rod so it will clean more easily in the future. With a little care and maintenance, your rod will serve you for years to come.