Sunday’s Classic / Driving with Fly Rods Rigged, Good or Bad?

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So that’s why my fly rods are breaking, duh. Photo By: Louis Cahill

I don’t know about you but I’m constantly driving from one fishing spot to the next with my fly rods pre-rigged. It’s a routine I adopted early on in my guiding to save time having to rig up my rods so I could get to the best stretches of water first. It wasn’t until I had a couple of my fly rods break at the ferrules on back to back trips that the thought finally dawned upon me, driving down the road with my fly rods rigged could be a bad idea. Particularly when I was driving long distances down bumpy gravel rods to my favorite trout water. When a rod breaks at the ferrule it’s usually because that rod section was loose. Here’s where I screwed up and how I could have prevented my fly rods from breaking.

If you’re like me and you like to travel with your fly rods pre-rigged, make sure you always check to see each rod piece is tightly secured at the ferrules after you get to the river and unload your rods. You should do this even if you have one of those fancy fly rod lockers. The constant vibrations of driving down the road can cause the rod to loosen up at the ferrules. At a quick glance everything looks fine, but in reality quite often one or more fly rod sections have become loosened up enough to cause failure on the water.

Remember this tip next time you see your fly rod blowing around in the wind in the rear view mirror heading to the boat launch. Of course I guess you could eliminate this problem all together by purchasing one of those high-end one piece fly rods. I think I might just look into that.

Has anybody had this same issue transporting their fly rods pre-rigged?

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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25 thoughts on “Sunday’s Classic / Driving with Fly Rods Rigged, Good or Bad?

  1. I, too, keep many rods loaded and at the ready, but either in a Jeep Commander or my Suburban, I am paying an exise gas tax to also carry them in a rod loft. It does save time to have a 4 wt rigged for nymphing while my two salmon/steelhead rods can be ready for swinging streamers or the clasic egg and stonefly combo- because I also jump from access point to access point to see where the fish may be holding. Thanks for the tip Kent!
    I shall keep an eye on my ferrrules.
    Tight Lines,

  2. So true, Kent. Rods are at risk if they are not safely stored for the reason you mention and because they may fly forward with a quick stop and the tip flies into the windshield (happened to me this week) and guides can catch on various things as the rods jostle forward and back. I was told by a rod craftsman that I should break my rods down and tube them between fishing and each time I travel. I am like you re wanting them ready. I am working on ideas to better my habits and one habit I can easily add is checking for loose ferrules at the stream. Now if I can fix the other risky behavior, it may save me from being at the stream with a broken rod..

    • Ralph,

      Try keeping your rods in one piece with Louis Driving. The man is a dang nascar driver on the road. Sorry to hear about the recent break. As you can see from the previous comments, you’re not the only one 🙂 Hopefully that will ease the pain. Thanks for the comment.


  3. When I had a subaru wagon I would keep them prerigged. Now that I have a smaller car I’ve been better about breaking them down. If I’m only going a short distance I will leave the rods rigged and seperate the rod at the half ferrule. Then fold the rod in half and hope the line and leader doesn’t tangle. It works 75% of the time.

    • Feather,

      This year, I’ve been really good about keeping my rods broke down in transit. I haven’t broke a rod yet, Go Figure! 🙂 It rarely pays to be stubborn and impatient.


  4. I am the certified king of breaking rods. So many in doors and windows. All my breaks happened in the transport or right after. I even have a custom rod that I have broke a bunch. That’s a double whammy because once the blank comes in then you need yo build it. Long trips short trips doesn’t matter. Take it from me just rig up at the spot. I do things like pre-rigging dropper combos and sometimes riggin up small bugs on my reel and just feed it through. Sometimes it’s enough to save you some time or least saving you from having to tie too many knots in the cold. What’s funny is my Dad lives by this rule and has never broke a rod. Cheers!!

    • Justin,

      If your the King, I’m the Jack for sure. I thought the post was interesting b/c if you drive bumpy enough roads for long enough periods it will loosen up the ferrules, and can cause issues if not checked. Thanks for your comment.


    • Hopper,

      I will be talking about the new Echo Prime 1 piece shortly on the blog with a fishing review. It turned out to be a great rod and yes, one piece rods are sweet and you don’t have to worry about checking the ferrules.


      • If you have to go one piece, look at the Hardy Zenith. The 9 foot (might actually be 8’9″) is sick. I have two Hardy Zenith rods, the 9′ 5wt (4 piece) and the 8′ 3wt (4 piece). They are by far the best rods I have ever cast, used or fought a fish with. Light, tough, amazingly responsive. On top of that, the one piece rods seem to go on sale – and can be had for under $350. I had a hard time passing up the one piece 7wt this past fall. I ended up with an 11’6 inch Diamond Back Swinger (6wt) instead.

    • Brian,

      Been there, done that my friend. Most of the time it was on my back sliding window on my truck. Caught a buzz and hit the switch the wrong way, uggg. I can laugh about it now, thanks for the painful flashback.


  5. I take my rod down every single time, and rig it up again on the other end. I can do it in a flash: it hardly holds me up. Drives my mates crazy, but I have yet to break a fly rod! (30 something years and counting). I guess if I was rigging more than one rod it might be different.

    • trutta99,

      I wish I could same I had the same “no breakage” record as you. Most were due to me being stupid but there were a few that I had nothing to do with. You need to go into the hall of fame for fly rod manufacturers for never breaking a rod. Ha.


  6. The ferrules – specifically, the inner walls of the female ferrule and the outer end of the male ferrule – are stressed whenever the rod is flexed. But they are designed to withstand that stress when the ferrules are properly assembled, i.e., fully seated. However, when the ferrules are loosened by shaking or other vibration, the localized stresses are greatly increased, and fracture is likely. It’s hard to notice that ferrules have loosened by a fraction of an inch, but it can be dealt with by making a habit of reseating the rod sections whenever you remove it from your vehicle to fish again.

    Spey rod ferrules are subject to drastic stress because of the rod’s heavy weight and the torque of most spey casts. We’ve learned to routinely tape spey ferrules with a spiral of electric tape, an inch above and an inch below the junction. Taped spey rods rarely break at their ferrules.

  7. Wax, electric tape, rocky road vibrations, whatever…

    I was carrying 5 rods including a couple of Winston B3Xs, an able reel, all strung in a magnetic rod carrier attached to my F-150. (a vehicle with an aluminum hood impervious to magnetism…so I attached one of the carriers into the bed and one onto the roof) I was traveling on 287 from Ennis to Cameron, when a gust of wind hit the truck. All I remember is watching 5 rods summersaulting down the highway breaking into pieces, unspooling and tangling the lines making a huge mass of RIO spaghetti. My anger turned into rage when, upon the side of the rod carrier, I saw a small note that said: “Not for usage above 40 MPH”! Who drives less that 40MPH with fishing rods?!

    Lesson learned…break the rods down, keep em in the truck, and use the time to string them to observe the water. It is surprising how much you can learn by watching. Also, ditch the magnetic rod carrier.

    • Jim,

      5 combos rolling down the highway! I would have been in cardiac arrest man . That is by far the worst rod breaking story I’ve ever heard. If that’s not a lesson to keep rods stowed in vehicle I don’t know what is. Thanks for sharing. I’m sure it was painful bringing that back up.


        • JD,

          I got a pack stolen out of the back of my truck once that had about ten fly boxes in it, completely packed, and loaded down with tippet spools, leaders, nippers, ect. That was painful as hell. I still get a sick stomach sometimes thinking about it. I best I had 100-200 flies in each one. And even that, is just a fraction of what you lost. I feel you man.


  8. I have (somehow) avoided breaking any of my fly rods during transport. It’s not like I practice the safest methods either. My idea of trasnporting my rods usually involves either hanging them out of the back of my jeep, or placing the rods on the windshield under the windshield wipers. Just dumb luck I guess, but I’ll take it.

  9. Unless I’m getting on a plane my rods stay strung. Can’t catch fish any other way. So, I buy 2 or 4-piece models and simply break them in half. I then wrap the sections together with either a small strip of velcro (the kind for taming extension cords) or a small section of that spiral-cut plastic tubing that computer cords come wrapped in. That way the pieces aren’t bouncing around and rattling together. Also, it’s tougher to break a double section. When it’s all together I put the reel sock on to hold the rod tip to the handle and we’re off.

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