How often do rods break?

(Gressak) #41

Great notes.

To add… if any of my rods fail I would never blame the blank or the brand. I have had enough beadheads ping off my rods to justify certain failure…yet they keep on trucking. Pretty amazing. I would consider my rod use as rough but attempting to be within scope of how thin and delicate they are. For the tip top to be pencil lead thickness or thinner…is just insane.

(Mike Kotowski) #42

You’re almost certainly right about all your points. I was careful not to mention snags in my post though…clearly breaking a rod from a tree snag or a nymph on the bottom is almost certainly user error.

I do wonder about the stated tippet ratings for rods though. I don’t expect a “guarantee”, but I do think a tippet rating for a rod should be a margin of safety for correct use. Even in the case you describe with the snag, I’d expect 5x or 6x tippet to break long before a piece of my rod does…without education on the subject like what you just provided, I’d absolutely assume it was a design/manufacturing defect.

(Gressak) #43

Tippet numbers are a funny thing. One company might have a 5lb break strength for 5x…the other 4lb…some might have 6lb. There is some slop in the numbers and qc. Most might use the maximum suggested rating for the rod. You don’t need to.

Most 5X tippet I use is pretty strong. Stronger than one would think. The rod rating is probably under normal fighting posture of the rod…what is often referred to as the power curve or arc. Making a closed loop…or high sticking is a general no-no and even with the tippet rating I would guess one would risk a rod failure. Pulling a snag or hard hookset might cause similar stress.

A buddy of mine uses 6.5x, I have been using both the 6.5x and 5.5x. Thinner is better in general in these presentations. 3 lb test is more than enough to take most fish I catch…the 6-16" fish. These are all fish under one pound.

(Chris Stewart) #44

I have a suspicion that the tippet ratings are more along the lines of “this is what most people use” rather than having anything at all to do with power curves, high sticking, rod breakage, etc. You can high stick a 9" fish all day long with any “tenkara” rod - although I would be a bit concerned with some “seiryu” rods.

(Gressak) #45

It may be nearly impossible to break 5lb mono on a 9" fish…unless you tried to cast the fish…hahhahahahha. My note is more about the force required to overcome the breaking strength of the tippet itself. Most rod blanks are rated for a specific line strength. Most rod blanks may exceed those ratings, yet under certain circumstances they all can fail…even within rating.

We use/abuse these rods. Over time they get weaker. I am just trying to note that using a heavier tippet is not necessary for the fishing part of what we do.

Heavier tippet can sometimes allow one to handline a snag without breaking…but other than that heavy
tippet serves little purpose. I hear the rule of thumb…use the lightest tippet you can effectively use.

(Evan R.) #46

It’s been interesting to see this thread again after 12 months. My original post was on April 25 of last year, when I had just started out, after my second day fishing tenkara. Since then I fished 92 days, caught just under 400 fish and ended up breaking 4 rods. The fourth happened a few days ago, almost on the exact anniversary of the original break.

All four breaks were due to operator error. Two were when I was trying to put away a rod and had a stuck joint. Adam said, “I believe closing a rod is when we should be careful.” In my case, for sure.

One break was when I was casting but didn’t realize I had snagged the hook (that one was loud).

The best break was when I was about to land a big chub and was getting my net ready when the chub darted under some weeds, pulling the line along with him like a rope through a pulley: the rod was already bent and the chub pulled hard enough to snap the third segment. (Still operator error, but the fish and the angle helped.) I made a quick sketch at the time to remember it, so I wouldn’t let it happen again.

Four broken rods in one year might sound terrible, but I’m fine with it. Guitars, cameras, fishing, computers, backpacks, whatever — I use my gear. I do not own any shelf queens or decorative collectibles. I fish in heavy canopy and rough waters and have multiple snags in both directions almost every outing. I don’t really plan on changing my approach, since I can’t really change the landscape. I do plan on buying robust gear whenever I can and being more careful when putting rods away. And of course I’ll keep purchasing replacements as needed, as long as they’re available. YMMV, etc.

Anyway, I guess I have an answer to my original question of how often do rods break. In my case, about every 3 months. :slight_smile:

(Rob) #47

I can honestly say that every time I broke one of my rods was not due to a manufacturing issue. It was definitely my fault.

(David Walker) #48

At the risk of jinxing myself for writing it. I’ve never broken a rod that was manufactured correctly. And I started tenkara fishing in 2010.

I’ve only had one rod break, the Ito. A few months after it was released it became known there was a QC problem with some rods in the pre-order batch. I didn’t break my rod until the following year, long after it was assumed if your rod hadn’t already broken, you probably got one that wasn’t among those with the QC problem, which was I think, some blanks were sanded to thinly. TUSA sent replacement segments, no problem. Now, fingers crossed I’m not cursed this season with broken rods for having written this.

(Gressak) #49

To fish almost once every three days is pretty sweet. 4 breaks in a year is a lot even factoring in the days on the water per interval. If it is on particular model i would suggest looking for another.

I catch flies in bushes on my back cast all the time. Either the fly stays and the tippet breaks or it comes free.

I hear about stuck segments…but knock on wood i have never had one. Perhaps you are seating the with too much force or using the rod to free a fly. I always use my hand to pull the casting line…never the rod.

(olivier) #50

Hi everyone, first post here after lurking around for a year. It’s a great place, full of ressources, and a civilized little corner of the internet to top it off, congrats.

Yesterday was the closing day of the season here and it ended with my rod snapping on a big fish by my standards, somewhere around 40-45 cm. I broke section #5 about 1 cm above the joint with section #6 after fighting the fish for 5-10 seconds in relatively heavy current. The tippet I use is 5x, as is the rod’s rating, and the blank had not been hit or bitten or whatever could weaken it. The rod’s a Tenkara Time try 360 and Oleg replied within 24hrs that he was sending a replacement so all good on this front.

After reading this post I thought I’d revive it because I’m a bit puzzled. I, too, think that the 5x tippet should break first on a rod rated for 5x when fighting a fish but I might have done something wrong, i.e. try too hard to pull the fish out of the current. The spot was tight so I couldn’t really run up or down, plus there was a log under the waterfall and I wanted to keep the fish above it, see the photo below.

Could you expand a bit on this ? I’m pretty sure the rod was close to a closed arc when it broke but I had never thought of this as a problem before.

I’m also a taker for advice on how to fight bigger fish without risking a rod failure (and particularly in tight quarters if there’s any specifics). I noticed in videos that people use their free hand as a “lever” above the handle, is that to avoid bending the rod too much while maintaining control ? See below for an example :

Right now I’m considering using finer tippet, but I like it strong to retrieve snagged flies, so…

Anyway, the fish might have gotten away even without the rod breaking but it was a bit of a bummer to miss the last and probably biggest fish of the year in the last pool of the day because of a gear failure. I’d love to learn a little something from the experience.

(Gressak) #51

Tenkara guides used to have a good doc on fighting big fish. It is no longer available.

here is some stuff but not as good as that original doc.

Things to note. try to avoid high sticking. Pushing the rod to or beyond vertical. Yeah I bunch guys say show the fish the butt of the rod…but to me that is plain bad advise…or mis leading. You want to put pressure for sure but not over tax the rod.

Not sure of the source but regarding large fish…sometimes too much pressure can aggravate the fish. Slow constant pressure can wear a fish down over time…a fish that out matches your equipment. The idea being, cause and effect. You put the boots to the fish…you may get boots back. In close quarters you may need to beef up the rod to match your target.

In the video you posed above…look at the angler. During the initial fight the rod fighting angle never passes 45-60 degrees or so. Its only when the fish is defeated does the rod break the fighting angle

Most rods can never achieve close loop not even close. Tenkara rods are very flexible but if you push them too far they will fail. Tippet breaking strength and suggested tippet ratings for rods are all over the place.

Tenkara rods are made for small to medium trout. Can you catch bigger…yes, but they are exceeding their purpose.

(olivier) #52

Right, thanks for this, I think I need to loosen up a bit when I hook bigger fish.

As a ressource for anyone interested, I dug up the Tenkara Guides article:

(Gressak) #53

Thanks for the link. I often want to refresh on that page but could never find it. How did you manage to locate it???


(olivier) #54

Ha! This one’s a gem.

  1. Got to
  2. Enter the URL of the site you’d like to see in its earlier version
  3. Navigate the archived versions of the site
  4. Shake your head at the internet’s infinite depth


(Gressak) #55

Did you feel that the page lived up to the hype i gave it. I have not dug into it again but at quick glance it seems to have the content i remember and then some.

(olivier) #56

Yes. It overlaps with other things I’ve read but it’s definitely the most in-depth.

(Adam Trahan) #57

I use a tippet ring.

It serves a couple of functions, one of which is to protect the rod by giving the tippet a place to break when I’m snagged and or hooked into a bigger fish than the rod can handle.

I’m almost sure I’m the only person here, including the climbing guys that has placed my whole life on setting up knots to break for safety sake. My life depended on knowing how much pressure I could place on the knot. If the pressure exceeded a known, I wanted the knot to break. I want my tippet knot to break before my rod does.


Setting up a weak point in the system then knowing just how much pressure you can give it is critical to protecting your rod and catching fish.

You can still break a rod with poor technique, that’s beginner mistakes though. Jerking your rod to free a snag? Overly aggressive TV Bass fishing sets?

You will pay for that mistake.

Fly fishers that know rigging, especially salt water fly fishers pay close attention to this, especially those going for world records.

By and large, tenkara anglers knowledge of rigging?

Good teachers are experienced fly fishermen that have been doing tenkara for a long time both here, England and Japan. Most tenkara only fishers are knewish to fishing, they are learning everything with tenkara, many of them go through an “intermediate syndrome” where they know everything because they are just starting to get good at fishing but have not had the experience of time bla bla bla…

The tippet is all about strength AND weakness, handling AND the ability to get a uniform knot break strength over and over, even when you are tired.

I use Seaguar Grand Max FX, strong, soft, good knot strength and quality control over the length of the spool. Trouthunter works well too.

Do what you want, believe what you want, I’m knot about anything other than sharing MY experience. Get good at knowing all about the tippet you use, the knot, the material, how much you can pressure it.

I often get on a plane or drive hundreds of miles with one rod, no back up nothing, come back home and do it again with the same rod. Minimalist, that’s me, knot a salesman, not looking for friends, just talking shop with my peers.

I like a rod with some glass in it. They are tougher and I like the speed of return, the dampening. I’m not referencing the Hane, the Furaibo and the Seki Rei or the Kongo. These are tough rods but still delicate.

The Furaibo zoom is my favorite traveling “one rod” period.

You can delete the brand names and insert your own but the physics of protecting a rod are what they are and the tippet ring, tippet and a good knot break knowledge will protect a rod.

Edit: I just read the article and it’s good info, except for throwing your rod. I heard Yvon talk about doing this after smoking a joint and hooking into a big fish. Don’t throw your fucking rod in the water unless you are high AF. :joy: Fight the fish, steer it, wear it out. Read the article, it’s good and try some Seaguar Grand Max, I like the FX because it is soft.

(olivier) #58

Hey, thanks for the input.

I like the idea of knowing in advance the weak link in rod-line-tippet-fly chain. Until I broke the rod I was confident it was the tippet that played that role because I’ve almost always snapped my tippet when trying to retrieve snagged flies by pulling on my line (with my rod collapsed). I’ve had a few occurrences of knot slippage but not too many and that’s probably what I get for not paying enough attention, and it’s fine.

Now I’m trying to figure out what I need to change to protect my rod.
Right now I’m at
– possibly lighter tippet
– better big fish fighting technique

And now tippet rings :

I use a double davy on the fly (super fast to tie with hemostats btw) and a double loop slipknot/stopper knot between tippet and level line, I don’t understand why adding a tippet ring in the equation would make the weak link in the chain more predictable. I can see why they’re convenient but that’s about it.

I’ve read the thread on tippet rings but I’m still in the dark as to why they would help control where my system breaks…

(Adam Trahan) #59

They aren’t for you if you don’t understand.

For me, they do many thing starting with making my lines last a long time and end with a uniform place to break secondary to the knot at the hook. There is more but I’ve written so much about them elsewhere. I don’t like them for fly fishing, I do use them almost 100% for tenkara.

I like the Stonfo rings the best.

(Gressak) #60

I think its fair to not understand why a tippet ring would introduce a weak link…

As…i really dont understand either. Unles…the ring sucks and cuts into the tippet.

I use tippet rings . I like them mostly because they make tying new leader easier.

My tippet breaks at the fly…mid line…and tippet ring equally.

I use a double davy at the ring and a single at the fly.

The davy is a strong knot.

Perhaps other knots that fail quicker at a ring could be a reason for ring failure…but better to fail at the fly…or not at all and use a heavier rod on big fish…hahaha.

Sorry adam…i do not agree tippet rings are a good suggestion in this case. But i do like them in general.