Can a Broken Fishing Rod be Repaired (A Helpful Guide)

At some point, many of us anglers will experiences the sickening crunch of a breaking fishing rod.  Whether you step on it, slam it in a car door or snap it in two while fighting the fish of a life time, it is never easy to say goodbye to your favorite fish slaying rod.  

As you caress the mangled remains of your trusty fishing pole, you are likely wondering, can you fix a broken fishing rod?  From my own experience and a bit of research, here is what I found out.

It is possible to fix broken rods depending on the severity of the break.  Damaged line guides, a broken rod tip or even a cracked ferrule can be fixed with the right tools and replacement parts.  However, a complete break or large crack along the main shaft of the pole indicates permanent damage.  

Although there are a lot of factors to consider, fixing your fishing rod can be easy and well worth the effort required to bring your favorite fish catcher back to life.  Keep in mind, not all forms of damage can be fixed.  Before you admit defeat and start shopping for a new fishing rod, let’s take a look at how to assess the damage and what you can do to repair it.

Determine the type of damage

Immediately after the fishing pole carnage, it may be hard to calm down and determine if there is even a chance that your prized rod can be repaired.  Once the initial flow of curses and yells of disbelief subside, accurately assessing the type and severity of damage will help you make the right fix.

Broken rod tip

By far, this is the most common break.  It is also the easiest and cheapest to fix. 

In most cases, a tip that is broken a few inches from the end can be repaired without much effect on the quality of the rods performance.  You can expect a slight decrease in sensitivity.  Except for the most finicky light biting fish, this will not be an issue.  

Guide tip repair kits are found in most tackle supply stores and online.  The process for repair is simple and straight forward.  Most repair kits come with several different tip sizes and the glue needed to attach it.  Keep a kit and a lighter (used for heating the glue) in your tackle box so that a broken tip doesn’t keep you from fishing for long.

Fuji makes one of the best rod tip repair kits that uses quality guides and durable glue. It has saved me from more than one ruined fishing trip.

Missing or ruined line guide

The guides on most rods are made of delicate metal with a plastic or metal inner ring where the line can glide through with minimal friction.  Occasionally, a guide will break off if bent badly or the inner ring can get scratched, preventing smooth casts.

For guides with badly scratch rings, super fine grit sand paper can be used to bring it back to its original smooth finish.  

Guides that are completely missing need to be replaced for the rod to cast and flex properly when fighting fish.  This repair is more complicated and time consuming then fixing a broken tip, but it is still possible for do-it-yourselfers to accomplish at home.

Replacing a guide will first involve removing the old wrapping and epoxy.  Holding the appropriately sized new guide to the pole, it needs to be wrapped on with thread.  Once tied off, an epoxy finish coat is used to protect the wrapping for long term use.  Kits are available online and will come with detailed instructions.  

A good repair kit with all the components is more expensive than a guide tip repair kit, so if your rod is not particularly valuable, consider saving time and opt to replace it instead.

Cracked ferrule

The joint where rod pieces join together is called the ferrule.  Cracks may occur for various reasons, but most often they form from excessive strain or by getting stepped on.  

Fixing a cracked ferrule is a challenging repair and should only be attempted if you have the right tools.  Cracks that extend more than half an inch along the joint should not be repaired.  Any repairs on larger cracks are unlikely to be strong enough to handle reasonable flexing.

The cracked portion of the ferrule can be cut off using a Dremel rotary cutter.  The old thread wrap and epoxy is then removed.  Rewrap with new thread and coat with epoxy similar in fashion to the guide replacement method mentioned previously.  

In most cases, the repair for minor cracks will provide long lasting strength that matches the original performance.

Again, the cost and time benefits should be considered for your particular situation before attempting repair.

Damaged cork handle

The cork handles on a fishing poles are aesthetically pleasing and functionally ideal for fishing rod handles.  That is why they still are in use.  Over time it is not uncommon for gouges to appear from the abuse of rocks and hooks.

Getting your cork handles looking good again is simple and inexpensive.   Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler and fine grit sand paper from your local hardware store will do the job.  

First clean the handle with warm soapy water.  Let it dry completely and apply the wood filler with a small spatula where gouges are apparent.  Let it dry for several hours, then sand to an even finish.  Lastly, apply a cork seal or similar finish to provide lasting protection. U-40 cork seal has earned a reputation among anglers as the best sealant available. You can find it on Amazon.

Something worse

Some types of damage are beyond hope and won’t be serviceable.  Rods completely snapped in the middle of sections or on one-piece rods are unlikely to be repaired to original functionality.   

Contact the manufacturer

It is a good idea to always contact the manufacturer of your rod when something gets damaged, even if it is your fault.  You never know what may be covered under warranty.  Manufacturers are also in business to make customers happy and some will go above and beyond to help you out if it means keeping a loyal customer coming back.

For minor damage to line guides and broken tips, manufacturers can send you exact replacement parts and components for a nominal charge. 

If the pole that broke has multiple segments, they might send replacement sections at a cost much lower than buying an entirely new rod.

It is always worth a try to email, call or write to the company that makes your rod.  A polite and honest request for help can go a long ways in getting what you need to bring your rod back to peak performance.

Consider professional repair

While some rods can be fixed by DIY methods or replaced, the expensive specialty rods that cost hundreds of dollars warrant professional care.  Getting a rod fixed by specialty repair services are not cheap, but it could still save you hundreds if replacing the whole rod is your only other option.

The hardest part when seeking professional repair will be locating someone local.  Good quality work is more of an art than you might imagine.  Trusting just anyone with a valuable rod is a big risk that can cost you big money if done wrong.   

If a local specialty repair shop is not available, think about shipping the rod to a more distant professional.  Whatever you do, just do your homework and make sure you use someone with a reputable track record.

Don’t forget to also contact the original manufacturer of the rod for information about repair services they offer.  Also, check the warranty information provided with your rod.  Some warranties are voided if outside repair services are used.  

Fishing with a broken rod

For simple breaks or damage, a repaired pole will function just fine for most fishing situations.  Yet there will be times when you will prefer to replace the rod instead.

Light biting walleye, bass and panfish are frustrating enough to catch in the best of situations.  Add in a repaired rod tip that had the top few inches snapped off a week earlier and you won’t be doing yourself any favors.  The sensitivity of your rod may be greatly reduced if you are missing the last few inches of the tip.

Some situations demand accurate casting.  Rods that have damaged guides or broken tips are more difficult to cast with precision.  If this prevents you from hooking up with more fish, it may be time to consider a replacement.

How to prevent future breaks

I am almost too embarrassed to admit how many rods have been broken under my watch.  Each time, I vow to learn my lesson and never break another rod.  The reality is, for every way you can think of ruining a fishing pole, there are a dozen others ways you haven’t even dream of.  

I promise you that all is not lost however.  Here are several great ideas to help protect your rods from the most common types of destruction.

  • Use a rod case to transport your fishing poles.  Any hard or soft case can be used to bring your precious rod to and from a fishing destination.  At the very least, use a rod sleeve that slides over the pole and protects it from nicks and abrasions.  Rod sleeves are cheap and can be purchased at most outdoor stores.   
  • Avoid laying a pole on the ground.  In the heat of the moment, it is all too easy to lay your fishing pole down.  Whether you are helping net a monster fish or just taking a break from fishing, laying what amounts to a dark colored stick on the ground is just asking for it to be stepped on.  If you must set a pole down, lean it upright against a tree or place it in a rod holder.
  • Keep the pole collapsed when not in use.  Many rods come in 2 or more pieces and can be pulled apart for easy storage or transport.  It is much easier to keep a rod safe when it is collapsed down.  Use rod wraps or rubber bands to hold the pieces together.  
  • Don’t use the guides to hold hooks.  When moving from spot to spot while fishing, it is easy to get lazy and quickly hook your lure on a guide and reel down to tighten the line.  Overtime, this will put stress on the guides causing them to bend.  The delicate metal supports will weaken and break off.  Instead, use the hook keeper that is located just above the handle if available.
  • Store your rods indoors.  The garage or shed may seem like a good place to keep a fishing pole, but wild temperature and humidity fluctuations weaken the integrity of graphite and fiberglass poles.  While the rod may look fine, the next big fish could very well snap it half and become the one that got away.

Get back to fishing

Regardless of the damage to your pole, the goal is to get back on the water and catch more fish.  Not all damage will send a pole to the trash can.  I loyally fished with my favorite childhood pole for years, even though it had a broken tip repaired by a cheap kit.  It caught many fine fish too.

Hopefully, I have shown that a broken rod does not need to end your fishing season, nor does it need to cost a fortune.  The time and money you spend trying to repair a rod will depend on the value and sentimental qualities it has to you.  

Of course, the best way to prevent broken rods is to properly care for them in the first place. Learn more about caring for your fishing gear from our other popular article.