Long story short: I broke the second segment of my Tenkara Times 1st Step at the end of my second day out. I was just putting it away and I remembered that I needed to be really gentle with it, and just then I felt it snap in my hands. I wasn’t even touching it that firmly at the time. It was quite a surprise.
I’ve already ordered a tip replacement set (3 segments) which will hopefully be here before the weekend. (It only has to travel across town.) Nice customer service from the folks at Tenkara Times, too — they kindly offered to include a spare second segment along with my 3-segment tip set so I’ll have another replacement set ready to go.
Which is great, of course. But now I’m wondering: how often do rods break? Do most anglers carry a spare rod or two on stream, just in case one snaps? What’s the life expectancy of a typical tenkara rod?
Bummer event. A nasty surprise I’m sure. Kind of surprising as I have two Tenkara Times rods, a Try 390 and Watershed 400, and they have seemed pretty robust.
I’ve been tenkara fishing since 2010. I’ve only had one rod break, and that was a TUSA Ito. I ordered it before they were released. Within a month or two after they shipped it was found that some rods in the first production run had sections that had been sanded to thin, and some number of people had breakages. The thumb rule was if your Ito hadn’t already broken it was probably one without the defect. However, the following spring during a back cast three of the tip sections did break. Which TUSA replaced, no problem.
Other than that one incident I have never broken any other rod, and I have had 4 TUSA rods, a Daiwa LL rod, several Nissin rods, an Oni rod, and two Tenkara Times rods. I am always very careful to not apply any side pressure to a section when extending or collapsing them, and I’m careful to keep the tip segment completely inside the other sections when attaching or detaching the line from the lillian. Otherwise maybe I’m just lucky that I’ve never fallen on a rod, stepped on a rod or dropped something heavy on a rod when they are laying around somewhere, especially kicking around inside the car. And I am always very careful with my rods when they are completely disassembled for cleaning or drying. When possible I do that chore when I am home alone.
I’ve never ordered any spare segments to have on hand, just in case. I never carry a spare rod with me while out fishing. Maybe I would if fished someplace that was a long walk to get a replacement. But hey, with my name being Walker, I don’t mind walking, and thus far I doubt I’ve ever fished more than 45 ~ 60 minute walk from my car. Thus far it has seemed to me that having spare parts, and keeping them safe from becoming broken, would be more of a hassle to manage than the hassle to perhaps someday need to walk a few miles to retrieve another rod.
I am on my third season. I had never broken a rod until recently. It was a tip section on a delicate tipped rod. It was my fault as it got wrapped up in a pine and i put too much force on it to free it.
Your situation seems odd.
My past experience with graphite rods has shown me that blunt side impacts can create catastrophic failures. Like one good whack and the rod may look fine but may fail down the road by the most innocent stress. More often the failure will occur shortly after impact but not always.
If you do not recall this happening and have watched the videos on how to safely extend and collapse your rod…then i might guess that there may have been a defect in the blank when you purchased it.
I have read that that second or third segment is the most typical to fail when fighting a fish or freeing a snag. I assume it may be because it may be at the apex of part of the initial flex arc and may have the most stress if an angler creates a closed loop highsticking a rod…which is a no-no. I do not think thos is your case necause typically when it happens the failure is immediate.
My tusa sato has taken some punishment. More abuse than i would expect a tenkara rod to survive. All accidental stuff including perpendicular impacts on trees and even rocks.
The rod that i broke has a tip that might be half the diameter of the sato…some rods are just more delicate and need to be treated accordingly.
Did you relay the details of the incident to the peeps at tenkara times? I was wondering if they offered an explanation of the failure.
Also, i forgot to note. I do carry a spare on the river. Mostly for variety of apllication but also in the event of a failure.
Life expectancy of a tenkara rod should be long. One angler on this forum noted he had one rod for 20 years.
Rod Breakage Evan3000,
I have broken two rods however, each time was my fault. The first time was with the TUSA Sato rod. I did not realize it was caught in a blackberry bush and I made a forward cast and forced it to go forward. The third section snapped immediately. The second time was the 10’6" Soft Tenkara Temple Fork rod. The line was caught in a sycamore branch and I jerked it to get it out and broke the tip section. I learned two valuable lessons about not forcing or yanking the line loose. The third time was not a break. I was taking apart my TRY 300 rod and the wind blew the top two sections into the Midlothian Mining Park Pond.( Boy, I felt stupid). Anthony, at Three Rivers Tenkara is a wonderful guy to work with so don’t hesitate to contact him. He is honest, fast turn around, and pricing is extremely fair, In fact, the 4 companies and the members I have purchased tenkara rods from have ALL been awesome. I have absolutely no complaints and only complements.
By the way, my son John, broke the tip of his rod, Hellbender, because when setting the hook he jerked the rod like he normally did on a fly rod. I had given him this rod and I had purchased an extra tip “just in case” since he was beginning tenkara for the first time. Whether you need an extra tip depends on how aggressively you fish. If you are going on a long hike it might be smart to carry an extra tip for one of those “just in case” moments.I hope this helps.
I’m starting my sixth year now and I’ve broken two rods. The first happened two years ago. I had only been out for about an hour, and an unexpected (at least to me) thunderstorm came rolling over the mountains and opened up on me. With wet hands and a wet rod, I broke the second section trying to collapse the rod as I walked the trail back to my car.
The other happened last year and was fully my error. I broke the three sections directly above the handle section of a keiryu rod by putting my free hand at the joint of the next two sections and lifting up on the rod suddenly to get the fish out of a weed bed. This forced the bend of the rod (with a decent sized fish on the end) to go much deeper (read more of a mid flex than tip flex) than the rod was designed for and the three sections snapped.
Seven rods for me. Four on snags (trees mostly) – interestingly all of them broke at the 3rd section (from tip). Two broke on fish in really heavy current (5X tippet) where I couldn’t follow the fish-- also 3rd section. And one broke at the tip section as I was trying to force out a jam.
The rods? Two Nissin (both Pro-Spec), one Daiwa (Sagiri), one Gamakatsu (Ryokei 360), one Tenkara Times (Try 390), one Tanuki (275 prototype), and one Chinese clone (Tenkara Worldwide River Master).
I’ll admit, I’m hard on rods. But I’m learning a lot!
Probably a foolish thing to say (knocking on wood), but I have only broken one rod. I am admittedly quite hard on rods, I don’t treat them gently. I pull harder than I probably should when snagged, I always fish the heaviest tippet rated, if not a tiny bit over.
The one I broke was a Nissin Sakon 36 on a large (22.5") trout in current after a long fight, pretty sure it was poor rod handling while going to net the fish. My fault, not the fish/rod’s.
I pretty much always either carry another rod, or have one nearby in the car.
Hey @Chris_Lynch, what about the Nissin AS that you fell on last year when you wrenched your finger? Or did that one not completely break per se?
Catch 22. The more you understand how and why rods break, the less likely you are to break rods. The only way you come to understand how and why rods break is to break a few rods (or be lucky enough to WATCH someone else break a rod).
I have broken a few rods and seen a few break. Of all those breaks, and of all that I have been told about, it has never, ever been a case of a manufacturing defect. (One particular rod had to be redesigned slightly, but that was a design flaw, not a manufacturing defect.)
Anglers break rods by getting distracted, being in a hurry or not being careful enough. People break rod tips by bending the rod tip sideways when putting on or taking off the line. People break the second section by collapsing the rod incorrectly (and just being aware that the part is fragile does not mean that it was handled correctly). People break the third section by trying to free a snag by whipping the rod. People break lower sections by pulling back on the rod when trying to stop a large fish (like pulling back on the reins of a horse to stop it) rather than just holding the rod and letting the natural bend of the rod tire the fish. Using too strong a tippet or holding the rod with your second hand above the grip section will break rods in the lower sections as well. Grip sections break when people fall on them. Cross their eyes pro bass angler hooksets will often break multiple sections at once.
Do any of these things wrong and it is surprisingly easy to break a rod. Do them all right and you may never break a rod.
So, to answer you initial question, how often do rods break - about as often as anglers make serious mistakes in rod handling.
I always have a spare in the car and have replacement tips plus top sections at home for two of my rods.
Touch wood I haven’t broken any rods yet but I am very careful as I tend to worry about these things. I always pre-rig my rods before I leave home and leave the rubber plugs safe. I replace the rubber plug with a soft leather ‘finger stall’ , bought from a Pharmacy (drug store) and used to protect a bandaged finger. I am not sure what you call them outside the UK. It works well and protects the connected Lilian and tip from leaving the protection of rod.
When I am fishing and moving position it is very easy to slip the finger stall over the end. It is secured by the elasticated loop wound over the finger stall.
See photos below
I freely admit that the rods that I have broken have broken because of my actions. Although I am curious regarding the Pro-Spec. I broke the same section on the same rod twice. I replaced that section with a comparable section from another (non-Nissin) rod and it has not broken since, despite frequent/heavy use. That makes me curious as to why. Is it me? Have I changed my rod handling since I changed out that section? Or did the section have something to do with it? I don’t know. Curious.
Some blank designs just are not perfect and there might be too much stress on a segment. I hear all kinds of stories about certain rod models that just fail all at the same spot. Sometimes its design…sometimes its the materials. Like a rod design can be fine…then they reformulate the materials used in production…or change factories.
For those of us who do throw bead heads…occasionally…at least for me…my timing slips and I ping one of those suckers off the blank at a gazillion miles an hour. The horror…not good for the rod.
And congrats to davidsr…he just invented tenkara’s first leather rod bra…or chaps…not sure.
oh I broke that one alright! Broke it real good!
Thanks for the responses, everyone — sounds like I need to (1) definitely be ready for breakage at some point, and (2) be as careful and patient as I can.
Obviously, this means I need to buy a couple of backup rods ASAP!
And @Gressak, yes: I did tell the folks at Tenkara Times about how it broke. They suggested it was likely user error, and I’m inclined to agree. I received the new tip from them today (plus the bonus segment) and I’m looking forward to getting out on the water this holiday weekend. (Hoping to try a nice little trout and grayling stream down in South Bohemia if I get time.)
Love the finger stall idea, @davidsr!
Never broke rods on fish. And i caught really big fish for all of the rods i fish. Car door took out my kurenai 33 handle section my sato tip broke because i was walking through the woods with it extended.
I’ve broke a few also. It happens. I usually carry two rods as a rule just in case. It’s also a good idea to carry spare Lillian and super glue if you only break a tip. At least you can fix it and keep fishing.
That is a great idea. I will do this from now own. Thanks for the
I broke a 300cm Kasugo from Allfishingbuy, on the bottom two sections before the handle. I had only used it for two days…I don’t think it liked all the slingshot/bow and arrow casts I was having to do.
All rods I broke have been being careless with the tip, Never a Fish. They are delicate but very strong.