Rod Care

A bit of context:
Got back from a fishing trip trying out my new Zerosum (fantastic rod btw I’m in love). And during the trip I had to lay down my rod on the shore to unhook the fish. Did a quick wipe down before collapsing the rod but as I was closing it I heard some scraping. So when I got home I dissembled the rod and cleaned out the sections with pipe cleaners and paper towels. Should be good.

Question is: How often do you clean your rod and what are your methods? I want to make sure my rods last a while and figured I’d ask the experts.

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I clean my rod just about every time. It only takes a little time and it insures that there is no dirt, grit, sand, or anything else on the rod. I use a lint free cloth and wipe it down with warm water and then wipe it down with a clean dry cloth. I set it out to air dry inside my study room for an hour or two and then reassemble it and store it ready for the next adventure. I do wipe down the cork handle (if there is one) with warm water and a little soap to remove fish slime, dirt, or sweat. I then wipe it down again with just water and let dry. Some anglers do not like to clean the handle and prefer a patina to develop. Different people do different procedures for cleaning their rods and some don’t clean it at all unless it gets really nasty. (IMO) some care helps prolong the life and performance of the rod. I have purchased several rods from the members here and they come to me looking like new. I hope this helps.

By the way, I do not lay my rod down but prop it up somehow. I had 2 ready bad experiences with rods being laid down. Once I stepped on my new Winston fly rod and once a fishing partner laid his Sage rod down and told me to come over and look at the brook trout he had caught. I stepped directly in the middle of his rod and broke both sections. That was 2 very expensive mistakes. If I didn’t have bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck at all.


I just give the outside a wipe down with a shirt or whatever is on hand as I collapse it when I leave the stream, without dissembling. Many times I do nothing at all. I’ve never had an issue with many rods and many years, but I think this is one of those situations where you have to find what is right for you personally. There may be factors like that I don’t lay my rod down very much, we have very clear clean water here, rocky bottom vs sandy, etc, so your usage and your environment may produce different results.


The main thing is do what you feel is best in the environment you are in when fishing. Bobby doesn’t clean his rod except for a outside wipe down which is great and I’m probably on the extreme side on keeping the rod clean. Whatever you choose will be correct. Have a great time and the rod you have (Nissin Zerosum) is a wonderful tenkara rod.


Great points, adopting the pre collapse wipedown will probably be key at minimizing any dirt (outside of simply avoiding placing the rod in dirt to begin with).

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I fall somewhere in the middle in terms of rod care. It really depends on how dirty the rod is at the end of the outing and when I’m planning to use it again.

If I’m going to use it the next day I don’t bother disassembling and do a quick wipe down before collapsing it. If the rod is wet or visibly dirty I’ll take the rod apart completely, wiping each section with a wet paper towel before laying the pieces out to dry. I just don’t like the idea of trapping moisture for long periods of time. If I’m not planning on using the rod again for more than a few days I’ll also do the full disassembly routine.


I agree with Mike about not laying the rod down on the ground. I had a similar experience with a buddy who had laid his rod in the grass when I went over to talk with him. I didn’t even see it there until we were done and how I didn’t step on it was a miracle, better to prop in a bush or something.
I keep a small clean cloth in my pack for wiping down when I collapse the rod at the end of the day. I don’t always use it, but it’s there if I need to.


Even fishing in the rain without putting the the rod down has caused water to collect inside the sections of my fixed line rods. Before taking up Tenkara in 2018 I always cleaned and dried my western bamboo and graphite rods after outings. It was just something I did, and still do.

See the “Dry the Rod Between Trips” section

This happened to a friend’s Shadowfire 360.
Bubbles in rod finish caused by putting it away wet.
(Chris’ site has been such a valuable resource for us)


It is one thing to step on my own rod; shame on me for being so stupid but to step on my friend’s favorite rod! I felt like a total dumb a**. I did however order a new Sage rod that day and paid for next day shipping. I now look around before I step. It’s amazing how such a small 8.5 foot can cause so much destruction. Winston and Sage will probably register my feet as weapons of mass destruction.


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