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The Gearboat Chronicles

Tips For Unsticking a Stuck Rod

I’ve got a bad case of rod jam. I mean, this fly rod is stu-u-u-ck. So this week we’ll review tips on how not to transport your fly rod by placing it under a windshield wiper. Also tricks that so far don’t work for getting two sections of fly rod apart. And, if we have time, I’ll introduce some new cuss words I invented while my eyes were popping out tugging on these two sections.

The Windshield Wiper Rod Rack

It seems like an elegant, simple solution to tuck your rod under a windshield wiper for a short drive to the next fishing spot. Downsides include a much steeper angle than your typical rod holder, increasing the odds that your line may get caught in a branch as you drive along. To research what happens, I did just that and my findings indicate this will put a considerable bow in the rod because it’s fighting a tree and a Ford Ranger at the same time. You should have your drag set not too terribly tight and let up pressure by screaming “Stop! Stop!” to your buddy who is driving.


Kudos to the folks at Echo fly rods, because my 10′ 7 weight 4-piece took this stress like a champ and didn’t break. But, hoo-wee, the bottom two sections are crammed together but good and so far no amount of coaxing can get these things to part ways.  I *thought about* bringing my crappy homemade rod racks that day, pictured below, but did not. I also *thought about* bringing a spare rod that day, but did not. Luckily, the branch incident/rod tectonics happened at the tail end of the day, so I didn’t miss much fishing. Thankful for small mercies.


Tips For Unsticking a Stuck Rod

Two dogs in an alley syndrome can happen to your fly rod for a variety of reasons. Avoid them. Failing that, here are some tricks guaranteed to have no effect at all on my super-duper stuck-together rod.

Mind the Guides. Don’t be bracing your hand against the guides while trying to pull. Because . . . well, you know what? Go ahead. See what happens.

Nice and Kneesy. Arms aren’t really that great at pulling away from each other in a straight line. And we don’t want to put more stress on the joints by introducing flex into the mix. Try it first by getting your hands up high around your collar bones or chin. But if that fails, get the knees involved for leverage. Put the rod behind your legs, grab either section on the outside of said knees and apply outward leg pressure. Another approach is to sit down with knees raised in front of you. If contractions are five minutes apart and last longer than 60 seconds, get to a fly shop or hospital.

Get a Grip. Sliding hands won’t help so you can use those rubbery kitchen circle things for opening stubborn lids. Or gloves with gription. Some guys recommend shelf lining material, whatever that is. My shelves are lined with dust. I got a good tip to cut chunks out of an old bike inner tube and that works pretty well. Also you can use the same material to fashion an eye patch after pulling so hard your eyes pop out and dangle by the cord.


Temperature. There are reports of stubborn joints coming apart after being left outside overnight in freezing temperatures. You can simulate this by packing the joint in crushed ice. I tried it with snow. Then I ran warmishy-hot water over the female joint. Results: Nothing! But it sure sounds promising with all the science of expansion and contraction or whatever. An alternative warming method is to use a hair dryer. But don’t overdo it on the heat. I didn’t try this because the only hair dryer in my house is a towel, stacked in a shelf lined with dust.


Grease the Skids. WD-40 is supposed to work like magic for stuck rods. Didn’t do the trick for me. Tri-Flow lubricant was also recommended with use of the word ‘magic.’ Nope. I also tried lubricating the joint with tears of desperation but same results. Then I tried using actual magic, by flipping through Harry Potter books and reading spells out loud to my fly rod, but *big sigh* nope. Thanks for nothing, Rowling.

Next move is to contact Echo, I guess, and see if they have any pointers. In the meantime I guess the 2nd and 3rd string rods will get some playing time this weekend. Did I mention the joint in question got twisted so the guide is 90 degrees from the reel seat so I can’t fish it? Well it is.

Or maybe I’ll go super old school and try to see what a steelhead does to a bamboo rod. Bob Both gave me a bamboo rod a few years back, bless his heart, and he swears it’ll handle a steelie. I’ve been afraid to try for fear of busting that beauty. But now seems like the time. So next week look for a tutorial on how to remove bamboo splinters from your eye that you popped out the week before trying to pull two fly rod sections apart.

I’ll leave you with a grainy pic tacken on windshield wiper day from across the river of Winding Waters guide Cam Scott while he gives a fish an airplane ride.


Wait, don’t leave yet. I’ll also leave you with this image of frosty business on a plum tree with the cutest little skis ever nailed to my cabin. Sure has been pretty around here recently.