When fighting a fish, never hold your rod above the handle. This causes the load to be transferred to a smaller diameter section of the rod. It may feel like you're reducing pressure on yourself and the fish, but you're dramatically increasing stress to the rod.
If an electrical storm occurs while fishing, put your rod away immediately. Graphite is an excellent conductor of electricity, as are your hands, arms, torso, legs, etc. Save the barbecuing for your backyard.
When fly casting, use extra care with weighted-eye flies. A direct hit to the rod is a lot like firing a bullet at it—which is also a bad idea just in case you were wondering.
To free a snag, point the rod tip directly at the snag area and pull back along the axis of the rod, putting the stress on the reel instead of the rod. This will either dislodge the snag or break your line, but your rod will be saved. Never attempt to free a snag with your rod tip, unless your lures cost over $100.
If you're playing a fish and it makes a run under the boat, you must act quickly. Dip the rod tip into the water alongside the boat, protecting the line and rod from breakage. In shallow areas be careful not to spear the bottom, as this will result in losing the fish, your rod, and significant quantities of hair you'll end up tearing out.
Never over-stress your rod in one spot. This often happens when setting the hook, playing a fish close to the boat or shore, or dead lifting a fish into the boat. Bending the tip at a severe angle in this manner transfers all the stress to a single area, potentially causing the blank to fail. Rods are designed to handle stress over the entire length of the blank and should be flexed with this in mind.
When bringing a fish in to a net or your hand, do not over-retrieve the line. A general rule of thumb calls for leaving as much line out as the length of the rod: If you have a nine-foot rod, leave at least nine feet of line from rod tip to hook. Steadily raise the rod to guide the fish toward you. Be careful not to raise the rod tip behind your head. At the final moment, slack off line quickly, catch the line with your hand, and hand line to the fish. Do not dead lift the fish into the boat as this will over-stress your rod.
Never reel weights or baits all the way to the rod tip. This may damage the ceramic insert or fracture the tip of the blank.
Always follow the line rating for your rod. Exceeding the line rating is like 'red lining' your car's engine: it may cause the rod to fail.
Before assembling your rod's sections, wipe any water or debris from the tip and butt sections. These impurities can cause the sections to stick together and may create scratches or cracking when attempting to disassemble them.
Courtesy of G. Loomis
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