October 28, 2015
How to keep your multi-piece fly rod, in one piece.
All you need to clean and lubricate your ferrule connections are Q-tips, a cloth and either candle or ferrule wax.
As mainstream and convenient as multi-piece fly rods are, there is a shortcoming: ferrule slippage. It can be just an annoyance, or it can cause a costly mishap.
Whenever you cast repeatedly, as you do when blind-casting, ferrule slippage is likely. To decrease the chance of this, check that all ferrules are seated snugly before fishing. And you have to get in the habit of doing this periodically during the day, too. If you keep your fly rods broken down between fishing trips, the chance of slippage is not as likely, because you assemble the rod each time you go fishing. If you keep your rods assembled, either in a rack in the house, or in your boat racks, you probably don't check them often enough before casting.
Should a rod section slip and get loose while you fish—which typically happens in the upper part of rod—you may feel something amiss while you cast, but not always. If you are lucky, the sections will simply part, and a section will slide down your line. If not, the sidewall of the female (hollow) ferrule can crack while casting. And it is far more likely once you are bowed up on a fish. What happens is the male end slips to the edge of the hollow female end and under pressure, the wall weakens or cracks, and it's time for a factory replacement of the section.
Assembly and Break Down
To assemble your rod, insert the male end into the female ferrule while twisting as you firmly push the ends together, until the sections are firmly seated. Never jam the parts with force. It's best to have the guides of the sections either opposite each other, or at least at a 45-degree angle when starting. Do just the opposite when taking the sections apart—lightly twist the sections in opposite directions while pulling them apart firmly.
And consider applying a thin coat of ferrule wax, such as that some manufacturers provide, to keep everything lubricated. You can also use a candle, paraffin wax or beeswax with equal success. Lefty Kreh advocates rubbing the male end alongside your nose to coat the surface with your own skin “oil.” It works pretty well.
The waxed ends won't slip as easily, yet will actually come apart more easily when time comes to store the rod. Should your rod sections really lock up, employ a helper to grasp one section while you grasp the other.
The trick is to both grasp both sections. In other words, stagger your hands so that each of you grips a side of the stuck ferrule. Now just pull firmly. You might not even need to twist the sections at all. Do not grasp the rod guides when doing this—snake guides do bend. If need be, to get a better grip on the slick rod blank, wear latex gloves or use one of those jar gripping pads sold in kitchen stores. Once you get the sections apart, take time to clean all male and female ferrules, to decrease the chance of it happening again. Use a Q-tip to clean out the hollow female ferrule and a soft cloth to wipe the male end. Lubricate the male ends before storing the broken down rod, or reassemble if you store rods assembled. FS
First published Florida Sportsman May 2015