What's Biting: Keep a close watch on rod guides

Part of the What's Biting Series

When you're fighting a nice fish, sometimes the fish wins and gets away. If the hook pulls, you can lament that maybe you didn't get a good hookset, but sometimes it just happens.

Sometimes the fish puts more stress on your fishing line than it can handle and the line breaks, or the fish pulls you into barnacle-encrusted structure and cuts you off.

Those are the situations that usually disappear from memory after a short time. Losing a big fish to flawed equipment, however, tends to never be forgotten.

rod and reel fishing in Orange Beach AL

Like the time I hooked a huge tarpon. The silver king made several grand jumps to try to dislodge the hook to no avail. After becoming too tired to jump, the fish headed to the bottom to continue the fight.

That usually means the angler’s odds of landing the fish have increased greatly. However, as every angler knows, the fish isn’t caught unless it’s in the boat or alongside the boat to retrieve the hook from the fish’s mouth.

About a half-hour into the fight against the big tarpon, my arms began to ache, but that was not my main concern. I noticed the line appeared to be frayed just a bit as I pumped the rod to gain an advantage on the fish.

Then the worst scenario for a fisherman happened. The rod tip went straight as the line went slack. Although the fish had almost given up the fight, the frayed line couldn’t handle the pressure. The big tarpon was gone and I was exhausted and extremely disappointed.

When I told the boat captain to check the line, he discovered that one of the ceramic line guides had developed a crack, and it was nicking the line each time it touched the crack. Finally, the damage to the line was too severe. That rod was taken out of service, but we never got another big bite that day.
That incident is why I check my line regularly for fraying and my rod guides for cracks or chips.

One of the best ways to check for flaws in the rod guides is to use some kind of fine material that will snag on the imperfections when run through the guides.
Ask your wife or significant other for a pair of old pantyhose and cut off one leg. Take that hose and run it through the line guides. If there are any imperfections, the hose material will snag.
For the guide tip, you will probably have to cut a smaller piece of the hose to get it through the guide, but that guide tip is the one that gets damaged the most often.

If you find a flaw, take that rod out of service until you can repair it yourself or take it to one of the numerous bait shop/tackle stores on the Alabama Gulf Coast to get it repaired professionally.

Trust me, you won’t be sorry you have perfect rod guides the next time you have a big fish on the end of the line.


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David Rainer Blogger
David Rainer (2 Posts)
David Rainer has written about the great outdoors on the Alabama Gulf Coast for more than 20 years. For 14 of those years, he covered the many fishing opportunities on the Gulf Coast as outdoors…