Malfunction Junction

You just hit the dock after an exciting day on the water when you notice your two-piece rod won’t come apart. You’ve tried pulling it with force but the situation remains the same. What can you do to separate the stuck pieces?


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Image 1 + 2 Photo: Captain Ron Presley

Over the years innovative anglers have devised various ways to cope with the situation of ferrules that won’t come unstuck. In most cases you probably won’t have many tools at your disposal, however, you still stand a good chance of accomplishing the task at hand.

One swab of the Q-tip identified the dirt and grime that caused the sections to stick.

Bad Practice
Before considering the solutions, lets first talk about what not to do. It’s never a good idea to forcefully twist the rod, use pliers, vice grips or any other type of tool that will harm the blank’s finish. Under no circumstances should you use the guides to get a better grip on the rod.

The Possibilities
The most common suggestion involves sitting down and placing the rod behind your knees. Reach down along the outside of your legs and grip the rod blank on each side of the ferrules, being careful not to put any undue pressure on the guides (Image 1). Slowly separate your knees and apply lateral pressure on your wrists and forearms to pull the rod sections apart (Image 2). This is a more powerful method than simply pulling on the rod using only your arm strength. One good thing about this method is that it can be used in the field without any additional equipment.

Another approach uses the scientific principle that heat expands and cold contracts. In this case, cautiously heat the female ferrule with a blow dryer, being extremely careful not to get it too hot. After warming up the ferrule, grasp the rod blank on each section and pull.

Some anglers have also had success utilizing a lubricant like WD-40. The idea is for the lubricant to ease or eliminate the friction that caused the rod to stick. Since the usual cause of sticking is dirt or salty grit in the ferrules, this method only works when the lube penetrates inside the joint.

What Worked for Me
After trying these methods without success I found another remedy, which seemed to defy the principle of science. This method rests on the success that some anglers had in placing their rod outdoors in freezing temperatures. To simulate this method I filled a plastic sandwich bag with crushed ice. I wrapped the bag around the female ferrule and kept it in place with a plastic chip clip. Then I wet a small kitchen towel with hot tap water and wrapped it around the blank below the ferrule (Image 3). I let the rig sit for about 10-minutes before I tried a two-man pull. My buddy placed the handle of the rod in his armpit and squeezed it tightly. I asked him to get a good grip on the blank, with both hands, and to get ready for me to pull. All the time being careful not to pressure any of the guides, and instructing him to do the same, I pulled hard on the blank. I felt it give a little and then come apart (Image 4).

Once the sections were apart I used Q-tips and rubbing alcohol to clean inside the female ferrule (Image 5). One swab of the Q-tip identified the dirt and grime that caused the sections to stick. I then applied a white rubbing compound to clean and polish the male ferrule. I finished by cleaning it thoroughly with rubbing alcohol.

Finally, to prevent the segments from sticking again I used a primitive method that has been in use for decades. I rubbed the male ferrule behind my ear. This action applies a thin coat of oil from your skin and helps keep the ferrules from sticking again. In lieu of the skin oil approach you can also use white candle wax or one of the many commercial ferrule lubricants available on the market.

Hold On Tight

All of the recommended methods require a good grip on the rod blank and there are a few items that will help you get a stickier grip. Many anglers who have had to deal with this annoying task suggest utilizing rubberized shelf liner material. This tacky material comes in big sheets and you can cut off as much as you need. There are also commercial jar gripping pads that offer additional grip. Even those gloves with little rubber strips on them will give you more grip than your bare hands. Latex rubber gloves will also give you an advantage over the slick exterior of a rod blank.