Hey, I broke a rod tip on the coldest day of fishing I've done. I had ice on my guides all morning, and it was around 20F and windy most of the day. Yes, I know cold is relative and this might be nothing...
Anyway, I broke the rod tip. I think it had more to do with me jamming the tip into some brush on the way to the river, and then the rod tip snapped on the cast a few minutes later even though it looked "okay" after jamming it.
Which is more likely? Does cold have any real role here?
Temperature certainly affects various materials, and the more extreme the temperatures that more extreme the effects. It's more probable, you damaged the rod with the brush, but possible the cold graphite was more easily damaged than if it had been warmer.
I've known many folks who broke graphite rods, and even though the damaged area looked OK they still broke, and even in very warm weather. Graphite is not very forgiving & once the damage is done, it's going to break.
Cold makes nearly everything more brittle, including graphite. But, a nick or scratch or stress at a specific point on the rod is a more likely breakage cause. Ice could even have done that. "Jamming" a rod tip in the cold doesn't have a good ring to it, and could easily stress it, or aggravate an existing weak spot.
I've broken rods on 95 degree days too, so its not just because of the cold. I know people who fish with temperatures in 20's regularly. I used to a long time ago until I grew out of that and wised up!
Noticed on numerous occasions during sub freezing steelhead trips seeing many more cases of broken rods. I'm pretty sure many of these mishaps have something to do with the cold along with weighted flys hitting the blank. Last time I was out on the river in Jauary saw 4 different instances of broken rods in one outing ! And it was cold!
"I was born to fish" Lee Wulff
"There's more B.S. in fly fishing then there is in a Kansas feedlot." Lefty Kreh
" It ain't over till it's over." Yogi Berra
"Your not old,you've simply acquired a patina." Swirlchaser
Location: Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada border
Re: graphte brittle in cold?
I have fished in way cold stuff. So far I have not had a problem. I am going to make a bet on one or two factors being the primary culprit. You said, "I think it had more to do with me jamming the tip into some brush on the way to the river" and I am willing to bet that even though it looked OK, it probably wasn't. Second likely culprit was where you said "I had ice on my guides all morning". If you had a point near the tip that jammed the line up, you trying to cast and haul could very well have snapped the rod tip. A third possibility is that you hit it with the fly. I don't know what you had on as far as the fly goes, but I have seen a clouser take a tip off like a dang BB gun.
I doubt that it snapped just because it was 20 out. I have fished in weather that cold and never had a problem. I am positive the cold did not help, don't get me wrong. Cold makes things break. I live in one of the coldest spots you can find. They even made a TV commercial that said, If you can find a colder place than Baudette, MN, you don't need a new car, you need a new place to live. They cold weather test here for a lot of companies. If you are going to bust something because it's cold, this is a great place to do it. I'm going to bet there is more to it than the cold though.
Well, I read all the replies and agree with everyone's conclusions but I am leaning very strongly to what Rip Tide had to say. I think we all have to push the weather envelope at some point (usually when we are young) and after we figure things out we try not to go unless the high is going to reach 34* or so. I've started off at daybreak when it was 20* knowing I would see 35 or so by afternoon in the fall but if it's gonna stay cold I don't do it often.
Last fall I had a day when it was 19 at day break and I fished all day. It hit 35 at 2:00 PM or so but by 6:00 PM I was in a valley in the shade and it was about 27. What do you figure happened? OK, I'll tell. I was sweeping my line upstream to set a Snap T cast and got a Snap R instead. R in this case standing for rod which broke cleanly about 4" below the male part of the ferrule on the butt section. This was a 13' 8/9 Spey rod with a big fat butt and I was surprised. I kept fishing the two piece rod till dark and landed some nice fish but I won't be out when it's that cold again.