Sometimes bad things happen to good fishermen. You make a long cast with a shock leader, say, and the knot catches, pulling the ceramic ring out of the tiptop of the rod. Now what? You’ve got to reel in the lure, cut the line to remove the ring (being careful not to drop it in the water) and use your fishing pliers to gently squeeze the ring back into the frame on the tiptop. Not fun. If you’re prepared, however, minor incidents like this won’t ruin your day on the water.

Being able to cope with mishaps in the field begins with a repair kit. It can be minimal or elaborate, depending on your needs. Use a small lure box or a simple bag, like a zippered pencil case, to hold the contents. Include a variety of items, from a few spare guides to a stub of candle wax (for loose ferrules). More elaborate kits should include equipment for difficult repairs, such as parallel-jaw pliers and a spool of thread and bobbin, which can be used to rewrap a guide. Think of other times when you’ve had problems and add the appropriate repair items or tools to your kit.

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Repair Kit Basics

–Tape and rubber bands for holding loose reels and guides in place

–Spare rod parts including tiptops, guides and split rings

–Candle stubs for smearing wax on loose rod ferrules in order to keep the two pieces securely attached

–Multi-use pliers to handle a variety of tasks including cutting and crimping

–Lighter for melting the cement that holds tiptops in place

–Safety pins which can be used as replacements for broken guides

–Heat-set or ferrule cement for replacing broken tiptops

DAMAGED GUIDE If a guide breaks, remove it by cutting off the wire frame. If you have a spare guide, tape it to the same spot as the old one. Even if it’s not the exact size, a new guide will allow you to keep fishing. Lacking a spare, you can make one from a safety pin. Cut off the safety catch and bend the legs about halfway up in opposite directions. Tape the pin to the rod and run the line through the ring at the spring end of the pin. You can fish without a guide, but be careful when fighting a fish, since the stress on the rod will be different.

LOOSE REEL SEATS A loose movable hood can cause reels to fall off. Prevent this by securing the hood with tape or a rubber band. If the reel seat has double-locking nuts or collets, add an O-ring between the two nuts to lock one against the other.

BROKEN TIPS With a broken tiptop, file the remaining rod section down to the first guide. Remove loose tiptops by melting the binding cement with a lighter. To attach a new one, smear heat-set or ferrule cement on the rod end and hold the tiptop in place.

POPPED RINGS The ceramic ring inside the tiptop can pop out, and fishing without the ring can damage lines. For this simple repair, squeeze the ceramic ring back into the shock ring of the tiptop using fishing pliers (preferably with parallel-action jaws).