Maintaining and Traveling With Your Thomas & Thomas Fly Rod

Fly rods are like vehicles; you wouldn’t drive a car with a flat tire, shattered windshield and running on oil that hasn’t been changed in over two years. You also wouldn’t use a fly rod that’s been put through the worst of wringers and is in really rough condition. When it comes to extracting a fly rods greatest value and keeping them in good shape, they require proper attention and care. Maintenance, disassembling after each use, and protecting your equipment are the extra miles you have to take to get the most out of your gear.


It’s super easy to take care of your fly rod, but it’s even easier to damage it being negligent. To keep your rod and its parts in proper working condition, run it through these simple steps.

Ferrule and Blanks Cleaning
A simple Vaseline petroleum jelly applied with a Q tip to metal ferrules is all it takes. Apply the jelly to the male ferrule and slide the female ferrule in and out. This simple procedure helps loosen any dirt particles out of the hard to reach spots. For plastic ferrules, there are cleaners that are super inexpensive and can be applied and wiped off using a microfiber towel.

Avoid using ferrule lubricants on your blanks because certain lubricants can interact with the varnish of your rod poorly, causing damage. Cleaning the blanks is super easy; some soapy water, a soft sponge assigned to your fly rod, and a soft toothbrush will do the trick.

Reel Care and Rod Storage
Cleaning the reel is super simple; give it some attention with soapy water and a toothbrush. If you are cleaning to store for a prolonged period of time, let the reel dry off completely. Also, the reel should always be put on last and taken off first. This prevents the weight of the reel from manipulating the rod and causing it to bend unnaturally. Backing the drag off completely will also reduce the wear and tear on the discs or other components.

Before storing a fly rod away, give it a gentle and meticulous wipe down with a microfiber cloth. This allows you to examine the rod for moisture and particles while also preventing said moisture and particles from being introduced to your rod tube. Once the rod is completely dry and ready to be stowed, separate the pieces and place them in your protective rod tube.

Horizontal storage is optimal to keep the tips and the ends in good shape. Leave the end caps off entirely to allow the rods to “breathe.” You’ll want to keep the weight of the rod as evenly distributed as possible to prevent any of its points from supporting uneven weight. Additionally, ensure the fly rods place of storage is not exposed to extreme temperature swings or humidity.

Although attic and basement space are convenient, attics can reach hot temperatures and basements are prone to being cold and damp. Once your fly rod is stowed, take an extra minute to step back and examine the rod’s surroundings. Can anything fall on or come into contact with the rod tube that can cause damage?

Connect With Us

There is no such thing as knowing too much or caring too much about your fly rod. If you would like more information on your unique outfit, get in touch with us and see if there are any additional steps you should be taking. At Thomas & Thomas, we have looked at our products with extreme attention and thought, down to the tiniest details. 


Unless you have a roof rack system that allows you to stow a fully assembled rod for later disassembly, immediate disassembling is highly advised. After fishing, the motivation to take proper care of your equipment is inevitably lower. It might be the end of a long day and you are tired and hungry. That said, it only takes ten minutes to properly disassemble a fly rod.

Caring for Your Reel
First things first, snip the fly from the tippet and remove any leader or tippet that you don’t plan on using on your next trip. Then reel in your fly line, listening for any sound coming from your reel. Are you detecting any debris, trapped sand or particles? If so, give the reel a quick clean using water from a water bottle or a dry microfiber towel. Once the reel is free of any possible debris, loosen the drag a bit. Keeping the drag tight will put pressure on all of the internal components and wear them down faster than intended. Finally, place the reel in a case far away from anything that might cause damage to it.

Your Fly Rod, Flies, and Fly Box
When it comes to assembly and disassembly of your rod, remember this; “Put together-- close together. Take apart-- far apart.” ​When you are assembling, your hands should be close to the ferrules and thereby close together. When disassembling, your hands should be further from the ferrules, or far apart. This little detail prevents your rod from setting on either side of the ferrule.

Take some time before heading out to organize your flies by color, style and purpose. Not only do things go a lot smoother out on the water, but returning flies to the fly box goes quicker and requires minimal effort. It might go without saying, but a waterproof fly box is going to do wonders in the event you drop your fly box in the water. Just make sure when you are returning your flies, they are completely dry so they do not trap any moisture.


Traveling by Plane
Fortunately, rods and reels are permitted as checked luggage and don’t take up a ton of real estate. But if you have limited space and need to get creative, keep in mind the treatment of luggage airline carriers are notorious for. Make sure any extreme toss or pressure isn’t going to do some harm. That said, a rod tube is most optimal and highly recommended; utilize one if you can. Their one drawback is that sometimes they may not meet the carry-on size requirements set by the airline carrier. To be sure, check with your carrier and confirm what they allow.

Traveling by Car
The greatest cause for damage to any fly rod is that inflicted by car doors and windows. All it takes is a spontaneous wind gust or a distracted passenger for your rod to make its way into a nasty door slam. Further, car interiors can reach extreme temperatures depending on your location.

For someone renting a vehicle or riding with others, disassemble and use a rod tube. For anglers using their personal vehicle, a roof rack system like our friends at ​Riversmith​ is simply hard to beat. Not only can they withstand extreme conditions such as shock, wind, or impact, but they are lined with top grade polypropylene and are temperature resistant. 

Take Care of Your Rod So That It Takes Care of You
If you just think about how much you rely on your equipment to function flawlessly, it only makes sense that your fly rod will require something in return. It can only do it’s best if you are doing your best to take proper measures; simple cleaning, proper maintenance and storage, and providing the best form of protection. It’s all fun and games until your fly rod gets hurt!

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