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Do Fishing Rods Float?

Two fishing rods with different type of reels.

No one wants to watch with horror as their fishing rod slips beneath the surface of the water, never to be seen again. If you are fishing in deep water, you might want to ask yourself this question before you go out:

Do Fishing Rods Float?

No, not really. Fishing rods, in practice, do not float.

Technically, fishing rods are naturally buoyant and will float – but this is not true when the reel is attached. The extra weight of the reel will cause the rod to sink. In the state you actually use the fishing rod – with the reel and tackle attached – it will almost definitely sink rather than float.

There really isn’t a way to design a fishing rod that is naturally buoyant enough to support the weight of an average reel. They do make some kid’s rods like this, with a lot of buoyancy in the handle and a very light reel, but on an adult scale the physics doesn’t work out.

I will go ahead and admit that I lost one of my first rods.

A fishing rods left over in the dock.

It’s an embarrassing mistake to make, and one that I still struggle to live down, but I honestly believed when it slipped out of my hands that it would float. We were fishing in a fairly shallow lake and one of my friends was able to dive and recover it, thankfully. I’m glad that I had to buy a round of beers for everyone who gave me a hand, rather than a new rod that day.

It is easy to make the mistake of assuming that fishing rods float because you’ve seen them float in the shallows, or a swimming pool when they don’t have the reel attached. However, if you are out in the ocean in deep water, for example, and the rod slips out of your hands, there is a pretty close to zero chance that you will ever see that rod again.

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This can cause a lot of anxiety. Rods are expensive, and you don’t want to lose one. It can be hard to enjoy yourself and relax while fishing if you’re clinging for dear life to an important asset that could slip through your fingers at any moment.

How Do I Keep My Fishing Pole From Sinking?

A man casting his fishing rod in the river.

There are only three ways of dealing with this:

The first is kind of unfair to say, but it is just to not let it sink by being extremely careful, and keeping a firm grip on your fishing rod at all times – the old-fashioned way.

This makes sense if your rod isn’t really at risk because you can probably recover it if you lose it in the areas you’re fishing. If you are only fishing in shallow areas that you can wade into, you probably won’t have any problem recovering your fishing rod if you do drop it, so there is no need to worry about afloat.

Even if you fish in fairly deep water that is not choppy or subject to swells (like a lake, for example) you might be able to recover any rod that is lost by diving for it (like my friend did with my lost rod) or fishing for it. If you can have confidence that the rod won’t move much, you can drag the bottom wherever you lost it and potentially hook it and recover it.

You can also attach the rod to yourself or your boat, using a leash or a rod-holder. That way, you never really drop the rod in the first place, so it doesn’t need to float.

Rod holders are most popular on large boats and deep-sea fishing boats. If you’ve ever seen someone reel in a tuna or a marlin they are probably not holding onto the rod with just their hands. Instead, the rod is fixed to the boat in a rod holder that keeps it in place so that the extreme physics of the pull on the line doesn’t rip your rod out of your hands.

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Rod-holders are just convenient little cup-holders that you can keep your rod in. They might help deep-sea fishermen haul in large catches, but they’re also effective at just keeping your rod safe and secure while you’re fishing so that have some peace of mind. You can install rod holders on small boats, and there are even some rod holders made specifically for kayaks.

Alternatively, you can attach a float to the rod the same way that you do with your car keys so that if it does go overboard it will float. You don’t need the rod itself with the reel attached to float on the surface of the water, you just need it to be attached to a buoy that will remain above the surface of the water so that you can recover the rod.

There are commercial floats available that attach to the handle of your fishing rod. They can be a little bit annoying and unsightly. However, if your peace of mind rests on knowing you can recover your rod if you lose it, hauling around a piece of foam with you is a pretty small price to pay.

Where Can I Find Fishing Pole Floats Online?

You can find affordable options on Amazon – these rod floats are essentially pool noodles that you can wrap around your rod’s handle to keep it afloat if you lose it.

Propel Paddle Gear Rod Floats | Easy to Use & Secure | Hook & Loop Straps | Keeps Rod Afloat | Boating & Fishing Accessories

 

6 Pack Fishing Rod Floats for Kayaking Floaters Poles Propel Paddle Gear Foam Rod Floaties for Boats and Kayaks(Green)

There are also rod leashes available so that you never lose your rod in the first place.

HERCULES M4 Heavy Duty Fishing Lanyard, Kayak Paddle Leash, No Rust Paddle Leash (17.7" Plus, 5.9")

Booms Fishing T02 Fishing Pole Tether with Belt, Kayak Paddle Leash, Paddle Board Fishing Accessories, Heavy Duty Fishing Lanyard for Fishing Tools/Rods/Paddles, Blue 2pcs

How Do You Make a Fishing Rod Float?

You can also DIY these projects and make your fishing rod floats and leashes. They’re not exactly complicated pieces of equipment, even though you want them to be durable and dependable. With some common ingredients, you can make your versions at home and save some money

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A fishing rod float is essentially foam that is wrapped around the handle and mounted around the rod plank.

Start by finding the right material – a pool noodle or foam cylinder that has the right diameter. Then, cut a length of 5 to 7″ and cut into it to reach the empty center. Wrap the foam around the rod and secure it with zip ties on either end.

Keep in mind that you will need to cut the zip ties to clean the rod. If you attach the foam below the reel and above the handle, you should not have any adverse effects on performance and you should barely notice it.

This video from KastKing shows one way of making your own DIY fishing rod floats.

How Do You Build a Kayak Leash on a Fishing Pole?

A man enjoying kayaking with fishing rods attached.

A kayak leash for a fishing pole is essentially a velcro cuff or sleeve that can wrap around the fishing pole, fixed to a flexible cord that connects to a carabiner.

You can find purchase these separately from a hardware store and tie them together with rope, or use zip ties.

You can make a cuff out of strong velcro, or use rope and tie a knot. There are many different ways to do this, and as long as the fishing rod is firmly connected to the cord, and the cord is firmly connected to either your body or the boat, the leash is working.

In this forum thread from Northwest Kayak Anglers, they discuss making kayak rod leashes for less than $4.

Don’t Let Your Fishing Rod Sink

A man with his son fishing in the dock, soaking their feet.

Don’t make the mistake I made and assume that fishing rods float when they have a reel attached, just because they float right out of the package. If you lose your rod in deep water it is probably going straight to the bottom. Thankfully, you can buy or make a fishing rod float or leash that will help you hold onto, or recover your rod.