Is Your Fishing Rod Shocking You? Here’s What to Do


Have you ever been shocked by your fishing pole? It is quite random and unexpected. Many fishers already know to stay away from fishing in a lightning storm because a metal fishing pole and lightning do not mix. But lightning is not the only cause of your fishing pole shocking you.

If you mix fishing rods with the right conditions, it can increase your rod’s chance of shocking you. Some causes of being shocked by a fishing rod are the length and material of your fishing rod, an increase in static electricity, and fishing during a thunderstorm.

For many, the first thought of fishing is usually a calm and relaxing day by the side of the lake. But fishing can become an extreme endeavor in the blink of an eye without knowing how to be careful. Before you load up your tackle box, read on to find information about how not to get shocked by your fishing pole and a little extra about static electricity.

Why Your Fishing Rod Shocks You

Since Benjamin Franklin’s shocking kite, key, and thunderstorm experiment, proper precautions have been taken during storms. This is especially true when it comes to fishing.

The following list discloses information on what to look out for while you’re fishing to avoid the risk of getting shocked:

  • Location – Though the weather may look gorgeous outside, you should still be aware of your surroundings. While the distance electricity can jump depends on the power line, temperature, and other conditions, it’s crucial to stay at least 10 feet away from power lines and other active cables while fishing.
  • Weather changes – A sunny day can change in an instant while you’re near the water. Due to evaporation, increasing temperatures, and other factors, storms can develop over water before you know it. By watching the weather and researching the best time to fish in your area, you can enjoy the day without the extra electricity.
  • The length and material of your rod – Some rods conduct electricity better than others. Specific rods will react before you get shocked by either buzzing, sparking, or an arch in the rod.

Note: If your rod is starting to buzz, spark, or arch, it’s best to stop what you’re doing and get far away. The chances of electrical shock increase the longer you hold on to a buzzing rod because it’s already charging, reeling in can potentially be dangerous and quicken the strike.

Fishing Rods and Lightning

The NOAA recorded that there are around 25 million lightning strikes in the U.S. each year. Since 2006, 26 people have died because of lightning while fishing.

If you see lightning, do the following:

  • Put down your equipment. Your rod is precisely that: a rod, meaning it can act as an antenna and bring lightning to you.
  • Seek shelter. Low spots where you can crouch are best. If trees or shrubs surround you, get as low as you can while not touching the plants around you.
  • If you are on a boat, lower your equipment. Lightning is attracted to the highest objects over the water, like fishing rods and radio antennas. So, drop your gear, find a safe spot to crouch away from metal rails, wires, and motor.

Static Electricity and Fishing Poles

A popular static electricity experiment that children love involves the balloon, hair, and wall. A quick recap of the experiment includes taking a balloon that doesn’t float on its own and vigorously rubbing it on your hair to the point that your hair is frizzy and attracted to the balloon. Then, you put the part of the balloon that was rubbed on your head onto the wall and watch it stick there before falling.

What does this have to do with fishing poles, you ask? Well, static electricity doesn’t just charge from balloons and hair; it is produced by friction. Fishing rods and static electricity have quite a bit to do with each other. Specific fishing rods are excellent conductors of electricity, which means that they allow the flow of a charge and can cause the shock sensation under the proper circumstances.

Here are some examples:

  • Dragging your feet along the ground and touching your pole may cause a slight, but otherwise harmless, jolt.
  • While not all the time, it’s possible that fabric is gaining a charge and reacting with your rod. Some types of cloth that can collect a charge include nylon, wool, leather, and fur.
  • Dry skin can also cause more friction than moisturized skin. So, if your hands are frequently dry, and you often feel a shock from your pole, an easy solution may be using lotion.

Types of Fishing Rods

You can customize fishing rods with different materials and lengths depending on the type of rod and fishing you plan to do.

Here are some standard types of rods along with common materials that make up the rod:

Type of RodCommon MaterialsAverage LengthExperience Level
Casting RodFiberglassBetween 6-12 feetBeginner and up
Fly RodGraphite or bamboo8.5 feetBeginner and up
Spinning RodFiberglass, graphite, composite, or bambooBetween 6-12 feetIntermediate and up
Surf RodCompositeBetween 11-12 feetIntermediate and up
Telescopic Fishing RodFiberglass, graphite, composite, or bambooUp to 11 feet (different sizes available)Beginner and up
Trolling RodFiberglass or graphiteBetween 8-12 feetIntermediate and up
Ultra-Light RodFiberglass, graphite, composite, or bambooBetween 4-5 feetIntermediate and up

Here is more information about fishing rod materials:

  • Fiberglass – Require little support and create strong, powerful rods; average weight and favored material for beginners.
  • Graphite – High-quality build and light weight make this an excellent choice for experienced anglers.
  • Composite – A combination of material, usually consisting of fiberglass and graphite.
  • Bamboo – Heaviest material and high-quality.

Longer vs. Shorter Fishing Rods

Your fishing rod’s length will determine the type of fishing you will do, the fish you’re after, and your angling condition. Usually, shorter rods are great for beginners because they help them get a feel on proper control. Most rods are between six to twelve feet long in a variety of materials.

Longer rods made of graphite or carbon fiber can increase an electricity strike’s chances because both materials conduct electricity exceptionally well. Depending on where you plan on fishing and what type of fish you’re trying to catch, a longer rod may be required.

If you plan on using a longer rod, be sure to scout the area for any electrical lines and get a glimpse of any chance that the weather may change.

In Conclusion

If you are experiencing an abundance of shocks from your fishing rod, there are some things you can do to lessen the chances of being shocked. Before you go fishing, know the weather and state of your fishing rod. Remember the type of material and length of your fishing rod.

If you use a 12-foot graphite rod, be extra diligent in noticing your surroundings and watching signs that your rod is collecting a charge. If your rod does show signs of a charge by buzzing, arching, or sparking, drop it immediately and find shelter in a low space away from wire and metal.

Small changes can also help against small shocks caused by static electricity. If you drag your feet, have dry hands, or wear a lot of leather, wool, or nylon, you might consider using lotion and working on picking up your feet while walking. By reducing the amount of friction that you create, you can decrease your fishing rod’s chance of shocking you.

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