I sat down to write a post about the best fishing rod warranties that today’s manufacturers have to offer, but you know what I found out? Everyone offers pretty much the same thing. Typically rod manufacturers offer a one year warranty on factory defects, some offer a longer term on certain models but generally covers the same thing. After a couple of uses of your new rod I’m sure you will find whatever defects may exist. In fact, given enough time and use, your rod will likely meet its end not due to a defect, but from an accident. In my experience there is one very valuable thing that a rod maker can do to differentiate themselves from the others – a rod replacement program.
On a recent outing I broke my favorite rod, a Fenwick HMG. It was my own fault, I lost my balance while climbing over a boat seat and my foot came down on the tip of the rod. I didn’t hear a snap or feel it break but I knew right away my rod was doomed. Luckily Fenwick has a warranty and, more importantly, an accidental breakage replacement program. If your rod breaks due to a manufacturer defect they will replace it for the cost of shipping; but if you break it they will give you a generous 45% off MSRP for a new one. I emailed Fenwick support and sent them some pictures of my broken rod. After a quick phone conversation and my payment information Fenwick mailed out a new rod, which I received in about 12 days. A replacement program was not something I considered when I purchased my rod but it did get me thinking, what other manufacturers have replacement programs?
Fishing Rod Replacement Programs:
Shimano offers a replacement program they call Shimano Express. The details include 50% off MSRP and free shipping in the US. You may have to return the broken rod in the tube that your new one is shipped. Canadians may have to pay for shipping but that’s common.
Shakespeare says they will offer a discounted replacement if your rod doesn’t qualify for warranty but does not go into detail.
One Three Fishing:
One Three Fishing has an Oops Replacement program, it only covers certain rod series and prices are available on their website. You will have to send your broken rod back and shipping is not included.
Similar to Shakespeare, Berkley will offer a discounted replacement but that is determined on a case by case basis.
Daiwa offers a replacement at a discount but you have to send the rod in for inspection first.
Okuma has a three tiered replacement program. The first tier is a basic warranty and you pay for shipping. The second tier is an accelerated replacement, where for a flat fee Okuma will send you a new rod. The third tier is called their high performance upgrade and Okuma will send you a new rod for the same flat fee as the second tier plus the difference in retail price.
Once you send in some details about your rod and how it broke, Fenwick will contact you with a replacement offer. I had a very good experience with Fenwick recently when I broke my HMG.
St. Croix is another three tiered replacement program and is very similar to Okuma’s but prices are a bit higher – which makes sense since St. Croix rods are typically more expensive.
Abu Garcia will offer a replacement for a nominal fee but you will have to contact them.
Once again G.Loomis will replace your rod for a nominal fee but the fee is not listed, contact G.Loomis directly for more details.
If the rod manufacturer you are looking for is not listed, they likely don’t offer a replacement program. If they do and I missed it send me a message or comment below!
The best bang for your buck will always be a rod that’s cheap to replace when you break it. I do mean “when you break it” because if you use it long enough Murphy’s law will prevail. Unfortunately cheap rods don’t have the same level of sensitivity or refinement, they are getting better every year but a quality rod will still cost some coin. As a casual angler I was happy with my cheap Ugly Stik for years, but once I started using a Fenwick I can’t say I would go back. For me, a quality rod with a great replacement program strikes the ideal balance between good performance and value for my money.