The Case of the Mysterious Ticking Sage Fly Rod

This story starts not when I bought my new Sage rod while on holiday in New York but some time before when Mike bought his XP off eBay. He reported a “ticking” noise from the top ferrule which was driving him around the bend. After some advice from other people he waxed all the ferrules and found over time the noise worsened. He contacted Sage and even Gary Coxon the Sage UK rep who sent him a new tip – none of this worked and he eventually got a replacement from the seller He made a posting on Sexyloops where some people stated it was a major problem and some people stated their rods had done this for years. The solution was never really found

What was making the tick ?

When I picked up my new SLT from The Urban Angler I vowed to make sure there was no noise after Mikes experience so was utterly paranoid when I got back to my hotel room to hear a faint ticking noise when I waggled it around.

Swoosh Tick Tick Swoosh Tick Tick

My lovely wife shot me a demon glance when I mentioned it, I understood immediately that if I made a big issue it would ruin relations; consequently I kept quiet and returned to the shop the day we were leaving. I can’t fault Urban Angler as they were happy to exchange the rod even though they could not hear a noise in the shop. The exchanged rod appeared fine and I was happy to take it home.

Tick Tick Tick Tick

On returning home, every now and then when waggling it experimentally I began to notice the “tick” again. Paranoia set it. I decided that I would look at this scientifically and try and glean as much information as possible to try and rectify the problem before deciding the rod was faulty. There was no way I was going to take this personally; I mean it is not as if I have some sort of HEX hanging over my head after my “Don’t Bow to the Lords of Tackle” post.

for the love of god

Investigations – Swoosh Tick Tick Swoosh Tick Tick

Much information gathering was attempted – I phoned Mike for his run down – it sounded exactly like his experience and he was the only one who commiserated appropriately. I spoke to another friend who said he had the same problem but it was easily fixed although he could not remember how – possibly an exchanged rod (not so simple for me as the shop was over an ocean) People on Sexyloops began to say that rods with ticks might have serious flaws and may well explode one day (I think that was a little dramatic although well intentioned)

I telephoned Gary Coxon the UK sage rep. I would like to say he was helpful but instead he warned me of the dangers of buying rods stateside and then bringing them back here !! To be fair I bumbled my words a fair bit in my nervousness so possibly he thought I was a bit odd. He advised adding wax – I had already done so and the tick got worse. It now appeared to be coming from all the ferrules.

I already knew I might have to send the rod back and Gary just confirmed it – paying duty both ways and a massive postage cost. Yikes! I am sure someone warned me about this but I cannot remember who?

The Solution – Swoosh Tick Tick Swoosh Tick Tick

I then received an email from Sage –

Hello Alistair

Thank you for your email.

I am sorry to hear that your new rod is giving you some trouble. Here is a tip that mite fix the problem. Please clean all the wax of all male ferrules of the rod and if you have a small round brush also the inside of all female ferrules. We have noticed in the past that excessive Wax buildup can cause the clicking noise we may hear. Please use a clean cotton cloth with some rubbing alcohol or just soapy water. If this doesn’t do the trick then I would ask you to check how long the distance is in inches that the male ferrules can be inserted into the female ferrules. It should not be longer then 2 1/4 inches. You may check it by fitting the sections together and marking it with your finger where the female ferrule ends. If all of this is ok and you still hear that clicking
noise then we will have to bring the rod back to us and have it evaluated by our engineers.Please let me know if I can be of further assistance to you.

Swoosh Tick Tick Swoosh Tick Tick

With this advice I started a cleaning process that took a couple of days – after the first clean the ticking noise was still there but not as bad. It was only coming from the top ferrule. I was not happy with the way I had cleaned it out the first time so got myself a cotton bud (in the US you call them Q tips) and cut it in half. Then gently I rubbed it down the insides of the female ferrule effectively scraping any excess wax off.

cotton bud

Rod together – quick wiggle – no tick.

Applied wax – quick wiggle – tick

Clean ferrule again – quick wiggle – no tick.

Conclusion – Swoosh Swoosh Swoosh

It was the wax – too much wax at that. I have since spoke to other people with Sage rods who state the ticking is commonplace and eventually went away over time – this makes perfect sense when you think about it as the wax gets worn away. It also makes perfect sense for the noise to get worse when wax was added – it all makes perfect sense now but hindsight is a wonderful thing! I now know it is not a fault – it is a common issue– something to do with the manufacturing process or something similar.

I promised I would not become a tackle tart but the lure of a cheaper rod in the states caught me – it is a lovely piece of kit and I just know I will enjoy it. I hope anyone who is as paranoid as me regarding ticking sage rods finds this post and uses the info. If you are thinking of buying a sage rod in the states and bringing it back it might be worthwhile considering the cons as well as the pros !

Anyway, I cannot convince Mike to add wax to his exchanged rod – I even dared him but I think like me he does not want to tempt fate any further.

[tags]gary coxon,sage fly rod,ferrule problem,wax ferrule,ferrule tick,ferrule ticking [/tags]


  1. mike · March 10, 2007

    Honestly, the things we go through for fishing tackle.

    I’m going to use a friggin tree branch this year. And my hooks will be made of fish bones. Fishing line will be cat gut. Should make everything cheaper and more expendable.

    That makes me think actually. We should add in, for our ‘tying at the river’ competition, the requirement that you also have to FIND your own fishing rod at the river.

  2. Ian Scott · March 10, 2007

    Waxing ferrules is a habit left over from the good old days when ferrules were usually made of some type of metal.

    Wax should never be applied to graphite ferrules – wax attracts bits of dirt and dust, and can damage the graphite over time.

    The ticking is more likely caused by something on the ferrule causing some uneveness.

    U-40 has a product which will clean graphite ferrules and I would recommend trying that.

    Ferrule Lube:

  3. Alistair · March 10, 2007

    Thanks for the input Ian.

    Like you say though, I dont think graphite rods actually need wax anymore – I dont anticipate leaving my rod joined for days on end (i wish)


  4. Pingback: Olives on the Water
  5. Pingback: I reckon a new 8 foot 4 weight is on the cards…
  6. j.turnbull · March 10, 2007

    your not the only one having problems with sage stuff …………

  7. Alistair · March 10, 2007

    I am all ears – what happened ?

  8. Pingback: Tamanawis — A Northern return
  9. Pingback: Sage warranty (again!) - Fly Fishing Forums
  10. Pingback: Where do I stand? - Page 3 - Fly Fishing Forums
  11. Pingback: My wading boots are causing my jip! | The Urban Fly Fisher
  12. Pingback: 16ft dtx
  13. Pingback: 6 fish in 26 hours fishing… « The Urban Fly Fisher

Comments are closed.