Rolling Your Own Rod Sleeves

By Capt. Steve Chaconas

Avoid the problem of tangled rods with DIY rod sleeves for about 1/3 the cost of store bought.

Photo of hand made fishing rod sleeves

Rod Tube Material

If you have more than one rod, you have experienced the tangles and sometimes the damage that occurs when the line on rods snags other rods, causing guides or rod tips to break. Not to mention the coat hanger-like snarls in rod boxes. Rods with line can be unmanageable.

Not any more. Several companies are making rod tubes out of a variety of materials. Some of them are hard tubes…a bit more difficult for storing and transporting rods. Others are made from a nylon that is sewn and have a strap on the end to attach to reels. Yet others make use of an existing material used in electronics for bundling wires.

This material not only makes sense, but is also available for the do-it -yourselfer. FLEXO PET (PT) from is used in electronic, automotive, marine, and industrial for wire harnessing applications. Its braided construction expands gently and securely over rod guides, kind of like the childhood Chinese Handcuffs ... but also releases easily. This material is available in various sizes and colors, so it can be used for casting and spinning reels and can be color-coded by type of rod if desired. It is also fairly "hook friendly", that is, hooks are easily removed if snagged.

The material comes in rolls and is flat, yielding to insertion of a fishing rod. The size for most spinning rods would be 1-1/2" and casting rods with smaller guides could be 1-1/4" or 1". The only other material required is a bit of heat shrink tubing.

Creating Rod Sleeves

Measure the rod length from the tip to just above the reel, or where lures are secured. Add an inch for the opening to fold back and use your hot knife to cut the material. Cutting this material is easy if you have a hot knife. If not, take an old style Weller soldering gun and file the tip to an edge and it will work well ... cutting as it seals the frayed ends. As soon as you cut the sleeve, quickly open the ends to prevent it from sealing the ends of the cut.

If there isn't a hook keeper near the reel, you might consider installing one available in several styles and brands from This will allow you to hook the bait close to the reel and not on the lowest guide, enabling you to make a sleeve that goes to about 6 inches above the reel.

After cutting the PET braid, it's time to make the opening for the rod. I found double folding the opening end is best. Fold about an 1/4-inch and use a curling iron on HIGH to mold a crease into place. This might take a while depending on the heat of your unit. (Don't let your wife catch you with hers). No damage to the curling iron. Once the 1/4 inch fold is complete, Fold again about 1/2-inch and use the curling iron to mold a crease into the sleeving again.

Moving on to closing the tip, take the end and roll it to fit 3/8-inch shrink tubing over the tip. Using a lighter, heat the shrink tubing until it shrinks and holds tight, also heating the tip of the sleeving itself.

That's it! You are finished. Depending on how many you make, the cost is about 1/3 or less doing it yourself and you can choose from 19 colors.