A good day of fishing and you return to your car smile on your face and a warm heart full of memories of the amazing fish you just had the fortune of meeting. As you start to pack your rod away.... Hmm? ..where is that darned end plug You were so sure you put it in your pocket... maybe it was the other pocket? Crap! Lost another one?
It happens to every tenkara angler eventually. Having to buy a replacement, stock end plug is actually a pretty expensive thing to have to do. There is a disproportionate divide between the size of an end plug and the price to replace it. Its just not worth it. I am reminded of the size to cost relativity with regard to a camera I once owned that was worth more than the car I was driving. When you compare apples and oranges though expect one to cost more?
Today I Present a Slightly Unorthodox Solution To this Challenge
Get ready to have your mind blown. I hope that what I am about to suggest will become a game changer.
1. Find a small box
2. Put all your remaining end plugs into the box.
3 Store that box in a special drawer and when you really "need" the end plugs, such as, when you go to sell the rod someday that you will know where to find it.
4. Now the last thing. Make any one or more of the following end plug replacements options.
The best way I have found to not lose end plugs is to not use them at all. Instead I have discovered that there are some ingenious and, dare I say, "fun" ways to leave your end plug at home and to have an easy to find cap for your rod. Yes, you are going to have to do a little arts and crafts for some of these but the reward for that is that you will have a cool and unique rod end plug that you so much less likely to lose.
Disclaimer!....A Quick Note About These Ideas That Follow-
While most of these ideas are mostly harmless to your rod, you will need to try these ideas with some discretion and care. By trying any of these ideas you are taking personal responsible for any damage you do to your rod because you didn't size it correctly. I'm just putting these ideas out there... How well or poorly you exercise these ideas is on you. These are all solutions I have tried and you can too. Just know that you must be very careful with your end plug to be sure that you don't damage the rod, or get debris that falls inside the rod. Use common sense and your creativity. But don't press your luck with a cap that is too tight and can damage or even split the tip of a segment, or that will leave behind particles that could get stuck in your rod.
Wine Cork Up-Cycle
I have covered this one before... a couple times now. Save that cork from your next bottle of vino and drill a suitably sized hole in it to slip over the tip of your rod. Be sure to sand the inside well with fine sand paper to keep cork pieces from dropping into your rod. You can even decorate the cork with cordage. I promise you this end plug/cap will not get lost in the corner of your pocket either.
Large Pencil Eraser
I came across these really cool, skull shaped, pencil erasers the other day. The hole in the eraser was of course pencil sized so I had to do a little work with my drill press. I was able to drill a hole the same size as one of my rods and with a little sanding (as with the cork solution above) clean up the hole and now I have a rocking rubber skull tip end cap. Look at school supply stores and even in party supply shops for these larger erasers.
Thread Protector Caps
A trip to your local hardware or even auto parts store can offer plenty of great ideas. One that I have found are these thread protector caps. While they are perhaps just as easy to lose as stock end plugs, but at about 50 cents each they are still a great option. They do come in different sizes so you may want to take your rod in with you.
Rubber Ducky You're the One
Yes, I have totally lost my mind. Rubber duckies come in many sizes. I like the smaller ones for this. The rubber ducky is a fast way to make a tip end cap. Being hollow and soft, it is easy to cut an "X" into the base of the rubber duck (or if you dare... up the hind end) and fit the duck over the top of your rod. Will your fellow anglers find it odd? Perhaps but behind their giggles and snickering you will know that you still own all your rod plugs and that you are secure in yourself to do silly things sometimes.
Children's Party Favors and Toys
Okay, the rubber ducky was cool but there are lots of other fun end plug caps you can find in a children's toy section. I found these party favor jumpers in a department store in a three pack for $1. I disassembled them in minutes and found out they fit at least two rods I own.
Craft Store Fun Foam
I am not a huge fan of plastics but they are clearly a part of our lives. Fun foam is a good way to create a new cap. It comes in a variety of shapes, colors and thicknesses. I have looked at using these as an insert material that would go inside the rod, but decided that a tip rod cap that goes around the outside of the tip is actually safer and offers more protection. Larger pieces of fun foam usually come in a box of multiple shapes. So you will have plenty of shapes to choose from.
Check your junk drawer for pen caps from old pens, dried out markers and ballpoints. There are a variety of sizes out there of course so you will have to see if any that you have will work. In this photo I found that an expo marker cap is a perfect fit for one of my rods. This will take some trial and error but this pen cap looks sharp (almost stock) and is easy to keep in a pocket and replace if needed.
What Ideas Can You Think Of?
Now we fell a little short of 100 ideas but the whole point is actually that our imaginations are endless. Together, all of our imaginations are just staggering. So please, use the comments below to share ideas you have come up with. Once you start looking at items as useful for more than one purpose you start to see things everywhere that can be useful in your life. Hacks are fun, useful and can save you money. I look forward to seeing your ideas too.
Each month check in and learn something new.
Have something you want to share? A cool hack? A recipe or trick you use when out in the field?