Watch out for a fatal electric shock
In recent years high-voltage overhead power lines have proven a real hazard for anglers using long fishing rods. Electric current can be transferred from an overhead power line to a fishing rod and result in a fatal shock. Make sure you take great care when handling a fishing rod near power lines.
Electricity can jump from a high-voltage power line
You do not even have to touch a high-voltage power line to get an electric shock. Electricity can arc – jump − across a gap to an item that conducts electricity if it comes too close to the cable.
The most common type of high-voltage power line carries a voltage of 20 kV (kilovolts) and the minimum distances (clearances) from such power lines are 2m beneath the line and 3m when measured sideways along the ground. The higher the voltage the larger the minimum clearance. The minimum clearance for the highest-voltage power lines carrying 400 kV is 5m.
Make sure you take the reach of your rod into consideration when assessing the distance, whatever the situation. In practice it is often wisest to allow clearance that is much larger than the minimum distances specified for different voltages. To minimise risk, you should always keep your fishing rod collapsed down and horizontal near the ground when walking under a power line.
Carbon-fibre fishing rods conduct electricity
Accidents caused by fishing rod contact with overhead power lines have usually involved carbon-fibre rods that are 6m or longer. The victim has held the rod upright underneath a power line and electricity has passed through the rod to the angler. Carbon fibre is a very good electricity conductor.
You should also remember the conductivity of carbon-fibre rods during thunderstorms. If you are caught out in a thunderstorm, stop fishing or at least place your rod on the ground or a rod rest and do not touch it.