March 4th, 2002

Rod Guides
By James Castwell

You ever get into a situation where you learn a whole lot more about something than you ever figured you would, or had much use for, or really needed to know? I did, or am in the process right now, to be more correct. A combination of elements combined to thrust me into this situation. And it all started very innocently. All I wanted was to have a guy build me a new fly rod. Simple enough, except I wanted the rod to be very strong and cast a long line. Enter . . . guides.

This morning I spent about ninety minutes on the phone with a fellow who makes guides. The truth of the matter is, he called me about some marketing questions, and in the course of our conversation, I absorbed yet more information about guides. That on top of spending three hours last Wednesday with one of the largest distributors in the world of . . . guides. Yikes, guide overload. You want more? Three months ago I was on the phone for an hour with the publisher of the top rod building magazine, the subject of course was . . . guides for my new rod.

Just how much about guides can be known? I am starting to get some idea. More ideas than I ever gave any thought to. Sadly, to tell the truth, I now possess a great wealth of information, but doubt I am any wiser on the subject than before. In other words, I know a lot, but am not sure at all what to do with most of it.

Let me just dump a few things on here. How far should the stripping guide be from the reel? About two inches less than the distance you can conveniently reach with your line hand. Does having a second stripping guide about four inches toward the tip help? Most agree it does if you are a really good caster and have a very good rod and like to cast into the next zip code. If you could buy snake guides with the little feet already done perfectly and didn't have to file and fiddle with them before you tie them on would anyone care? Some would, some may not. Those tying lots of rods most likely would love them, others claim they are darn near artists and pride themselves on how they mess with the guide feet.

So does it matter to anyone what the stripper guides are made of? What are we talking about, the metal, the coating, the ring the line goes through? Yes, Those and more. How high is it off of the rod? Will it withstand saltwater? What size is the ring? How much does it weigh? Does it's weight matter since it is on the butt section? How much does it matter? What is the coefficient of heat dissipation? Does it matter? Will the material wear out, or will it cause friction if it gets hot from friction? Will it cut or harm your fly line?

Oh yes, let's not forget the other guides, the next, or second stripper guide. You will be using two strippers, won't you? You're not? Hmmm. When should you use two and when is it not necessary? What should the step-down rate be from the first one to the second, a 16 to a 12, or a 16 to an 11? Is an 'oversized' stripper guide a good thing? Just what would be considered an oversized stripper guide anyway? You getting tired of this yet?

We've got snake guides. Boy, do we have them. All sizes, shapes, single footed and double footed and made from all kinds of wire, Should the wire diameter graduate as the size of the guides gets smaller or not? Will that make them weaker, or lighter, which is the best trade off?

Oh yes, how many should go on? How far apart should they be? Should they gradually decrease in size, or choke down very fast right after the second guide?

You see, now you have learned a lot about guides, but, what the heck you going to do with it? Remember, these are just the questions, don't ask me to try to answer them, and these are just for starters, I didn't begin to get technical. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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