ROD BUILDING TIPS
Guides for Fly Rods
From Volume 2 - Issue #1

By Tom Kirkman

Here's a question from the Volume 4 - Issue #5 issue of RodMaker magazine:

RodMaker Magazine

"Assuming we're talking bout modern fly rods, not bamboo or restoration work, which is better on a fly rod, snake guides or single foot guides? I'm anxious to hear your opinion on this hotly debated subject." Jim . . .Portland, OR

First of all, I need to know which type of single foot guides you are referring to. There are dozens of different types. Some single foot guides have various types of ceramic rings mounted in the frames, while others do not. Some single foot guides have frames crafted from very advanced materials, others are less advanced. Too often, the term "single" foot is used generically for an entire family of guides wherein the individual members very greatly.

With that in mind, I'm going to answer your question anyway. I'm going to assume you're talking about a quality single foot guide such as the Fuji SIC's or Cermets. These guides are very light, even lighter than snake guides in some instances, and we know that less component weight is always a good thing. The ceramic or matrix ring keeps the line off the blank during the casts, and cannot be grooved or worn, ever. By keeping the line off of the blank during casting, some friction is reduced and some anglers fine they achieve a bit more casting distance. So what we have is a guide that helps keep the rod as light as possible, holds the line away for the blank during casting and will never wear and thus never cut or fray a fly line. These are really excellent guides and have proven to work quite well on all rods, not just fly rods. My personal opinion on these particular guides is that they improve the performance of a fly rod tremendously.

Of course, there are some cheaper single foot ceramic guides available as well. It is unfair to compare these heavy, soft-ringed guides to the quality ones spoken of above. Bad experiences with these inferior guides have prejudiced many people against new and better types. Of course, much of the criticism of single foot guides continues to come from those who have never actually used them?

As far as snakes go, they were a vast improvement over what some refer to as the old ring and clasp guides found on many early fly rods. They were lighter than standard ring guides of their day and viewed as an advancement in fly rod component design at that time. Most commercial fly rod manufacturers in the U.S. still use them mainly due to their very low cost, although supporters of snake guides believe it has something to do with their performance. Isn't it funny that in the last 60-years technology has been able to improve upon every aspect of fishing tackle, except for the snake guide! Of course, many of the people who still use them actually like them, so to each his own. As for my own personal opinion, I believe that snake guides work just as well today as they did 60-years ago. ~ TK

Publishers note:

If you have any tips or techniques, send them along! Help out your fellow rodmakers! ~ Publisher, FAOL

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