ROD BUILDING TIPS
Number of Guides

By Tom Kirkman, (RodMaker Magazine)

Here's a question from the September/October 1999 issue of RodMaker magazine:

"I write offline to ask about a used rod that I am considering purchasing. I normally build my rods (novice - only built 7 so far), but this is a good finished deal in a hard to find blank. The rod is a Sage RPL 10' 6 wt. 3 piece custom rod.

I have a question about the number of guides used on long rods. The owner built the rod using one less guide than the factory rods call for. On this three piece 10' rod, the builder used one less snake guide on the middle section only.

There are 10 guides not counting the tip top. Butt section has stripper, mid section smaller stripper and two snakes, top section has 6 snakes and tip top.

How might using one less guide in the middle section alter the rod action and performance on this type of medium-fast long blank? I am thinking about using this 6 weight rod primarily with 7 weight lines, because I generally like the RPL rods overlined by one, and I do a fair amount of roll casting. Steve . . .via email

RodMaker Magazine

The number of guides used has nothing to do with rod action. Action or flex pattern is a function of rod taper and cannot be changed by addig or deleting guides. However, the more guides, the less efficient the rod will be; poorer dampening, etc., because you are adding weight, but there is a minimum number you must use in order to provide adequate stress distribution to the blank. I would think 10 is the absolute minimum you could get by with on this blank. The proper way to determine placement is with a static distribution test. You must affix the stripper, and the first guide (never put the first guide more than 4" back from the tip) and then "eyeball" the rest with attention to the action/taper of your blank for the test. Run a line through the guides and flex the rod moderately, checking for any unnatural flat spots. You want the line to flow along the curvature of the blank as closely as possible. The more guides you use, the easier it is to do this, but the idea is to use the very fewest number of guides that will still provide a nice even line flow along the blank's curvature. . .

I'd run a line through the present guide set-up and see how the line flow matches the blank. If it doesn't flow well, if you find some really "flat" spots, you would possibly be faced with removing the guides and rewrapping. Not a pleasant thought! Of course, understand that even some really awful guide placement will not prevent the rod from fishing, it's just that there are advantages to having everything just right!

In the event you do decide the best thing to do is remove and rewrap the guides, take great care not to damage the blank when you remove the present guide wrappings. I recommend shaving the thread off the top of each guide foot with a single edge razor blade. (NEVER use any sharp object to cut or shave the thread against the blank itself. Shave the thread off from the top of the guide foot.) Relocate and rewrap as needed. Any cosmetic problems left from the previous wraps will either need to be lived with or can be wrapped with the appropriate color thread, or touched in with a Sharpie permanent marker and finished over to hide any surface imperfections. ~ Tom Kirkman

Publishers note:

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

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