ROD BUILDING TIPS
Preventing Rod Twist

By Tom Kirkman, (RodMaker Magazine)

Here's a question from the September/October 1998 - Volume 1 - Issue #4 issue of RodMaker magazine:

"My question concerns where line guides should be located in relation to a blank's spine to prevent the rod from twisting when fighting a fish. Should I locate them on, or underneath the effective spine." Jim . . . Greensboro, NC

RodMaker Magazine

My answer if going to shock a lot of people, but most of the information printed about the spine of a blank really goes out the window under actual fishing conditions. Believe it or not, under tension the line will always seek the lowest point on the rod. This is another way of saying that if left to its own devices, any rod under pressure will always spin, irrespective of where the guides are located in relation to the spine, to a point where the guides will be on the bottom of the rod.

I know this goes against conventional wisdom, but it's definitely true. You can prove this to yourself with a simple test. Rig a blank so that the guides are located on the spine and run a line through the works, fastening the line to the blank about where the reel seat would be. Now place the whole affair in a spine finder. Pull down on the line where it exits the tip-top and the guides will spin to the bottom. Now put the guides 180-degrees opposite of the spine and again run a line through them and pull down. The result? The guides will spin to the bottom again! Now try putting the guides at 90-degrees to the spine and perform the test once more. Yes, the guides will again spin to the bottom of the rod! Of course, this is exactly the opposite of what will happen if you use your hand to pressure the tip of the blank when locating the spine, but when you're fighting a fish, the pressure on the rod comes from the line, not anybody's hand.

So, to answer your question you must realize that all casting rods, with guides located on top of the blank, will want to twist 180-degrees no matter how you located the guides relative to the spine. Spinning and fly rods won't try to twist, because the guides are already at the lowest point. So am I saying to disregard the spine? Not at all. It is important to place the guides either on, or opposite the spine for best performance. But, instead of worrying about the rod wanting to twist, decide if you want the blank's slightly stiffer side to be used for fighting the fish or for casting, and place the guides accordingly. And do remember, that a blanks's soft side (the effective spine) is not always located exactly 180-degrees opposite from the blank's hard side.

And for those of you who think I'm crazy - please try the test mentioned above. It will completely change your opinion concerning everything you've ever read about the spine of a blank! ~ 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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