ROD BUILDING TIPS
Alignment Marks?

By Tom Kirkman, (RodMaker Magazine)

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

"First off I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your book, and have found a considerable amount of useful info. I hope you don't mind my picking your brains again. I recently purchased a 4 piece Sage 7 weight XP fly rod blank. The blank has white dots placed on it. Sage's website states that they place the white dots on the blank to "indicate the straightest visual line on the blank" and that is where they wrap their guides. Although I've had some difficulty find the spine on the lowest two rod sections (they appear to have two spines) the best determination I've made is that the dots have no relationship to the spine. Why would Sage not want to place their guides opposite the spine? Is it for cosmetic reasons, or do they think there would be less friction when shooting line?

I'm planning on staying with conventional rod design and place the guides opposite the spine. Thanks for any light you can shed on this matter! Kevin. . . Banning, CA"

RodMaker Magazine

Sage is not alone in the practice of placing guides on the straightest axis instead of on, or opposite, the spine. Many if not most of the commercial builders set their rods up this way.

You have to understand that most fishermen do not know what rod "spine" is. But they do know what "straight" is. The next time you are in your local tackle shop watch what a fisherman does when he picks up a rod. He'll shake it, wiggle it and then sight down the rod with the guides either straight up or straight down. He's checking to see if the rod is straight and 99 times out of 100 he will only check the plane the guides are in. If the commercial makers were to put their guides on or opposite the spine, the rod might not look straight when the customer sights down it. At that point, it get returned to the rack and the search for a "straight one" continues!

So in the case of many commercially made rods, some compromise is made on the performance end in order to assure that the sales end stays strong. Until fishermen learn and understand what rod spine is and how it can be used, building on the straightest axis is the smart thing for the manufacturers to do.

On the other hand, the custom builder has the opportunity to work with the customer on a one-on-one basis and can educate him or her on why you locate the guides where you do.

By the way, the axis which exhibits the spine effect to the greatest extent is the one and only "effective spine". A verticle spine finder may make it easier for you to distinguish this. ~ 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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