Spinning guides on a fly rod you say, a novel concept, but
it will not work. People, back up, smell the chum and clear
your head. Fact is they do work and work well when it comes
to keeping a wet line off the rod and increasing the ability to
shoot line; spinning guides are the way to go.
Here in Florida this concept is catching on fast with the inshore/flats
saltwater and warmwater flyfisherman. The addition of spinning
guides on a fly rod is not really a new concept. Joy Dunlap, one
of the foremost rod builders in Florida and the south has been
using them for years and will not build a fly rod any other way.
A note on Joy, he is eighty years old and has been building fly
rods clear back to when they used fiberglass antennas off of
battle tanks for blanks.
How do you lay out a blank for spinning guides? Here is the short
version on how to get started. The procedure listed below is for
setting up a nine weight blank with spinning guides. It is not limited
to just a nine weight with a few minor changes it can work with any
You need a blank or old rod to rebuild stripped down and ready to go.
The make and type of guides are only limited by the depth of your
pocket book, however, use only single foot spinning guides.
The newer single foot FLY guides do not have enough height from
the rod to be effective.
The most important part of making this guide system work is the
first two guides from the reel. The stripping guides are the key to
the rods ability to shoot line. The distance to the first guide is
determined by your reach or how far up the shaft you go to grab
the line when stripping. The distance to the next guide is four
inches period, this distance has been fiddled with time
and again and FOUR INCHES is the optimum. The two stripper
guides are the SAME SIZE for any weight blank. I used # 20's
on the nine weight according to the Fuji guide size chart. The rest
of the guides are sized as follows for a nine weight rod 2 #16's,
2 #12's, 3 #10's, with a large loop fly top for a total of ten guides.
Spacing for the various rod weights are available on FAOL at:
How to Build Your Own Graphite Rod,
Part 9. Just work in reverse from the order Al has the
spacing laid out. He does it from the tip instead of the
reel end. Remember the spacing table is only a
reference the actual distances between the guides may change
based on a few simple tests. After you have the guides
TEMPORARILY in place, you may want to move them again.
You need to check a few items such as the deflection test to
see if the fly line touches the rod at any point on its way to the
tip, if it does you need to adjust the spacing of one or several
guide to remedy this.
Rig up the rod with a reel, line, leader, tippet, and fly (point and
barb removed) and try it out. Watch the way the line flows through
the guides. Does the line balloon or hang up at a given point? Are
the strippers the correct distance for your reach, is the rod comfortable
in your hands, are the guides lined up properly, all important things
to consider prior to permanently installing the guides.
When everything is right, feels good, you are one with the rod, or you
consider the rod a natural extension of your arm, the hard part is done.
Now you can have fun deciding what colors and designs for your guide
wraps and how you will finish the rod. Sounds like a lot of work,
it really is not.
I would like to thank David Long of the Central Florida Rodcrafters for
his expertise and making me aware of the advantage of spinning
guides on a fly rod.
All the materials for this project were obtained from the "Mud Hole," (Custom
Tackle and Rod Building Supply) in Orlando Fl.
Thanks, Tom for having everything in stock when I needed it.
~ Scott Jenkins, Host Scott, Mustad Prostaff