This post illustrates how we tested guides the at Conolon Corp.
My drawings will be primitive because when we moved here to
Tennessee to be near the grand children I gave them all my
At the time I was at Conolon there were many manufactures of
guides. Since we were the largest manufacturer of rods at the time,
salesmen from various guide manufactures would always be taking you
out to lunch to butter you up and then be submitting their guides.
Once in a while even the current suppliers would have their guides tested
to make sure they were still up to snuff. The rod repair department would
contact me if they noticed guides that were showing unusual wear, rusting etc.
Some guides had their rings welded on a stamped frame, those were the
least expensive and were used on our low end lines. Most guide
manufacturers however would have their rings soldered onto the guide frame.
There were flex type guides that were just stainless bent into shape
and chrome plated, their were guides with the guide rings made
out of polished agate, guides with one foot, guides with aluminum
oxide ring guides, roller guides, the list can go on and on, so many
Consider the fly rod for an example, it has a keeper ring, stripper guide,
snake guides and a tip top. The guide cost on a fly rod back then was the
cheapest set of guides for us to purchase and the same guides were
used even on the high end rods except for the stripper guide.
So how did we test the guides, they first all went into a humidity and a
salt spray chambers for at least a month as I try to recollect. The bond
strength of the frame to the guide ring was tested using special fixtures
in the Tinius Olsen machine we had. We also had a Rockwell Hardness
tester used to test the hardness of the rings.
One of the most important tests was the cycles it took the guide ring
fray the fishing line.
I am trying to remember what standard pound line we used that Garcia
had for standardizing the testing. I think it was 12 pound test but I can
not be certain.
It's been at least 45 years ago when I was doing testing.
Approximately a 2.5ft length of fishing line would repeatedly be cycled
across the surface of the guide with a 2lb. weight fastened to the end of it.
A large wheel in which the line was tied to near the circumference using
a bearing mechanism was slowed down by a series of different size pulleys.
This caused the cycling of the fishing line through the guide to be very smooth.
A 2lb. weight would rise all the way up in about .75 seconds and descend
all the way down in .75 seconds. There was a large roller with ball bearings
that the line went over that was connected to an off and on electrical switch.
There was as also a counter connected.
We also ran music wire the same way we did the fishing line to test the
guide ring hardness. I can't remember the size diameter but it probably
in the neighborhood of .015"
A primitive drawing below gives you and idea what this machine sort of looked like.
So how did the guides rate at the time?
Aftco roller guides were the best. They were large, expensive and heavy.
They had limited use on only big game rods and heavy salt water boat rods.
Some rods would only use the roller tip top and stripper.
Stainless steel guides with an Emerlon 300 coating was the next best tested.
I had a friend who was part owner of a company that coated various items
that were used in harsh environments. He suggested that I try some of this
new Teflon based coating on the guides that just received and he was quite
impressed with. It only came in a black color. He coated a number of sets of
guides and I tested them. I and a number of others, even
the president and VP were very impressed with the result. The line cycled
so much longer than any other guide previously ever did. I even had several
rods made up that I still have today packed in boxes of rods I have in the garage.
Why didn't we use this revolutionary coating on the guides because of
its esthetics. After many cycles the Emerlon would wear down to the surface
of the stainless steel and you would have a silvery shinny spot on the guide ring.
Even then the line would continue to cycle without any fraying.
Saying that, when I looked under the lab microscope you could see all the
microscopic indentations (irregularities) on the guide ring filled with the Emerlon.
Fraying is caused mostly by surface irregularity, albeit other small factors
are also involved. Here we can just say that esthetics overruled a wonderful
breakthrough for guide coatings and the consumer to say the least.
Next is the Gottlieb Agate Guide. The guides were made from natural agate
and came in different colors. the agate was set in a nickel silver frame.
This was the 3rd best guide I tested for non fraying characteristics.
It was very expensive compared to the stainless steel guides and was
used on selective high end rods. The big problem with this guide is that the rod
repair department had an never ending return of these rods
because the agate would cracked under certain conditions.
They had to strip the cracked guide off and replace it with a
new one. If the rod fell or hit something just right the agate would crack.
Next aluminum Oxide ringed guides. This is a real good story.
When this type of guide ring came out they were the worst fraying
type of guide ring I ever tested. All the marketing and sales personal
wanted it on the rods. The selling point was it was very hard and wouldn't
wear. I hollered from the highest mountain not to use these type of
guides to no avail. The selling point of non fraying in the rod business
at that time was never brought up or pushed for a selling feature to
\my knowledge. After several years the manufacturers of the aluminum
rings got their act together and figured out a way to polish them to
actually be very good.
Next the stainless steel chrome plated guide. A guide that has been used
for ever and will still be used for ever. Even though I have seen some guides
with excessive wear from the repair department, I consider the guide a
steadfast guide that you really do have to worry about on your rods if it
is chrome plated properly.
All this I have stated has to do with being 45+ years ago. I am sure
that there has been a lot of improvements along he way that I am not
In any business it's the hype that sells the product whether the hype
is true or false.
"Now the most important question is, does anybody actually test the fraying
characteristics of the guides fraying the line or is it still the bull about the
hardness of the ring."
As I have said in my other posts, I am very forgetful at this age and
if I can think of anything I have missed I will edit the post. http://www.lymans.com