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A Guide to Guides?
Post 13 Sep 2012, 18:10 • #1 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 07/05/10
Posts: 5115
Location: Mid Hudson Valley of New York
OK, I realize this may bring a torrent of opinionated replies, but the question has been gnawing at me, so I gotta ask.

Is there any guideline, or guidance, that some of our seasoned rod-building pros are willing to share on how they select the size of snake guides to use when building a fly rod?

With the range of sizes of guides available it's confusing. Is it related to the line weight the rod will cast? individual casting style? anticipated fishing conditions -- i.e. short, in-close casts, or long distance casting?


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 13 Sep 2012, 19:15 • #2 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 03/16/08
Posts: 3425
Location: Upstate-NY
There is quite a few philosophies out there concerning guides, regarding: size and size progression, number, placement from tip, placement at ferrules, distance from grip, etc.

And most builders typically formulate their own strong preferences through mimicking rods built by others that they enjoy, trial and error, advice from forums <wink>, etc.

I honestly don't think that any of these subtle variations (within reason) makes an appreciable difference to a blank,
but psychologically, there will be some choices that just seem "right" to you.
A maker I respect once wrote to me about the affect of these assembly decisions:
"95%+ of the action is baked in (to the blank) -- us assemblers are only tinkering at the margins."

I'll offer my own opinions:

Small Guides
for Strippers: on short 3/4 wts. #7 or #8. #9 is my favorite for 5/6 wts. #10 is the largest I'll ever use - reserved for long 6/7wts. (I don't flyfish with lines heavier than 7wt. as of yet ... )
for Snakes: I follow a #7 or #8 stripper with a #2, progressing down to #2/0 or #1/0, I follow a #9 or #10 stripper with a #3, progressing down to #1/0 or #1.

"Quick" size progression
I drop a size in snakes with each successive one from the stripper until I reach my smallest, and use that size for the remaining guides up to the tip top.

Lots of guides
Most modern builders outfit their rods with Length + 1 (8' rod would have 9 guides), but I almost always find that Length + 2 is better (8' rod would have 10 guides). Might be because I build a lot of slower blanks, and thus they bend more along their length? But I always static-load test to arrive at number and spacing.
This is also due to my preference for the guide placement of the stripper closer to hand, and last snake closer to tip than most builders use - so I've got a bit longer "effective length" to fill.

My advice is to filter information like this from a lot of different sources, and then tape-on some guides to a blank and start experimenting. test-cast, static-load test, test, test, test. Eventually, you'll find what you like.


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 13 Sep 2012, 21:55 • #3 
Sport
Joined: 08/28/11
Posts: 42
Location: UK
I can't say I'm a pro by any stretch. So take my response for what it is.

When I built my first couple of rods this past winter I was puzzled by this. Too many sizes that at the time meant nothing to me. I searched the web and came across a chart on the snake brand guide website. It's actually a chart made up by Tom Morgan on rod spacing and recommended sizing. The chart goes by both length and weight of line cast. As line/blank weight go up guides get larger. According to Tom smaller guides are best.

He writes:
"These guide sizes may seem small to some anglers but they have been carefully worked out and
it's my recommendation they not be changed. One of the important characteristics of my designs
are the light and lively tips. In order to achieve this feeling one must not weight down the tips with
guides that are too heavy. From my experience larger or oversize guides do NOT make the line
shoot farther or easier. In fact, I believe bigger guides allow the line to slap around the rod
more resulting in less distance."


You can find the chart if you google "Tom Morgan Guide Spacing" it will be the first hit.

Take it for what it's worth. I'd be interested to hear what others do, but the smaller guide size theory seems to make sense in my mind. I'm planning on sticking to it on future builds unless I can be convinced otherwise.

I'm anxious for other responses,

-Nic


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 14 Sep 2012, 06:28 • #4 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/10/09
Posts: 1492
Location: US-OH
I hesitate to give my answer because there are many here with so much more experience. But that's never stopped me before :) My thinking is that Scott, Winston, and Sage all use larger sized guides and they have spent much time testing and have built a lot of rods and have designers that are way more experienced than I'll ever be. On the other hand, I've owned older rods and newer custom built rods with smaller guides that cast and shot line just fine. I've also owned rods with small guides that didn't shoot line so well. So bottom line for me is that I don't think it makes a lot of difference unless you go to the extremes. Using light wire guides especially on the skinny end of the rod seems like a good idea but I don't know that it makes much of a difference. IMO, the choice of line used can make more difference than the guide size or placement.


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 14 Sep 2012, 07:30 • #5 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/11/05
Posts: 3327
Location: US-TX
I never use the 1/0 or 2/0 guides in the one foot because its hard to get stuff through those tiny guides(like strike indicators, end loops, etc. I do use them on very light rods with snakes. I mostly use #1,2, and 3's unless the rod is a 7 or 8 weight, then maybe a 4 or 5 occasionally. I like Corlay's answer and would like to hear from Andy on this issue, but I generally just line em up and if it looks good, go with it. I use guide calculator for placement and it has a guide size recommendation also, which I start with; and like Corlay, use a static load test to make sure I've got the rod flex/ guide placement correct-p-


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 14 Sep 2012, 09:23 • #6 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 07/05/10
Posts: 5115
Location: Mid Hudson Valley of New York
A mixed bag of responses so far. And no one seems to patently favor smaller versus larger guides. Tom Morgan's is the strongest statement here, insisting on smaller sized guides to complement the design of his rods.

I've used both, with no appreciable difference, as far as I can tell. I've used #2/0, 1/0, 1, and 2 snakes. And like Pearow, on other builds, the smallest snake guide I've used is a #1.

Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, and the dirty little secret is this: "Guide size a non-issue."


Last edited by picketpin52 on 14 Sep 2012, 09:25, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 14 Sep 2012, 17:28 • #7 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 03/16/08
Posts: 3425
Location: Upstate-NY
I've taped on both large and small guide progressions when I first started building,
and came to the conclusion that I seemed to have better (aerialized) line control with small guides,
so that's why I use 'em. Can't say for sure if it's the result of the guide openings being smaller, or small guides being lighter, or both;
but I can control the path of the line takes on forward and back cast, and place the fly more accurately where I want it with small guides.
Both of these are important attributes, especially with my short light rods that I use on small streams with lots of overhanging cover.

I do own a few rods with large guide size progressions, and although they are generally fine, they do seem "loose" casting,
compared to my builds.


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 14 Sep 2012, 20:25 • #8 
Master Guide
Joined: 01/10/09
Posts: 499
Location: US-PA
I've read somewhere that modern graphite rods shoot line better with larger guides. maybe, maybe not. I don't know, I never fish anywhere that I need to shoot line.
if you can tape on some different sizes, do it and test cast to see what works for you, then go from there.


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 14 Sep 2012, 22:38 • #9 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/11/05
Posts: 3327
Location: US-TX
I have an oldHeddon Pal fiberglass 8457, 8.5 foot 8 weight that has the smallest guides I've ever seen on a rod; even the stripper guide is a mini; like maybe a #6; I know this defies all logic but that rod will shoot line like crazy. It is unreal. I have another heddon that is very similar. I replaced all the guides with larger ones and its a tomato stake. I don't understand it but it didnt help putting on the larger guides at all. I think I remember that someone else on here having a similar experience-p-


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 15 Sep 2012, 07:03 • #10 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 04/26/06
Posts: 3833
Location: Northeast Of Heaven
Hello
I cheated I went back and read all my posts that pertain to guides from all the past topics on guides.
Tight lines and guided loops
Andy M

Post subject: rodbuilding 102: guide sizing
Postposted: 12/16/10 09:32 • # 17
User avatar
Glass fanatic

Joined: 04/26/06
Posts: 1593
Hello
There are many schools of thought on what is the most important factor in guide sizing and placement.
As you can see not everyone is of the same opinion on this subject.

Every blank is different for example a 7'6" fast action blank and a 7'6"slow action blank should not wind up with the same placement.
The same is true of blank diameters when selecting size of guides large guides on a small diameter shaft or small guides on a large diameter shaft or a guide size selected for the actual shaft taper sized accordingly.

As some of you may know I spend allot of time static testing with guides taped on each blank I build on to determine what type of guide set suits the individual blank best type, size and placement.
When I do a series of lets say 20 rods I seldom if ever wind up with 20 different guide placements but I may end up with 2 different placements depending on the consistency of the blanks flex curve.
Most times that consistency or inconsistency also determines how many rods will be in the series but that's a whole different topic.

I consider the time spent getting the proper guide set and placement among other aspects of the build, one of the most important factors of what makes a custom rod made by a experienced rod smith better than a run off the mill factory rod.

After I determine size and placement with static testing. I test cast the rod, "every rod" at times I change everything and start all over with perhaps 2 more or one less guide etc depending on how the line travels through the guides.
Most of the time however I get it really close the first time at least what I consider close, after a little tweaking I get the optimal performance I am looking for.

Some say it makes no difference and it's just a bunch of baloney, but most of the time they are also the same people that say spine doesn't matter either.

My best advice is put the time in, do allot of sampling of different concepts, then decide what works best in your own opinion based on the information you gathered first hand.

Tight lines and gathered loops
Andy M

online andymanyankee
post subject: go small or big?
Unread postposted: 01/21/08 14:15 • # 5
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Glass fanatic

Joined: 04/26/06
Posts: 1592
Hello
There are as many different preferences/theories on guide size and placement as their are rod makers in my opinion.
I have read countless articles on the subject from just about every notable rod maker and guide manufacturer known.

In don phillips book the technology of fly rods don explains the guide issue better than anyone in my opinion.
This book is a must read for the serious rod maker.

" guide spacing is really a compromise between what provides the best line shoot and what best distributes rod stress during casting and fish fighting " don phillips

I know what method I use and why.
It took me years to develop my methods and I have never had a complaint about how any of my rods perform in regard to guide size or placement.

We have addressed this question here multiple times I will bring up an earlier post for you to reference.
May I suggest Tom that we compile some of these guide placement and size threads and stick them to the top of the rod building tackle tinkering thread as these are the most often asked questions here.
Just a suggestion for what it's worth.

Tight lines and guides loops
Andy M

Washington irving " there is something in angling.. . That tends to produce a gentleness of spirit and pure serenity of mind "
Sir edward grey " fly fishing is a sport enjoyed in anticipation, realization and retrospection "


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 15 Sep 2012, 14:01 • #11 
Guide
Joined: 07/10/08
Posts: 145
Location: Ripon, CA
I build mostly lightweight rods (4wt and below) and here is my approach:

I use 1 stripping guides and one transition guide, then all the rest of the guides (I call them running guides) are the same size. This is based on research done by Fuji on the optimum guide setup for spinning rods (I know!), but it does seem effective for fly rods. The idea is to "tame" the line as quickly as possible between the stripping guide and the running guides to straighten out the line next to the blank. I find the performance to be VERY good with this layout.

Stripping Guide size: This depends on the length and diameter of the rod blank, and somewhat aesthetic, as I don't feel a large stripping guide on a small rod looks good. On a larger rod where you might be shooting line for distance I would use a size 12 or 16 depending on line weight, but on the smaller rods I almost alway use a size 10 or even an 8.

Transition guide size - If I am using a size 10 stripping guide and size 1/0 running guides I would select a size 2 snake for the transition.

Running Guide size - I use the smallest possible guides that will allow the knot system to pass through the guides. On most of my builds I use 1/0 or 2/0 running guides.

The other factor you should consider is the addition of weight to the blank. Every guide, every wrap, every coat of finish you apply to the blank has a dampening effect as it adds weight. Keep your thread wraps short, and keep your finish coats as thin as possible.

Hope that helps,
Buzz


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 15 Sep 2012, 18:30 • #12 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 07/05/10
Posts: 5115
Location: Mid Hudson Valley of New York
Thanks Andy, Buzz, and others for contributing. It seems there are many different approaches to selecting size of guides. As a relative new-comer to rod building, have not yet developed my own approach. But up until this point I have favored using smaller guides -- from size 2/0 to #2 for my glass builds, and have been happy with the results.

To narrow the focus here, I got a Steffen 8' 5/6wt blank in the spring and will be building it in the coming months.
I spoke with Mark about what guides he uses on his "factory-built" 8 5/6 rods. He said: "light wire snakes, three number ones, three number twos, two threes and a number ten stripper." So that's what I'm gonna try.

If you built on this blank, what guides did you use?


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 16 Sep 2012, 14:34 • #13 
Master Guide
Joined: 04/27/09
Posts: 560
Location: US-SD
Mr. criscip- I did build on one of these blanks and I believe I used the same guides as recommended. I used the chart from the Hook&Hackle catalog, and it gave spacings that have worked (as well as the identical guide specifications as Mark uses). The H&H guide recommendations have worked well for me in other builds too.


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Re: A Guide to Guides?
Post 16 Sep 2012, 18:02 • #14 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 07/05/10
Posts: 5115
Location: Mid Hudson Valley of New York
Thanks! I know there are a bunch of guys on this board who have built on this blank. And there are probably a number of variations on guide size selection. I know you're out there guys ... I'd love to hear from you on what size guides and guide placement you used.


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