Pick your guides!
I've really tried to narrow this down and make
it easy on folks. It's really easy on Drift/Float Rods, these use
model M guides - Pac Bay is the manufacturerer, Black, Gold and
Titanium (TiCH) are the colors.
Fly Rods you have more choices.
Single Foot , Traditional Double Foot, or
Single Foot Guides have many advantages. First,
the disadvantage; they're not what you think of when you think of
Fly Rod Guides. Single foot guides have less of an impact on the
blank's original performance. Additionally they require only one
wrap per guide, not two, so the overall rod is lighter and less
costly to wrap. Think of single foots as redesigned, high performance
Double Foot Guides are what most people think of
as fly guides. When I talk about guides having an impact on the
blank's performance, each double foot guide accounts for a larger
"stiff spot" than a single foot guide. I have heard disagreeing
comments on this - some say that these stiff spots cause the blank
to flex less, overall making it's action faster. Conversely, if
anything, it's my experience that the stiff spots cause the blank
to flex father down, overall slowing it down a bit. Regardless,
the effect is, in my opinion, minimal, as the guides themselves
are somewhat flexible, to a point.
Ceramic Guides are kind of unusual. They are usually
single footed for the majority of the rod. The primary reason to
use ceramic guides is on heavy rods or dual purpose rods; ceramic
guides disapate heat better, resist friction and other damage better,
last longer, and will all the use of monofiliment line on the rod
if you were so inclined. Ceramic Fly Guides also have a big range
of colors available. However, their applications are limited; primarily
I would put these on a rod that may be used as both a fly rod and
drift rod. They have also been indicated as another good alternate
choice for the guides on a spey rod. From my experience with them,
they actually tend to get damaged a bit easier.
Guide Finishes - so many choices?!
Well actually you really have 4 choices in guide
finishes. Traditional Chrome, Black, Gold or Titanium Carbide Coated.
Black and Chrome are on the same level. Gold costs more simply due
to the adonizing costs. The only real difference are the Titanium
Carbide coated, or TiCH guides. These have the gunsmoke finish,
shiny grey. TiCH guides withstand friction better as well as corrision;
for any rod that may see saltwater use they are the ONLY guides
to consider. These tend to be the "pricey" set, costing
as much as 5 times what a chrome set would cost. The benefits, though,
are substatial in my opinion. Most commercial manfucterer's agree
- look at many rod companies and you'll see that they're top of
the line gear often incorporates Titanium guides.
Additionally, Pacific Bay has a new line of guides
out in 4 new finishes - Cobalt Blue, Illusion, English Bronze and
Bombay Gold. Unfortunately I have not seen these available through
suppliers yet, and additionally it does not appear that Pacific
Bay is offering matching hardware for their reel seats.
The stripping guide (or guides) sit closest to
the grip, and are usually double foot guides with a ceramic ring.
Titanium strippers usually include the high quality SIC ceramic
rings. However, there are MANY available variations on a theme here,
including carryover from casting and spinning guides that are equally
at home as fly rod stripping guides.
Of note, one technique that can be added during
construction is to offset the first stripping guide by roughly 20
degrees to the left or the right of the rod (whichever hand is your
"line" hand). Doing this allows for your line to enter
the guide system with less initial resistance. On the downside,
doing this makes your rod exclusively left or right handed!
The loop at the end of your rod isn't even something
you need to worry about - I simply get the appropriate sized tip
top to match your guide selection.
Again, nothing you'll ever have to worry about.
Heavier Rods (7wt. and above) are typically set up with an "oversized"
configuration and two (sometimes 3) stripping guides. The "oversized"
configuration simply allows for easier passage of knots through
the guides, as well as slowing the "ice up" process when
There are several manufacturers of guides, some
with really unique offerings:
Additionally, if you're a real rod-snob, we could
look at Fuji, Hopkins and Holloway, and Snake Brand guides.
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