Installing Guides on a Fishing Rod

Placing the guides on the rod is one of the fun parts of rod building.  It can be a little tricky at first, but after some practice it is not bad.  There are different sizes of thread to be used on different parts of the rod.  The most commonly used threads are D and A.  Picking the color scheme is part of the fun also.

To begin with, the marks that were made on the rod blank when putting the handle assembly on are essential here.  Lining the guides up with the spine of the rod will be crucial for optimum casting distance.  A general run of thumb is the number of guides is equal to the length of the rod, plus one.  So a six foot rod would have seven guides, and also a tip top on the end.  For spinning rods, the sizes are larger toward the butt end of the rod getting smaller as it goes toward the tip.  Small rubber bands can be held on with tape, or small rubber bands while determining the optimum placement.  There are several techniques to placing guides in the correct position.  One of the simplest starting places is to match up to another rod of the same length if one is available. 

Once the guides are on the rod, held securely with the tape or bands, it is time to make some test casts.  Tie on a practice plug or something similar to that and find a place to cast.  Cast three times, writing down each casts distance.  Then adjust the guides to see how much better the rod can be made to cast.  If there are too many guides, the rod may be off balance.  If there are not enough guides, there will be a certain amount of line slap which will slow the line and reduce the length of the cast.  Work for the optimum cast-ability.

Once the guides are in the best place, it is time to tie them on with the thread.  Start at the largest one with size D thread.  Hold the thread onto the rod and turn the rod a few times, then take the thread and turn the thread over the top of itself to hold it in place.  Wrap the guides past the bottom of each foot onto the rod to make a smooth transaction between the two.  It works different for everyone, whether to wrap from below the foot and up onto the foot, or to start at the ring and move down the foot, onto the rod blank.  The problem with the later way of doing this is that if the guides are not filed down, the 'ramp' of the foot will have the thread slipping down on the rod, which is very frustrating.  Once the guides are all wrapped and tied off, make sure they line up with the spine of the rod and the reel seat.  If they are not straight, this is the time to turn them gently but firmly to get them inline with each other.  Once the epoxy is done, they will not be moved unless they are completely removed and reapplied.

When coming to the within about 10 wraps to turn, find a loop of thread or fishing line and put it under the threads you finish wrapping.  When you get to the end of the wrap, put the end of that thread into the loop and pull it out under the other threads.  Trim this as close to the other threads as possible without nicking any of the threads.  Once this is finished it is time to decided if color sealer will be needed.

Color sealer will keep the thread as close to the color it is on the spool as possible.  The down side is that the sealer reduces how well the epoxy can hold the threads in place.  This is an issue for some people, but not for others it seems.  Whether the sealer is used or not, the epoxy is put on in layers.  Depending on the epoxy used, drying time will vary.  The key to keeping this even is to keep the rod slowly turning constantly while it dries.  There are rod dryers for sale that run from 6 to 38 RPM's.  Somewhere in the middle of that range is a good rule of thumb, but as long as it continues to turn is the main concern.  If there is not a dryer available, be sure to turn the rod every few minutes or so, depending on how the epoxy looks. If it looks to be drooping on the bottom, turning it more may be needed until it cures somewhat.


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