- By Tom Kirkman
Static guide placement is as good as it gets, if you don't mind the time
required to do it. I suppose that we now have so many newer and fancier
methods of guide placement that static guide placement has been relegated to
the bottom shelf and doesn't get the proper treatment anymore. I'll try to
give you a good procedure here.
*This article deals with guide spacing related to getting proper stress
distribution for any blank. Guide sizing (frame height and ring diameter)
remains dependent upon reel type and size. Although written primarily for
rods used with conventional or level wind reels, you can adapt the process
for use on spinning rods as well. For information on the New Guide Concept
System of guide placement, please consult the Volume 3 #4 issue of RodMaker
First off, it's very true that as you apply more and more load to any blank,
the amount and area that flexes changes. Thus, just putting one load or bend
in the blank won't allow you to locate the optimum placement for the guides
under any and all expected loads the rod will be exposed to. So it's best
done in stages.
Glue on your tip-top and make sure it is secure. Tie a line to the tip and
fasten that to an object, or to a container that allows you to apply any
amount of load needed. Water or coins are good for adding more load to the
You should already have some idea where the butt or stripping guide is going
to be located, as well as the first guide behind the tip (4 inches or so for
most lighter rods and 5 or maybe 6 for heavier rods or surf types).
Beginning with the second guide back from the tip, place the rest of your
guides at 5 inch intervals. All of them. If the last one is closer than 5
inches to the butt guide, leave it off.
Now place a reel on the rod and run the line though all the guides and
tip-top. Tie or fasten it to an object that is only heavy enough to keep
some tension on the line. Now use the line you previously tied to the
tip-top to apply a load and put the blank into a bend. Start by loading it
enough to create good flex in the upper 1/4 or so of the blank, but no more
than that. Now begin work on those first few guides. The first one behind
the tip is set, so skip that one and look at the next. Notice how the line
coming off the reel passes through the guides. You want that line to closely
mimic the flex of the blank. So at that second guide, adjust it as necessary
to achieve this. you may have to move it up a tad, you may be able to move
it back a tad. Get it where it suits you and then move to the 3rd guide and
do the same. Continue on with each guide until you find that you are moving
out of the area of flex you currently have on the blank.
Now apply more load and flex the blank into the upper 1/2 of it's length.
Begin working on those guides. By now, you're likely to find that you've
moved guides progressively more and more towards the blank's butt end. You
may even find a point where you need to move a guide to a position that will
put it right next to or on top of another guide. No problem. If that
happens, remove that next guide and continue working. As you run out of flex
in that area, stop.
Now apply more load and try to get the blank to bend at least a bit into the
butt area - the lower half of the rod. Pick up where you left off and adjust
the guides in that area of flex accordingly. At this point, you should have
some pretty nice guide spacing in place.
Now for the obvious questions. Why use a separate line to load the rod
instead of the line coming from the reel? Well, if you load the line coming
from the reel, you don't get a true picture of how you blank wants and needs
to flex. That's right - the line pulling between the guides can force the
blank into a bend it wouldn't otherwise take. So we load from the tip and
allow the blank to flex in the manner it was designed to. That's the bend
we're trying to mimic with our line.
Why put guides at every 5 inches? Well, you have to put them somewhere and
in some quantity before you can start. With a guide at every 5 inches,
chances are really good that you'll actually have too many rather than too
few guides on there. They'll also be too close in most cases, so your static
placement will consist mostly of moving each guide back a hair and possibly
having to remove a few guides in the process. This just makes things a bit
more simple since the possibility of not having enough guides or having some
guides too far apart to start with, have already been taken care of.
Hopefully this will simplify your static guide placement and make it about
as good as it can get. Tom Kirkman
This article originally appeared in the Q&A column of RodMaker Magazine.