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Spine of Rod
Posted by: John Wright (---.om.om.cox.net)
Date: January 15, 2024 09:47AM

I have been building for a few years and always used the same technique for finding the rod's spine. However, I have been wondering if my method is correct. I have read a lot of ways to spine and watched many YouTube videos, but something doesn't seem right to me.

Most of the discussions about spinning the rod say to roll the rod until it jumps/pops etc. Then mark the rod. So here's my question. When the rod pops and comes to rest, is that the spine? It seems to me that it's not the spine but just the other side of the spine. I linked it to climbing a mountain that has a very pointed peak. When you reach the top of the mountain you fall over to just below the top because of the point. You have to stop yourself precisely at the top of the mountain.

So to me, this means you must mark the spine at the point on the rod where there is the maximum force to continue rolling the blank, but just before it "PoPs or right at the point where it POPS.

Am I wrong in this??

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: January 15, 2024 09:56AM

The weakest axis is the spine. So pressure it and it will roll onto an axis that it does not want to come out of. That inside of that pressured curve is the spine.

The strongest/stiffest axis is usually found along the blank's straightest axis. It will only rarely be 180 degrees from the spine.

Here is something worth considering - [www.rodbuilding.org]

..............

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: John Wright (---.om.om.cox.net)
Date: January 15, 2024 10:30AM

Tom,

Wow, many thanks for the insight. The article is eye-opening but left a question unanswered. It addressed lift weight, but what most fly fishermen are concerned with is casting strength and distance. Most of the fish we catch are not going to tax our rod-breaking strength, so back to my original question with a new twist. If the actual location of the guides along the spine does not provide a significantly stronger rod and the rod naturally finds the weakest axis/spine as you said in your response, is the guide placement important from a casting perspective? Do we achieve any significant advantage by placing the guides along the spine or opposite the spine in the case of casting rods? Or as some suggest pick the guide placement based on the natural curvature of the rod?

Thanks again.

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: January 15, 2024 10:44AM

Spine orientation plays no role in casting distance or accuracy. The guides serve as lever arms. Any load on the rod and guides will attempt to twist the rod towards the load. Therefore you can't stop rod twist or torque by spine orientation. Guide orientation always trumps any spine effect.

Do a search here on the rod spine and you'll find hundreds of topics related to it. Myths die hard.

........

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: John Wright (---.om.om.cox.net)
Date: January 15, 2024 10:50AM

So,
The bottom line, for me, is that it's not important to place the guides along any particular axis of the rod. Pick the "best looking" or use some other criteria for placement, but don't worry about the spine.

Yes, old ideas do die a lingering death, but I think mainly because there is no definitive data to prove or disprove the concept, so we tend to stick to the known and accepted practices that have been used for almost 100 years now. Finding the spine has been a practice and now it's almost a ritual part of building.

So I'm faced with a dilemma, my students watch the YouTube channel and see all these master builders and distributors finding the spine and saying it's important to building a quality rod. How do I buck the system and tell them it's not that important, or do I just present both arguments and let them decide?

For me the bottom line is either way will produce a quality rod if properly constructed.

Many thanks for your advice and knowledge.

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: Kendall Cikanek (---)
Date: January 15, 2024 11:06AM

I think your idea on informing and letting them decide is best. I know two builders who say building properly on the spine is the biggest reason they avoid buying factory rods. I don’t see a reason to argue either direction.

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: John Wright (---.om.om.cox.net)
Date: January 15, 2024 11:25AM

Kendall,
Agree! I think we will still teach how to find the spine, but present both sides of the argument and let them decide. After all, it is their rod and the decisions they make are what will make it custom and important to them.

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: El Bolinger (---.bstnma.fios.verizon.net)
Date: January 15, 2024 11:59AM

@John Wright I can't say to what extent a difference is made, but I trust the master of the craft Gary Loomis. He says to build according to the spine, and acknowledges the wide spread confusion about the topic. What he says in this video makes sense to me, and his humble presentation just seems so matter of fact and reasonable.

[youtu.be]

Show that one to your students alongside opposing views, but I haven't been convinced otherwise yet.

Building rods in MA, Building the community around the world

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: January 15, 2024 12:15PM

John Wright Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> So,
> The bottom line, for me, is that it's not
> important to place the guides along any particular
> axis of the rod. Pick the "best looking" or use
> some other criteria for placement, but don't worry
> about the spine.
>
> Yes, old ideas do die a lingering death, but I
> think mainly because there is no definitive data
> to prove or disprove the concept, so we tend to
> stick to the known and accepted practices that
> have been used for almost 100 years now. Finding
> the spine has been a practice and now it's almost
> a ritual part of building.
>
> So I'm faced with a dilemma, my students watch the
> YouTube channel and see all these master builders
> and distributors finding the spine and saying it's
> important to building a quality rod. How do I
> buck the system and tell them it's not that
> important, or do I just present both arguments and
> let them decide?
>
> For me the bottom line is either way will produce
> a quality rod if properly constructed.
>
> Many thanks for your advice and knowledge.


Actually, there is data that disproves the spine concept. You have the numbers to prove that building on the spine results in the weakest possible rod and the physical fact of the guides acting as lever arms.

Here's another article you may wish to read that also proves why spine just doesn't matter nor improves a rod performance: [www.rodbuilding.org]

Conversely, there has never been any numbers, data or tests that show that building on the spine improves anything.
............

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: John Wright (---.om.om.cox.net)
Date: January 15, 2024 12:15PM

El,
Ok, many thanks. I would say Gary Loomis is a relatively well know designer :-). Thank you for the link, I will most definitely show it to my students.

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: Mike Ballard (---.cust.tzulo.com)
Date: January 15, 2024 12:20PM

When I watched the video of Gary Loomis it seems to me that what calls the spine is actually the stiffest axis, not the weakest which is what Clemens and other noted rod building authors considered the spine for decades. So Loomis is actually talking about the stiffest axis which is the straightest axis. I have built enough rods to know that the spine and the straight axis are the softest and stiffest axis respectively and they are almost never exactly opposite each other. I do know that the whole concept of building on the spine for supposedly improved performance came from an insurance salesman turned rod builder not any actual engineer or blank designer.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2024 12:32PM by Mike Ballard.

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: January 15, 2024 12:47PM

Mike Ballard Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> When I watched the video of Gary Loomis it seems
> to me that what calls the spine is actually the
> stiffest axis, not the weakest which is what
> Clemens and other noted rod building authors
> considered the spine for decades. So Loomis is
> actually talking about the stiffest axis which is
> the straightest axis. I have built enough rods to
> know that the spine and the straight axis are the
> softest and stiffest axis respectively and they
> are almost never exactly opposite each other. I do
> know that the whole concept of building on the
> spine for supposedly improved performance came
> from an insurance salesman turned rod builder not
> any actual engineer or blank designer.


That is correct. And Dale's primary reason for building on the spine was to reduce or eliminate rod twist when under load. Dale got that absolutely wrong and it's not hard to prove that only guide orientation can naturally eliminate rod twist. The article Iinked to above proves this although anyone that understands lever arms doesn't need proof - it's a physical fact. Once the rod twist theory had been debunked the spine proponents moved on to casting accuracy being better if the rod was built on the spine. That one is harder to physically debunk because there is no machine to make identical casts to a target and collect measurements. Lately we have people talking about rod "tracking" as a means to indicate that the spine is involved with casting accuracy. But if it is, then anybody building their rods off-spine wouldn't be able to make accurate casts and we know that's not the case. The line or lure will go where the rod tip goes. Accuracy is in the hands of the person making the cast.

...........

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: El Bolinger (68.163.104.---)
Date: January 15, 2024 01:28PM


@Mike I'm only even mentioning this because I've seen a number of times people say "the guy who started the whole spine thing was a salesmen" - that doesn't mean anything at all, that's the fallacy of genetics.

Many discoveries and inventions have come from people who weren't "experts" in that field.

@Tom that's one part fallacy of irrelevance (since Gary et al never mentioned rod twist, and I know too that Gary is a proponent of Spiral wrapped guides) and one part straw man, as Gary never, and nobody ever would, say that it's impossible to cast accurately if building not on spine. He explains how it improves casting in the video in regards to accuracy, friction, and distance, should definitely give it a watch bro

I respect anybody saying otherwise, growth can only happen with open discussion and friendly disagreement. I know many here are tired of chiming in in favor of the Spine, so I figured I'd do my duty to have a balanced discussion.

Much love y'all

Does editing after posting in the app count towards a post? The answer is yes haha



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2024 01:33PM by El Bolinger.

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: January 15, 2024 01:39PM

What Gary is calling the spine is the stiffest axis and what Clemens and the RodCrafter Associates and others referred to as the spine is the softest axis. So there is a contradiction in terms going on. The softest axis falls somewhere between 90 and 170 degrees from the stiffest axis and 95%+ of the time the stiffest axis falls on the straight axis. It appears that Gary likes to build on the stiffest/straightest axis. (You do realize that Gary and I have known each other for over 40 years, right?)

In the meantime, the idea that there is no proof for any advantages of building on the straightest axis is incorrect. The data, the numbers, the physics and the practical tests have been provided and demonstrated for two decades now. It’s long past time that the conversation be turned back to the spine proponents - where is your data, numbers, physics or practical demonstration/s that prove that building on the spine results in better accuracy, elimination of rod twist, etc.?

..............

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: Mike Ballard (---.ip-167-114-11.net)
Date: January 15, 2024 02:22PM

EI--- But Dale WAS wrong. I am not saying that because he was not a physics major. I am saying that because it is so easy to prove that building on the spine does NOT prevent rod twist. The only reason I mentioned him being an insurance salesman is because he was a salesman and he used the idea of the spine as a sales tool that rod builders could exploit.

Tom--- Yes that is what I see when I watch Gary demo the stuff about spine. He is really talking about the stiffest axis which I know is almost always the straightest axis. So in reality he is in the straightest axis camp after all.

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: El Bolinger (---.bstnma.fios.verizon.net)
Date: January 15, 2024 02:27PM

@Tom Gary acknowledged the confusion and mixed use of the term and then actually said "I don't what the Spine is or where it is, I just know where the guides go" so essentially you can call it the stiffest axis, the bagel of the rod, or the axisest axis it doesn't matter- he is saying build rods like this... and then demonstrates what is commonly understood to be finding the spine/spline and then instructs where the guides should be placed regardless of what nomenclature you prefer or if you're referring to whichever side of that curved blank as the spine.

But he did not sight down the blank and say build on the straightest axis, although he mentioned that if there's a curve in the blank it usually falls in line with the blanks spine anyway (or whatever anybody wants to call what he did).

Again, nobody's arguing that the spine built rod has a stronger dead lift capacity, because nobody really cares about that most of the time. Very few of us are dead lifting fish heavy enough for that to matter. But Gary's points about the spine built rod are what matter.

I'm confused about you knowing Gary, are you saying he misspoke and misrepresented what he meant in that video and you are clarifying what he actually meant to say and show? And instead of asking me for that data, ask Gary - he's the one I learned this from.

Building rods in MA, Building the community around the world

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: El Bolinger (---.bstnma.fios.verizon.net)
Date: January 15, 2024 02:35PM

Mike Ballard Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am saying
> that because it is so easy to prove that building
> on the spine does NOT prevent rod twist.

Again, nobody here, and not Gary, is talking about rod twist.

It's like I'm saying seat belts help prevent injury and you reply seat belts don't prevent crashes - not what I'm saying.

> Tom--- Yes that is what I see when I watch Gary
> demo the stuff about spine. He is really talking
> about the stiffest axis which I know is almost
> always the straightest axis. So in reality he is
> in the straightest axis camp after all.

All you did here is conflate two terms and commit the fallacy of ambiguity, he did not say I build on the straightest axis. He said I find the spine, or whatever you want to call it, and I put the guides here. Like I said above, he acknowledges that this often lines up with the rods curve if it has one.

Building rods in MA, Building the community around the world

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: January 15, 2024 02:38PM

The spine is commonly known as the softest axis. It is the inside of the stressed curve at rest. This is what all spine finders will automatically find - the softest axis. It is what Clemens and the RodCrafter Association taught. It is the basis of thinking that you can prevent rod twist by building on it. One thing it is not, is the straightest axis.

Gary is referring to the stiffest axis which is almost always on the straightest axis. You will note that he often says the only time he will not build on the "spine" (as he refers to it) is when it is not on the natural curve of the blank. The stiffest axis is nearly always on the natural curve of the blank, which is the straightest axis. The spine is never on the straightest axis. I'll be talking to him in a day or so and will ask for clarification as to how he uses the term.

As far as asking for data - the spine proponents always ask the straightest axis proponents for data, tests, etc., which has been provided. Now it's time for spine proponents to do the same and opinions and theories do not count regardless of who they come from - prove the theory with actual hard evidence.

..............

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: Mike Ballard (---.ip-167-114-11.net)
Date: January 15, 2024 02:46PM

The whole idea of using rod spine was built on the idea that it would stop rod twist and torque. Maybe you have not been around building rods as long as I have but for years and years the MAIN if not only reason that people claimed that building on the spine was better was because it would prevent rod twist. They were wrong.

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Re: Spine of Rod
Posted by: El Bolinger (---.bstnma.fios.verizon.net)
Date: January 15, 2024 03:44PM

Tom Kirkman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
.
> This is what all spine finders will automatically
> find - the softest axis.

Gary clearly demonstrates how to manually find the spine in the exact same fashion a spine finder would. Gary said "the place the blank wants to stay, it wants to bend easier this way." You call this the softest axis, the thing that Gary found. Makes sense, he explicitly states that

>
> Gary is referring to the stiffest axis

I thought you said it was the softest axis? He literally says this is the way the blank bends the easiest, then he bends it one way and then in the opposite direction and says it "bends easier this way than this way... 90% of the time if there a bend in the blank it will bend this way" (and then he bends it in what he calls the easiest bend in the blank. You keep saying Gary means or Gary is referring to or something other than what Gary is saying, but to me he is speaking in very clear and precise fashion. He even went so far as to say he doesn't care what you want to call it, just do this to figure out where to place your Guides


>which is
> almost always on the straightest axis. You will
> note that he often says the only time he will not
> build on the "spine" (as he refers to it) is when
> it is not on the natural curve of the blank.

Is there a video of him saying that, because he doesn't say that in this video. Regardless, in this video he instructs us to do as he did and place the guides there, mentions a curve in a blank in passing and doesn't mention building on that if it doesn't line up with the spine

> The
> stiffest axis is nearly always on the natural
> curve of the blank, which is the straightest axis.
> The spine is never on the straightest axis.

He literally says this is the way the blank bends the easiest, then he bends it one way and then in the opposite direction and says it "bends easier this way than this way... 90% of the time if there a bend in the blank it will bend this way" (and then he bends it in what he calls the easiest bend in the blank

I'll
> be talking to him in a day or so and will ask for
> clarification as to how he uses the term.

That's awesome, I know Aleks is planning on having a FB live Q&A with Gary, specifically addressing the spine question once and for all. I'm hoping I can hop on for that, hear it from him directly. Even though I already have, this video is clear as day to me, call it the pointiest axis of a blank or the "place the blank wants to stay" (I like Gary's choice of words here, just too long for people to throw out there and argue about, too many syllables haha). And for what it's worth Aleks recently posted this:

Aleks Maslov Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> @ Harry - you are going to get A LOT of opinions
> on this. We will build on a curved blank, as long
> as the curve does not go in the opposite way of
> the spine.
>
> Aleks

I'm not exactly sure who the "we" is, but I have an assumption. @Aleks hopefully I'm not misunderstanding or misrepresenting your post, it just seems so relevant and timely.

I'll say for myself visually with Gary's demonstration and the term spine think of a human. According to your spine you bend one way easier than another, if you were a rod blank place the guides so that if you were to lay down on the water you would be belly up with your back to the water - spinning guides get placed on your back and casting guides get placed on your belly.

Building rods in MA, Building the community around the world



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2024 03:54PM by El Bolinger.

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