I have seen fan waves at baseball parks with less counter-flex...line droop between guides...herky jerky technique combined with too much friction. Seriously, when casting there is enough energy in the flexing rod to get the line out there, even for this gentleman. When mending or feeding slack line into a drift there is only the energy of the flick of your rod tip. Here is where I experience frustration with too small guides even of very high quality as a more aggressive motion is required to feed line hence greater risk/likelihood of disturbing the flies natural lack of motion as it floats downstream.
Recoil guides are the same alloy as those eyeglass frames that can be twisted into a pretzel shape and spring right back to their original form. Nickle titanium is also inert to any form of oxidization or corrosion. There has been some discussion about deformation under casting load and the coiled stripping guides sing and odd harmonic when a big fish runs but these are not deal breakers for most of us.
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the coiled stripping guides sing and odd harmonic when a big fish runs but these are not deal breakers for most of us.
Oh, and they are made in America.
The double-hoop ReCoil stripper guides actually were deal breakers for me. The one rod I had with it on (A Loomis GLX Max Linespeed) I sold partly because of that stripping guide. I solved the singing problem by simply making sure my fly lines were dressed but I couldn't get past the cheap looks of that guide and the fact it appeared as though it would create twice the friction of a stripping guide with a modern, slick insert (twice the fly line contact surface area on the ReCoil stripper)
I have numerous rods with ReCoil guides on them and have yet to have a problem with them in any way. I think I prefer them if only because they flex when needed, they're lightweight and they do not corrode. They seem as durable as any so far too.
As for the ReCoils deforming when casting, I can't imagine too much of that happening if your line is nice and slick as it should be. Besides, it's not like the ReCoils guides flex very easily; it takes quite a bit of pressure to get them to deform. If a little give and take is in order, how about we say they do flex a bit on extreme casts but that same fesature allows the rod to bend more freely and uniformly during extreme loads? (you just gotta love how nit-picky some of us fly fellers can be!)
My Scott S4s #8 uses recoil snakes but a titanium-framed Fuji ceramic stripper and I like this set up a lot. In conversation with Hardy about their Proaxis which uses all recoils, I asked about the coiled striper (I agree, Jackster, it is not good looking and all the things you said and sings even if my line is clean) and was informed that in their tests under maximum load conditions the flexing, particularly of the large striping guides was crucial to the 10/10ths performance of their heavier line size SINTRIX rods. Get used to it they told me, these are the best. As far as the snakes or single foots, I have no concern or experience with unwanted deformation but Mel Krieger expressed some concern about it and when Mel talked about casting... That both Hardy and G.Loomis elect to use full sets of recoil guides and Loomis's Steve Rajeff has been using them at least since the introduction of Crosscurrent GLX says a lot. And they don't use too small a size either.
I like lots of snake guides on a rod. Usually, I will flex the rod with a line fastened to the butt and passing through the stripper and tiptop. It's easy then, starting at the tip, to tape snake guides on temporarily, making sure that the guide placement is not creating a gap of more than 3/4" between the line and rod.
I've handled many old cane rods that cast superbly, even though the snakes are diminutive (about 1/8" opening). One rod I particularly like has many small snakes and a #8 agate tiptop (8/64" diameter opening).
If you want better mending ability, you could always put some mass in the tip. Wrapping fine lead wire for 1/4" at a few points on the tip section might do the trick. (I got that idea from John Merwin in "New American Trout Fishing").
3 pages of Snake Guides Effect on Casting and Fishing
Rod makers, whether bamboo builders, or companies like Sage, Loomis, Winston, Scott etc. have a hell of a lot more time and money invested in their designs of rods including the number of, and size of guides, than any self proclaimed expert rod builder like Fox, or others that feel you need more than the standard 10 guides on the 9' fly rod. Like nobody's ever thought of that in the past!
Keep your fly line clean and lubricate it, it'll shoot a lot farther than you've been used to. Follow blank manufacturers recomendations as to spacing and sizing and forget the rest. If you really want to tweak the placements, tape the guides on the recomended places, tie a string to the tip top and tie some weight on the string. Run the flyline thru the guides and check the spacing when you raise the rod and the weight puts the bend in the rod. You'll find very little adjustment is necessary. Does this static guide spacing really make a difference? Is the factory spacings just as good? When you're fishing it really going to make a difference?
Just like finding the spine on a blank, spine up, spine down- are we really that good of casters to really notice? I really doubt it.
The shape of the grip, and the correct action of the rod and the line that is matched to that rod, is a lot more important to me then worring about the effects of guide spacing. Let the blank manufacturers worry about that. It ain't broke, so it doesn't need to be fixed.
The only thing I disagree with is finding the spine and that only pertains to split cane. Its one more step that helps keep a set from forming. I've read countless debates on spacing, number of, and size. The "old standard" has stood the test of time for a pretty solid reason...it WORKS! Distance casting and competition casting is one thing but I'm more concerned with making short accurate casts and turning over leaders up to 15'.
The first is to keep the line away from the rod blank. This prevent line slap and reduces line friction against the rod blank.
The second is to reduce stiffening the rod blank, either from the guide feet or from the stiffness of the snake guide bridging the feet. Hence the move to single footed guides to reduce bridge stiffness.
The third is to minimize guide mass. Any excess mass reduces casting distance since it is mass that the rod must accelerate and decelerate. The casting energy goes into moving and stopping the guide rather than the fly line. Hence light wire snake guides rather than standard ceramic guides.
A standard snake guide allows more line slap and bridging stiffness. I think single footed "snake" guides would be the best option.
I differ from your opinion in that I think larger guides keep the fly line further away from the fly rod blank ON THE BACKCAST and reduce line slap. Since the major weakness of most casters is the backcast, I think larger guides up to a point are better than smaller guides. On the forward casting stroke, the fly line rides against the blank but after the stop and on the forward shoot, the fly line moves forward to ride against the guide. So forward line shoots should go farther with larger guides since the line is less likely to slap the rod if it is further away.
I think it was Charlie Brooks who wrote back in the 1970s/80s that fly rod guides were too small and larger guides reduces line slap.