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Old 11-19-2012, 10:15 AM
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Default Snake Guides Effect on Casting and Fishing

Guides are a thorny issue. If you look at contemporary Sage models like Z-Axis and ONE, you will note they use fine wire, smaller than "average" size snakes. This is derived from two principals; 1. light weight guides have less of an impact on the flexural profile and recovery of the blank and, 2. small sizes keep the fly line better aligned with the blank during casting limiting frictional energy robbing line slap against the rod. Further, Sage maintains, that to custom alter guide size impacts the performance of the blank as it is designed from the start for the type of guides they intend to use. Few will argue that these Sage models are not great casting rods including me...they are high among the elite rods of our day. Any one who reads my posts knows there is a "however" coming here. However, small snakes reduce the fluidity with which slack line can be fed into an extended dead drift. If you fish a stream like Silver Creek or, even more so the Henry's Fork (Delaware, Missouri, etc.) you most likely deliver your floating fly with an across and downstream presentation featuring an upstream reach. You strive to alight your fly above the fish but right in its feeding lane then feed slack from your line hand into the drift with deft mending motions of your rods precisely controllable tip. Small size guides inhibit this line manipulation technique while larger guides facilitate it. Yes, I have experimented with two different rods of the same 9'/#5 designation and clearly ascertained the superiority of larger snakes for performing this (for me) important presentation style. I have not felt any inhibition during casting from line slap either though I do not disavow this flaws potential. I appreciate the relevance of very light guides and have enormous respect and admiration for the rod designers' creativity but require a balance between great casting attributes and equally great line manipulation capabilities.

There are situations in sweeping tail-outs of big runs where I have found myself making a fairly lengthy cast from a drift boat that can't get any closer to place my fly on a current I hope will carry it to a rising fish and have fed line into the drift until I was holding just colored string in my hand. I have had fish eat while doing this too...setting the hook? Well sometimes just getting a take in an almost impossible situation is a reward unto itself.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:23 AM
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Default Re: Snake Guides Effect on Casting and Fishing

All the nuances of equipment in fly fishing remind me of when I used to golf more. Bad equipment would make it hard to play well and rather discouraging to learn. However, as the equipment 'improved' (generally also got more expensive) I was not skilled enough to notice any increasing benefits. Perhaps folks who are very skilled would see the added benefit of this or that technology, but it was lost on me. I think my use of a fly rod is similar. Some people like smaller guides, some like single foot guides, etc etc, I've not noticed a difference.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:54 AM
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Default Re: Snake Guides Effect on Casting and Fishing

It seems as if this is a common question among all types of fisherman - not just fly.

A buddy of mine is a rod builder and has a love for micro guides on casting rods. I remember a conversation similar to this and I believe I recall him saying that the it's not only the size of the guides, but how you transition them. On a spinning rod, if you just start putting tiny guides on the whole rod, you aren't going to have a very good casting rod. You need to start big at the reel and transition down to allow for smoother line control when it's coming off the reel. I have cast some of these rods and they are rockets!

I'd imagine that fly rods are probably very similar - you can't just slap a bunch of small guides on there. You have to transition them down in a manner that allows the line to smoothly straighten out before it exits the tip.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:26 PM
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Default Re: Snake Guides Effect on Casting and Fishing

The rod guides have three major functions.

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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetandsalt View Post
2. small sizes keep the fly line better aligned with the blank during casting limiting frictional energy robbing line slap against the rod.
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.
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:18 PM
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Default Re: Snake Guides Effect on Casting and Fishing

All good points, Silver, especially about the difference of alignment between back and fore cast. The 1. and 2. points are Sage's not mine hence their employment of diminutive snake guides. I, as in my comparing two otherwise similar rods, prefer larger (though light and flexible are all good) guides whether snake or single foot primarily for line handling rather than casting efficiency. It is in the line manipulation that the fly gets to the rising trout dead drift and in front of the tippet and here is where the larger guides truly shine (though I prefer them to be darker colored). Though some might find this discussion esoteric, I believe it is a critically important rod design issue.
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:35 PM
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Default Re: Snake Guides Effect on Casting and Fishing

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetandsalt View Post
Guides are a thorny issue.
You must have been reading some sexy loops stuff. &.......

While I agree with some of that, like most things there are trade offs. Bigger loop size in a guide reduces the line slap friction effect. And not in a small way. Rod maker maker magazine had an article many years back where the made two rods identicle in every way except guides. The rod (casting) with the bigger guides out cast the smaller guided rod by a serious amount.

As far as smaller guides go on a fly rod, it does help recovery time and counter flex. If you are a very good caster you can to a fair extent control counterflex. Smaller guides will benefit a less 'talented' caster.

Like I say, there is a trade off in which size guides you use. I think it depends on the style and level of the caster in what size guides you should use.

Speaking of rods with tiny guides, it got nice enough today to cast the flying pigs 8 wt. I recently got. It has really tiny snake guides and a really large loop tip. Something I always use on rods I build. It is a really fast rod with a recovery you have to see to believe.

Unfortunately the wind was blowing right at me down my casting lane. Not a horrible wind but it would have been nice if it had been calm. Still love the rod. As soon as I get used to casting a rod that's this fast (Fastest action I have ever cast) with a long belly line (73 foot head I think) I should be able to easily cast my best distance ever.


sweetandsalt, what's your opinion of the large loop top? I always use them but it's not based on any kind of actual research.
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:36 PM
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Default Re: Snake Guides Effect on Casting and Fishing

I was just reading about the importance of spacing in conjunction with size. What I had read suggests the spacing is more critical but larger/lighter guides are preferred. The main point being to keep the line at a level distance with no flat spots as the rod is bent. When its all combined with the rod's action the end result is shoot ability and easier mending.
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:44 PM
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Default Re: Snake Guides Effect on Casting and Fishing

Quote:
Originally Posted by wt bash View Post
I was just reading about the importance of spacing in conjunction with size. What I had read suggests the spacing is more critical but larger/lighter guides are preferred. The main point being to keep the line at a level distance with no flat spots as the rod is bent. When its all combined with the rod's action the end result is shoot ability and easier mending.
I have seen stuff like that as well. There was a thread on here where WJC posted a photo of some rods that had been used in distance competitions. The first stripper guide was much farther toward the tip than in normal placement. My friend Bill experimented with moving the guides as well. Something I noticed that I thought was a bit odd, I saw a video where Gordon Armstrong was cast an 18' two hander with I assume the Carron long belly, and he had the first stripper right by the top of the grip. Kind of reverse from the single hand idea.
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:34 PM
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Default Re: Snake Guides Effect on Casting and Fishing

I remember a "rule of thumb" for the number of guides on a fly rod. This was back in the 1970's when some cheaper fly rods skimped on the rod guides.

Gary Borger told me to make sure the fly rod had at least 1 guide per foot of rod length plus the tip top. So 9 foot fly rod would have a minimum of 9 guides plus the tip top.

Now almost all rods have the minimum number of guides. You can check out the number of guides on the Sage rods.

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Old 11-19-2012, 06:54 PM
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Default Re: Snake Guides Effect on Casting and Fishing

Just more sand to add to the Vasoline...

An acquaintance who is into competitive casting and who practices in a machine shop warehouse noticed that his guides were wearing out at the 7-8:00 position (with the rod held normally, rings down, feet up at the 12:00 position) He's a right-handed caster.
Some of us have taken to rigging our rods so the guides are offset to that 7:00 position in hopes of eliminating a bit of friction.
No one knows for sure whether that works or not but neither can anyone say that it hurts.

Whatever the case, it does seem to help the psyche somewhat.
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