To spine or not to spine.

red light

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There are generally two trains of thought on building a fly rod. One says to spine the sections to achieve the best performance. The other is to build to achieve the straightest look. My concern/question is, if the blanks are spined then assembled will I achieve the straightest look or could there be some curve visible in the finished rod? To me I like the straight look but if I spine the blanks will I be disappointed in how straight it may be? Thanks for all and any advice.
 

ravenbc

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There are generally two trains of thought on building a fly rod. One says to spine the sections to achieve the best performance. The other is to build to achieve the straightest look. My concern/question is, if the blanks are spined then assembled will I achieve the straightest look or could there be some curve visible in the finished rod? To me I like the straight look but if I spine the blanks will I be disappointed in how straight it may be? Thanks for all and any advice.
Most professional fly rod builders do not bother with spine, as they prefer to build on the straightest axis. My belief is spine in really only important on the bigger heavier saltwater rods such as the ones for tuna etc, where the rod could bite over once under heavy load.

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silver creek

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Why not spine the top 3 sections and see how straight it looks? Then you can make up your mind. You might be surprised to find the it looks pretty straight and you would have the best of both possible worlds.
 

scotty macfly

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I have talked to Scott Fly Rods and T&T about this topic because I read an article about the spine of a rod.

Scott places their spine the same side as the guides because they say it brings that little extra power to the cast when casting forward.

T&T does it opposite where they place the spine opposite the guides to bring better lifting in the rod.

Having both Scott and T&T rods with basically the same moderate action, I can testify that both rods do what each manufacturer says it will do, within reason. My T&T Aeros has much better lifting power than my Scott G2.

As for being straight, I have never seen a Scott rod or a T&T rod not straight. Neither have I seen a Winston or Orvis not not being straight, but I have no idea where they put their spines, or if they care at all where the spines are located.
 

Lewis Chessman

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I agree with silver creek, try the bendy (upper) section(s) and see what it's like. Chances are with a modern blank it'll be true.
Tbh, I've only found an issue with one of about a dozen blanks I've built and that was my first an old (mid-90s) Flylogic FLO which I imported to the UK.
I understand these are G. Loomis sourced IMX - and they had a bit of a reputation for being squiffy, apparently. Mine had uneven reinforcement on the top female ferule (3 pc), giving a wee kink. It's since landed several salmon to 8 lbs and works just fine regardless. I'd actually forgotten about the 'fault' until I read your post.

I don't have Don Phillips' 'Technology of Fly Rods' to hand but I recall him suggesting a third way to spine - in the middle!
That is, at 90 degrees to the spine. Rather than employing the blank's firmer or softer side this balances out the two, picking the middle ground.
I haven't tried it myself but he says it is common practice with many companies (c.2005) and if either mid-point turns out to be your best side, well, you needn't feel it's such a compromise! :)

Personally, if I had a blank with a bad lean I'd send it back if at all possible. I'd prefer to work with something true when spined to the stiffer edge, knowing that I can only blame myself if it doesn't perform well when finished.
 

el jefe

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Sage aligns on the straightest axis, and aligns it such that any curvature is in the "down" or "6 o'clock" position as the angler holds the rod out in front of him, so that the curvature is in line with the droop caused by the guides as placed on the rod. It looks very natural that way.

I have spined one rod, and then re-built it without spining it. I can't tell you that I noticed any difference.

If any section of a rod is going to have a curvature or a corkscrew, it is going to most noticeable in the tip section. I do not have a large enough sample size to say for sure, but anecdotally, I think curvature in the tip section is becoming worse, not better, as the tip sections (all sections, actually) get a smaller and smaller diameter cross section.
 

swcr

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A great majority of the theory of the spine came into being because of the torque roll caused when the rod was under load primarily with casting style rods. That and the higher frame the guide train, the more intense the torque factor appeared. With fly rods or spinning rods, that factor is virtually eleminated. While there is a distinct possibility that the spine, may present a minor difference in the way a rod loads, it that is purly speculation and the handlers abilities. I know of no one that cast in a direct plane with the spine, nor do I know of anyone that always fights the caught fish in direct corrolation with the spine. That being said, I cannot say that either method, the spine or straightest axis is the only correct way to build. That being said, I generally build on the straightest axis, and have never so much as ever had a customer complain or question a build. This is probably the one most controversial topic regarding rod building
 

flav

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I've always built on the spine. I was once shown a poorly spined rod and it bent to one side when cast and was hard to cast accurately. I've also had conversations with a couple rod designers, and they spine their rods. I figure if it's good enough for the guy who designed the blank I should probably do it too.
 

ddb

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When I was still building rods in the dawn of the graphite age, it was customary to spine rods, so this debate is all new to me. I am also long out of spin casting and bait casting so that part of the issue is a mute point for me.

Is it possible that the modern blanks have a smaller spine due to finer, thin walled, materials? This might explain doing away with the process of spining.

In the old days that spine 'hop' was very noticeable and the true spine positioning did make a difference in rod performance and durability. The substantial numbers of broken hi mod rods by modern high end mass makers and even some custom makers is not explained by lead head accidents alone. I have seen guys break rods by pulling on large fish laterally with the rod rather than using the rod guides as designed.

ddb
 

kelly1

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When I was still building rods in the dawn of the graphite age, it was customary to spine rods, so this debate is all new to me. I am also long out of spin casting and bait casting so that part of the issue is a mute point for me.

Is it possible that the modern blanks have a smaller spine due to finer, thin walled, materials? This might explain doing away with the process of spining.

In the old days that spine 'hop' was very noticeable and the true spine positioning did make a difference in rod performance and durability. The substantial numbers of broken hi mod rods by modern high end mass makers and even some custom makers is not explained by lead head accidents alone. I have seen guys break rods by pulling on large fish laterally with the rod rather than using the rod guides as designed.

ddb
I'm in the same mindset, allways build on the spine front or back ,I have done alot of Steelhead fly fishing and put the spine opposite the guides to better lift the lines out of the water.(8 to 10 weight 10.5 ft rods)
I started on Hardy glass blanks and moved to Lamiglass graphit when they came out,so 1970' s fyi.
Built about 25 rods this way .,kelly
 

kelly1

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I just got home and getting my gear together for some afternoon Steelhead fishing,out of curiosity I uncased my Scott Radian 9'6" 7wt.,they spined it on the guide side fyi.
Stay healthy and go fishing if you can!,kelly
 

Kata2012

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One more option is to spline the rod and then align the guides 90 degrees from the spline. Epic fly rods suggest this option when building their rods and you can read about their reasoning for it in the 1st article on this page

For what it's worth, my sweetest casting graphite rod, a 9ft 5wt loop opti nymph is built in this same fashion and is the only factory-built graphite rod that I own that is built like this. All others that I tested are either built along the spline or opposite from it. This includes rods from greys, redington, tfo, orvis, and winston.
 

sasquatch7

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One more option is to spline the rod and then align the guides 90 degrees from the spline. Epic fly rods suggest this option when building their rods and you can read about their reasoning for it in the 1st article on this page
You might want to red that article again . It clearly says what their preference is . Here it is off their site .
NOW THAT YOU FOUND THE SPINE YOU HAVE AT LEAST 4 CHOICES WHAT TO DO WITH IT.

  1. Place the guides on the inside of the curve - the weaker side. By placing the guides on the inside of the curve you will get (marginally) better lifting power, as you will be pulling against the spine or natural curve of the blank.
  2. Place the guide on the outside of the curve - the (marginally) stiffer side. Placing your guides on the outside curve will result in the rod being (moderately) stiffer on the forward cast.
  3. Ignore the spine altogether and align the rod sections so give the straightest most aesthetically pleasing result. (our preference) This is what most of the large commercial rod manufactures do.
  4. Place the guides out at 90 degrees to the spine. I’e off to the side at right angles to the spine. Don Green, the great rod designer for Fenwick and Sage advocated this method. His reasoning was that the rod should track straight on both backcast as well as forward cast in order to be most accurate.
    Putting the spine on the top or bottom of the rod means that the rod will tend to kick slightly out of line on either the back or forward cast. By pacing the spine out at 90 degrees the spine is apply the same effect whether on the back or forward cast. (We like this aproach too)
 

Kata2012

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You might want to red that article again . It clearly says what their preference is . Here it is off their site .
NOW THAT YOU FOUND THE SPINE YOU HAVE AT LEAST 4 CHOICES WHAT TO DO WITH IT.

  1. Place the guides on the inside of the curve - the weaker side. By placing the guides on the inside of the curve you will get (marginally) better lifting power, as you will be pulling against the spine or natural curve of the blank.
  2. Place the guide on the outside of the curve - the (marginally) stiffer side. Placing your guides on the outside curve will result in the rod being (moderately) stiffer on the forward cast.
  3. Ignore the spine altogether and align the rod sections so give the straightest most aesthetically pleasing result. (our preference) This is what most of the large commercial rod manufactures do.
  4. Place the guides out at 90 degrees to the spine. I’e off to the side at right angles to the spine. Don Green, the great rod designer for Fenwick and Sage advocated this method. His reasoning was that the rod should track straight on both backcast as well as forward cast in order to be most accurate.
    Putting the spine on the top or bottom of the rod means that the rod will tend to kick slightly out of line on either the back or forward cast. By pacing the spine out at 90 degrees the spine is apply the same effect whether on the back or forward cast. (We like this aproach too)
I'm pretty sure I'm saying the same thing as Epic, unless I am completely misinterpreting something here?

My comment - One more option is to spline the rod and then align the guides 90 degrees from the spline.
Epic - By pacing the spine out at 90 degrees the spine is apply the same effect whether on the back or forward cast. (We like this aproach to
 

el jefe

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I've built two Epic rods using their preference, the visually straightest axis (number 3 from up above, and the way that I build all of my rods). You'd have a hard time convincing me that they would cast better if they were spined and oriented in some other fashion.
 

silver creek

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I'm pretty sure I'm saying the same thing as Epic, unless I am completely misinterpreting something here?

My comment - One more option is to spline the rod and then align the guides 90 degrees from the spline.
Epic - By pacing the spine out at 90 degrees the spine is apply the same effect whether on the back or forward cast. (We like this aproach to
I am not sure that makes sense from a physics perspective.

It seems to me that if you bend a rod that is stiffer on one side, that side has more resistance to bending and the there will be a torque place on the rod with the amount of torque dependent on the unequality.

It should make the forward and back cast curve just a bit. It may not make a difference in fishing because if the difference in the spline is minimal, the difference in the cast will be minimal.
 

Kata2012

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I am not sure that makes sense from a physics perspective.

It seems to me that if you bend a rod that is stiffer on one side, that side has more resistance to bending and the there will be a torque place on the rod with the amount of torque dependent on the unequality.

It should make the forward and back cast curve just a bit. It may not make a difference in fishing because if the difference in the spline is minimal, the difference in the cast will be minimal.
[/QUOTTE]

The physics of it are beyond me.

I know there are more factors than the alignment of the guides that impact instability, such as their spacing and the blank itself, but I just thought I would offer another perspective to the discussion.
 

sweetandsalt

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I have not built a rod from a blank in some years now but back when I always splined each section. Rods today are much straighter with less spline bias due to vastly improved fabrication methods. Every new rod I get, first thing I do is roll the tip section to see the relationship of guide placement to spline. General there is no relationship but when there (arbitrarily) is, it pleases me. On top quality rods today there often is no discernable dominant spline or it is 180° equal, I like that too.
 

swcr

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Very seldom are the major and minor spine 180 degress opposite each other. Also generally when the guides are on the underside or bottom of the blank, such as fly or spin, or even spiral wrapped, the torque factor is actually nullified
 
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