workbook will take you step-by-step through the process of installing
guides on a fishing rod. For those who are working on rods of their
own, this is a good primer to help you with your work. For visitors
who are interested in purchasing a Preston rod, or just interested
in learning more about what goes into building one, this section
and the other workbooks will give you a good idea of what you would
be spending your money on.
feel free to start the first step of the Guide
Workbook now, or continue to read the following paragraphs for
a more general introduction.
are made up of a single layer of thread overlaying the blank and
the foot of the guide was an accepted and acceptable practice for
the earliest fishing rods. Bamboo or cane rods, especially those
that originated in the Orient, were predominantly wrapped with a
single layer of silk thread. Silk thread is very strong - the tensile
strength of silk thread exceeds that of the same diameter steel.
On these early fishing rods the blank itself flexed very little.
This meant that the threads weren't subjected to torsional movements
and also that the guide underneath didn't significantly wear into
Most of the
damage to the guides, wraps and the blanks were and still are associated
with penetration of water under the wraps, rotting the thread and
rusting the guide feet which eventually caused the guide to fail
(fall off). In truth the water invasion below the threads was more
a result of the failure of the overcoating - shellac or varnish
cracking. These problems increased with the advent of solid fiberglass
rods which tended then (and now) to flex across more of the length
of the rod blank causing the guides to wear into the thread wrappings
- especially if the guide feet weren't carefully prepared by smoothing
out all the rough edges.
A wrap of thread
below the guide and another on top of the guide. With the introduction
of solid fiberglass rods and the follow-on hollow glass rods which
still tend to flex over a greater distance from tip to butt section
- commonly called slow or medium action rods it becomes necessary
to provide a cushion between the rod blank and the guide feet to
minimize the wear on the rod blank and also to allow a softer base
for the overwraps.
newer threads were available - nylon both treated and non treated
for color retention and a greater variety of thicknesses also allowed
the builder more flexibility to maintain the original "feel"
of the rod. That is using smaller diameter thread (size A) in order
to maintain the flex along the rod length. Changing the length also
allows the rod builder to change the action of the blank - make
the butt section stiffer with longer underwraps to dampen the reflex
response of the rod blank during casting or to give it "backbone"
for deep water jigging.
The next step
in rod design really forced the rod builder to strongly suggest
underwrapping. Graphite and graphite composite rods - especially
those manufactured today have much thinner wall diameter and are
much less forgiving of scratches and nicks in the surface of the
blank. They also tend to flex more at the tip section of the blank
- called "fast" and "extra fast" action. I do
not recommend any of the newer rods be wrapped with anything less
than a double wrap.
The newer polymer
and epoxy finishes are also superior to the early varnish methodology.
They flex along with the rod blank and maintain the same "feel"
as much as possible. These are available in both a "heavy"
finish and a "light" finish in many compositions from
many manufacturers. Selection is based upon the type of rod and
the use expected.
and two overwraps. This approach should seriously considered on
any rod that will be used heavily or will be used on heavy fish.
The construction of these wraps also involves a bit more care be
taken in finishing - Especially those that are to be used on trolling
rods or heavy "tuna sticks" and "stand-up rods".
I have found
it best to do the underwrap, apply a color preserver if the thread
is radically different than the blank color and then apply one of
the newer thinner rod finishes - both Manhattan Custom Tackle and
Dale Clemens offer these under their own brand names. They are both
excellent products. After the finish has completely penetrated the
threads to the rod blank and dried is the time to set the guides
and perform the first overwrap.
first overwrap with color preserver to seal any gaps in the threads
between the threads themselves, the guide feet and the underwrap.
This will eliminate bubbles in the final finish and provide a much
more durable finish. The second overwrap then is applied to the
guide feet, color preserver applied and the final finish - usually
a "high build polymer" manufactured and distributed under
the name Flex Coat. It is available at any shop or through any mail
Note: Flex Coat
is a very "forgiving" finish. By that I mean that it allows
some SMALL error in measurement of equal parts. It is critical that
the finishes be allowed to completely dry in-between each step.
The length of time required is dependant upon both ambient temperature
and humidity. In some cases extreme humidity will delay the curing
process - especially of the thinner finishes by 48 hours or more.
Bubbles in finishes are the bane of every rod builder. The thinner
the finish coat the fewer problems. Multiple coat of color preserver
will also prevent bubbles forming as the air will have been forced
out by the color preserver coatings. Should bubbles begin to appear
in the final finish there are several things that the rod builder
can do. First is to exhale lightly across the surface of the finish.
The combination of warm breath and air flow will cause the bubbles
to come to the surface and break.
that works but is more dangerous is the application
of a clean burning flame below the finish as the rod rotates in
the drying apparatus. Great care is needed as the finish will turn
almost completely liquid and drip off the wraps - even scorch the
wraps below. The method I've found to be the best is using a small
hair dryer on low heat and low air settings. This provides the air
flow of your breath and a clean heat source at the same time without
the dangers of open flame.