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Rod Building: How to Upgrade Guide Rings

Rod Building: How to Upgrade Guide Rings
Rod Building: How to Upgrade Guide Rings

In the March 2011 print edition of Florida Sportsman, Editor Jeff Weakley explored how guides make the rod. He examined new rod introductions from several major builders, as well as advanced components such as the REC Recoil guides and the tangle-free Fuji K guides.

And one more thing: How to update your old favorite fishing rod. Working with Jensen Beach rod builder Roy McFarland, Weakley converted a forlorn fiberglass spinning rod into a versatile durable boat rod, complete with guides stripped from yet another old rod.

The complete gallery of photos, step-by-step, is here:

Roy McFarland was always happy to pass along his knowledge and skills. A gentle, patient rod builder, McFarland passed away June 15, 2012.


Some of McFarland's custom thread wraps on display. We weren't planning to get this fancy, but you can see what's possible.


A motorized wrapper is a big help; the device turns the rod at variable speed, operated by foot pedal.


The rod at this point has been scraped clean of its old guides and thread, and given a coat of white plastic-coat spray paint. McFarland measured out the guide spacing and taped the measurements on the grip for reference (left). Those numbers are in inches—the smaller numbers at the tip. For most baitcast reels, the first guide is placed about 22 inches from the reel; the others at a descending distance (about an inch for each step). The main goal is to keep the line from touching the blank when it's under pressure.


Now we're placing the guide temporarily to mark where the underwraps should begin and end.


Measuring and marking to ensure uniformity.


To begin the first underwrap, blue thread is taped along the blank. . .


And then silver detail thread is seated over the blue.


Where the silver wraps end, the blue takes over.


Mono loop is wrapped into place; this will be used to pull the tag end of the thread beneath the wraps, for clean finish.


Tag end of silver thread goes through the loop. . .


Loop pulls the thread beneath the wraps.


Burnishing tool is used to smooth out the wraps.


Razor blade is used to trim the thread. Careful here—you don't want to slice the wraps.


Now we're continuing the blue thread.


Again finishing with the mono loop trick.


And finally, more silver detail.


When the underwrap is complete, burnishing tool again smooths over minor inconsistencies.


Two-part rodbuilding epoxy.


Very important to get an exact mixture, 50-50.


Stir until the epoxy is well-mixed (cup in your hand to keep it warm).


Brush onto the wraps while rod spins on motorized dryer.


Torch may be used (carefully!) to warm epoxy and remove bubbles.


Underwrap epoxy is dry and smooth, ready for the guides.


Fuji aluminum oxide guides ready for application. (Two of them were taken from a broken rod). Sizes, from largest to smaller: 16-12-10-10-8-8.


It's important that the guide feet are clean and level, with no cutting edge contacting the blank.


How the guide should look resting on the blank.


You can file the feet to achieve the desired angle.


This one's ready.


We've taped the guide onto the underwrap; now we're anchoring the black thread to begin wrapping the guide in place.


The blank turns under power as we wrap thread closely and tightly.


Bring the wraps up and over the foot to secure the guide.


We're double-layering the wraps, ending up where we started, and again, with a loop-pull-through to finish.


Razor blade to trim.


Burnish to even out the wraps.


When all the guides are in place, small adjustments can be made by hand, to ensure they are lined up.


Looking good, and ready for the final coats of epoxy.


Rod turns on the dryer as we apply more two-part epoxy to the guide wraps.


Last but not least, the tiptop goes on with ferrule cement.


Getting ready to slide the tiptop on to the rod.


Tiptop placed on the rod end, wipe away excess cement, and let dry.




The last three photos show the finished rod building project, looking good as gold with a Penn International 965. Look out kingfish and snapper, here we come!

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