What are some considerations when I choose a rod?
Response by Dave Norton - Dated 07/26/04
It has been suggested that this subject be covered a bit more in depth. While I realize that some here will have differing opinions that is quite alright. As a custom rodbuilder with some 10 yrs. experience I feel slightly qualified to expound on this subject, so here goes!
First you must know the application for which the rod will be used. Will it be an all purpose rod , or will you use it for a specific appliction such as drop shotting. Next you must learn to understand to nomenclature of rods. By this I mean the difference between such things as "power" and "action". There have been several additions to the FAQ regarding these so I won't elaborate again. Many variables go into the make up of a rod. And these all interact as to how a rod performs. It's not just about guides, action, power and such. A rods ability to react a certain way is designed into the blank itself .However that action or whatever you wish to call it can be either heightened or destroyed by the way the rod is assembled.
Spine- All blanks have an inherent spine(period)! Most mass producers choose to ignore this when a rod is assembled. But the location of the spine in relation to the placement of the guides can make or break a rods performance. As I said earlier; On a conventional baitcaster the guides will be set "directly" over the spine. While on a spinning rod the guides will be placed at 180 degrees to the spine. I also said that there are ways to further enhance the performance of a rod with variations to the above.
How to find the rods Spine- I do not propose to tell you to take some specialized rod finder into stores with you. You will most likely get thrown out. AND PLEASE, do not under any circumstances try to make one according to Joe H's description. What he describes is a Morton Spine Finder, invented by one of the foremost rodbuilders in the world. Mr. Don Morton of Ala. But what Joe could not see was the actual construction of the device. Sorry Joe!
The conical point rests in a free spinning bearing. To make what Joe described would undoubtably do damage to the butt end of a rod. Again sorry Joe, but I needed to clear that up. Lest someone try it, and find themselves buying a piece of junk rod.
Ok, again 99.99% of retail sporting goods store have vinyl floors. PLACE THE BUTT END on the floor and hold the rod at about 45-60 degrees from vertical. Place the tip end in the palm of one hand. With the index and thumb of your other hand gently bow the rod downward. Do this at a point about 1/3 of the way from the tip.Gently roll the blank between you fingers while watching the butt end. You will feel and see the spine jump. Do this back and forth until you have found the spot where it jumps the worst. Hold the rod so the this spot at the butt end is making direct contact with the floor. You have just isolated the effective spine. If this rod is assembled correctly the guides for a baitcaster will be on the "outside" of the curve of the rod. While spinning guides will be on the "inside" of the curve. If you don't see what you should put it back!
Guide placement- When a rod is flexed the line should follow the "natural" curve of the blank "period"! Anything else puts undo stress on both the blank and the guides. I am sure that by now most of you have heard about the Fuji Concept system for guide placement. What it allows is for more guides to be used to support the line in a more natural arc to the blank. How to test for this. The best way is to take a reel with you to the store, make sure it's a bit scuffed..........hehehe! Mount the reel to the rod and run the line thru the guides . Again place the butt end on the floor ,with about 3ft. of the tag end out the tip bow the rod. Don't hold the line right at the tip, but rather a feww feet down. Now "really bow or load the rod. Look at the way the line flows thru the guides. Does it follow the curve of the blank? There should be no sharp bends in the line. This is what creates stress in blanks and guide feet.
The one critical test which you as a consumer cannot perform in the store is a casting test. This is especially true with spinning rods. This test allows a rodbuilder to fine tune the placement of the 1st or stripper guide. It allows us to see how a given reel will perform with the rod. We might actually change that guide so as to eliminate line slap. Now days thanks to Fuji's Concept system guides being used are generally smaller which reduces weight. This means that we can use an extra guide where needed to help support the line. More guides does "not" necessarily mean more friction . By better support of the line as it goes thru guides you can increase casting distance.
Once again we can see how many variables go into the make-up of a good, great , or mediocre rod .So the next time you go hunting a new rod I hope this will help you out.