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What Determines the Amount of Guides on a Fishing Rod?

Viewer Question: “What determines how many guides are used on a rod – Gary A”

That’s a very good question, Gary. I don’t know if there is an actual set formula that fishing rod manufactures use, but in my view, I would have to say that the number of guides would be determined by a couple of factors. One, being to achieve precision casting and the other would be line control with respect to the rod.

The way I see it, to allow for precision casting, the fishing line must run fairly parallel with the fishing rod. Let’s take a look at this.

Suppose we have a six foot long single piece spinning rod with reel and only one guide located at the rod tip. Let’s run the fishing line from the reel through the guide to about a foot after the guide. Then we’ll tie a sinker to make the line tight.

If we were to hold the rod by the handle and keep it parallel to the floor (assuming that there is no bend of the rod), we would notice that the fishing line between the guide and the reel is not parallel with the rod due to the height difference between the spool of the reel and the guide. If you were to take a cast, your cast may feel awkward and you may not get the distance or the precision. Now let’s add another guide (slightly larger in diameter than the first) and locate it half way between the reel and the first guide and run the line through both guides to the sinker.

Fishing Rod Guide - (c)
Fishing Rod Guide - (c)

Again, holding the fishing rod by the handle and keeping it parallel with the floor, we would see that the line portion between the two guides would run more parallel to the rod. Now if we were to take a cast, distance and accuracy would be greatly improved. Of course having a rod with only two guides would not be practical because the line has too much freedom to wander away from the rod alignment - therefore having limited line control.

If we were to add two more guides identical in diameter to the end guide and space them equally between the first two, this will allow the line to be parallel with the rod from the end guide to the third – this portion of parallel line is the important factor to achieve precision casting. The rod can probably use two more guides to be complete.

These guides can be larger in diameter than the others which would allow the line to be gradually funneled into the smaller ones. Usually, the last guide (closest to the reel) is the largest and is normally set back from the reel to allow the line to come off the spool much easier.

Basically to sum it up, the more guides the more line control; the farther and smoother the cast; the smoother the retrieve.

Good fishing!

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