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Replacing A Rod Guide by Rob Lariviere

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I began about 15 years ago building, rewrapping, and repairing fishing rods. I had the good fortune of having one of the top rod builders here in Rhode Island, Mr. Ron Fugere, share his skills and knowledge of rod building with me. I sat many hours just watching him in amazement of how a rod was built. Thanks to him, today I can build rods from scratch and do any type of repair a rod might need. One of the most common repairs, next to a broken tip, is replacing a broken guide. It is actually fairly easy. In this article I explain the procedure on how to replace a guide.

First you need to get a few items in order to replace the guide and a few might seem strange but hang with me. It will beat going out and spending money on buying certain tools. You will need a cardboard box preferably the size of what computer paper comes in. You will also need either a razor blade or exacto knife, a matching rod color thread, masking tape or a glue stick, a metal fork (yes the kind you eat with), a heavy book, a 3” nail, some type of rod finishing epoxy, an 8” piece of at least 15lb test line, and your new guide.

You will need something to support your rod while working on it. There are commercial rod holders available, but this is a very inexpensive solution. What you will want to do is cut sort of a V out of the front and rear of the box. This will give you access to the rod in later steps. Make a small notch on each side of the box to support the rod. Now you have you rod holder.
Now you will need to remove the old guide. Take either your exacto knife or your razor blade, and very carefully cut the thread parallel to the rod. Just put enough pressure to cut through the epoxy. Be very careful not to cut the rod or yourself. Most of the time once the thread and epoxy are cut it should just peel off or unravel. Use the flat edge to remove any remnants. If there is anything you can’t remove or don’t want to use a razor blade on, a fine piece of sand paper or steel wool can be used. Now cleanup is down and the fun begins.

Take your new guide and position it back where the old one was. You will need to hold it in position with either a piece of masking type around the guide or by placing a dab of hot glue on the back side of the guide foot or wrap a small piece of masking tape around the guide foot. Make sure before putting it in position that it is aligned with the other guides. The best way to do this is to look down the rod at the bottom guide. As you look down the rod the next guide should be in the center of the previous guide. Once the guide you are replacing is aligned you’re ready to begin the wrapping process.

Take your cardboard box rod holder and the nail. Where ever you determine to be the back of the rod holder, pop the nail through the box approximately 3 inches in the center of the back of the box. This will serve as the thread spool holder. In the center of the cardboard box place your heavy book. Open the book and place the thread somewhere in the bottom pages of the book. The book will serve as a tensioning device. You will now need to place the rod in the rod holder. Place it so the foot of the guide you are replacing is to your left. Now take your thread bring it over the top of the blank and down and front of you. Bring the thread up behind the rod and over the top. Lay the tag end of the thread toward the guide. Now holding the thread against the rod with one hand, slowly turn the rod towards you (always turn the rod towards you, wrap from left to right) laying the thread coming from the book over the tag end (See Illustration). Once you have 4 or 5 wraps you should be able to let go and the thread should be secure. Take the fork and hold it vertical, with the bottom tines of the fork push the wraps tight together and position the wrap to where the old wrap started. This will be right up against the edge of the rods epoxy finish. As long as the wrap is in this position and the wraps are tight trim, cut the tag end with either the razor blade or exacto knife as close to rod blank without cutting the blank or the thread you are wrapping with. It’s also a good time to remove any tape or excess glue that you used to hold the guide on.

Continue to rotate the rod and use the fork to keep pushing each wrap tight to the previous one. Once you get to the foot of the guide it gets a little tricky if you have never done this. This is where you could experience some difficulty. I would suggest making sure your wraps are tight and straight at the start of the foot of the guide using the fork. Now make 3 or 4 wraps up on the foot of the guide. They don’t have to be tight to each other. Once you have done this take your fork and gently push these wraps tight against the others. Now you are wrapping up on the foot of the guide.

As you continue to wrap up the rest of the guide, stop when you are about 8 wraps away from having the guide completely wrapped. Now take the 8” piece of monofilament. This is going to be tie off loop. Double the mono up and lay the doubled-up end towards the right and make sure you leave about an inch extra from where the wrap will end. Finish wrapping your guide the rest of the way up the guide foot. When you stop make sure you to leave you tie off loop where you stop. Now the next few steps are critical to this process or you will be wrapping the guide all over again. Hold the wrap tightly between your thumb and index finger of your left hand and cut the thread you wrapped the guide with about 6 inches away from the rod. Still holding the wrap with your left hand use your right hand to insert the thread you just cut through your tie off loop. (See Illustration) With your right hand pull the thread straight down. Now with your left hand carefully let go of the wrap and the rod. Try to hold enough pressure with your right as not to rotate the rod. With your left hand grab the 2 loose ends of your tie off loop. With the right hand continue to pull down and with the left hand start to pull the 2 loose ends of the tie off loop with a slow and gentle motion. This will cause the excess thread to be
  pulled back under the wraps you wrapped. Continue to hold the loose thread with your right hand until approximately ¾ of the loose thread is pulled under the wraps. Continue with your left hand to pull the tie off loop until all the loose thread is pulled under the wraps. (See Illustration) Pull the excess extremely tight and use the fork to make the wraps tight. Trim the excess thread as close to wrap as you can with either an exacto or razor blade.

It’s now time for the final process. I add one process that some other people don’t. I add what is called a color preserve to the wrap. Many wrapping threads are resistant to the sun and time fading them, but I always add a color preserving agent before adding the rod finish. This is achieved by using and artist brush and the color preserve. Cover the wrap completely by brushing the color preserve onto it. The wrap will be milky looking when this application is complete. This will dry clear in about an hour and then the wrap is ready for the rod finish.

There are many different types of rod finishes. Some are one part while others are 2 parts that must be mixed in equal amounts and the usually included mixing syringes. Whichever one you use, I highly recommend setting the containers in hot water for 5 minutes. It will make it much easier to use. After they have set, and you have mixed them if they are 2 part finish you are ready to coat the wraps. For this you will need the rod finish and a small artist brush. Don’t try to put too much finish on at a time. With steady length wise strokes add the finish to the wraps. Slightly extend the finish over the ends of the wrap. Turn the rod to apply the next stroke. Be sure not to touch the finish with your hand. When the wrap is completely covered with the finish, go over the finish with just the brush using length wise strokes to smooth out the finish. Check for any bubbles while you are doing this. You will mostly like see some bubbles and you can eliminate them by rotating the rod and gently blowing on the rod finish. Carefully lay the rod back onto your rod holder making sure you and the holder doesn’t come in contact with your finish. To prevent any drips or runs in the finish you will need to rotate the rod a ½ turn every 15 minutes for the first hour to hour and a half. The finish will set up in about 6 hours. If a second coat is needed, I suggest doing it no less than 24 hours from the time you did the first. Even though the finish sets in about 6 hours, let it set a full 24 hours before using to prevent cracking.

So next time you have a guide that need to be replaced give it a try. It might take you a few times to get the hang of wrapping the guide, but once you get the hang of it takes no time to do at all. It will save you money and you’ll have the satisfaction of fixing your own rod.

Rob Lariviere
Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 05:04:40 PM by MotherNature