2023 marks year number 29 since I wrapped my first fishing rod. The irony of my career in rod building is that I really don't enjoy building rods all that much. It's tedious, laborious, and far too time-consuming for my tastes. I'd much rather tie flies than build rods...the gratification is MUCH more immediate! The dilemma however is that I LOVE fishing with a rod I designed and built....so I am STUCK. Overall I am a simple traditionalist. I don't do any flashy threadwork, and for the most part, my sticks tend to be unashamedly utilitarian in nature. So, several decades ago, when low profile single foot ceramic guides hit the market, and it became quite the fad to substitute them in place of snake guides on flyrods, I'll admit I did NOT jump on that train. While there are indeed a whole host of advantages to a ceramic ringed guide, the one touted most often was increased distance. I remember particularly well visiting with one builder at a show in North Carolina in 2006, explaining to me how he added close to 20' to his cast simply by swapping out his snakes with a modern ceramic insert guide. Of course, we all know this to be complete hogwash. If it were true, snake guides would have been rendered obsolete three decades ago.
Crazy distance claims aside, ceramics do offer some advantages. Most notably, they are a lifetime guide, in that there is no chrome coating to wear off, causing the steel frame to eventually "groove". Additionally, fly lines will last infinitely longer with ceramic ring guides, just because of the highly polished nature of the ring itself. For me, I simply couldn't get past the aesthetics of a ceramic ringed guide on a fly rod. They just looked...well...clunky. And on lightweight rods below 5wt. I could make a hard argument that the weight of the frame and ring adversely affected the action of the blank itself. I eventually settled on single-foot REC Recoils for running guides, which have been my mainstay for 20 years. They're VERY light, with no coating to wear off, very corrosion resistant, and flexible.
Last month I found myself being able to lay my hands on a "factory built" Sexyloops HT7 and noticed Paul had spec'd this rod out with single-foot Fuji Torzites. Even though I work in this industry, I am very much a creature of habit and have seen no reason to explore other guide options than the Recoils for a long time now.....if it aint broke don't fix it as they say. The Torzites I have to admit looked very sexy though. And they cast beautifully with very little friction noise. Even newer technology has allowed the designers to draft new frame and ring designs like the REC Cerecoil that bridge the gap between a traditional wire guide and a single-foot ceramic ringed guide. I don't get excited about much in the rod building world anymore, but I will say that my interest is peaked at re-exploring the possibility of ceramic ringed guides on fly rods. As addicted as I've gotten to distance casting, I need these fly lines to last as long as possible!
Hope you all are having a great week,