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The Basics of All Fishing Rod Guides

The Basics of All Fishing Rod Guides

Did you know that not all rod builders start out building rods?

In fact, many anglers transition to rod building through repair work. From repairing handles and grips, to replacing guides and tip tops, anglers often happen upon rod building while looking after their gear.

Check out Mud Hole’s Repair Kits to get your favorite fishing rods back on the water.

With rod building comes an immense knowledge of fishing rods and the components that help fulfill the potential performance of the rods you’re building. Guides are often an overlooked part of factory-made fishing rods, however, rod building allows anglers to truly dial-in every component for each build, especially the guides and their layout.

Basics-of-All-Fishing-Rod guides

More about Fishing Rod Guides

Determining the type and size of guides for your rod building project can be confusing at first if you don’t understand some of the basics.

For instance, what makes guide designs so different?

Form and function are incredibly important to each guide and the role it plays for a given fishing application. In other words, a roller guide for offshore fishing is going to look a lot different from a standard casting or spinning rod because of the function.

And the form, or the design itself, comes directly from the function as well as access to innovative new materials. So as technology has evolved, so have the rod guides for custom fishing rods.

A Closer Look at Guide Inserts

Rod guides come in many shapes and in a variety of materials. The quality of a guide depends on the composition of both the guide frame and the ring.

If anything compromises the insert ring of the guide, it’s time to replace that guide. Many ask, “Can you replace the missing ring?” and the answer is, no. You will have to replace that guide entirely by matching the size.


When it comes time to size a replacement, guides are measured by the outside diameter (OD) of the ring in millimeters—or, if the ring is missing you can use the inner diameter (ID) of the guide opening.

Wire Fly Fishing Guides

Wire guides are available in both traditional double feet, commonly known as snake guides, and single foot styles. These guides also come in a variety of finishes. Wire guide sizes generally include 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1/0 and 2/0 with 6 being the largest.


Fly Fishing Guides with Inserts

There are also single fly rod guides with inserts that can be used in place of wire guides. As with stripping guides, the quality of single foot fly guides depends on the composition of both the guide frame and the insert ring.


Single foot fly-rod guides are generally available in sizes 10, 8, 7, 6, and 5.5. These sizes give the diameter of the guide ring in millimeters.

Determine the Insert Ring/Loop Size

The first measurement in a Tip-Top is the OD of the ring (eyelet) in millimeters. Generally, the inside diameter (ID) of the ring will match the smallest guide on the rod. Standard sizes are 6, 8, and 10mm for conventional rods, while heavier saltwater rods may go as high as a 16mm ring.


How to Find the Tube Size

The second measurement in a Tip-Top is the ID of the tube, measured in 1/64ths of an inch. The tube size should correspond to the size given by the manufacturer of your blank.

Tube sizes generally range from 3.5 to 12, but they go all the way up to 32 (.500″) in Big Game roller tops.

Tips for Measuring Insert Rings

Sizes can vary depending on the manufacturer, but all are measured in millimeters. On guides with insert rings, the measurement is taken from the OD of the insert ring. For wire guides on the other hand, the size measurement is taken from the ID of the loop.


Ready to find your replacement Tip Top? Let’s get started shopping Fishing Rod Tip Tops.

Custom Guide Spacing Made Easy!

In the past, guide spacing was a manual task that was as frustrating as it was time consuming. But now, guide spacing is easily referenced in Mud Hole’s DIY Resources.

These DIY Resources include guide spacing charts for specific guides, guide layouts, and even This means you can quickly look up the length and style rod to determine the best possible guide train for your build.

Learn more about Guide Spacing on this rerun episode of Mud Hole Live.

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