Today, guides with a ceramic insert are all the news. The technology behind ceramic inserts offer more benefits than just decreasing wear from abrasive lines, it also reduces the amount of friction and heat from the fishing line as it runs across the smooth, hard surface of the ceramic insert.
Guide manufacturers have developed a number of ceramic insert options and each offer something a little different.
The Evolution of Ceramic Inserts
Manufacturers measure each ceramic insert based on its level of hardness. The hardness of the ceramic insert is directly related to how abrasive resistant the guide itself will be with that particular ceramic insert.
Harder ceramic inserts such as those with a base made of titanium or zirconium are actually lighter than those with an aluminum oxide based insert. The decrease in friction offered through the hardness of ceramic inserts allows for much longer casts.
Despite its key benefits, the hardness of the ceramic insert comes at a cost. Not only are harder inserts priced higher, they are also more brittle. This just means harder ceramic inserts are less likely to hold up when bounced around in a gunnel or bashed against any hard surface.
The trade off with ceramic inserts lies in the hardness you choose. Ceramic inserts with a low level hardness are not replaced as often, but they do increase the risk of an abrasive line, like braided or wire line, grooving into the guides. Although a less abrasive line material such as monofilament or fluorocarbon will help avoid the negative wearing effect, it decreases the performance by causing more friction between the line and insert.
Breakdown of Popular Inserts—Here is a list of some of common insert materials you will find from popular rod guide vendors in rod building. Keep in mind, every angler and rod builder has their own opinion on which is best for different fishing applications. More expensive does not always mean better, so determine which guide material seems to fit your fishing style and budget, and go from there.
Silicon Carbide (SiC) Inserts
Among the hardest and most popular Fuji insert materials, it also has a titanium base making it very light. The SiC material withstands any braided or super line without wearing or giving in to any grooving.
A Zirconia based insert from American Tackle, Nanolite offers a high strength guide that cuts down excess material and weight. Nanolite was designed to handle braided lines and super lines with ease.
Lightweight and durable without sacrificing any hardness, guides with Alconite inserts are among the most popular inserts with an Aluminum Oxide base. Handling braided lines and super lines, Alconite is considered a very versatile guide material.
The hardest guide offered by American Tackle, this insert has a Titanium Nitride base with a Titanium Oxide coating and has been compared to the hardness of SiC.
When it comes to inserts, Torzite is the top of the line. Stronger and more flexible than SiC, Fuji designed it to be lighter with less friction without losing any durability. One of the highest in performance and price, Torzite from Fuji will not disappoint.
What Insert Is Right For You?
While in the market for the best ceramic insert to fit your next custom rod build, keep in mind your fishing style, budget, and expectations. If you are aiming to hammer down on drag pulling fish, treat yourself to a super hard insert, but if you want a guide that will last in most circumstances with just a slight decrease in performance, try inserts that are more durable.