Teeny, Tiny, Micro, Mini Guides…

Way, way back, somewhere around 1984 or 1985, Berkley was hot off a successful year selling a new, inexpensive yet relatively high performance graphite fishing rod known as the “Lightning Rod.” With an extensive R&D Department, they weren’t known for resting on their laurels. A year after the Lightning Stick debuted, Berkley followed with what they hoped would be an even more successful rod line, the “Series One.”

The first thing anyone noticed about the Series One rods was the teeny, tiny, low frame single foot line guides hugging the rod blank. These low frame guides sported extremely small guide rings, about a 5 or 6, which at that time was absolutely tiny compared to the standard size 8 guides found on most rods.  A lot of fishermen couldn’t believe that a rod fitted with such tiny guides could possibly function very well.  In fact, it may have been this resistance to something that seemed so revolutionary that eventually doomed the Series One. But any way you cut it, those rods were light and extremely responsive, at least in part to the very small and light guides employed. After the demise of the Series One rods, it would be almost two decades before anyone would again mount extremely small guides on a fishing rod  here in the U.S.

Good custom rod builders understand that competent rod building involves fitting a rod with the smallest guides that will still pass the required line and leader connections and stand up to the required task under any and all conditions in which the rod will be used.  Smaller guides are generally lighter, and reducing the weight that the rod blank must carry means the resulting rod will be more responsive.

In the last couple of years, rods with extremely small guides have again made an appearance. Some possess rings no larger than 2.5 mm! Whether you call them “micro” or “mini” or just “teeny tiny,” it appears that this time they have gained a solid foothold in the market. First appearing on high end custom made rods, the commercial makers quickly took note and decided to follow suit. Many fishermen wonder if it’s all just a marketing gimmick while others are already using and swearing by them.

Modern Micro Guides

Where applicable and when following the earlier rule about guide sizing, these tiny guides can and do result in rods that offer increased sensitivity, balance better and respond more quickly than rods sporting larger and heavier guides. And the innovations are still coming.

Just yesterday Joe Meehan from American Tackle sent me a promo of the company’s new Artus Ringlock guides complete with what the company is calling their new Foot Lock technology. All the guides in this series offer the company’s well known Ring Lock technology as well.

Carl and Donnie down at Angler’s Resources have been quietly selling the heck out of the Fuji Micro Concept guides and tops. Considering that Fuji rarely brings anything to market that they don’t feel is going to be worthwhile over the long haul, this makes a huge statement as to the future viability of the tiny guide market.

Batson Enterprises was at the forefront in micro guides, or as they like to call them “Mini Guides.” Local custom rod builder and friend Steve Gardner showed me a rod with these tiny Batson Forecast guides more than 2 years ago, demonstrating one at the Expo and proving to many disbelievers that he wasn’t the least bit crazy – that they really did work.

Pacific Bay’s popular Minima guides were pretty darn light right out of the gate, owing to the thin hard chrome insert in place of a standard ceramic insert. Their Model F low frame single foots were previously only offered down to a size 4 – considered pretty large by some micro standards. But now Vic Cutter tells me that they’ll have the Model F Minima’s in a new size 3 in the very near future.

Tom Kirkman

Follow these links to read more about the micro and mini guide offerings from American Tackle, Batson Enterprises, Fuji and Pacific Bay.







  1. Steve Gardner on August 1, 2010 at 2:31 am

    February 2005 during the ICRBE (at the time held in Charlotte NC) I acquired some of the micro Match guides 4mm, to build an ultra light bass rod with. (Don’t remember for sure), but think Bill Batson gave those to me after asking questions about a set he had in one of his plastic boxes.

    Then after reading this thread’ posted in June of 2006


    and Mr. Stevens not replying to the request.

    I contacted Bill Batson directly in hopes of obtaining some. He willing sent his remaining stash of the BMKNG in 2.5mm – 5mm sizes in the style many are still using today, and another model WMKZGT in 2mm-5mm sizes that to my knowledge have never gone into production

    Then after building a couple of prototype’s and realizing their potential advantages on bass rods, asked if I could acquire some more to experiment with. Which Mr. Batson graciously accommodated by ordering and sending as soon as they came in.

    In reality had it not been for the generosity of Mr. Bill Batson and his willingness to support their vision and custom builders that thread of June 2006 most likely may have been the last on Micro guides

    After going back and rereading that thread, it struck me funny to see just how far some participants thought processes have changed concerning them.

    Steve Gardner

    Vibronics Custom Rod

  2. CharlesT on August 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    What you are calling micro guides have been used for at least a couple of decades on European Match Style Rods. These are extremely long rods by American standards and would suffer dreadfully from anything but the very tiniest guides possible. Keeping the weight of the rings down keeps the swing weight low and allows the use of rods well beyond five meters in length. Odd they have not been utilized in the U.S. until so recently.