ï»¿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 â€œLightning Rod.â€ With an extensive R&D Department, they werenâ€™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 â€œSeries One.â€
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.Â A lot of fishermen couldnâ€™t believe that a rod fitted with such tiny guides could possibly function very well.Â 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 rodÂ 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.Â 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 â€œmicroâ€ or â€œminiâ€ or just â€œteeny tiny,â€ 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 itâ€™s all just a marketing gimmick while others are already using and swearing by them.
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 companyâ€™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 companyâ€™s well known Ring Lock technology as well.
Carl and Donnie down at Anglerâ€™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 donâ€™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 â€œMini Guides.â€ 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 wasnâ€™t the least bit crazy – that they really did work.
Pacific Bayâ€™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 theyâ€™ll have the Model F Minimaâ€™s in a new size 3 in the very near future.
Follow these links to read more about the micro and mini guide offerings from American Tackle, Batson Enterprises, Fuji and Pacific Bay.