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Spiral Wrapped Rods - Written By: Ko Tamura

"Your rod's broken," "Were you on something when you built that?" "What happened to your rod?" These are all commonly heard comments when the uninitiated sees a spiral wrapped rod for the first time. The design is also known as acid and Robert's Wrap. As strange as they may appear, it is quite possibly the best way to build a rod for use with a conventional reel.

As the name implies, the rod is wrapped with the guides spiraling up the rod so that the guides closest to the tip are on the bottom of the rod the same as on a spinning rod. Rods built for conventional reels call for the guides to be wrapped on the top of the rod. Almost all rods are built like this, so it must be the best way, right? WRONG!

Rod manufacturers build rods that sell. A "weird" spiral wrap will not sell as well as a conventional rod, even if it is a better fishing tool. Manufacturers already sell more rods than one can shake a jig at, so why change? Most consumers stick with what is familiar and conventional rods are familiar.

The concept of spiral wrapping is not new. In fact, the original patent was issued in 1909. Those who choose to discredit this “fad” need to realize that this "fad" is almost 100 years old.

The purpose of wrapping a rod with the guides spiraling to the bottom of the rod is twofold. First, there is no torsion or twisting force on the blank when the rod is under a load. Second, the rod is more stable under a load and the angler does not have to make an effort to keep the rod up with the guides facing up.

Spiral Advantages

Torsion is the twisting force on a loaded rod. This effect is most pronounced toward the tip of the rod. The tip of the rod is significantly thinner than the butt and therefore cannot withstand the same amount of torsion as the thick butt end can. Many anglers have noticed that their rod tips are often completely turned over when they are fighting a fish. This repeated twisting weakens the blank and would explain why many rods tend to break near the tip.

Spiral Advantages

Many believe that a properly spined blank will resist the effects of torsion, however, it makes no difference how the rod is spined. Torsion will always win over the spine. On a spiral wrapped rod, a tip will never twist because the line is already at the lowest point – the bottom of the rod. When a fish is on end of the line, the line is being pulled down and toward the fish.

Spiral wrapped rods are more stable fish fighting tools. With the guides on the bottom, there is no twisting force from the line seeking the lowest point. The angler doesn’t have to fight to keep the rod upright. If the angler cannot keep the guides perfectly in line on a conventional rod while fighting a fish, the line and guides will create torsion as the line tries to go under the rod toward the fish.

Another common misconception about spiral wrapped rods is that they do not cast well. A correctly built spiral wrapped rod casts no differently than a conventional rod with the guides on top. The longest spiral wrapped rod I have built is a Seeker Ulua (9'3") and it casts no differently than my other conventional jigstick. The only noticeable difference takes place only after a fish is pulling on the other end; the rod is stable and no energy is spent fighting to keep the rod upright.

My largest fish on an acid wrapped rod is a 65# yellowfin. The blank is a GUSA 70xxh paired with a Shimano Trinidad 40. It is built without a gimbal, but at no point did the rod want to turn over while fighting the fish. In addition to that rod, numerous yellowtail and a single albacore were caught on the Seeker Ulua with the same results.

Until recently, the only limit to spiral wrapped rods was that only ringed guides could be used. There was no way to use standard roller guides to move the line to the bottom of the rod. Fortunately, All-American Roller Guides now has "acid rollers" available. Will rods using these acid rollers become more common on long range trips? No one can say for sure. It is a hard sell to get anglers to even try these rods, but those who try them in earnest will likely be sold on them.

Advancements in all fields, not just in fishing, are often the results of a few daring individuals who are not satisfied with the status quo. Without any advancements, can you imagine what fishing would be like today? We would still be chasing fish in canoes using handlines with hooks made of bone or tortoise shell...at least until we drop off the edge of the flat world.

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