Guide Preparation and Guide Placement – Step 7

         Step 7 – Guide Preparation and Guide Placement

Guide Preparation

Different rod lengths require different numbers of guides. For Kaylin and my rod we both have 9 guides to prep. This might seem like a lot of work but it’s not. It takes less than 2 minutes each to prep a guide. The idea is to smooth the sharp corners off the feet so when you wrap it later it has a smooth appearance. I also inspect the guides for sharp edges that might nick the rod blank. This is one of those steps that provide a “finished” touch later. You want to watch that you don’t scratch the guide in an area it will show later. This is really important on Kaylin’s rod because her guides are black and scratches are easily seen.


Items you’ll need for this step:

  • Snake and Stripping Guides
  • Sand Paper – I like gluing the sand paper onto a thin wood strip. Think of a big emery board.

Summary of the Steps:

  1. Sand guide foot until corners are rounded
  2. Redo step 1 until all guides prepped

Sanding the Guide

I showed Kaylin how to do this on a couple guides and then we “divided and conquered”. We finished all 18 snake guides in 25 minutes. Try not to scratch the visible area of the guide, it will show later.   The illustration below is my attempt to describe the before and after shape of the guide foot.


Kaylin sanding the guide foot

guide foot 7

Sketch of guide foot before and after

Grasp the guide tightly with your thumb and forefinger and stroke the foot back and forth on the sand paper block.

Guide Prep Video

Video of prepping guides


Guide fingers

Hold tightly with finger and thumb and stroke across sanding block

Guide fingers2

Sanding the other side of guide foot

Below is a before picture.

Guide Before

Before smoothing

After sanding – the tip of the foot is rounded and the edges are softened.

Below is my attempt to show a close-up.

Guide After3

After sanding – yellow shows where corners are softened.

When all the guides have been prepped it’s time to move onto marking the positions and taping the guides on.

Guide Spacing and Placement

Kaylin was dog tired when I asked her to do this step. She was at soccer practice for 6 hours! Her team is having “soccer camp” this week which takes up about 4 hours a day, then she went to an injury prevention practice to strengthen her knees/ACL. Still with wet hair she agreed to work on her rod.

Items you’ll need for this step:

  • Guide Spacing Chart for your rod. I Googled TFO BVK Guide Spacing and quickly found the chart for Kaylin’s rod. For reference I’ve attached a generic one from Cabelas’

   Spacing Chart

PDF of Rod Guide Spacing – Cabelas’

  • Masking Tape – cut into thin strips
  • Snake and Stripping Guides
  • Rod Blank Sections
  • Grease Pen or Crayon

Summary of the Steps

  1. Assemble rod sections with spine aligned.
  2. Measure from the tip tip and mark guide position.
  3. Tape the guides into position.

Assembly the Rod Sections

Get all your rod sections and put them together. I loosely slide the sections together then turn and push to the alignment marks. Once the pieces are together line the rod on a long table or floor.

Measure from Tip Top and Mark Guide Position

TFO Guide Chart

TFO BVK Guide Spacing Chart

With the rod lying on our work table we started a tape measure at the tip top and measured toward the handle. Try to mark the rod along the line formed by your spine. 5 1/8 inches down from the tip top we marked the rod blank with a grease pen / crayon.   Continue marking all the way to the handle.

First mark

Measure from the tip and mark on the rod

While checking for the guide chart for my Sage VXP I read some interesting tips from the folks at Sage.

  • Place the guides within ¼ inch of the Sage placement guide.
  • Place the bottom foot of the guide (foot closest to handle) on the measurement for best placement accuracy.
  • Sage recommends over sizing the guides one to two sizes.

Sage Website link

With all the guide positions marked it’s time to move onto temporarily attaching the guides to the rod with tape.

Taping the Guides into Position

Something to remember is the guides aren’t permanently attached until the guide finish is applied. So it is possible to move them around to make sure everything is lined up. I cut the masking tape into narrow strips, approximately ¼ inch wide. Our guides are all double foot; I prefer double foot because the loop is a little larger when compared to a single foot.

Guides Single Double

Single and Double Foot Snake Guides

I get out all the guides and line them up by size on the sticky side of some masking tape.

Disassemble the rod and starting with start with the second rod section up from the handle. I like using this section because it is stiff and easier to learn how to wrap.


Tape section

I start with the first section above the handle

With one hand hold the guide on the rod touching one foot. With your free hand wrap the masking tape around the foot. I work on one section at a time. Once one section has all the guides taped on its time to move onto wrapping. Step 8.

guide tape finger

Hold the guide in place while taping

As always please contact me if you see something that others should know. I’m not an expert, but I want to get this information out there so folks can enjoy this sport.  I’ll be happy to correct and update this information. Comment below or email me at