Finding the Backbone

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Finding the backbone is one of the crucial steps in producing a stronger stiffer rod. Placing guides off centre will reduce the overall effectiveness by a smaller amount. A point of comparison however is that very few commercially made rods are built on the backbone due to time and accuracy, this is one of the major differences between a custom rod and an off the shelf product.

Once you have located the backbone as per the following instructions, its a good idea to mark it. I score slightly the bottom and tip of the rod to indicate the location and draw a line with a black permanent  marker at intervals along the rod backbone so I always know where it is. For Game sticks you always place the guides on top of the backbone, for spinning rods or general purpose rods the eye guides should be placed under the backbone.

To find the location of the backbone is not difficult. Place the heavy butt section of the rod onto a solid smooth surface like a tiled floor. Now stand at 90 degrees to the blank, effectively to its side. When I wish to find a backbone being right handed I stand with my feet slightly apart and the butt section on the floor opposite my right foot. Now with the palm of your left hand, place this palm UP about 12 inches or 30 cm from the tip effectively on the underside of the rod. Now with your right hand , place this palm DOWN another 12-18 inches or 30-45 cm further down the blank from your left hand. Now that's the position right. Next start to roll the blank slowly but firmly away from you and then towards you. You will notice a definite tendency for the rod to find a mark or high spot. Roll off this either side and the rod will become slightly softer. It is this "hard spot" or rigid flip feel that is know as the BACKBONE. 

Ok once you have located it bend down and mark it. A good trick is to apply 1 rotation of masking tape to the butt so that the backbone can be marked easily. Once it is marked check it again a couple of times and make sure its in the right spot. the backbone location  is Always on the underside of the blank closest the floor. 

After you have located and marked the rod correctly it is time to work out exactly what kind of rod you want to build. 

Now most blanks come in a standard short stroker size about 1.6 metres or 5 foot 6 inches. If you are going to build a rod that uses a slide on reel seat you should not cut off too much from the bottom or tip. as the length of the rod continues all the way through the reel seat and makes up the bottom handle part. However if you are going to use a high quality butt section such as Alutecnos then the aluminium butt itself is the handle and you will need to remove part of the lower end of the rod blank and some of the tip. 

Now I opted for a super short effective stroker style rod between 4 foot 10 and 11 or 1.5 metres from the tip of the rod guide across diagonally to the curved butt end. I then worked out the maths and this saves you doing it (what a good guy I am) and cut the blank down from the tip  towards the butt at 42.5 inches, this means you end up with a bit cut off the thick end of the rod NOT the other way around.

 You can see from the photo to take the measurement from the tip towards the butt section


     here is the mark to cut. That's 42.5 inches not cm

Later on just prior to glueing the tip on you may need to take off an inch or so, in order that the tip fits snugly onto the blank.