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Gear Review

Equipment Review: Debunking micro guide myths with FUJI

Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Aug 20, 2013

In the past couple of years there’s been an explosion in micro-guide rod popularity, but the momentum has largely been based on hearsay and subjective results from custom rod builders. Now, world-leading component maker FUJI has stepped into the fray and done so with the first hard data to support (and in some cases dispute) what others have only had a ”hunch” about. To understand the validity of what FUJI has to say, you need to first understand how serious the subject is for this world leader.

FUJI employs five full-time engineers in their Shizuoka-shi, Japan research facility. This team lives and breathes the form and function of only one thing — component performance. To do this they must also have a broad knowledge base of not only the components, but also the system created when blanks, seats, components, reels and line come together into a single tool. And, they must understand the demands of a hundred or more different fishing styles and just as many target species. In short, these are some pretty sharp gentlemen. So sharp, in fact, that no other component manufacturer has such a team. The result is a market driven by FUJI innovation and invention. Every major advance in component technology for over 40 years has been born of FUJI’s innovative spirit and determination to improve rod performance for fishermen across the globe.


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OLD-SCHOOL VS. NEW SCHOOL, and more and more bass anglers are embracing the micro guide concept. The benefits of micro guides are multi-faceted, not the least of which are lighter rods and increased sensitivity.


One of the primary research tools in FUJI’s arsenal is a high-speed camera system. Shooting at up to 20,000 frames per second, FUJI engineers can easily unravel the mystery of what happens during a cast that nobody else ever sees. Creating guides that better handle these chaotic moments during the cast result in performance gains unmatched by any other facility and allows FUJI to be able to answer questions about micro guide technology with more specific knowledge than perhaps any company on earth. Here’s how they answer some of the most often-asked questions about micro guides:


Truth or myth: Micro guides increase casting distance.


Truth: It seems counterintuitive to think that forcing fast-moving line through smaller guides will actually improve distance, but FUJI research has proven a slight gain of around 15 percent in distance using micro guides. These numbers are compared to the number-one rated ”New Guide Concept” also developed by FUJI some 28 years ago.


Casting distance is directly related to the sum of all friction points along the rod during the cast. Each contact point becomes ”drag,” a point where energy is lost during the cast. In traditional guide setups, the larger guide sizes allow a lot of ”bounce” in line flowing from the reel. The more the line bounces and rubs the guide rings and even the rod in many cases, the more energy is lost. Micro guides ”tame” line much faster. FUJI’s newest KR Concept, for example, sends spinning reel line coils through initial guides as small as 16 or even 12 millimeters in diameter. For years it was believed that these rings need to be 30 to 50 millimeters to slowly step down the line into a smooth flow. In fact, less energy is lost (less friction) when the line is controlled quickly down and along the blank where it can flow smoothly out to the tip of the rod. Overall energy lost (friction) though micro guides is less than through conventional guides. The result is more energy remaining in the lure and longer casts.


Truth or myth: Small guides are weaker and more likely to bend or pull off the rod.


Myth: The larger a guide becomes the more the weight of the frame becomes an issue and the more the manufacturer strives to reduce the weight with a thinner, lighter frame. Large thin frames are far more fragile that small ”stocky” frames used for micro guides. In fact, a small size 4 guide on the floor of a carpeted front deck in a bass boat can withstand being accidentally stepped on far better than a larger guide ring, and is seldom damaged by a clumsy misstep. Further, micro guides sit very low to the blank, making them easier to snake into and out of rod lockers.


As far as ”pull out” problems, there were some issues with early model guides. Small guides result in a small footprint that some discovered would pull straight forward under stress and come off the rod. Research showed that this was most likely to happen in the mid-portion of the rod under great stress during a tug-of-war with fish. Combinations of ”locking wraps,” ramps of epoxy and, in FUJI’s case, the introduction of a new wide-footed micro guide called a KB, have all but eliminated these problems on more recent micro rods.


Truth or myth: Micro guides are not suitable for braid with fluorocarbon leaders due to knot size.


Myth: In the early evolution of micro rods, many ”seasoned” anglers took one look and concluded that the knot used to attach braid to fluorocarbon leader would not flow through the smaller guides. Together with the early ”pull out” problems experienced on some rods, the idea took hold and remains to this day. True, most anglers making this connection will strive to tie a small, smooth knot, but the idea that it won’t cast through micro guides is a myth that is fading fast. Even inshore saltwater rods where 30- to 40-pound fluoro is used in 5- to 7-foot lengths will zip through size 4.5 mm guides with no affect on casting accuracy or distance. No Name, Double Uni’s and Improved Albright knots have no problems. Note: Micro guides are available in size 3 and 3.5. At this small size a saltwater leader knot could become an issue. FUJI engineers have not been able to document any advantage to guides this small and specify 4 or 4.5 mm guides in the KR Concept.

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KR CONCEPT CASTING AND SPINNING RODS


Truth or myth: Micro guides are not suitable in dirty, gritty water with floating debris or below freezing.


Mostly myth: It must have happened somewhere to someone or it was a rumor started by a fan of big guides. We have all had duckweed, maidencane, hyacinth and slime hang on our lines from time to time, but such hitchhikers won’t pass through a size 10 tip guide either so why have micro tips take the heat as a guide that will clog with debris? In fact, it’s not uncommon for micros to perform in the exact opposite way, shaking off debris easier than larger guides.


As far as ice in the guides goes, it seems logical that a 4 millimeter opening would close with ice faster than a 7 or 8 millimeter opening. Then again, it seems logical to stay home on a day like that.


Truth or myth: Micro guides are more fun to fish!


You decide: FUJI’s research has documented beyond argument certain things about micro guides that are simply hard fact. The first rod you pick up will most likely raise your eyebrows a little, but the true test is fishing it. Here is what we know, thanks to FUJI: lighter guide trains enhance a rod’s feel and performance.


The micro is a pleasure to fish because the guides are so small and light. This translates to incredible recovery and speed from micro rods. There is no slop in the tip and you can easily work lures better and longer with less fatigue.


Because the guides are small and low, micro rods usually have more guides than conventional rods. The guide is the contact point with the blank — where the bite signal travels from the guide frame to the blank to your hand on the reel seat. Smaller, lower and more guides make the system more sensitive to bites.


Smaller, lower and more guides have other benefits, as well. Lower guides create less ”lever arm torque” in casting rods, meaning lower guides do not want to ”flip over” as much as larger guides while fighting fish. Also, more guides track the line along the curve of the blank closer and use more of the power available from the blank when it is in a ”deep” bend. This also translates to a slight increase in hookset power, as well.


In the opinion of the largest rod component manufacturer in the world and the driving force behind the vast majority of technological advancement over the past three decades, micro guides and the advantages they bring to the table are here to stay.


For more information detailing FUJI’s research on the development of the KR Concept, view the video at anglersresource.net.




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