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Continental Rods/Fixed Spools & Braid - shared experiences

PostPosted: 02 May 2014, 12:40
by Blanko
This seems to be cropping up through other threads a lot and whilst out fishing it's one of the main topics of tackle talk I come across. Since the intro in earnest of 'long rods' - flexible 3 piece continental style beach rods - 10+ years back it's grown from absolute suspicion and fear of humiliation at 'stepping back' through 'I've got one but don't tell my mates ' to what seems like everyone having one!

No denying that for a basic overhead thump or controlled OTG they produce - in the main,(there ARE rough ground broom handles that fill their own need ) - a nice easy curve and sufficient recovery to speed a cast on its way to a good distance,often far further than the owner previously achieved with their multiplier set up. BUT........... a great many posts keep coming to stories of problems with crack offs. So why and what have you found that sorts it out for you ?

A few factors come into this in my own experience. Despite most of you probably never having seen me fish anything but multipliers and shortish rods I've had a few F/S set ups and twigged when teaching my own kids with light tackle that even a gentle well timed cast with a bendable rod will reward with amazing distance. So I've been among these rods as long as most,going back to the Shaky Blue Metals,Century SREs and Shimanos.I've currently got a Vercelli 'Yellow Peril' that my daughter uses and a Shimano Aero Technium that Ill use if a situation or venue necessitates it.

On the Vercelli my daughter uses 0.32 F1 mono,to a .60 , 60lb BS leader. Not tapered, I'm FAR too tight to fork out for a leader at £2 apiece, there'd be a state funeral for any tackle I lost if I had to pay that much :dummy: :dummy: So its a regular leader with the usual few turns on the spool after the drop.The Vercelli has Low Rider rings
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The 1st of which is inverted - fitted back to front if you will - to present a flat ring with sloping arms pointing UP the rod instead of the reel.Hopefully this pic shows it OK
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The second ring is fitted normally. This is a very common set up on rods with Low Riders and one can only imagine a design stumbled upon in the search for the ideal ringing for braids etc.

My own Shimano rod has the 1st 2 rings inverted,after which they then revert to normal configuration. Again Low Riders. On this I use a larger F/S than my daughter on the Vercelli,down to comfort as much as anything.Anyway on mine I use a 0.32 mono to leader or 0.10mm 20lb b/s Braid and again standard leader. My concession to size of knot comes in the form of the tournament leader knot as a rule, tied right its strong on braid and not as big as my usual multi leader knot which IS bulky. Now I've had NO problems whatsoever hitting casts on either of these rods,either with mono or my own braid set ups ,both with standard diameter leaders. Both rods have comparatively small rings but again this hasn't caused a problem and I've had no wrap ups or crack offs with either set up.

Other rods youll all be familiar with carry 'standard' more upright rings,whatever the liner material etc the design is the same in principle.
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Now these rings I HAVE had problems with. I hasten to add ONLY with braid and never mono. The old thinking used to be that mono had the habit of forming coils that needed 'taming' in the cast,so vintage anglers will recall F/S dedicated rods carrying maybe only 4-5 guides,the butt ring being a monstrous thing of 50mm+ diameter ,fitted comparatively well up the rod from the reel seat to ensure the 3" loops coming off the spool had a distance to travel before encountering a ring. The rings then dropped in size but not prodigiously,even top rings were often whoppers. It worked though.

Blanks are a bit more refined now and not just the same rod with different ringing to make do. However I think a little thinking has gone amiss, this I reckon will sort itself out in time but we're at comparatively early days in converting UK anglers ! My own personal experiences of these were of occasional problems with crack offs. Not a LOT but but I found when I hit a cast a bit harder there was an increased risk of line wrapping round the butt guide and cracking off. 1st time it happened I thought the rod had snapped or at least ripped a ring off, if it'd been 60lb braid I think it might've!!! This ONLY happened with braid, with a mono loaded reel this immediately ceased. Switching to a Braid to tapered leader also removed the problem but I didn't find great success with the established knots for joining a .10 braid to a fine mono tapered line,knot strength wasn't great but I'm sure if Id delved Id have found a knot that DID hold good strength while still allowing the user to keep the benefits of only having a 0.10 - 0.35 joint.

Videos from Fuji show how line can wrap up like this on the upright guides. Once it gets wrong side of where its supposed to be it doesn't easily pull back right as the ring is so flat and vertical so braid, which is softer and has the potential to get out of control to a greater extent if its progress is hampered,can drop round the guide and knot, causing the inevitable crack off. Mono will stay in shape more and this seems to cope better with this type of ring, despite it being smaller in diameter than the olden days. I think this can be explained by the use of leaders these days,back in the 70s people very often fished 25-30lb straight through and didn't power cast so the much thicker diameter lines used would have formed much stiffer coils, current trends to 15lb lines necessitate a shock leader,once this is clear the rings cope admirably with the smaller lines.

Most people agree that leaders and in particular knots cause the main problem. Many of the strongest leader knots are either bulky or LONG,either one in my experience can seem to cause a sudden slowdown in progress of the line through the guides. Its still leaving the reel full pelt but if a sudden deceleration of the line being taken through the tip occurs, and it does with a heavy leader knot,then the guides need to deal with a sudden surplus of line before it wraps up and causes problems. The Low rider guides have been designed and tested to deal with F/S coils and proven to tame large lops BETTER than the old monster rings. Better still,the latest innovation from Fuji is the 'K' series guide or KWAG,
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. Looking like an Alconite ring that's been hammered forward,these have been extensively tested to find the right design to be compatible with braided lines. Theyre practically miraculous in the way they clear overloads of braid,making them brilliant for lads casting £25 plugs on spinning rods and avoiding problems on the beach. Though they appear on many Multi rods I'm not convinced of any advantages gained on this set up.No question as to the benefits to the F/S and braid user.

Many have switched to braid straight through. No probs with this on lure set ups though I do tend to have a very short bit of fluorocarbon between braid and lure . On a beach casting set up I wouldn't dare try a 0.15 braid straight through,I think Id be picking my index finger up off the floor and looking for a bag of frozen peas til I got it to hospital lol! Its very fine and even with a finger stall or casting glove it'd be uncomfortable . The trade off on going up in size is resistance in the cast. Losing the leader knot should ease transition through the rings without any clonky knot hitting them so hard but moving above 0.35 will pretty much negate any advantage gained in casting distance over mono. Of course the bite detection with braid is awesome so it may be worth sticking with just for this.

Loading your reel's important too,while people will advise you to fill your mono spool to busting to minimise resistance on the spool lip in the cast braid won't thank you for it. Personal preferences differ, some will tell you dampen the braid, load it under a preferred amount of tension, whatever works for you,Id just say don't over fill as vast amounts of line will literally fall from the spool if you're not careful. The lack of weight in the braid will more than compensate for a teensy under-fill and casts will still sail away.

So............if I was going out to buy a rod tomorrow to suit a F/S and BRAID set up what'd I go for? Brands aside,(Artico !! :)) I personally don't get a lot from a longer blank so I myself would be after a 425 or 14' rod,rung by preference with Fuji KWAGs. No brainer really,theyre SO good with braid and remove all need for sweating over what leader,what diameter braid etc etc,they cope with most anything in my own experience.

Failing availability of that Id settle for ringing with Low Riders,a dedicated and tested ring that I could rely on for trouble free casting.

I know a great many rods are built with BNHG/BMNAG/BNOG rings as in the pics at the top - or variations on this design. Not a problem but in my own mind would be to use a tapered leader or mono and be mindful of a bulky leader knot causing potential wraparounds on the 1st guide. Straight through braid should work but I've not really tried so bow to others' knowledge and experience here.

That's my take on it, if you've stuck with the epistle to this point cheers :thumb: I think it'd help a lot of lads to share problems and solutions as a fair few seem to be creeping into reports here and there.For example :

Is there a small, super strong leader knot that'll join a low diameter tapered leader to a fine braid without the braid cutting it or the inherent problems of joining low diameter lines- after all if your mainline broke mid spool you'd not risk a fish with a joint,you'd get it re-filled asap.

Whats your experience of straight through braid - what diameter do you use and how does it cast etc?

There's a lot more to buying a continental style rod than price as people's reports show,maybe this helps a tad,feel free to share your own experiences, there's no right or wrong!!

Re: Continental Rods/Fixed Spools & Braid - shared experienc

PostPosted: 02 May 2014, 13:36
by sharpey
Great article as ever Ian. I think I might have had a hand in starting this matter of braid over mono/ which leader knot etc etc.. Currently I've some 60bs on which I got from South America, well, Amazon ... Tried it on Tuesday on the Wall and a few facts you mentioned came true. I'd put it on as tight ( and wet) as you said using my Breakaway spooling set up, and it seemed to go on well. It's 0.400 diam so quite bulky if you like, but on the first two casts without rigs I hasten to add, ( on a Shakespeare Fidelity fs)I did have what looked a net curtain hanging on the line... All cleared off with a bit of unpicking and scissoring ..?? and afterwards, no problems in the cast. Now I don't welly my casts as per Blanko, Birdsnest and others, but I was getting a decent distance at the end of the day... On my other rod ( both are Sunset Demencias) I've a Shimano Beastmaster with 18lb mono and a tapered leader.. Do I get significantly more distance with that against the braid..??? Hmmmmm.... Bite detection ( the couple I had on Tuesday...) seemed excellent on the braid. I listened to a couple of the lads experiences of braid on here and followed suit. Happy so far....

Re:Continental Rods/Fixed Spools & Braid - shared experience

PostPosted: 02 May 2014, 15:44
by nightfisher
Cracking post Blanko :cheer: :cheer: :cheer: My problem is I don,t want to fish braid all the time.and I thought you were supposed to use a leader so you didn,t have a crack off.Just be my luck I,d take someones eye out with a stray lead.
Weve all seen the holiday fisherman who has no shockleader throwing leads everywhere.
Anyway I,ve decided to alter my Sunset by putting minimas on it .rather than blow loads of money selling it second hand.
Hopefully I and it ends up a rod I like and a keeper. Time will tell

Re:Continental Rods/Fixed Spools & Braid - shared experience

PostPosted: 02 May 2014, 18:30
by Blanko
The thing with the straight through Braid,shouldve said really, is you're using 50/60lb or more B/S without getting anywhere near mono diameters, I think Whiplash Crystal is about 0.21 on 60lb b/s or more so its mega LD, you'd probably get to 100 lb without getting to 0.30 :fishing: You'd just have to watch if pulling for a break out of a snag!!! With a 0.25 line of course it'd be imperative to check the line every cast as the slightest abrasion would impack on its integrity but there'd be no reason to attach a leader to a straight through 60lb braid.

Id certainly never condone anyone fishing a 15lb b/s with no leader though !!!!

I personally use a leader on braid because I've found it more pleasant to cast and have found it OK but it wasn't on BNHGs or Minimas. I think people's logic toward Minimas is a little skewed on the braid,I'm not certain theyre the best braid ring - but I've been wrong plenty of times before !!!!!! The thing people quote about Minimas is because there's no liner they have a bigger internal diameter a la the old FS rung rods. This probably won't make enough difference for braid with a standard mono leader,the smaller Low Riders should deal with braid to mono better really but Minimas should be good with tapered leaders, the smaller knot seems to combat the clonking through the rings that causes slowdown and allows coils to get round the 1st guide.The actual ring size seems to have far less effect than the design but on design alone I think Id go for KWAGs every time. Theyre the biz , I think Rushy put up a vid on site somewhere from Fuji showing how they throw off coils that would ordinarily wrap and snap.

I've got multi rods with minimas and though I don't like the tip rings much the main guides are lightweight and good quality, I see why tournament lads like them :thumb:

Re: Continental Rods/Fixed Spools & Braid - shared experienc

PostPosted: 02 May 2014, 20:28
by mac
Good read Blanko like you said the problem arose when when you powered the casts , that was the cause of the 2 breaks i had so mono v braid set up continues along with shockleader (tapered or not) couple of things to try 1st

Re: Continental Rods/Fixed Spools & Braid - shared experienc

PostPosted: 02 May 2014, 20:48
by craggers
mac wrote:Good read Blanko like you said the problem arose when when you powered the casts , that was the cause of the 2 breaks i had so mono v braid set up continues along with shockleader (tapered or not) couple of things to try 1st

I don't no how you do it I've not cracked of once in 5 months its not so much the power as the smoothness of the cast slow in fast out .

Now I've tempted fate you just know whats going to happen tomoz :nonono: should have kept my Gob shut .

Just serviced my 7HT mag hope its gone back together right no bits left over :lol:
Big fish bait going out tomoz

Re: Continental Rods/Fixed Spools & Braid - shared experienc

PostPosted: 02 May 2014, 21:16
by craggers
A cracking Post yet again Ian it gets the brain working overtime, my rods are Trabucco they have loads of surf casting demos to watch been trying to adapt my casting to mimic what I've seen :lol: not quite there yet :lol: :lol:

Re: Continental Rods/Fixed Spools & Braid - shared experienc

PostPosted: 03 May 2014, 17:03
by Rushy
Blanko wrote:............. The actual ring size seems to have far less effect than the design but on design alone I think Id go for KWAGs every time. Theyre the biz , I think Rushy put up a vid on site somewhere from Fuji showing how they throw off coils that would ordinarily wrap and snap..........

This is the video you're on about Ian.......very interesting and informative and I understand now why my sunsets have got the large first ring 'back to front' :thumb:

Although I've got a couple of sunset Ocean Peaks, I'm not really using them as they should be. I plumped for the 14ft version mainly because it felt 'right', I'm using a multi on mine and with 15lb mono. Although I have used tapered leaders I'm currently using 60lb 'normal' leader and haven't really encountered the clunking through the rings too badly, perhaps that's due to using a multiplier?
I've not tried braid on a fixed spool yet and feel a bit of a fraud of not doing so, I hope to rectify that next week :thumb:

Re: Continental Rods/Fixed Spools & Braid - shared experienc

PostPosted: 03 May 2014, 19:13
by craggers
Good demo Rushy now we will all be checking what eyes are on are rods .

just looked ,double foot fujis had to put my glasses on its stamped in the leg on all the eyes might be
why I've not had any crack offs ??? tried recreating the tangle and they do seem to throw the tangle off :D

Re: Continental Rods/Fixed Spools & Braid - shared experienc

PostPosted: 03 May 2014, 19:38
by Blanko
Cheers Dave, that's the rascal. Demonstrates perfectly how K guides - whether single or double legged - work to throw off loops. For this reason that's the ring Id look for if I had choice on a FS rod,my lure rods have them :) My own FS set up had Low Riders with the 1st 2 inverted and the sloping legs act very much the same as the K guide being angled forward to prevent a coil getting a firm hold on an upright ring.

All it needs is a slowdown through the guides with braid and the momentum off the spool can cause this looping wind will exacerbate it,stepping down to a tapered leader to drop the knot size so it doesn't catch and cause the same slowdown should wipe the problem out through 'normal' guides :thumb:

With a multi - I think theyre really well suited to these rods for some casting styles,the low riders align really well with the reel height, the easy loading makes for great casting and with the birdie probs on multis occurring at the spool there's little to go wrong in the cast. I had line probs on my FS one day with a tapered line so chucked a 7ht on and it was soooooooooo easy to cast . I think the more I see people using Multis on them theyre as well suited to the multi as the FS as long as you can generate the power.Dave gets really good distances with this set up, I've seen him cast and even with baits it flies :fishing: