How to Replace Rod Guides

Rod guides support and guide the fishing line. Positioned to contain and transfer force from the fishing line to the rod, the guides do not come under much load. Abuse, misuse or simply the effects of time and corrosion can weaken and break rod guides and necessitate replacement. Size the rod guides exactly as the original manufacturer did, unless a change in the "action" is desired. The action may be stiffened by replacing the old guides with smaller, lighter ones or softened by adding heavier guides.

Cut the old rod guide windings along the top of the rod foot. Peel off the old windings by hand and lightly sand the area smooth. Do not cut into the rod with either the blade or the sandpaper or you may critically weaken the rod and result in catastrophic failure under a load.

Place the new guide in the same location as the old guide. Tape one foot down to the rod to hold it securely during the wrapping operation.

Begin wrapping the rod with the guide thread 1/4 inch away from the end of the rod foot. Tuck the end of the thread under the first wrap and allow the subsequent turns to overwrap the end and hold it securely. Keep a constant tension on the wrapping thread through this whole operation.

Wrap the thread to within about 8 turns of being complete. Make a loop with the 6-inch piece of heavy thread and lay it parallel to the rod and over the wraps. Continue winding the last few turns of rod thread on and over the loop. Pass the end of the rod thread through the loop and pull the loop, and the end, back and under the wraps. The loop will come free and leave the end of your winding hanging out toward the center of the wrap. Carefully trim off the tail with the razor knife. Coat the new wrap with a clear protective coating. Remove the masking tape and repeat the process on the other side of the guide.


  • Clear fingernail polish makes an excellent clear coat and will hold up well to the flexing and impacts common in rod guide areas.