How to Find the Backbone in a Flyfishing Rod

How to Find the Backbone in a Flyfishing Rod
Flyfishing rods are the tools of choice for many anglers when fishing for a variety of freshwater and saltwater fish species. Taking their passion for the sport to the next level, some anglers choose to make their own custom rods. The rod blank is the starting point for building a rod. It is necessary to determine where the backbone, or spine, is located because this will determine where you will place the line guides when building your fly rod.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fly rod blank
  • Hard surface floor
Step 1
Hold a fly rod blank by the larger end, which also known as the butt end. The rod handle and reel seat will be attached to this end during the building process. Hold the rod with your dominant hand and extend your index finger forward so that it rests on the rod blank.
Step 2
Locate a solid hard surface where you can test the rod. Use a tile, linoleum or wood floor surface for the test. Avoid concrete or other coarse surfaces that could scratch or damage the rod blank.
Step 3
Lower the rod tip until it touches the hard surface. The rod blank should be extended directly in front of you at this point. Apply downward pressure with your index finger. This should cause the rod to bow slightly, and several inches of the rod near the tip should contact the hard surface.
Step 4
Loosen your grip on the rod so that you loosely hold the rod blank. Allow the rod to roll to one side or the other as you continue to provide slight downward pressure with your index finger. The rod will naturally roll to a point and stop. At this point, the soft side of the rod will be facing upward with the spine on the bottom.
Step 5
Mark the inside soft line of the fly rod with a permanent marker. You will install line guides on the soft, or opposite side, of the spine. This will allow for greater support and strength when the rod is loaded with weight from a fighting fish.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.