An Acid Rod or "Spiral Wrapped Rod" is a conventional or casting rod who's guides start out on top of the
blank and then rotate around the rod leaving the final guides and tip under the blank. In a nutshell, this
guide placement reduces torque allowing you to fight larger fish on lighter tackle with less fatigue.
Here are several definitions covering variations of the name, taken from the rodbuilding.org glossary:
Acid Wrap -
"Another term for the spiral wrap. The term originated on the West Coast when one proponent of the wrap
"Jim Racela" was said to have been on "acid" when he wrapped his rod in spiral fashion."
Spiral Wrap -
"A method for taking the line to the bottom of the rod on conventional casting type rods. Results in a rod
which will not twist under load and is inherently stable."
Robert's Wrap -
"Another term for the spiral wrap named after rod builder Chuck Roberts, another proponent of spiral
wrapping for casting rods."
A VERY GOOD explanation and diagram is available on the ALL AMERICAN ROLLER GUIDES website.
See it by clicking HERE.
Under load, conventional "top guide" rods have a natural tendency to twist or torque, trying to turn the tip
downward. While few have ever had a rod flip over in their hand during a fight, many HAVE felt the fatigue
of a long fight with a large fish due to their "death grip" on their rod. Not many even realize how hard they're
squeezing their grip while fighting a "big one". That's just what a big fish does... It tries to rip the rod from
Those who trade off the line twist associated with spinning reels for their castability and "ease of use" don't
feel that twisting that we die hard conventional rod users do. With the tip and guides on the bottom of their
blanks, they have a more stable fishing platform than we do.
You'll also notice that a heavy 7' spinning rod often has fewer guides than a conventional rod of the same
size. This is because with their guides UNDER the blank, they don't need nearly as many guides to keep
the line OFF of the blank. Picture a 7' conventional rod fully loaded. It has to have at LEAST eight guides
to keep the line from touching the blank. The same size spinning rod on the other hand, could do the same
job with six to seven guides while still evenly distributing the load on the blank. More importantly, guides
under the blank can be smaller, lighter and sit closer to the blank as they don't need ring height to keep the
line up off the blank. A "guides on top" conventional casting rod needs a taller, usually much heavier
"double Foot" guide to keep the line up off the blank when it's loaded.
Less guides are better? In most ways, the answer is YES. Fewer guides mean less weight over the length
of the blank, especially the tip section. Less weight added to the blank makes a more sensitive, more
responsive rod. You still need enough guides under the rod to distribute the load evenly and maximize the
blank's available power. On a 7' rod, this can normally be done with one less guide if Spiral Wrapped rather
than wrapped "guides on top". Combine that weight savings with the weight saved by not having to use a
heavier "Double Foot" and you've saved a considerable amount of weight. Believe it or not, a weight
savings of only a couple of grams can make a big difference.
My first experience with an Acid Rod came by way of a Marina operator on Upper Twin Lake in Bridgeport
California. We were deep trolling for Brown Trout using both lead line and down riggers. With about ten
"colors' out on one of my rods, the rod suddenly flipped upside down and slid out of it's rod holder, turning
into a fading 'blip" on the depth finders. "Buh-bye".
I still had that "look" on my face as i was pulling the boat out of the water that afternoon. The Old Man
running the marina took one look at me and said "the fish won today, huh?". I explained my agitated look
telling him what had happened and how I'd lost a favorite reel that I worked all summer for to buy as a teen.
He looked into my boat, picked up one of my two piece rods and twisted the top half 180 degrees, saying
"try that". Had he not looked like a seventy five year old cross between a Drill Sergeant and a Woodshop
Teacher, I might have suggested HE was on acid! He tried to explain "the tip should face down" theory to
me and I politely listened (or pretended to).
After I launched the next morning and we started to drop our trolling spread, I got to the rod that the old boy
had turned around. Thinking "what the hell', I left the top half turned around and started dropping line. I
was so amazed at the different feel that the rod had, I just kept dropping line and soon felt the knot from the
Dacron backer bumping it's way through the guides. Twelve colors (120 yards) of lead core out, and no
twist what so ever. The rod sat perfectly stable in the cheap clamp-on rod holder.
I saw the old boy again that afternoon on the ramp. I kind of chuckled, telling him "you were right about that
tip down thing". He just nodded with an "I told ya so" look on his face. As I was tying the boat down to the
trailer, he came out of the Tackle Shop carrying what looked like a 9' Salmon rod. He said, "I hate coffee
grinders (spinning reels) but their rods work better. I've been wrapping mine half and half for years",
showing me the spiral wrap on the rod.
Time passed and I more or less forgot all about it until years later at a Fishing Show, when I watched as a
custom rod builder pitched his spiral wrapped rods to a perspective client. The builder took what looked to
be a 30lb casting rod and placed the butt into a set of bearings that he had installed in a fixture, holding the
rod at a 45 degree angle to the floor. He then tied off the line to a desk and began cranking on the reel,
loading the blank. When the blank began to load, it flipped over in the bearings. EVERY TIME. Just to
make sure I wasn't seeing slight of hand, I asked if I could try it. This wasn't smoke and mirrors, it WORKED.
I couldn't build one for myself fast enough after that! One fish on that rod and I was hooked for life.
Though they've been around since the early 1900's, not many fisherman have seen, let alone tried an Acid
Rod until recently. With companies such as All American Roller Guides recognising the advantages of
spiral guide placement and developing products FOR it, the Acid Rod's popularity is on the rise.
Ten years ago, not many Custom Rod Builders had heard of an Acid Rod or Spiral Wrapped Rod, let alone
seen one. That's not the case anymore, however only a small percentage of "professionals" have educated
themselves on the process. This group of Professionals stays on the cutting edge of new materials, new
technologies, new techniques, etc... They are well traveled, well read, open minded "industry leaders", and I
honestly can't think of a single one that doesn't use or offer a Spiral Wrap in some if not all of their
Conventional Rod Applications.
What does your local Tackle Shop/Rod Builder say? Some will honestly tell you that they haven't heard of
it, or don't know much about it. However a VERY common reply from Builders unfamiliar with the Spiral
Wrap when asked if they can build it is, "I don't build those because they don't work", or more commonly, "I
don't build those because they don't cast as well". Chances are, these builders haven't educated
themselves on the process of Spiral Wrapping and simply find it easier to tell you that it doesn't work than to
spend some time studying the process. Why? Because they're lazy and you'll believe them! After all,
who's the "Professional Builder" and who's the Fisherman here?
Ask this same "Pro" if he has a preference between a "Simple Spiral" and a "Revolver Spiral" on a given
blank. Chances are, he'll just get mad at this point because he hasn't a clue. Ask that same question of
any of the top ten "Pro's" in the world and you'll more than likely get very strong opinions on exactly why one
or the other is better suited for the application. Top Ten in the World VS. Local Tackle guy's opinion. You
Further reading, testing, building instructions and Rod "recipes" can be found using the links on the top
right side of this page in Yellow type. Using the archives on many of the Internet's Rod Building Forums will
turn up more reading and information than you probably have time for! Use their search features to search
"Acid Rod", "Acid Wrap" or "Spiral Wrap". Any question or doubt that you may have on the subject has
more than likely been asked and answered there several hundred times!