02 Finding the Spine

What do I need for this lesson?

Components Checklist:
  • Rod Blank
Tools Checklist:
  • Spine Finder
Materials Checklist:
  • Tape
  • Chinagraph Pencil

Finding The Spline

All fishing rod blanks today are manufactured by wrapping the rod material around a steel mandrel. This will produce a hollow tube. It is near impossible to produce a perfect tube as the overlaps and joins in the material create unevenness in the wall of the blank. This results in a soft side and stiff side commonly referred to as the spine of the blank. Think of the spine like your backbone. You have a lot more strength bending straight forward than you do to the side.

All fishing rods have a spine, some can even have more than one. There should always be one that is more defined than the others. Some store bought rods are not built on spine and by building on spine we are building a better quality better performing rod. A rod that is built on spine will have the most lifting power, will last longer and cast further.

On a two piece or multi piece rod you must locate the spine on each piece.


  1. Using the Traditional Method:
    1. Place some tape around the middle of the rod blank and stick the two ends together to make a kind of flag. This is used as an indicator so you can see how the blank is turning. Alternatively use a Chinagraph pencil. It can be wiped off easily with a damp cloth.
    2. With one hand support the top of the rod and hold it at about a 30 degree angle to the ground/table where you are working.
    3. With your other hand apply some pressure onto the blank about 1/3 of the way up and using your fingers twist or turn the rod. You should feel the blank pop into a position that it is hard to twist or turn out of. This is the spine of the blank. Repeat the process a few times to make sure you have found the strongest or most pronounced spine (the hardest to twist out of.)
    4. The outside of this curve is the spine of the blank. Make a mark on the inside of the curve using either tape or a chino graph pencil
    5. We mark the inside of the curve (opposite of the spine) because we are building a spinning rod. All the guides and reel seat will align with the inside of the curve therefore it makes sense to mark there.

    6. Because you are building a 2 piece rod you need to repeat the process with both pieces of the blank. The process is identical.
  2. The fishing rod can hold a lot of tension when it is bent. Wear eye protection. Be aware of your surroundings and those standing near you in case you lose control of the rod

  3. Using a U Build Rods Spine Finder
    1. Insert one end of the rod blank through the spine finder.
    2. Support the spine finder on a table or insert into a holder.
    3. Apply some pressure to the end of the blank and turn in your fingers and it will roll into the natural curve 100% accurate.
    4. The outside of this curve is the spine of the blank. Make a mark on the inside of the curve using either tape or a chino graph pencil

It is always good practice to repeat the process a few times to ensure that you have found the most pronounced spine.
If you are building a casting rod (overhead reel) the rod guides will go on the opposite side i.e. the outside of the curve or on the spine.