Roller guides have long been favored on trolling rods, and today's new lightweight titanium roller guides are showing up on rods meant for a variety of light-tackle applications. But many anglers think these guides cast poorly and don't belong on light gear. To find out if they really do compromise castability, I went to Greg Stotesbury, of Aftco, a major manufacturer of rod guides and fishing accessories. Few people in the nation know more about roller guides, but even Stotesbury wondered what would happen if we put identical rod and reel combos - one with titanium roller guides and one with ring guides - through a side-by-side casting contest.
Our test rods, two Penn Pro Sabres, 7' glass-and-graphite rods, were matched up with graphite 525 MAG reels. Each rig got a one-ounce leadhead with a 5" tail tied to the end, to simulate actual fishing conditions. Both of us took 10 casts with each rig, carefully measured the distances, and wetted down the lines between each cast.
After compiling the numbers and working out the averages, we found that Stotesbury's average casting distance was 138.45' with rings and 135.01' with titanium rollers. A minute difference, to be sure. My casts, however, ultimately went farther, from 133.98' with rings to 139.79' with rollers. So which is better? Our results indicate that personal casting technique could push the mark either way - but not very far in either direction.