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In 1993, Daryl Whitehead encouraged me to start making snake guides as the offerings in the market had numerous quality issues. We studied the market and found that the guides available were made with two heavy wire diameters. I was aware the heavy components would affect even the best-designed rods. With this in mind I assigned a wire diameter to each guide based on its location on the rod blank. A 2/0 =.022, 1/0=.024, 1=.026, 2=.028, 3=.030 and 4,5,6 were made with .032 wire. The first generation of guides were made with high-carbon steel. We would deburr the ends of the feet with deburring wheels, and my wife Susan and our other ladies asked if I could do the process some other way as the fingernails we being buffed off. I invested in stamping dies that put a convex radius on the top of the foot and a taper in the toe. I was a hero for a short time. These innovations allowed each guide foot to be the same length and made thread wrapping simpler. We effectively lowered the guide to the blank, thus reducing weight because less epoxy was being used. The effect of reducing wire diameters helped to make for improved rod designs.
Our original design incorporated a teardrop helix which affects line speed, distance, and accuracy, so I decided a round helix would be a far better design. During this same period, we developed a forming machine that would replace guides made by hand with hand dies. While it worked well, it was a pneumatic circuit with many manifolds, air valves, and fittings. It was a terrific design but changing from one size to another was inefficient, so we looked at a digital solution, which we use today.
We were very pleased with our original design, which performed well for the bamboo market; however, it was abundantly clear that the composite and glass rods provided us with an opportunity to use our creativity and innovations. We found that our competitors ground the feet of their guides with sharp points, the feet were seldom the same length, and most importantly, they were flat-stamped. It is difficult to orient a flat foot to the radius of a rod with a round cross-section. We went to work and created the Universal Guide which incorporates a concave radius on the bottom of the foot a convex radius on the top of the foot and a taper in the toe. These enhancements allow for better guide alignment as they are self-homing, and with their lower profile it, allows for less epoxy to be used, thus optimizing the rod design.
The US Patent office issued a patent for this design as it could be used on a rod bland or a flat blank, thus calling it Universal. We invested in a superior series of stainless steel for its corrosion resistance and the fact that it was heat treatable. Unlike our competitors, we sent our guides to an independent laboratory for Salt Fog testing and published testing data.
We were aware of the serious nature of dumping contaminants and heavy metals into the groundwater in the various countries where foreign guides are made. The EU in Europe banned a number of heavy metals, including chromium, through guide lines set by Rohs. The EPA had similar findings in 2012, so I decided to look for opportunities and developed our ECO Coating. We have had it tested for surface hardness by a metallurgical company, and the data is on our website. It is Rohs. and EPA compliant , we have been able to develop higher line speeds thus giving more distance in the cast.
Snake Brand was the leader in the development of light-wire snakeguides, that complement light-lined rods. Originally this series of guides was developed for the Scott Radian Rod, which took best of show in Los Vegas I Cast Show. We decided to make a 1/0,1,2,3 with.024 wire and a number for with .026 wire; this allowed for a delicate presentation for a dry fly and quick recovery of the rod.
Subsequent to the Light Wire guides, we created a spey series. We produce a 4,5,6, with .038 wire to help with the loading of spey lines to make those amazing casts.
Numerous people have asked, “Why change the Helix's Geometry from a Tear Drop to a Round Helix?” The teardrop limits the distance a line can cast. I recall times that a cast would just stop in the air and fall to the water. We found that on the double haul stroke, the line came into contact with the guides on the entire length of the rod, thus reducing line speed and distance. A teardrop guide will ice up in cold weather.
Snake Brands Round Helix allows for more line speed and distance and improved accuracy in that the line does not come into contact with the guide.
Snake Brand has been the leader in creativity and innovation. We have always been committed to Quality, Uniformity and Consistency and we believe World Class Rods deserve World Class Guides made in the USA.
Snake Brand is a partnership, a passion, and an innovation that began in Newberg, Oregon. It is common for rod builders to spend countless hours honing their snake guides to fit their handcrafted, precision fly rods, but Mike McCoy saw a need to spend less time grinding away at factory-made components and more time on the river. As a result, McCoy created snake guides that fit flat on each fly rod with little or no foot preparation. Extensive research and hours of design went into creating the first Snake Brand Original snake guide. Rod builders responded immediately and asked for more. His introduction of the Snake Brand Universal snake guide presented the first snake guides featuring a concave radius on the bottom of the foot, allowing the guide to fit the contour of a graphite fly rod.
Snake Brand is consistently looking for new innovations and products to provide to our customers. Our goal is to provide high-quality fly rod components and outstanding customer service to the fly rod building community that not only improves the overall quality and performance of the fly rod but saves the rod builder both time and money—time and money that is saved for the passion of the sport itself.