Spare Parts: Please don’t expect me to notice if you forget to order enough snakes or tips for your rod, or if you ordered something that is entirely untraditional, even garish. I am neither a mind reader nor a dictator of fashion. I don’t second guess rodmakers on the snake & tiptop quantities they order because a lot of folks make single tip rods (and some still order ferrules in whole sets to have that spare male on hand); also, many makers use snake patterns that I would never dream of using, e.g., at the extreme end of unusual snake habits, one fellow only orders #3 snakes. Lots of other makers have built a stash of snakes and tips over the years, so they don’t order in what would appear to be a regular set, regardless of what they’re making.
Once you settle on a guide type you like, it’s really worth squirreling away at least three of the very large/small guide sizes, and six of the middle range sizes. By taking a lesson from the foresightful squirrel, by creating a nest, or hibernaculum, of snakes, you’ll always have a spare if you need one. For tips, at least two of each size across the range you normally use, e.g., 4.5/64 – 5.5/64, should cover you entirely. If you want to be especially cautious, add two tips in the sizes one up and one down from what you normally use. Expect the unexpected. Spares are great when you decide the rod could use another guide to cast better; when you get a lemon from me (every once in a blue moon I’ll ship a guide that fell into the wrong bin, or was mis-made at the factory, say with a short or lumpy foot…I’ll always make this right for you, but that doesn’t fix the delay in making it right); when you lose a guide in that 1970’s shag rug down in the basement; when your cat plays with your pile of guides; or when your neighbor walks over, hands you a good beer, and asks, “I know you make rods…any chance you have a tip that would fit this old rod my grandpa gave me?” Spares are good, cheap insurance against needing to place emergency orders.
If you want to know lots more of my thoughts on snakes & tips, check out the Ramble that has become more than Just A Few Guide Notes.