Guideline are a Swedish tackle company who first entered the UK salmon fishing scene in 2004, initially this was with the great value 3piece LPXE an Le Cie model ranges and now has grown to cover rods from around £250 to over £800.

Ive had the chance to long term test and review a rod nearer the bottom end of the price range, the model is the 4 piece Guideline Exceed 13’7 – 9/10 – 33g/37g.

First Impressions

The rod is supplied in a brown cloth rod bag and a smart brown cordura covered rod tube with Guideline logo.

A 4 piece olive green blank with over-fit joints and alignment markers. There are 9 snake rings and the usual two stripping rings whipped on with a matching green thread, there is a very subtle metallic green highlight to each whipping. The varnish work on the whippings is to a high standard for such a reasonably priced rod and more than comparable with many rods costing much more. A hayfork tip ring completes the ring set.

The handle on this rod is 540mm overal in length, it is as I would expect from Guideline with the rod being aimed as the shooting head caster, for this purpose it is perfect. The upper handle has a bit of a waist towards the top and is trimmed with 5mm of EVA foam just below a bright nickel winding check, this protects the cork in areas prone to damage. The handle starts off at 28.6mm at the top and tapers down to its narrowest point of 23.75mm 55mm from the top, it then tapers back to the reel seat at 32.3mm where it is again trimmed with EVA .

The reel seat is black anodised aluminium and 90mm overall, it has two locking nuts and will accept a reel foot up to 65mm long, this is OK for today’s modern reels with standardised fittings – older reels such as BFR Magnums and System 2 etc will not fit.

The lower handle is a good shape, tapering down from the reel seat at 33.2mm to its narrowest point of 25.3mm about 37mm from its end. Again both ends are trimmed with EVA to protect against wear. The quality of the cork was OK, quite a lot of filler, something I have noticed about most Guideline rods, the handle is a good shape and comfortable in use.

Overall this is a good looking rod that is very well finished for the price of £289.99

Field Test

I have tried this rod with a number of different times with the following lines.

Rio AFS 9/10 float – 38g
Rio AFS 10/11 float – 42g
Century Stealth 56’ 9/10 – 42g
Guideline Hov/Int 9/10 SC – 36g
Guideline S2/S3 9/10 – 35g
Airflo Compact Skagit 600gr & 660gr

I started with the Rio AFS 9/10. As I strung the rod I noticed the tip felt quite soft, after my first roll cast to straighten my line it was obvious the tip was very soft indeed. This came as quite a surprise as I was expecting this rod to load quite deeply and it didn’t. After a few jump rolls and other spey casts I found I had quite a fast action rod with a very soft tip, it reminded me of the Sage TCR’s of a few years past and to be honest I was quite disappointed, I had hoped for so much more. For some reason (probably things I had read) I was expecting this to be a more through action rod, of course that was my fault for assuming and not the rods.

It was clear to me while playing around with the 9/10 AFS that this rod was not going to be suitable for a skagit line and I wondered just how well it would deal with the longer spey line? Well 20 minutes later I had the answer and about what I expected, this is a rod for shooting heads and in my honest opinion nothing else. The weight of the skagit 600 (which is on the light side of 9/10 skagit’s) had me concerned I would snap the tip clean off this rod, it struggled to even lift the head off the water – I didn’t bother with the 660 for obvious reasons. The 56’ speyline was workable but not a real pleasure to cast, the reason for this is that longer lines need the energy transfer from the lower part of the rod blank and to make this happen I had to push the rod very hard, harder than I think should be necessary. The soft tip wasn’t lifting the line well and it gave up to early, this forced me to work harder. To say I was initially disappointed in this rod would be an understatement considering the good reviews I had heard and my initial wrong assumption on its action. At about this time my mobile called me away from the river so further testing would have to wait.

A few days later I went out again, this time armed only with the shooting heads.

Again I started with the 9/10 AFS and a different mindset, just to look at the rod as a shooting head tool. After 15 minutes the rod was starting to grow on me, with the shorter head there is much less need for the rod to bend so deeply and this suited the Exceed. I found that the soft tip gave for really tight loops as even with minimal effort on my part it bent out of the way to give that all important SLTP (straight line tip path) that allows us to cast the tight loops many so often crave. The 9/10 AFS matched the rod well and casts well beyond my regular fishing distances were easy enough for me to make. I felt the rod was able to cope with short underhand style casting strokes but was equally at home with top hand dominant, more traditional strokes and anywhere in between. I found the 10/11 AFS was just too heavy and again I felt if a powerful caster was aggressive with a heavier head the tip would not be happy and things could end in tears.

I moved on to the two Guideline sinking heads. The shorter S2/S3 was easy to lift from the water as it was only 36’ long and with a 5’ poly-leader it cast well enough although maybe a little light for my liking. The Hov/Int went very well but then I think it is a nicer casting line anyway, again possibly just a bit too light for my liking. I do wonder about Guidelines line ratings of 33g-37g especially with their own taper shooting heads and I would seriously doubt if a 33g Guideline head would load this rod without too much effort on the part of the caster.


I think this rod will be popular. It looks great, the standard of finish is very high for a rod with a price range of £259 - £299, in the hand it looks like it should have cost more. Guideline are a well established brand with a cool edge to them, this will appeal to many. As a rod for shooting heads it does a good job if your looking for a rod that wont break the bank. It will be easy enough for a novice to cast and it will reward a good caster with long smooth casts, overall a good product if used for the right application.

The rod was supplied for review and can be purchased from Angling Active.

To discuss this review click here