A guide without a ceramic insert is an anomaly now-a-days. The technology is proven. A smooth hard surface for fishing line to run across decreases friction(heat) and reduces wear from abrasive lines. Each guide manufacturer has several ceramic insert options and they all call them different names.
A Basic Understanding
Ceramic inserts are measured by the manufacturer according to hardness. The harder the material, the more abrasive resistant the guide is going to be. Less friction will always translate into longer casts. The harder ceramic inserts will have a base of either titanium or zirconium which makes them lighter than aluminum oxide based inserts.
“Less friction will always translate into longer casts”
A harder ceramic insert also has its cons. The harder the material, the more brittle it is. Bashing a super hard insert into the gunnel of the boat is going to leave you replacing expensive guides more often. Generally, the harder ceramics carry a higher price tag as well.
If you choose to go with a low hardness level ceramic insert, you are running the risk of an abrasive line(braided line, wire) wearing and grooving the guides. A less abrasive line(monofilament and fluorocarbon) will have no negative effect on these inserts. Though they will not groove, they still carry more friction which decreases performance.
Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular ceramic inserts:
Silicon Carbide (SiC) – One of Fuji’s hardest and most popular insert materials. It is a titanium based insert which is very light. SiC can withstand any braided or super line without grooving. SiC has been advertised to even be able to handle light wire line.
Nanolite – American Tackle’s Zirconia based guide ring. This is a high strength guide which allows for less material and reduced weight. Can easily handle braided lines and super lines.
Alconite – Very popular Aluminum Oxide based insert due to its light weight, durability, and hardness. This is considered to be a very versatile guide. Will handle braided and super lines.
NanoPlasma – American Tackle’s hardest guide. It is a Titanium Nitride base with a Titanium Oxide coating. Very similar in hardness as SiC.
Torzite – The creme dela creme when it comes to inserts. Fuji advertises this material is stronger and more flexible than SiC which allows for less friction and a thinner, lighter more durable guide. This ring is also at the top end of the price spectrum.
Choosing the Right Insert
In a perfect world, we are all royalty with bookoos of cash to spend on fishing rods, but unfortunately, we are not(at least I’m not). You need to keep your expectations, fishing style, and budget in mind. If you, like me, are clumsy and seem to throw around your rod every time you fish, you may want to consider a more durable guide. If you know you are going to be hammering down on some drag pulling fish, you may have to bite the bullet and spend the extra cash on a super hard insert.