A standard drift rod flexs with the eyes facing up taking up the stress of casting and fighting a fish over the top side of the rod. A centre pin rod is designed to flex and take up the stress of casting and fighting a fish with the eyes facing down.
This is a bit of a bit of an over simplification, but if you are building a custom centre pin rod, you have to find the natural flex pattern of the blank before locating the guides.
Also, grip is different too and possibly reel seats. Some pin rods have a sliding reel seat which can move up and down the cork grip for adjustablility while others are fixed. Drift rods traditionally have a trigger grip, pin rods don't as they would get in the way of the pin reel.
They are the same rods but each rod has backbone and as the other posts have mentioned it is just a matter of what side you mount the guides and reel seat...like back in the day when you could buy sage blanks there was always a little white dot on the butt section and tip section right at the farrel that marked where the backbone was...If your ever at the fishing show in march look for Brian Babcock who now works for sage...He will show what the backbone of a rod is and explain in more detail the difference in rods for you. Hope that helps you!!!
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