Bamboo Fly Rods

I have been fishing split bamboo fly rods for nearly three decades, and have been making them since 1999. I am self-taught at this craft, although it is an extension of my fine woodworking career.

Each rod is made completely by hand, from the cane splitting process to the finishing. Many are enhanced with hand engraved metal parts.

Constructing a bamboo rod is an exacting process. A culm of bamboo is split and straightened; the nodes reduced; then heat-tempered to remove moisture and stabilize the material.

Each of six strips is then planed by hand to a triangular cross-section of a specific taper, deviating by not more than .001 inch. When glued together (with the rind still on the outside), these rods represent the epitome of non-synthetic fly rod construction, featuring strength, elasticity, and supple delivery.

One will find bamboo slower than most synthetic rods. I feel that the reduced tempo allows for a more measured, delicate presentation. One is able to “steer” the final approach, resulting in a more accurate cast.

My fly rods are built to my own custom tapers as well as historic tapers from Jim Payne, Paul Young, and Everett Garrison. The rods are given three coats of varnish before the hardware is attached. I make all of the reel seat hardware from nickel silver and wood. I blue the ferrules, and rub the finish to a dull sheen in order to minimize reflective glare that can spook a fish.

The snake guides are wrapped with white silk, which becomes transparent when varnished. The stripping guide ferrules, tip, and cork check are wrapped in brown silk, and are accented with contrasting vintage silk.