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Bamboo Fly Rod Project

EB Newfarm

Cane? I'm Able!
Not sure what I have got myself into, but I am now up to my elbows with trying to build a bamboo fly rod. I have fished them for a while and was planning to build one with an experienced friend over the winter, but now, due to covid, I am trying by reading books and watching youtube videos. There is a steep learning curve! I am not sure of anything that I am doing! I am only in the early stages, but by spring, I hope to have a rod that can be used. Couple of hours every night should get me there -right?
Progress so far:
Have split the culms into 18 pieces with a few spares.
Filed nodes and charred the enamel
Working on straightening the strips
Have had to build tools that I could not find
Going to learn how to sharpen plane blades - It is very different than sharpening straights.
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Very nice! I grew up fly fishing with the old timers in The Catskills, near my home. They all were born early 1900's, they fished with some of the finest hand built Tonkin fly rods. Usually double taper, 8 ft to 9 ft, three to six weight. Weight Forward for the bigger waters. East and West branches upper Delaware, Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Neversink, Esopus. I fished with an old Orvis 8.5 ft 4/5 weight. Post up your finished rods! Would love to see them!
 
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ackvil

Moderator Emeritus
Contributor
The most I ever did was to take a fly rod blank (fiberglass) and made it into a spinning rod. It took me an entire winter to make the rod and I loved it. Unfortunately, it disappeared during one of my moves.

Here is a video of one individual who built the same type of rod and how it casts.

 

FarmerTan

George Bailey Fanboy
The most I ever did was to take a fly rod blank (fiberglass) and made it into a spinning rod. It took me an entire winter to make the rod and I loved it. Unfortunately, it disappeared during one of my moves.

Here is a video of one individual who built the same type of rod and how it casts.

That's some crazy whip action.
 

EB Newfarm

Cane? I'm Able!
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This is my first use of the plane. I wanted to show my first shavings, even though this strip is a test. In this photo the enamel (dark side) is facing up, although in this step it would be facing to the side.
Small steps...
 
My goodness, I have an ancient one stored in its original cardboard tube and canvas sleeve. (Mid 1950's I believe.) But I can only smile and hope to see you succeed in your journey through the winter. Amazing to think, the manufacture of these tools was a worldwide industry at one time. And even given that, maybe two handfuls of craftsmen at any one time who capable of being at the top of their peers.

It is just as hard to learn the specifics of fiberglass or graphite, but the factual, natural bamboo? Oy!

Subscribed!
 

EB Newfarm

Cane? I'm Able!
This is a test of some scraps to see how they fit. These are still in the rough planing stage, the final pieces will be much smaller and the cross section would not be hollow. Still working on making the strips straight by heating and bending. A lot of work still to go. fullsizeoutput_511.jpeg fullsizeoutput_513.jpeg
 
How long, overall length, and in how many sections?
What fishing profile are you seeking?
Planning to mount a reel?
 

EB Newfarm

Cane? I'm Able!
7'6", Payne 98 taper, 2 section 2 tip. Aiming for a 4/5 weight trout rod. I hope to put either a Hardy Perfect or St George on it if I ever find one. My progress is slow, I am still getting used to the block plane and sharpening the blade. Heat treating I hope by this weekend. My next step is to learn how to set up my steel planing forms...
Maybe someday I can learn to build a hollow rod, but remember, this is my first, and sometimes I am not sure if I will succeed, I may end up with some nice tomato plant stakes!
 
Those tomatoes will have a phenomenal 'leg up' if it comes to that!
May the gods bless your mind, spirit, and hands with the inspiration to see you through.
I can imagine the wonder and satisfaction you'll enjoy catching your first fingerling - oh, wait, sorry, that's been my experience. I'm certain you'll do many betters!

I am told I live in blessed brown trout country here in the Atlanta area. I've been here 12 years and haven't been to a stream, let alone put on waders, felt boots, and a vest. I'm hoping to change all that in the next year.
 
As a former (no time) fly fisher, fly maker and jup even build and modded some rods to my taste but never came to bamboo RESPECT!
How become the dark color used to them in honey yellow. Used dark Tonkin instead?
 

EB Newfarm

Cane? I'm Able!
I'm spending a lot of time sharpening the plane blade, and measuring triangles. A lot of errors, and imperfections, but I think I am close to having 18 strips through the rough planing stage. two tip sections and a butt section, made up of 6 strips.
In the photo above, the strips will still need a lot of planing before the heat treating step coming up next.
 

EB Newfarm

Cane? I'm Able!
Some people like lighter colored bamboo (blonde) and others like dark. I am aiming for a medium brown and charred the enamel with a torch before I started working on the strips. When the enamel gets sanded near the end of the build, it will hopefully be a nice light/medium brown.
I have a great mentor who I call many times a week in a panic about how I must have goofed up, and he talks me through the process.
 

EB Newfarm

Cane? I'm Able!
Speaking of R.L. Winston progeny, I met Glenn Brackett and saw his shop in Montana and was seriously inspired. He is such nice guy, and skilled beyond belief! The Sweetgrass company is amazing in its mission, community involvement, and service that if I ever have the money to buy a rod, it will be from them.
My mentor(not just in rod building and fly fishing) is also someone I get inspired by. He makes bamboo rods, but does not sell them. He gives then to his friends. One night last summer a few of us were leaving the river after dark and chatting when we realized we were all using one of his rods, but that he was using some old fiberglass rod because he did not even keep one of his builds for himself! You can see his happiness when someone is enjoying his creation.
 
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