For the fishermen among us…

Posted October 1, 2010 by Kay Walten in Watersports

Bamboo Fly Rods

What You Need to Know about Bamboo Fly Rods

If you’ve fly-fished, known a fly fisherman, or watched fly fishing shows on television, you’ve heard about bamboo fly rods. These rods have become quite popular. They represent a simpler era in fishing, a time when all you needed was a rod, line and a hook. Collectors are clamoring for antique models and experienced anglers are grabbing up the new ones.
Modern technology has given the fishing world tough and durable new materials for rods, including fiberglass and graphite. Why are the old-fashioned bamboo rods so popular? Two words immediately come to mind: quality and tradition.

Bamboo’s Special Characteristics

To understand the allure of bamboo fly rods, you need to know a little about fly fishing. This particular type of fishing is all about speed and accuracy of casting. The rod is the major factor in the success of that speed and accuracy. When fly fishing, the angler moves the rod back and forth in a fluid and smooth manner, then lets out the line at exactly the right instant for gravity to make it drop at the perfect spot. To achieve this feat, the rod must be lightweight, flexible and easy to control.
Bamboo fly rods have all of these qualities. In fact, many experienced fishermen insist that no other type of rod can complete with bamboo.

Where to Get Bamboo Rods

Believe it or not, you can make your own bamboo fly rod. Several stores carry all of the pieces you’ll need, including line guides, ferrules, and cork grips. The finish you choose is very important. It needs to withstand water damage, and still be flexible. To understand how to construct the rod, consult your local bookstore or one of the plentiful online fishing sites.
Speaking of online fishing sites, many sell these rods already put together. The possibilities range from the simple and inexpensive poles with a line and hook, to the expensive “has everything on it” models. You can purchase old rods, too, and restore them. If you take this route, make sure you purchase a rod in good condition. Check for cracks and separated seams in the bamboo. The other fittings can be replaced, but if the wood itself is in poor condition, no amount of restoration will make a poor rod into a good one.

Care and Maintenance of Bamboo Fishing Rods

Remember these rods are made of wood, a substance susceptible to the elements. You’ll need to spend some time caring for them. Be sure to clean the  fishing rod after each use and let it dry before being stored. Wipe debris from the ferrules then clean them with Vaseline or denatured alcohol.  Use toothpaste or dish soap to clean the cork grips, taking care not to damage or remove any of the cork. Wipe off the cleaner with a damp cloth and examine the grip. If any of the cork has dried out or begun to crack, replace it. Take care of your bamboo rod and it will last for years.
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