I have no experience with Headwater, but have fiddled with Highland Mill,
Diamondback's chinese-made bamboo, and a Tea Stick. They all lacked the
craftmanship of a finely American bamboo, and were either broomsticks or
noodles (the Highland Mills was a WET
noodle!!!). The Diamondback had the best fit, but this was in comparison to the other two.
The Tea Stick had ferrules that were absolutely awful, but didn't seem to effect casting.
Honestly, you can find a lot of used bamboo by looking on the Classic Rod Forum. The prices vary wildly, but there are daily offerings. I'd rather buy a
nice $200 graphite rod, rather than owning something that's likely hit or miss.
I'm sure that you might find a decent specimen among the rods mentioned, but it's not like they are going to have stringent quality control. The type
of adhesives used, and choosing and treating good bamboo will determine whether or not a bamboo rod will develop sets (and also how quickly). You could get a set on the first bluegill you catch, and never be able to straighten
Cool Hand Hodge: Have you found the Headwater rods to be consistently well-built? Any long-term experience with them? I'm all for a bargain, but would like
to know what I can expect after fishing a bamboo rod for a month. Lew Parks in Saginaw Michigan sells excellent cane rods for $700. Perfect build quality.