I have a question that is probably a very dumb one but it is sort of bothering me. I have always wanted to see what a bamboo rod felt like to fish.
I am in up to my neck with bills and such currently, especially with two kids in college, so there is no way in the world that I could even think about purchasing a really expensive bamboo rod. But, being the cheapskate that I tend to be, just how bad are those el cheapo rods on eBay? Rods like these:
Anyways, you get my drift. I don't want to be out a lot of cash but I also don't want to throw my money away. I am not looking for something that is spectacular--just a rod that works pretty good. Just so I can see how they feel. And I think I would like to have a shorter one that I can use on small streams, if that makes any difference.
My gut is that buying old bamboo online is a bit risky. There can be a lot unknown. Wraps can be coming undone, varnish coming off, bamboo strips starting to come apart, tip could have broken and been repaired, ferrules loose, all on top of a rod with a disappointing taper. I think there are a lot of cheap rods out there, some built in Japan and brought back by GI's others production rods from US companies. Some of them might fish well and others might be duds. I'd do research on the tapers and see if you can find info on them, beyond that it's looking at the pictures closely and trusting the descriptions. If you're prepared to do some repair work it could be a fun project or you could get a winner.
As with other things, there's the risk of getting a dud for your first rod and not getting a sense of what bamboo can feel like. I finished two rods from blanks from the Angler's Roost, they sell completed rods for several hundred I think. I don't know what their components are like but I enjoy the blanks I have.
I've ventured into the bamboo segment myself in the past few years. I have a 6'-6" 3wt and a 8ft 5wt. Both are 2 pc. I don't know if I'd get one that had more than 3 pc's, tho. From what I've gathered, the more pc's, faster the action.
However, there is a definate difference in casting a bamboo rod. IMO, it's worth every penny.
I don't want to be the bubble buster but they're all duds. You can find a good South Bend at a decent price its a good starting point although the Montague isn't all that bad. The issue with older rods like these is the set they inevitably form, the guides rusting or corroding, loose ferrules and so on. There is a seller on Ebay that refinishes rods and sells them as part of his "class" and they might be worth a look. Hit a shop that might have one in the rack and see if they'll allow you to cast it to see if it something you'll want. Split cane can be as addictive as co-cain so be careful!
Look for a used 2pc. Orvis Madison in the 7 to 71/2' for 5-weight line range. There are lots of them, they are not collectible and, because they are impregnated with phenolic resin, they are unlikely to be falling apart. They are not great rods by any bamboo standard but not bad either. What you will find immediately is that you feel the mass of the rod loading during the casting stroke as opposed to the feel of the line loading the rod as in much lower mass graphite rods. The feel of the rod itself in cane or also in deeper flexing older graphite rods instead of line action communication is beloved by many.
I started with and for many season had only one rod which was a mid-grade bamboo and, when graphite came out in '74 and I was able to get one, the first thing I exalted in was the relative absence of that feeling of rod mass which has improved with each generation of carbon matrix technology. But you have to fish cane to understand.
Great advice above. The Orvis rods while nice and fish-able, don't sell for much on the used market for whatever reason. I regularly see these rods in their most popular configurations in the $500 range. If you buy it and don't like it, you can sell it for what you paid for it since you got it used. Sweetandsalt is also right on about the impregnated rods durability.
Ray - Don't know if I can add much, but I entered the Bamboo realm a few years ago. Just like you, I didn't want to spend a lot just to try bamboo out. I found a guy from California that rebuilds a lot of bamboo rods. I've bought two from him and they are really nice, well done, refinished, rebuilt. They have the larger snakes on them and a very nice burl grip. Very pretty and almost new looking. Mine are old Montagues at 8.5 feet in 5-6wt. I put 6wt DT lines on them and fished trout in NMex. It took some getting used to the slower action and heavier feel of them. I still like graphite better, though. The guy doesn't have any items for sale now, but I can get in touch with him through E-Bay( I think). They sell for between $150- 200. Good luck Glen E
Wow. Thanks for all the replies, especially this one:
Split cane can be as addictive as co-cain so be careful!
There were several replies that mentioned casting a bamboo rod is different than a newer rod and that is what I want to find out.
I also get the impression that since it loads differently that I might learn how to cast better. I don't know why I feel that way but it just seems like the "feel" will be different enough that a light bulb may go off.
Cane rods have a greater mass than graphite and more modern glass rods so they load way easier, they basically load themselves. I can cast just a leader and a long one at that with cane with no effort and sure some cane do the same with modern graphite rods but cane has soul to it unlike other rods. Its a different stroke you really have to try it to see what the hype is all about. If you ever head out by Akron shoot me a PM and you can try what I have cause I just can't explain it in words.