I own and do fish with graphite BUT there is nothing quite like fishing with cane. Fly fishing in and of itself is a rather ethereal experience for me and adding the beauty and feel of a well made bamboo rod just heightens the experience. It's all about the experience. I like all types of whiskies but there is something very special indeed that comes with an old bourbon of many years or that special bottling of a rare single malt that just isn't there with Jack Daniels or Dewar's. As with fishing rods both do the job...you are drinking whiskey. Again it's all about the experience.
I am picking up my first bamboo rod next month. I am buying it off of a rod builder in Oregon who makes only 10-12 rods a year. I will admit that my first time casting it was a real lesson on slowing down. It took a bit of practice on the lawn, but once dialed in, I felt more connected to that rod than I do to rods I have fished for years. I am very much looking forward to landing my first fish on it this season. Hopefully I will have some good pictures of rod and fish as the season progresses.
I fish with people who fish bamboo and so I do. I like the slower, calmer, more relaxed rhythm-like fishing that bamboo does for me. It's like I plan my attack and then make gentle worthwhile casts. I have four bamboo fly rods.
The magic I hear of that bamboo has for many people hasn't touched me yet.
You just haven't touched the right rod yet, Jackster - and it doesn't have to have a big name on the reel seat either - or cost much if you get lucky. If I ever wind up traveling north, I'll bring it with, and you can give it a try - or if you ever get down here.
By far my favorite is a no-name Abercrombie and Fitch 7' 4 wt. I like it better than the Payne, Leonards, Granger and FE Thomas. If you are like most guys used to feather weight graphite, most bamboo rods feel tip heavy when wiggling without a reel or line on them.
This one doesn't - perfect dry fly rod. Fast action and remarkable recovery time. Maybe Bill, as a maker, can tell me why, but I personally think that the damping of bamboo is much faster and more complete than high modulus rods like Sage TCX, TCR's etc. They are way, way easier on the elbow than the above graphite - especially if underlining them, as is my tendency. You don't get that vibration all the way up your arm after the rebound. It's like the difference between running a Jonsereds chain saw as compared to a Homelite.
It takes me no time at all to convert back to bamboo when I haven't cast one in several years - as I recently discovered. But that's all I fished with for a lot of years, and it was like a reawakening when I strung that particular one up a month ago or something. I'd forgotten just how wonderful it is to cast a light bamboo rod and line in a light breeze.
You'd be smitten by this rod Jackster, guaranteed. I wish I knew the name of the maker.
I would like to spend a few hours with a light line boo. I have never been willing to spend the money that a good boo goes for. I was just in a fly shop a couple of days ago and I picked up a sweet looking boo. I quickly and carefully put it back into the rod rack. $1995......I doubt that my truck is worth that. That, my friend, is not a working man's tool.
It depends on the working man's priorities and other commitments. Not many could do it on an impulse purchase but saving up for some years, it can be doable for many. Personally, a $2000 rod isn't something I plan on purchasing whether or not I can afford it, as I have many other things I'd rather put that money towards. In fact, if I was going to spend that cash I'd take Oyster's rod building class for a week. However, you don't have to spend that for bamboo.
I finished 2 from imported blanks, the second with nice ferrules and agate guide from Golden Witch and snakes from Snake Brand Guides and all told probably came in under $400 for all my materials. Love fishing them both. I know there is a builder in the US that would sell you a blank ferruled for less than $300, if you only want 1 tip and unferruled then less than $200. Even giving yourself $300 to spend on components (nice rod!) you're coming in below $500 or $600. His rods start below $700 completed.
I think there is also a used market out there, though you'd want to research the rods to know what you're getting.
WJC, its cane's inherent mass. It creates and absorbs energy better than graphite as there is more material there. Imagine an empty paper towel roll as a graphite rod, drop it on the floor it bounces, shakes, rattles, and rolls a bit and all that, now take a full roll of paper towel (cane fly rod) and do the same. Plop, it hits its done. Casting cane rods is like slow dancing with a lady, if you dance well, it pushes all the right buttons and she rewards you with a sweet good night kiss!
Ditz don't go through a shop to get a cane rod go to the maker. Fly shops will throw a large mark up on there cause its probably in the shop on consignment. They gotta make theirs as much as the maker. Go for a single tip rod to keep the cost down. The reason for the high price tags is the work involved. Not to say that rolling a graphite or glass blank isn't work but I don't think it compares to what is done during the process of making split cane rods. Makers put their heart and soul into it, it might sound corny but you have to if its something you want to keep doing. There is countless time spent selecting the proper culm, splitting, staggering, roughing, heat treating, and planning. Measurements are taken constantly, fingers get sliced open by sharper than razor strips, hours spent waiting on varnish to dry. Then finally the maker gets to dress her up. When you spend that amount of time and put all that effort into it, it feels criminal to let one go at a bargain bin price. Its hard enough to let one go as it is! Plus that rod, if fished and properly taken care of will be around for a long long time and could end up heirloom material.
Matt its pretty challenging. In truth though if its something you're really into the work itself is no biggie but the cost and sourcing of tools is a major hurdle. Forms can go as much as 1200 block planes and Hock blades add up, bevelers are exspensive if you decide to use one, heat treating ovens add up, a proper binder can set you back a good amount too. Not to leave out the cost of reel seats guides, silks and finish. Its a hell of an investment up front, with not a whole lot of return, the profit lies in knowing you created something from scratch that with hope someone will enjoy the experience as much as you have.