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Thread: Bamboo Rods! Are they worth it?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Malone, New York
    Blog Entries

    Default Bamboo Rods! Are they worth it?

    I was on the water a few weeks ago. I met a very interesting fellow. Since I am new to fly fishing and he mentioned that he had been doing it for 35 years I picked his brain. I mentioned to him that I was considering saving my pennies and investing in a Bamboo fly rod. His response was why would I go backwards in technology. Bamboo rods are past and carbon fiber is the new. He also said that if I could afford a bamboo rod the best thing would be to put it up on the wall at camp to admire the past.
    I am looking for a second opionion. Anyone out there agree or disagree with this gentleman and why. I can't wait to here the responses. Thanks.

    "The Fishing was good, it was the catching that was bad"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    southwest , Virginia

    Default Re: Bamboo Rods! Are they worth it?

    Fly rod technology has outstripped me. Too fast already,,far too fast to enjoy. I'd LOVE to be of means to afford a bamboo rod. Might however end up with a new slow glass rod...if the new offerings are slow enough.

    I never understood the adage that teaching someone on a slow rod is easier. It require more skill with finesse casting a full flex rod than the mad buggy whipping method of fast rod casters.

    It depends on the person however I suppose. It seems the new rods require far too little personal fishing skill. I'M the fisherman, not the rod.

    Simple just requires more skill of the person fishing.
    I find my meal by finding my meal's meal.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Central Florida

    Default Re: Bamboo Rods! Are they worth it?

    Fly fishing is something we do for pleasure. If a bamboo rod pleases you, by all means use one.

    I also bird hunt. A synthetic-stocked autoloader is the most up-to-date technology for wingshooting, but I love SxS doubles and my favorite bird gun is an 85-year-old LC Smith 12ga. I'd rather hunt with a nice old SxS than a more modern gun, even if the old gun costs more (and they usually do).

    To me a bamboo rod isn't worth the price premium, but that's my personal choice. Enjoy your sport the way that pleases you.

    Jesus said, "Go fishing!" (Luke 5:4). He said nothing about monthly reports, budgets, cost variances, manpower planning, or orders forecasts.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    The Woodlands, TX & Avon, CO

    Default Re: Bamboo Rods! Are they worth it?

    Would you buy a Rotary phone or an iPhone today? While I will admit to not ever having fished a bamboo fly rod I believe that new technology should be embraced to the extent that it replicates or improves performance of existing products. No disrespect to Bamboo but it is all relative to your financial ability. I just saw a Bamboo, full flex rod, in the Orvis catalog for $2,500. Would like to own the Bamboo or three or more modern technology, high end, fly rods for the same money? As I said, it is all relative.
    Enjoy your decision,

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  6. #5

    Default Re: Bamboo Rods! Are they worth it?

    Bamboo rods are worth it if you enjoy using handmade art forms made out of natural material and can afford it, of course. I like using a bamboo rod on small streams. I don't think the issue is embracing, or not, modern advancements but rather if you appreciate the classic craft. If I were just starting out, I don't think I'd be concerned with bamboo until I determined what parts of fly fishing were important to me.

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  8. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Rochester, Vermont

    Default Re: Bamboo Rods! Are they worth it?

    You can also try out the feel and casting contrast that bamboo provides to graphite by buying an older production rod like a Montague or others of the era. You can find them in pretty good shape on ebay if you choose carefully for less than $100 and there are a couple of guys who regularly rebuild them and sell them on ebay as well. You can also try the very serviceable Chinese rods by Zhu Rods on ebay, which are priced like entry level rods ( $150 or so) but are generally pretty solid. If it turns out that you like the way they fish, then you can pony up the $2500, or if you don't at least you haven't taken too big a bath over it (but don't hold out much resale hope for bamboo rods at this level). I tried both these options and its a pretty good basic bamboo education.

    A certain amount of this is nostalgia (like using older Hardy reels) and some of it is quite genuine-bamboo feels quite different. But I find myself using the bamboo rods more than my graphite rods. I'm not sure why that is, maybe the novelty, but I find them nicer to fish, at least for now. And I suppose an upscale bamboo rod would be more so.

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  10. #7

    Default Re: Bamboo Rods! Are they worth it?

    If he is trying to argue that the only good thing to do with a bamboo rod is to hang it on the wall I think he's discredited himself, perhaps he's just tried a poorly made rod, once, who knows. But too many people fish bamboo and love it, for that opinion to hold any water. Might be true for him, but isn't for everyone. Whether it is right for you, you just have to try it. Newer isn't always 'better'. The question is better for what? This guys priorities are probably pretty different than those of someone who gets joy fishing a 100 year old rod or someone who fishes a new bamboo rod for that matter. Who is right? Who cares?

    If it is something you want to try, know you don't need the $2,500 rod in the Orvis catalog, unless you want to spend the cash. Might want to see if there's a builder in your area and give him a call. Talk to him a bit and get a sense of prices. He might have some rods you could try. Might end up advising you on which used rod to get or perhaps you'll find out you could afford one made for you?

    I've only cast two bamboo rods and loved them both. I finished them from blanks and find myself drawn to the idea of making one myself, but I'm not ready to bite that bullet yet. Something about the material, the feel, and the hand crafted nature of it that I find very enjoyable in addition to enjoying the actual fishing. I fish graphite 90% of the time, but personally wouldn't put much stock in that guy's comments.
    - William

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  12. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Sidney, Nebraska

    Default Re: Bamboo Rods! Are they worth it?

    It's all about personal preference. I may not like the same rods other people do and just the opposite holds true. I have cast and fished many high dollar and mid range bamboo rods. Do I like them? Absolutely. Can I justify the price tag and maintenance of a quality bamboo rod? Not really. I have also owned, fished, and cast most of the top of the line graphite as well. Then I found fiberglass rods, from there on I was doomed. I slowly began selling off all of my graphite rods to fund more glass rods. Glass rods suit my casting style a lot better. I also enjoy fishing glass a lot more than graphite. It's a good feeling to be able to feel the rod loading and unloading effortlessly. The fish on feel of glass is unique as well. I'm talking modern fiberglass from makers such as Steffen, McFarland, Scott, Kabuto, etc...not your grandpa's glass. To me, fiberglass is as close to bamboo that you are going to get, but they cost less and require much less maintenance.

    To each his own...I think that guy was wrong saying that bamboo should only be used as decoration.


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  14. #9

    Default Re: Bamboo Rods! Are they worth it?

    I agree with what's been said above, it all comes down to personal preference. If you can comfortably afford equipment, and like the way it looks or feels, it's a fine investment.

    If the question is, will I catch more fish with better equipment, the truthful answer is - probably not. Granted, in some circumstances you may need something specialized. However, day in and day out, I can catch as many fish as the next guy using a $25 Eagle Claw Featherlight rod along with a $20 medalist reel. So from a practical standpoint, anything above and beyond that comes down to personal preference.

    p.s. I only chose the Eagle Claw/medalist combo because one could readily buy this equipment at any local Walmart. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case, but for sake of discussion, they illustrate the point.

    p.p.s. IT would be interesting to extend the discussion - Is it worth it to fly fish? People used to fly fish because that was what the technology allowed. Then came the advent of things like monofilament which allowed the advent of the spinning reel. Maybe not so much now, but people used to look at you a bit funny when they saw you fishing with a fly rod. Why not use something more up to date, like a nice new spin cast rod. It seems so much easier.

    The more you know, the less you need.

    Tenkara Fly Fishing

    Tenkara Fly Fishing Blog

    "People tend to get the politicians and the fishing tackle they deserve" - John Gierach, Fishing Bamboo

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  16. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    quiet corner, ct

    Default Re: Bamboo Rods! Are they worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by gzarboni View Post
    . His response was why would I go backwards in technology. Bamboo rods are past and carbon fiber is the new. He also said that if I could afford a bamboo rod the best thing would be to put it up on the wall at camp to admire the past.
    Don't waste your time listening to people like this.

    The simpler the outfit, the more skill it takes to manage it, and the more pleasure one gets in his achievements. --- Horace Kephart

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