Saturday, June 02, 2012

Are You Bamboo Worthy?

I can just hear the eyeballs rolling out there in cyberland but please save your judgement until after you read what I am trying to say.
I do know that those of you that own bamboo fly rods completely understand where I am coming from.
A bamboo fly rod is like nothing else in the outdoor pursuits. You hardly ever hear a hunter talk of their rifles or shotguns in such an affectionate way as we fly fishers talk about our "cane"

Why is that? Could it be that cane rods cannot be mass produced like firearms? I think that is part of it.Sure there is some automation involved but the final product is largely hand crafted. I don't think that is all of it though.
I think their is some sort of mystical connection an angler feels with his rod pursuing trout on a river like the Metolius or a small chalk stream somewhere distant.
Every bamboo rod is completely unique and every rod maker's personality is put into it. No two rods are alike just like a fingerprint.
You cannot just throw a cane rod into the back of your vehicle or simply put it away after a day on the river. You have to care for it like the finely crafted item it is.
I'm not saying they are so super fragile that you are taking a big risk in even using it. They are tough and in many ways more durable than graphite.
A relationship with a bamboo rod should not be a casual thing and you have to ask yourself if you are willing to commit yourself to the care of this handcrafted work of art.
Legendary northwest fly fisherman Mike Kennedy loved his bamboo rod so much that at his death his favorite bamboo rod was cremated with him and the ashes were scattered off Mott bridge on the North Umpqua. I think that is about the coolest thing I've ever heard a fly fisherman do.
I participated in the building of one of my rods. I straightened and filed down the nodes and I sliced my hands and fingers while hand planing the strips. It's a labor of true love and takes enormous patience from those that want something more from their fly rod.
The rods made from legendary rod makers like Glen Brackett or Bob Clay, whose rods are so high in demand that one has to wait for nearly a year or more to get his hands on one. Why would someone wait that long for a fly rod? The hours of labor involved make the costs of owning one of these rods very expensive but to me it's worth it and the first trout taken with one of these exquisite rods is memorable.
Does it help you catch more fish? I kind of doubt it. Does it make you a better caster? No, not at all. Is it practical to have one of these rods? Not even close. For me, however, it's feeling that I cannot find the words for. That familiar "pop" you hear as you take your rod apart or look of the agate guide or the slow loading of the rod as you cast, it's worth every cent.
So if you are contemplating a purchase of a cane rod then I would think you need to ask yourself if you are worthy of owning a fishing tool so filled with tradition and every thing that is right about this pursuit.
Enjoy a part of fly fishing lore and as you fish your new rod think of all the wonder that comes with owning a bamboo rod.

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