Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Lovely Reed

I've never really been asked why I enjoy fly fishing with a bamboo fly rod and it's probably a good thing because I'm afraid I could not answer that in a way that would be logical. Fishing with a bamboo fly rod, especially does not make a lot of sense. After all can't a suitable graphite rod of superior quality be found at half the price? Yes they can and there are many high quality graphite rods available and I own several. Isn't bamboo extremely fragile and could be easily broken? Well it's not as fragile as one would think and would probably withstand as much if not more abuse than graphite.
In a review of George Black's excellent book "Casting a Spell: The Bamboo Fly Rod and the American Pursuit of Perfection" Publishers Weekly writes this review
Black wraps his own personal journey through the contemporary world of bamboo fly rod making in a sweeping, meticulous telling of the history of American fly-fishing. With admirable dexterity, he manages to make the story a metaphor for a great deal of how American social and commercial culture has evolved over the past 150 years. The author indelibly etches a story of peerless craftsmen laboring toward perfection, sparring all the while with corporate interest, fickle customers and the inevitable diminishing of their own inspiration"
Why do you suppose that is? Do you think master bamboo fly rod craftsmen such as Glenn Brackett, formerly of Winston Rod Company fame, can fully explain it...not fully I would think. Maybe that is the biggest reason why Brackett left Winston after the company's new ownership decided that  tradition didn't mean that much anymore.
So therefore I cannot explain why other than the exquisite pleasure of casting and fishing a fine piece of genuinely American craftsmanship. Or maybe it's just my way of being a part of that tradition that cannot be duplicated by machines and production lines or to feel a part of the fly fishing tradition of many years past.
Bamboo is not practical in the truest sense of the word but then again neither is fly fishing! Certainly there are more efficient ways to catch trout and at a lot less expense.
So if I had to answer why I love fishing the "Lovely Reed" so much I would simply have to answer in the only way that makes sense, at least to me. I fish bamboo.....just because. I think every bamboo fisherman knows exactly why

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