I love fly rods made from bamboo.
They combine beauty, functionality, and traditional craftsmanship in
a way that is truly rare in the modern world. A "bespoke" bamboo fly rod is made to your specifications by a single
person, working mostly by hand, with primitive tools. He works for anywhere from 30 to 100 hours making the rod, and
when he is finished, he writes his name on it, declaring to all the world that this is his work and he is the person responsible
for making it.
There are very few instances of this sort of craftsmanship left in today's world of mass-produced,
cheap, throw-away crap. The traditionally made bamboo fly rod is almost unique in this respect. However, it isn't the old-fashioned production methods or values that make a good bamboo rod truly sublime.
The casting action of a good bamboo rod is unlike any modern graphite rod.
When I first started fly fishing, I read fly fishing catalogs and advertising copy touting
the latest high-modulus graphite and the world's fastest action rods. My fly rods were a progression of the fastest,
stiffest, lightest, and most expensive graphite (and later, boron) rods known to mankind.
These fast graphite rods were all I fished for many years. Then, I bought a cheap
graphite rod for one of my children. It was a slower, heavier, lower modulus graphite rod with a much softer action.
While working with my son, casting this rod, I found that I enjoyed fishing with it more than I did my more expensive
super-fast boron rod. This revelation that faster and lighter might not always be better was what prompted
me to try out bamboo.
I purchased my first bamboo rod from Len Codella, a well known purveyer of used and new
bamboo rods. It was a 4 weight rod made by the late George Maurer. Practice casting my new rod on my back lawn was
a revelation. It was slower, but had more casting feel to it. I had more of a connection to what the fly
line was doing, particularly on the back cast. My first fishing trip with this rod was a paradigm shift for me.
I really felt the rod working for me as I fished. The deep flex and gentle application of power improved my casting
and enjoyment immediately. After fishing with my new bamboo rod, I was hooked. I was a bamboo rod convert
(my wife would say cultist) from that day onward.