Bamboo Fly Rods
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Bogart 6 Weight

Chris Bogart (Shenandoah Rods) 
 
8 foot 6 inch,  six-weight, 2 piece, 2 tip,  "Gray Reef"

Bogart/Shenandoah Rods Web Site

When I first heard of bamboo ferrules, I thought they sounded kind of cool. An interesting twist on a classic bamboo rod, without any metal interrupting the lines or the rod action. I began looking for a maker who incorporated them, and settled on Chris Bogart from Shenandoah Rods. He has a rod he calls the "Ultra." It's an aggressively hollow built, bamboo ferruled rod.

 

I ordered a 7' 6" 2/2 five weight. I figured it would make a good all-around rod for the waters I fish here in Colorado. It was made and delivered in record time. I had the rod in just a couple of months after I ordered it, which is great because I hate delayed gratification (instant gratification is so much more gratifying.)

 

I loved the rod. It was a joy to cast. Strong, lively, very accurate, with the ability to generate some really nice line speed. I began fishing it more than my other rods. However, it soon became apparent that the rod had a tragic flaw; the ferrules would not stay together. I'd be casting, and suddenly, I'd feel the rod's action change, and go all noodley on me. I'd look up, and the ferrules had come loose. I couldn't use the rod for more than 10 or 15 minutes without it coming apart. I so wanted the rod to work, because I loved the way it cast, but after a while, I got so frustrated that I contacted Chris and let him know I was having problems.

 

He had me send the rod back to him for examination. It performed flawlessly in his hands, and he was a bit mystified as to what was going on. He did a minor tweak, and sent it back to me again. Unfortunately, the rod still had its loose ferrule issue, and he finally decided that it was most likely due to the drastic differences in humidity between Virginia and Colorado.

 

Sadly, I returned the rod to him a second time. Chris set to re-working his ferrule design. He was working on a prototype rod for an upcoming bamboo rodmakers' distance casting contest and he incorporated the new ferrule design into this prototype taper and sent it to me for testing.

Gray Reef Trout
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The prototype rod arrived just in time for a trip I was taking to Gray Reef on the North Platte in Wyoming. Gray Reef is wide, windy, and desolate. I've heard it said that "trout don't live in ugly places."  Whomever said that clearly hasn't visited Gray Reef.  It has a barren, post-apocolyptic feel to the place, with few trees or any signs of life. 

 

The fish who live at Gray Reef seldom feed on the surface, and and you end up nymphing most of the time. Chris had told me to give the new prototype rod a good test, and I did. I flogged that rod like a rented mule. I was slinging heavy weighted dropper rigs, making long casts, fighting big fish, and casting into heavy Wyoming winds for a long weekend. The rod handled it all well. The ferrules never loosened.

 

What's more, the prototype rod was a serious cannon. It had way more power than any of my other rods, and I found that I was liking it. They say that power corrupts, and by the time my trip to Gray Reef was done, I'd been corrupted as thoroughly as an African dictator with a Swiss bank account full of UN food aid money.   

 

I contacted Chris, and told him that the new ferrule design worked, and that I wanted my replacement rod to be just like the prototype, but more so. We finally settled on an 8' 6" 2/2 for a six weight line. I decided to name it my "Gray Reef" rod in honor of the place where I tested the prototype taper and ferrule.

Another Gray Reef lunker
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My buddy always seems to catch the biggest fish of the day

Chris went to work on my new rod, and I kept the prototype for a while longer, using it every time I got the chance to fish some bigger waters. Finally, my new rod arrived. After some rather promising lawn casting over the course of a couple of weeks, I finally got to fish it. I went to Clear Creek Canyon, which is the biggest water that's relatively close to my home.

Simply stated, this rod seriously rocks. I spent part of the day nymphing, then switched to dries when the sun came out and the bugs started hatching. It was a good enough day that I managed to wear out one of my "ugly bug" dry flies from getting chomped on by trout.

The longer length of Gray Reef rod really is nice for nymphing and line control. In addition, the rod has so much backbone, that roll casting and mending are ridiculously easy. The really fun thing about this rod, however, is how effortlessly it casts long distances. When I found the rhythm of the rod, it seemed almost lazy, as if I wasn't working it at all. No need to haul or double haul, just back and forth, back and forth. However, in spite of my relaxed casting, this rod was really putting out lots of line, and generating some serious line speed.

 

I waded down the middle of the widest part of the creek I could find, and fanning the fly out in front and along the edges was simple and accurate.  By the time the day was over, I'd fished the new rod hard for almost 6 hours straight, and never had a single instance of loosening of the bamboo ferrule. The rod's really light weight is terrific, as I never got tired of casting or high-sticking even by the end of the day. In addition, I had more fun casting than I have in a long while. I don't fish at long distances much (my local waters tend to be pretty small) and after all the short line casts of my normal fishing venues, it was great to "let the big dog eat."

 

So, I've finally got my bamboo ferruled rod, and I love it. And when I feel the need for really long distance casting, I'm prepared with a serious weapon.

Male and Female Bamboo Ferrules
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Joined Ferrules
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