The admirable respect for the beauty and craftsmanship put forth towards bamboo fishing rods showcases through with each individual rod.
Bamboo rods have been the forefront in the evolution of fishing. They were used as the standard freshwater fishing pole before the introduction of man made materials.
Before bamboo poles came about, freshwater fishing rods were
simply wooden sticks. The better ones were well crafted, often
constructed using hard woods such as hickory, greenheart, and ash.
Craftsmen and anglers have been using bamboo fishing rods since the 1800's. Only a handful of fishermen continue to use them, however, their numbers are vastly growing in popularity. Most people consider these as valued collectibles, especially the vintage rods from the bygone era in which they were originally developed.
Tonkin Cane is used most often by rod builders. This species of bamboo is one of the strongest, and is generally straight, has nicely spaced nodes, and is flexible.
Male species of Calcutta Cane is thought to be even better by some. But, because it varies with way too many imperfections from one cane to the next, Tonkin is the preferred choice. However, a raw material such as Calcutta is hard to come by, which often means that it will cost a little more, but not unreasonably priced.
The natural color of the bamboo is light and subtle. With the building
process of the
drying and heating treatments, it can gently darken it's tone within a
range of brown shades. Heating will very slightly change it's color
shades. And the actual burning of the culm with a flame will darken it.
The glossy varnish adds to it's natural beauty and elegance,
highlighting the essence of it through its grains.
Although bamboo rods are not being fished with as often anymore, they are very durable, and stiffer than fiberglass fishing rods. That is not to say that they are unbreakable. Mishandling a bamboo rod will lead to damage, but luckily they can be repaired.
Because bamboo is strong, it is widely used throughout the world for other things as well. Some uses include hardwood floors and shower curtain rods. Some countries even use it for pedestrian bridges and scaffolding on construction sites.
Bamboo fishing poles are true works of art. They require many painstaking hours to accomplish the finest quality and allowing the natural beauty of the bamboo to shine through. It can take anywhere from 60 to 100 hours of dedication to handcraft one of these rods. The final results are astonishing and very much appreciated by the rod builder and the owner.
Nowadays, bamboo fishing rods are more commonly built by using six strips. Four-sided "quad rods" are often constructed, and sometimes eight strip rods. The six strips are less costly and quicker to build. The eight strips are more durable and have more of the octagon shape. And, although it's most common for fly rods, occasionally spinning rods are made from bamboo.
Most bamboo rod craftsmen apply their own unique twists and styles to "brand" their rods as "theirs." And many rod builders will include accessories, such as protective sleeves and carrying cases, which can also include their signatures as well. The bamboo rods themselves may offer other options for lengths of the rods, classic to custom tapers, ferrules and reel seats being of nickel-silver, snake guides, cork handles, wood spacers, butt fittings, and colorful silk wraps, just to name a few.
Because of the time, material, and the steps it takes to building a bamboo rod, the cost is seemingly high. Enthusiasts are willing to dish out a few thousand dollars, and even wait a couple of years, just for their turn behind other customer orders to have a beautiful bamboo fishing rod custom made for them.
You might be able to find less expensive bamboo fishing rods for merely a couple hundred dollars, however, those rods may not be of the desired quality found in true state of the art craftsmanship rod building. Unless you happen to be lucky enough, or maybe you have a close friend willing to build one for you.
And perhaps you may have come across a vintage antique bamboo fly rod up in your attic, down in the basement, or among the rafters in the garage. Lucky you. If that's the case, then it's advised that you not use those, as they should be admired for the collective value and beauty in which it holds.