Bamboo Bonzai

Cane Rods For Beginner's

Our thanks to author Clark Davis for use permission.

November 16th, 1998

So you want to start fishing cane, and you have many questions you need answered. First you will need to answer some questions of your own.

The first question to answer is, why go to a cane rod? Bamboo rods require more care than do graphite. Cane rods are more durable than graphite, but you can not put away a wet cane rod in the tube. You must be more careful not to put a set in the tip. I fish rods made of all materials, it depends upon the type of fishing, and how I feel that day. If I want a very relaxing day on the water fishing for trout, then I grab a cane rod. If I am fishing for salmon, then I use a graphite rod. I enjoy the experience of fishing more, when I use a cane rod. The action is slower. Many times I know the maker of the rod I am fishing, and had the rod built for me. Custom built cane rods can be a wonderful fishing partner. If you wish to experience a more relaxed days fishing, where just the act of casting can be fun, then a cane rod might be suited for you.

What type of water, size flies, type fish, and budget are all considerations to make before making the cane rod purchase. If you are fishing small streams a 6 1/2' to 7' rod should serve you well. For most other rivers try to stay 8 1/2' and under. Cane rods weigh much more than do their graphite counterparts. One way to offset the additional weight is to use a heavier reel to counter balance the weight of the bamboo rod. If you are fishing lakes in boats or tubes, then a 9' rod should be fine.

Type of fish and size fly, determine the line weight you will choose. For trout 3-5 weight should work out well. Bass require larger flies, so a 5-7 weight line should work. Unless you are throwing out pike streamers, I do not see a reason to go beyond a 7 weight line.

Besides length and line weight, you must decide upon the action you want in a cane rod. I would recommend a moderate to moderate/fast action rod. Most of you will have come from a graphite rod background. You will find the action of a cane rod much slower, but more enjoyable to cast. Leave the slow action and parabolic action rods, till you have some experience with the casting style of bamboo.

For your first cane rod, you should be able to spend less than $250. The are a lot of good casting South Bend, Montague, H-I, and regional makers rods available at that price. Some of the high quality Montague rods are a real bargain, and can be had for less than $100. These high quality Montague's are of the same quality level as Heddons and Grangers. You can find the rods at flea markets, tackle shows, decoy shows, rod dealers, and on-line classified ads and auctions. Make sure you have a return privilege if you are buying through mail order.

While I am in the process of updating my bamboo website, I am also working on a couple of rods. I took one of the many South Bend 9 foot single tip rods and found another tip. I will put a small fighting butt, new seat, handle, and guides. I plan to use the rod for this years salmon season. It should throw a nice 7 weight line. I picked up the rod for $25 and will perhaps have another $25 in materials. I should wind up with a nice fishing rod for about $50. You can do the same thing. Pick up a rod that needs work and refinish the thing. Basically turn a piece of junk back into a fishing instrument. I wish you all the best, in your cane fishing adventure. ~ Clark

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