Bamboo Bonzai

With Specific Reference To Bamboo

By Mike Brookes, UK

The whole basis of a fly rod is that it is a spring which stores the potential energy imparted by the angler in the back cast and releases it to the line on the forward cast as kinetic energy. As we are concerned primarily with river fishing at relatively short distances (less than 2O yds) it is immediately apparent that comparatively stiff rods will not flex much on short casts and therefore the stored energy in the rod will be small.

A 'softer' rod under the same conditions will flex more and, therefore, store more energy for later release to the line. This is why a bamboo rod invariably roll casts better than modern composite materials.

Ignoring stiff, tip-action rods, the two most useful types of action are 'PROGRESSIVE' and 'PARABOLIC' and, of course, the myriad of actions in between these two. The progressive action rod, as the name suggests, bends progressively as the rod is loaded. This means that the greater the load the more the action moves down into the butt section utilizing the full power and length of the rod. The parabolic actioned rod is designed to bend at the butt with a relatively stiff mid-section. This enables quite high line speeds with tight loops to be formed.

With reference to bamboo I would choose the parabolic-type rod for the larger, more exposed rivers and the progressive actioned rod for smaller, clearer streams where delicacy of presentation is more important.

Leaving casting aside and moving to fishing situations, the bamboo rod has further benefits. As the actions tend to be softer than most composite materials, with much finer tips on the bamboo rods, finer tippets can be employed and the rod cushions the strike.

This is probably the reason why anglers maintain that bamboo rods hook better than carbon-fibre rods. Because the hook has time to penetrate and doesn't 'bounce' out. If as I contend, softer rods impart more energy to the line as a percentage of the total, it follows that, in reverse, the more energy imparted to the rod by the fish, the more the rod absorbs that energy and subdues the fish more quickly, allowing it to be brought to the net much sooner, for later consumption or better still, immediate release.

As bamboo rods are individually made, the custom rod builder can tailor the rod to suit customer requirements and produce a rod for specific fishing conditions.

Fly fishing is a gentle sport suited to the leisurely action of bamboo rods. Why sweat trying to bend stiff 'plastic' rods when you can use a rod that does the work for you? ~ Mike Brookes

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