Excerpt from Chapter 4: Constructing Cane Rods
By Ray Gould
Published by Frank Amato Publications
Thanks for use permission!
One of the most asked questions is why use bamboo? It's
a good question and the answer comes in several parts. It involves
the unique cellular construction of the cane itself, the art of making
fly rods, the physical properties of bamboo, the characteristics of
the material and tradition.
The unique characteristic of high-fiber density right next to
the enamel can be seen in Fig. 30. [below] This photograph is an
enlargement of an actual bamboo fly rod cross section clearly
showing its cellular construction. the six pieces making up the
hexagonal-shaped rod can be seen tightly fitted and glued together.
Notice how dense the fibers are right next to the surface of the
rod. In these fibers resides the strength of the bamboo.
There's nothing quite like working in your own workshop
with your own tools to produce from scratch a lovely handcrafted
cane rod. It is substantially different from building a fiberglass or
graphite rod where the blank is already produced. The bamboo-rodmaker
does all of the work starting with the raw materials. With only a
modest investment in equipment and supplies, the fly fisher who
wishes to can create a personally satisfying work of art.
Most of these rods are one-of-a-kind models each designed
to fit a specific need and constructed in a particular way. The
builder's individuality often shows in the trim work or hardware
on the rod. Some craftsmen are able to make their own reel seats
and rod cases, some even make their own ferrules. But most
often the artistic touch of the maker shows in the cork grip,
the wrappings and the signature system used. It is not at all
unusual to find that between 50 and 100 hours of careful handwork
went into each of these individual works of art, not including time
spent designing the rod taper.
Then, too, if the builder has a scientific bent there is
much technical data that can be applied in the personal design
of the rod taper. The taper of the rod is the factor that
determines what line the rod will cast and what specific type
of action it will have. Major satisfaction is attained by being
able to control from the beginning just how a particular rod
will act. When rodmakers gather, the topic of taper design is
often heavily pursued.
The popularity of bamboo rod building is growing
rapidly. On the west coast of North America alone there are at
least 130 dedicated cane-rodbuilders, some of whom have
developed sophisticated tools and methods of construction.
Physical Properties and Material Comparison next time!
~ Ray Gould