Bamboo Bonzai

My Big Fan

In His Service Worldwide By Michael K. Villa, Rodmaker

In my last article "The Life of a Wife of a Rodmaker", I introduced my wife Diane and two good friends Dennis Crockett and Richard Hunt. In this article I would like to introduce to you my "Big Fan". Yes, even with all the Lord's blessings, there is still one Big Fan. I introduce my fan to you, I would like to share how we met. As you may remember, in my last story Diane and I met up with Dennis and Richard of Sacramento, where I was making my first split cane bamboo fly rod.

After some long hours working with Dennis and Richard on this 7' 9", 2 piece rod (you know; hand splitting, node removing, cane staggering, straightening strips, taper working, hand planing, heat treating, gluing cane etc,) it was time to mount the ferrule, tiptop, snake guides, cork handle, reel seat, winding check and the finish wraps. Dennis knew that I had some experience in repairing cane rods, so he let me take my blank home.

In my excitement I could not sleep that night. I just kept thinking about my rod. Keep in mind that this was the first rod I ever made. (A side note to the reader: I still have this rod and for $10,000 it can be yours! When I die it will be worth 2 times that much!) OK, OK, back to reality. After some time I got to sleep. This was on a Friday night, so this meant that the next day was, you guessed it, Saturday. So what do you think I did? Yep, I went up to my workroom on the second floor (Diane let me use a room up there for my fly tying, and cane rod repair stuff.)

There it was. . . my split cane bamboo fly rod just waiting for me to put my hands on it. I had placed the rod on a rod-wrapping stand. I began to mount the cork handle and place the reel seat onto the blank. Not long after, it was time to began to wrap this baby, and yes, I did take my time, after all this was the first split cane bamboo fly rod made by my own two hands. This rod was a long haul.

I spent a lot of time driving to Dennis' house; it was about one hour drive each way, and I never got there before 7:30 pm. I would work on it until 11:30-12:00 am. Sometimes Dennis and I would sit and talk until one am, even knowing that we had to work the next day. It seemed like I was never going to finish this rod. Let's get back to the table.

I spent all day Saturday working on my rod until it was finished. Glory! I kept the rod on the turner till it dried, figured that if I left it there for 24 hours it would be dry. As tough as it was to keep my hands off of it, I did! The next day came and I got up to see if my rod was dry, and it was.

Now it was time to show it off, so I called Richard to set up a time when Dennis and I could come by to show him my new rod, after all I was a student of his as well. We made a time for that very week, I was so happy.

Me (left) and Richard Hunt

I came downstairs, with my new split cane bamboo fly rod in hand. Diane was standing in the dining room when I handed her my new rod. It was then when I met my "BIG" fan. Diane lifted my rod to see the reel seat, not knowing that the ceiling fan above her was running at full speed. This was a 52", 4 blade, 3-speed ceiling fan from Home Depot. I don't need to tell you that this fan of mine was trying to engulf my new rod!

As she looked up, Diane's face was paralyzed with fear. After my heart got going again, I pulled the rod out of Diane's hand and quickly removed it from the ceiling fan. Yes, Diane and I are still married today, and my rod is still in use. My big fan? I'm sure it is waiting for it's next opportunity.

Good days on the river! Yes, you can email me. ~ Michael K. Villa, Rodmaker

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