Our Man In Canada
January 31st, 2000
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Canadian Cane

Cane

By Ted Knott

Some of the finest hand crafted bamboo rods available today are being made by Canadians. Their work is the equal of the better known American makers and is sought out by knowledgeable anglers. Most of these craftsmen have a standard line of rods ranging from six feet to eight feet and in line weights three to eight. Customizing your order in terms of rod action, thread colours, reel seats or other special requests is the norm. Prices range from approximately $1000.00 to $2000.00 Cdn. depending on the amount of work in the rod and special features. Considering that each bamboo rod requires a minimum of fifty hours to build, the cost is quite reasonable. Nearly all operations are one-man shops limited to a yearly production of between fifteen and thirty rods.

Interest in making and using split bamboo rods has grown considerably over the past decade. I suspect that this is partly due to a resistance to the high tech advances of graphite technology, and partly to a respect for fly fishing traditions, and a desire to own a fine piece of craftsmanship. This growth is reflected in the number of rod maker 'Gatherings' that are held each year across North America. At a recent Ontario 'Gathering' nearly sixty amateur rod makers met to share ideas and rod making techniques. Most of these fly fishers make, or plan to make, one or two rods (often of superb quality) a year for themselves or friends. A few, such as Jorge Carcao of Ontario, and John Bokstrom, of British Columbia, do work which has become a benchmark for the rest of us.

When I made my first split bamboo rod nearly twenty five years ago there was very little information available and I learned by trial and error. My first reference was a book by George Herter. A few years later I met Dave Reid of Meaford who passed on to me a few of his 'secrets' of rod making. Later I met John Palmer, of Toronto, who helped me with my gluing process. The release of the Garrison/Carmichael book, A Masters Guide To Building a Bamboo Rod in 1977 was a revelation, and probably sparked the growth of interest that exists today. The first-time rod maker, as well as the experienced maker, has numerous sources of information by way of the Internet, several recent publications, and the regional 'Gatherings.' The exchange of ideas, taper theories, planing techniques, etc. through the Internet and 'Gatherings' is unquestionably the driving force in the quality of work that is available today.

Cane rod building activity seems to be focussed in British Columbia and Alberta in the west, and in Ontario and Quebec in the east. Going from east to west, some of the better known makers are: (I apologize if I've missed anyone.)

Terance Ackland, Montreal area
Terry has been making rods since the early '80s. Models range from 6' 6' to 7' 9'. Terry makes all of his components and states on his web site that he makes 'rods designed to be fished, not collected.'

Ted Knott, Southern Ontario
Ted's rods range from 6'6' for a #3 line, to 8'0' for #7. His rods are characterized by a flamed, tortoise shell, appearance. Ted has been making rods since the mid '70s.

DeGiusti and Blades Rod Company, Southern Ontario
Roy DeGiusti and Ray Blades are two of the younger, newer breed making cane rods. They make exquisite rods based on tapers they have developed themselves, but can make most anything you want.

Don Anderson, Alberta
Don has been making split bamboo rods for many years and his work is in high demand. Don is a frequent contributor to the Internet and freely shares his experience with other rod builders. His web site has thorough coverage of his rods.

Eden Cane, (Bernard Ramanauknas)
Bernard Ramanauknas, owner of Eden Cane, is a recent full-time rod maker. He produces nodeless, semi-hollow built rods from 6'6' to 8'0'. He makes his own reel seats and uses premium components elsewhere on the rod. Most of his rods are sold through a dealer.

Bob Milward, British Columbia
Bob has been making split cane rods for over twelve years and has models ranging from 6'0' to 13'0'. He divides his time between architectural consulting and bamboo rod making. Bob is known for his sharing, creative and artistic approach to rod making, for example, the 'Milward Binder' for gluing strips, the 'Milward Beveller' for roughing out strips, and for his beautiful hand painted bamboo rod cases.

Winter Issue

Split bamboo rods have a long tradition dating back to the late 1800s. It's a superb material for fly casting rods and has proven itself over the decades. Most makers agree its best use is in the rods from 6'0' to 8'0'. Beyond 8'0' the rods get heavy and slow. Within this range, however, the bamboo's action is pleasant and relaxed, and many anglers are re-discovering the charm of fishing with this exquisite, classic material. ~ Ted Knott

We thank the Canadian Fly Fisher for re-print permission!

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