Philosophy of Bamboo
Fly fishing has always been associated with what's good and pure in life.
And what to think of our chase! Can we ever find a more noble adversary than the trout and salmon. This prey can humiliate the most skilled angler, but somtimes it will sacrifice itself to give us a lifetime of great memories.
My first question is "why do you flyfish?"
A poem taken from the book, "American Fly Fishing by Theodore Gordon and friends" explains very well my phylosophy on the matter.
"I fish with a fly to give the trout a half a chance and hope that my skill does not increase to loose the half that's mine"
If you are like me that you approach a river with care, study the curents and riffles, determine where the holding places are before you enter the river and that you make a calculated cast, then it is for you!
If you take the time to look around you, smell the flowers, take the time to sit on the river's edge and accept that you are but an infinite part of the great nature that surrounds you, then it is for you!
But if you are one of those that carries their life style on the river and assaults the pools one after the other with aggressiness, mesure each fishing day by the munber of fish you catch, then it is not for you!
Bamboo is a cadence, a cadence of life itself. Each cast is slow and deliberate, forcing you to slow down et become one with nature around you. But if you temperment is nervous and agressive then it is not for you!
Cane rods are wrongly classified as "passť", fragile and a fishing tool that has no value.
A client of mine once told me after I showed him one of my rods " hang this on the wall as a decoration, it's an antique"
Bamboo is the greatest fishing tool that exist if you are looking for a delicate presentation. (I could have some arguments on this subject)
Sure cane rod will need special attention, but the experience you will have will be imcomparable. Do not think that bamboo will give you the distance or that it is lighter than graphite. No, bamboo will be slightly heavier and will not cast those long 90ft. cast.
Bamboo was first introduce has a fishing tool in the 17th century. At this time they were using long "Calcuta reeds of 10' to 15". As the years went by, around 1800, the creation of 3 and 4 pieces split bamboo was introduced by the English. But the development of the 5-6 strips that we have today goes to the ingenuity of the Americans like the master; Leonard, Orvis, Dickerson, Payne, Garrisson, Gillum and many others.
My experience with bamboo rods goes back to the 70's. I was looking for another rod to replace the only fiberglass rod I had which was quite worn out.
I went to see my good friend and shop owner Claude Campbell of Campbell Sport on St-Pierre street in Montreal and started to chat with him about a new rod. He sugested that I try a cane rod. I had no idea what a cane rod was apart from what I heard from friends. He had a Hardy Palakona 8 1/2' 6 weight and he wanted $150.00 for it. I talked him down to $125.00 and I bought it.
As far as I am concerned this was the beginning of the end for glass and boron rods. Graphite was little known in these days.
What pleasure I had wiht this fine cane rod. She would present a delicate dry fly at 50 feet with no effort. This event was the first love affair I had with a Bamboo rod. What nice memories!!! I had to sell the rod for personal reason, and I still miss it's fine qualities.
Since then, I collect and build cane rods like there going out of style.
A bamboo rod takes the better part of 40 hours to build with lots of elbow grease and sweat, take my word for it. With new inventions like the beveller, the strips are tapered by machine, but since those bevelers are costly, most rod makers do them by hand.
Bamboo is a reed (arundinaria amabilis "lovely reed") that grows in China in the province of Tonkin. It can measure up to 10 metres high and have 8cm at it's base.
If you ever have a chance to cast a fine quality cane rod, try it and you will see for yourself!
If you decide to buy a bamboo rod, take the time to ask a lot of questions and talk to expert craftsmen. Be carefull no to purchase a inferior quality rod, you will be disapointed in bamboo. Many companies from the 40's to 6o's have built rods of inferior quality which I call commercial rods. These rods have no value as a fishing tool, they are very soft and has very bad cosmetics.
Talk to craftsmen for important information that you will need to make a good decision.
Tight lines and good luck!