Headwaters Bamboo Rod Company

Discussion in 'Bamboo, Fiberglass & Classic Reels' started by Bones24, Nov 16, 2010.

  1. Greetings guys,
    Looks like a lot of you fish bamboo rods so I am hoping some of you might be able to tell me if you have any experience with rods from Headwaters down in Hillsboro OR. I would really like to try bamboo but I know I have no chance of talking my wife into it with some of the prices I have seen out there. I know quality comes with price for the most part but I am definitely on a budget!
  2. Bones,

    I've heard some good comments about the imported rods you are asking about. That said, I've also heard some not so good.

    My 1st. bamboo rod that I purchased (I inherited several from family members prior to this) was an imported, brand new 5 wt. that lasted a couple of trips until it snapped clean in two during a quite typical and innocent back cast while on-stream. The source I purchased it from (albeit not "Headwaters") could care less, and offered me no recourse. I still have it in my closet.

    What I have learned since that episode is that there are a lot of older, excellent, fishable American made rods that are available on the resale market. Some are even complete with original rod tube, sock and both original tips for the same (or less ) I see the Headwaters are priced at. I'd look for Granger, Orvis (many are relatively inexpensive because so many have been made over the years), Phillipson, some of the Heddons and South Bends (both made great tapers for the price) and others.
    Many of the folks looking for bamboo are looking for rods less than 8', leaving the 8-1/2' - 9' rods for those of us fishing larger western waters, or fishing out of float tubes on lakes. There are some really nice rods in these sizes that cast great and catch fish. Most of the ones I've mentioned are commonly referred to as "blue collar" rods from the past. You could, on the other hand spend thousands on a desirable Payne, Thomas, Leonard, Edwards etc. although some of these can still be found for much less.
    A good book (fun read as well) is "Classic and Antique Fly Fishing Tackle" by A.J. Campbell. It'll help you to learn a lot about the history of the rods and what to look for when purchasing one. Lots of stuff on old reels there as well (you'll need one of these to match your rod!).
    My advice is to get an American made classic bamboo rod, save money in the process, and keep the wife happy.
    Oh, you'll most likely be able to sell it for at least what you paid for it as well!
    Have fun in your bamboo journey - Greg
  3. David (owner) is a very good man and stands behind his products. I plan on taking one out for a spin soon...
  4. Quality can come at a low price too! My advice: Get a used rod and try it out. Rods like an Orvis with impregnated finish in the 7'9" or shorter range are around the same price as a new Chinese-made Headwaters, they're plentiful on the secondary market, and the impregnated finish makes them far more durable than varnished rods (the vast majority of rods are varnished). Varnished rods are great too and more durable than you might initially assume...lots and lots of options at sub-$1,000 prices; many around $500. Just do some homework and some talking with sellers, and you'll probably pick the right one for your taste. Buying a used rod you can try it and, if you don't like it, you can sell it for the same price you bought it for. Your financial risk is the shipping cost, on average. This way you can feel freer to try a few until you fine one or two that float your boat. Besides Ebay, try these reputable cane rod classifieds/sellers:

    Clark's: http://clarksclassicflyrodforum.yuku.com/forums/97
    Robert Selb: http://www.classicflyfisherman.com/PRE_OWNED_RODS.htm
    Len Codella: http://www.codella.com/binventory.htm
    Jim Bresko: http://www.coldwatercollectibles.com/classics.html
    Farmington: http://www.farmingtonriver.com/used.htm
    Rick's Rods: http://www.ricksrods.com/tackle.html

    Call any of the dealers listed and they'll all be very helpful helping you pick a rod.
  5. I bought the Santium (http://headwatersbamboo.com/products/favorite/?PHPSESSID=d398c7c2c7e5582ea466a01b47beb380) a few summers ago and love the rod! I've fishing in on the Sky, Snoqualmie, Stilly and a few eastside rivers!

    It's light and very responsive! It has a medium action and casts great with the SA 5wt DT that I have on it. Definitely a great value!

    I've cast a fair number of rods since I bought it and would still buy it today since its a great rod, imho.:thumb:

  6. Bones,

    I can only assume that you will let me use your B/rod when you find the one that "we" want. I'm quite sure that "we" will have a great time with it.:thumb::thumb:
  7. I have had the 7'6" rod. I loved it and it fishes great. I would say it is a med. action but has some backbone. I want a longer rod and that why I sold it. I would get another one. They are nice rods for the money. But, as what was stated before there are a lot o sites that you can get some real nice rod on at great prices. Just look around. Hope this helps.
  8. Thank you for the replies guys. It is greatly appreciated. Sounds like some of you have had great experiences with Headwaters. For now, I think I am leaning towards doing some more research. I'll start with some of the links that have been posted. Thank you again.

    Hey Gator9, you MORON!! Do you honestly think I would let you use one of my rods?? I know you're my father, but I bought you your rod (with a lifetime warranty) for a reason!!!!
  9. You don't love me anymore!!!!!!!!bawling:
  10. What you guys have to say on this is of great interest to me; based on this, I'll probably pick up one of their "favorite" models and see how it feels. Couple that with some reworking using Golden Witch parts, and I should have a killer rod for not a ton of clams!!
  11. Virtually every one of the quality based complaints I have heard or read about the Chinese made blanks had to do with breaking near ferrules or delaminating.
    You may want to fish that rod for a while to be sure it is sound before dressing it up with more expensive components.

    Just sayin
  12. Yes, I was holding back saying exactly that. Having owned a bunch of cane rods and with a lot of research under my belt, IMHO the only way to go is to buy used anyway. You could try a Headwaters used too (they come up quite often). The benefit to buying used is that your financial risk is near zero. Buy it used and sell it for the same price if you don't like it (your risk on average is just shipping cost), or buy it new and sell it for only half the price you paid for it if you don't like it.
  13. I know I'm probably taking your comment out of context, but I'm not sure that a possible zero financial risk to buying used applies equally to a used Headwaters and to used rods from a recognized US manufacturer. Most used rods from classic American makers Granger, Heddon, Orvis, Montague or (fill in the blank) have a built-in resale market, thanks to decades of positive feedback from generations of satisfied users.

    The problem with Headwaters rods is that they enjoy no such reputation. In fact, as Tim points out, the reputation for nearly all Chinese-made cane rods is primarily negative, due to the problems he mentions. As such, while you may well be able to find one used, I'd be surprised if you'd be able to sell it for anything close to what you paid for it.

    Yes, I've also heard that the quality of Chinese rods is on the rise and that *some* blanks are getting favorable reviews. But it's gonna take decades of consistently good quality rods (think Toyota or Honda for example) for a dependable resale market to develop. By comparison, the resale market for classic American cane rods already exists. If I were gonna roll the dice on spending $400 or $500 on a 'starter' cane rod, buying a used American rod is a no-brainer.

  14. Kent, I'm not sure I agree. Basically, if you buy any used rod your potential financial loss amounts to shipping costs...on average. Sure, sometimes you might buy a used rod for $400 and only be able to sell it for $350 the next week (because you overpaid probably), but if you make several purchases that will even out on average with a few you sell for more than you paid. At least, that's my personal experience buying and selling all kinds of rods.

    I suppose you're correct pointing out that a rod like a Headwaters might have more price variance on the used market, but we're talking about a used rod that's likely to go for around $200 (one sold for $140 on Ebay recently...I looked it up), so even if you lose $20 or $50, it's not a huge risk.

    On the other hand, if you buy a rod new from Headwaters at $355 and you decide you hate it and want to sell, you're guaranteed to lose $150+. Same for almost any cane (or graphite, or glass) rod short of stratospherically-priced Brandin, Wojnicki, Kusse, etc. that retain their value.
  15. He can have mine (the one I spoke of above - it's an 8'0 - 2/1, 5-6wt.) for $75.00. Needs to have the female ferrule re-set and wrapped, as that's where it broke.

    They do depreciate (especially if broken). Let me know.
  16. .02 cents from a newbie. First if you know someone who has a bamboo rod take advantage and cast a few.
    I recently purchased my first bamboo rod. It is from a current rod maker. He does nice work and is someone who people will recognize. I bought the rod like new for slightly less than it sold for new. (Right now the bamboo market is very soft, so good time to buy). It is a very nice rod, casts great and looks great.

    As far as Headwaters I have not cast them. If they are build on a blank made in China I would not touch them or any like them. There is one listed on another bamboo board now, sold for $550 and is selling for $150 (less than a third). I spoke to a Bamboo rod maker from Oregon and we discussed the Chinese blanks. He was approached about making a value line on them. He looked them over and thought about it but declined. One of his points was (he visited China) that the majority of the fishing there is to put a fish on the table. They used bamboo, but a whole clum with a line tied on the end and swing em to the bank. There is very little fly fishing with split cane bamboo. So you are lacking the craftsman with any actual experience with the product they are making. It is just another widget they are mass producing. A reel expert noted that for years there were attempts from Asia to copy Hardy or JW Young reels. They never really did a great job. The reel itself they were fair at, but he would install hardy click and pawls and the reels were vastly improved.

    I did a lot of research when looking for my rod. I have had a hard time with some of the vintage rods. The price differences make little sense (I am not knowledgeable enough yet). So focused more on current makers. It is nice to know a little about them and talk to them and possible meet them. They can also make a replacement piece or repair the rod if needed. I was able to talk to Jim Downes (maker of my rod). He shared with me that my rod is based of a Hedden Bill Stanley Favorite taper. Has a swelled butt. He has done some improvement to the taper, especially to reduce failures at the ferules. (Heddon's from what I can gather are great under appreciated tapers, but have a weak spot at the ferrules and can break). He also built ti on cane that George Mauer (his mentor) hand picked on a trip to China in the late 70's early 80's.

    Part of bamboo, at least for me is the workmanship, attention to detail, pride, modifications. You can get a number of well made graphite rods from overseas.

    Watch Clark's Forum. There are a lot rods listed there. After a while you will recognize makers and get some sense of value. There is good info for first time buyers and a list of dealers.You also get a three day inspection with return privilege. Be careful of ebay. You usually do not get a return privilege. Also many rods listed are from people who do not know anything about the rod (bought them at a garage sale or an auction, inherited, etc.) One exception is there are a couple of makers that sell rods there and they are good values.

    One Clark's currently there is a Orvis midge 7.5' rod for $600 and an AJ Thramer (Oregon builder) 7.5' rod for $550 (new about $1000). Much better rods, hand crafted and will hold there value. Coldwater colletables also has an un named rod in the bargin section for $195.
    Good Luck
  17. One last thought -
    AJ Thramer, Bob Nunley, Sweetgrass, among others all have value (introductory rods) for not much more than the Headwater rods. The Thramer and Nunley rods have hand made guides and ferrules.
  18. Thanks for the info, guys; In the meantime, I have my father's Montague Sunbeam. Can't stand the cheap plastic reel seat insert, though!
  19. Good lord, that's a great deal. I've owned two of AJs rods and have never cast better (including one that was 2.5x the price). Depends on the taper though. Cane rod tapers vary enormously compared with graphite tapers. And AJ makes pretty much every taper worth making. Best to do some homework on a taper before buying, as others have suggested.

    +1 on Bob Nunley; he's got a great reputation. Other US rod makers with stellar reputations and offerings under $1k for a new one: JD Wagner (Patriot series...impregnated rods), Mike Brooks (Oregon guy with a very cool and patented impregnation process), Bob/R.W. Lancaster (see codella.com)...others I can't remember right now. And those are NEW prices. Wait for a used one and it'll cost even less with less financial risk to you, as I've already mentioned.

    Some great advice in this pinned thread for first-time cane buyers: http://clarksclassicflyrodforum.yuku.com/topic/24377
  20. I've got a Sunbeam wall hanger and I just LOVE the blue plastic reel seat spacer!


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