old bamboo rods

Discussion in 'Bamboo, Fiberglass & Classic Reels' started by colton rogers, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. colton rogers wishin' i was fishin'

    Posts: 874
    gig harbor, washington
    Ratings: +10 / 0
    i found some old bamboo fly rods in my grandpa shop while getting some stuff down for my grandma, she said that they probably belonged to my great-grand father, and that no one uses them and she didn't even know that they were there. my grandpa is a snow bird so he's in Arizona right now and won't be back up until July. i don't talk to him a lot and don't know his phone #. my grandma said i could fix them up if i wanted so now i need a little help with the first steps of wrapping guides and i was wondering if i could use varnish stripped to take the old sealer off? then just reseal it with a clear varnish? it will take some work but even if i hang them on a wall they will be cool so any advice is appreciated.
  2. Ethan G. I do science.. on fish..

    Posts: 987
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    Check out this old post. When I was doing my restoration the responses helped a lot. Use a razorblade to strip the varnish off and re-varnish it with any good outdoor high-gloss polyurethane. A lot of people like marine spar varnish. Wrap the guides and varnish the wraps. Or you could build a dip tube... Also check out www.rodbuildingforum.com in the bamboo section.

    If you can, find out what brand and model they are. They could be worth a lot more than you think, both sentimentally, fishably, and value-wise.
  3. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,136
    Not sure
    Ratings: +1,226 / 0
    Until you find out exactly what they are, 'fixing them up' may well destroy their value if they turn out to be worth anything beyond wall hangers. Before you fire up the Binford X4500 varnish remover, take some time to look for marks or labels and then inquire on specialty sites like http://clarksclassicflyrodforum.yuku.com/ to see what their value might be.

  4. Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Posts: 1,691
    Outer Duvall
    Ratings: +248 / 1
    Kent is right, you really need to find out what they are before you 'fix' them. Especially if they were your grand fathers and doubly so if they were your great grand fathers.

  5. rainbow My name is Mark Oberg

    Posts: 1,232
    Renton wa
    Ratings: +78 / 0
    Diddo on Kent and Tim. Tell us what the markings are and the length of the boo. Pictures help a great deal. Or the experts here
  6. Keith Hixson Active Member

    Posts: 1,507
    College Place, Washington
    Ratings: +55 / 0
    Good advice! Go slowly, don't ruin something that may be worth a fortune. However, in the forties and early fifties there were lots of bamboo rods out there. Most are now wall hangers but there are some really good ones out there also. Go slowly.

  7. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,136
    Not sure
    Ratings: +1,226 / 0
    Thank you Keith. You put it much better than I managed yesterday.

    It's worth remembering that from the 1860s through the early 1950s, if you wanted a better fishing rod than a willow switch it was most likely made of bamboo. There were some absolute beauties made during this period, but the vast majority were mass-produced and sold for $5 or $10 at Sears, Montgomery Ward, or the local sporting good store.

    Chances are, your grandfather's rods were indeed cheap rods to start with and over the years from neglect have fallen into such disrepair that the highest and best use for them is to adorn a family room wall. But every now and then one comes across an older cane rod that's something entirely different.

    A few years back, one WFFer PMed me about a bamboo rod a woman had given to his mother, knowing her son had an interest in flyfishing. Yes it was old, and no it wasn't shiny and bright like today's plastic fantastics. Fortunately he did some checking and found out that the old rod was a rare example by a famous rodmaker (perhaps Lyle Dickerson but I can't remember who it actually was just now). Online inquiries produced estimates of its value from as low as $2500 to over $6000.

    Had the WFFer 'fixed it up', not knowing how valuable it was, its value would have dropped to near zero.

    One clue: if grandpa's rods come in a tube, they're probably better quality. Look for labels on the tube, sewn into the sock, as decals applied to the rod itself, or even hand-written on one flat.

  8. colton rogers wishin' i was fishin'

    Posts: 874
    gig harbor, washington
    Ratings: +10 / 0
    they were not in a tube or a sock, they were sitting on a shelf next to a bucket of bolts.
    i will try to get back over to my grandmas house for pics soon. there was really no markings or weight ratings on them. most of the wrappings were coming off.
  9. Mike Monsos AKA flyman219

    Posts: 463
    Redmond, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +77 / 0
  10. Tom Bowden Active Member

    Posts: 450
    Black Diamond, WA
    Ratings: +74 / 3
    All of the preceding advice is spot-on.

    I have a copy of Michael Sinclair's "Bamboo Rod Restoration Handbook," which is often helpful in identifying production rods with no markings. Sometimes you can identify rods based on the ferrule, grip shape, reel seat, wrap color, or color of the cane. This isn't 100% reliable, since rods were often repaired or refinished, and rod making companies would sell components to hobby rodmakers.

    I think the really good finds are medium-level production rods that can be re-finished to fish once again. A couple years ago I found a broken down 9' South Bend 359 in a pawn shop bin & bought it for $15.00. The previous owner had broken the mid-section, so he filed down the upper ferrule station and replaced the ferrule. After a bit of research on the taper and internet treasure hunting for replacement ferrules, I made a new full-length mid-section (the bottom section in the picture). I also finished out the short mid-section, which makes the medium-slow action 9 footer into a surprisingly nice casting fast-action 7-1/2 foot 6wt. The rod has the unique South Bend "Comficient" style grip with ventilated grooves and a thumb-rest. Though the grip has a few gouges, there's no way you'd want to replace it or risk damage. I just cleaned the crud off with mineral spirits. The end result is probably only worth about $100, but it's a fun project and you end up with a really unique and useful rod.

    There are several folks on the list who can help you with stuff like this, and even a few hobby rod makers who can sometimes be cajoled into making or repairing broken sections for fishing information, a small honorarium and/or a few beers......


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