Types of Bamboo?

Discussion in 'Rod Building' started by ceviche, Jun 24, 2007.

  1. ceviche Active Member

    Posts: 2,312
    Shoreline, Washington, U.S.A.
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    Just an idle question here. Is Tonkin the only type of bamboo that people use for rod building? If so, why? I'm certain there are other kinds of bamboo that are of the "lumber" variety, so I'm left wondering a touch. Thanks.

  2. Porter Active Member

    Posts: 6,429
    Kenmore, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +513 / 0
    A couple here might be able to answer that question...but for the boo affeciendos you need to visit other places.
  3. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,136
    Not sure
    Ratings: +1,225 / 0
    Although there are hundreds, if not thousands of individual species of bamboo, Tonkin is the only one that rodmakers use today. The reason is the resilience of the fiber that allows it to flex and spring back to it's original shape through hundreds of thousands of cycles. Calcutta cane was tried 80 to 100 years ago, but it didn't come close to Tonkin. If you're interested, you should find and watch a copy of the DVD 'Trout Grass'.

  4. Tom Bowden Active Member

    Posts: 446
    Black Diamond, WA
    Ratings: +72 / 3
    Here's why tonkin cane is the bamboo used by rodmakers:

    Naturally straight
    No branches
    Slight taper
    Power fibers stiff and resilient
    Nodes almost flat
    Selective harvesting for full maturity
    Tough and strong

    This was from the web site of Harold Demarest, an importer of tonkin cane. For those interested, you can get a lot of information on bamboo, and great pictures of China, on Demarest's web site, and also Andy Royer's:


  5. Northlake27 Member

    Posts: 102
    Twisp wa, us.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    My understanding is Arundinaria Amabilis (tonkin) only grow is a small region of China, it is known for its abundance of power fibers. I read where the strong winds in the area have forced the cane to evolve stronger than other types of cane.
  6. powder river New Member

    Posts: 1
    Casper, Wy.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    there are types that work especially the japanese variety and i have seen a rod made of masso but they were nodeless i have experimented with re sawing bamboo flooring and have made 4 test rods from it, it definitely does not have the same characteristics as fresh tonkin. smaller diameter and faster probably because glues and finish. contact me if there are any questions
  7. J Marcus New Member

    Posts: 16
    Bellingham, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Actually--a few years ago I did an internet search on the subject. At the time I wanted to know if the Tonkin variety could be grown on this side of the pond. (A few have tried it with generally poor results.) However, it seems that, in fact, there are other species of bamboo that can be used to build a fly rod. I found a few folks that had done some experimentation and some of them had turned out rather well. Interestingly enough, one of the species used was black and another was purple. I don't know what has happened with their experimenting since because I didn't follow up on this and lost track of the people doing it, but if you search awhile, you may be able to dig up the skinny on this. I have also come across two articles, (Can't remember--Don't ask!) from people in Japan, who reported on using small, whole canes of bamboo to make up fly rods with surprizingly good results. I believe they even used different species for the butt and the tip and one of them made an all bamboo ferrule. They used methods that their ancestors used in making what I believe is properly termed a "fish'n pole." Oh yes--as to the issue of Bamboo used for lumber--that's what most of the Tonkin cane is used for--furniture and scaffolding etc. as I recall. Only a small percentage of the very best is used for fly rod building.

    Oh me, oh my--a purple rod-fly... Hmmm... . . . . . .
  8. J Marcus New Member

    Posts: 16
    Bellingham, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Whoa Nelly!!!!
    Just happened to stumble on a site that discusses whole cane bamboo fly rods. Google up Marutake fly rod. Interesting...

  9. Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Posts: 1,686
    Outer Duvall
    Ratings: +244 / 1
    This fellow in Argentina uses bamboo that flourishes there in the Parana river delta. He says it is native.

    Those who have used his rods say they fish very well.

  10. pacchef23 New Member

    Posts: 3
    seattle, wa, usa.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I am building a rod out of Madake bamboo from Japan in a couple months. A Japanese builder sold me a culm. If it is is anything close to Tonkin I will jump back on this thread and tell you all about it. I also built a rod out of Moso one time. It did not have enough power fibers and was a waste of time build. The original bamboo rods were made out of Calcutta cane. The problem with Calcutta was its small diameter, small distance in between nodes, and the fact that it was not very strait. That being said, I have casted rods made from Calcutta and they were pure pleasure.