Any split cane bamboo rod fishers out there?


Idaho Resident Craftsman/Artisan
I use to know this old Guru Bamboo rod builder from Lynwood Edmonds area. His name is Ray something or other. He taught me how to restore bamboo rods about 6 years ago but I have since lost touch with him. Anyone know a rod builder named Ray? He must be 70 by now. He would build a custom split cane rod for $500. Anyway just curious. Seeing if there were any other bamboo rod enthusiasts out there. Personally I own a 7 wt. and I broke my 5 wt. on the Teton River in 1997. I loved my 5 wt. that is what I learned to cast on. It would load up so beautifully.

Me, I've got one. And thanks for adding me to your buddy list.

My rod is an Orvis bamboo job that I bought in 1961 when I was stationed in Europe, costing 80 hard earned bucks. I only got about 70 dollars a month so this was a big deal for me. She is an Orvis "99." This is a six weight with a "dry fly action," a stiff butt with a soft tip. Anyway, that's how Orvis billed the rod and they were right as she did a beautiful job with drys. She only has one tip and thus is a "99." The exact rod but with two tips is the famed Orvis "Battenkill," named after a river in New York, which if you don't fish it before you die, you will not go to fish heaven.

Anyway, she is retired (I"m scared to fish her now) and she is mounted on a beautiful piece of teak. She has an old Martin automatic fly reel attached (I've always wondered what a steelhead would do to a reel like that) but they look good together. Old but classic. She is in mint (read new) condition and she is not for sale. I don't know what she is worth because she is priceless to me, though I have always wondered how much she is now worth.
His name is Ray Gould and he is still around. He has even written a book so his prices are up. I myself fish an 8' 4/5 wt he refinished after he made a new mid section. It has two tips. I seldom use it because I prefer a shorter 7 1/2' 2pc 2tip 5 wt said to be made from a Phillipson blank. I also have an 8' 2pc 2tip 7/8wt made by Mike Gallavan on a Holbrook taper. I even fish with silk lines sometimes and always use old Pflueger Medalists. I would probably consider selling the 8' 3pc 2tip 4/5 wt if someone tried and liked it. It has a soft action but casts effortlessly. I also fish glass rods and no longer even own any graphite rods though my wife does.



Piscatorial predilection
I've always wanted to try a bamboo fly rod, just to see how it felt. Someone gave me a bamboo fly rod when I was a kid about 12 years old, but I never got to use it, and of course it's long gone now.

Anyway, I do have a book titled "How To Make Bamboo Fly Rods" by a guy named George W. Barnes, from Harpswell, Maine. Printed by Winchester Press, Copyright 1977. It's a great book, lots of pictures and start to finish information.

Mr. Barnes states that the final incentive for building his first rod, was because of some manufacturer's comment that it was impossible to build a cane rod at home. So he proved that statement false! Now there's a man I would get along with.

One of these days I'm going to use this book to try building one myself.


Rob Blomquist

Formerly Tight Loops
Not that I know the guy you want, but there is a little gang of bamboo rod builders who split and plane their own cane in Swede's fly shop in Woodinville. William, who works there is one of them.

On a totally different note, I am looking for one to fish. But being a cheapskate, I probably need one that I can rebuild/refinish. I am most interested in one that is in the 6-9 wt range to try for steelhead in a Haig-Brown manner.

Genetic pollution damages wild
stocks, bonk those Hatchery Zombies!
Just for your information. The famous Battenkill River is in Vermont the home of Orvis, Co. I have fished there many times over the years. There is a section of the Battenkill that is in New York near the town of Shushan,NY I believe it is a Trophy Stream with Catch and Release Fly Only. Orvis and the famed BattenKill is in Manchester Vermont. Just thought you might want to know.
Bob Studen
New York
BTW I use a split bamboo made by Walter Carpenter and it is a 5wt 7.5 foot dry fly action. I took it to fish for Steelies on the "Stilly"on avisit to Washington. and didn't want to damage the rod with a Steelhead on the line. I mostly fish it on smaller NY and Vermont streams.
I myself love bamboo. The thing I like is you can feel the rod load on the backcast. and the fact if you break a tip you can get it repaired. I really like the W.M. Granger rods and have 3 right now and plan to buy another next spring. I plan to fish for Cutthroat in the salt this winter and will use graphite for that. Bamboo is heavier then graphite, and it took some time for me to get used to it, but now, graphite feel too light. If you see someone fishing the South Fork with bamboo, it is most likely me.


Active Member

Attached is a link for a little old guy in Michigan. I've bought two cane rods from him, one for a buddy, and one for me when I saw the high quality of the original rod. His turnaround time is great, and his prices are so good, that I'm comfortable using my 4 weight regularly. You can specify the action that you are looking for, and he can accomodate just about anyone.

Tight Lines,




Idaho Resident Craftsman/Artisan

Thanks for posting. Your Orvis is probably worth a bundle. Glad you are holding on to it! Sounds beautiful. I better go fish the battenkill so that I can go to fish heaven. I say anyone who doesn't fish Bitch Creek isn't going to fish heaven. hahaha



Idaho Resident Craftsman/Artisan

Thanks for the hook up. Ray, I need to go look him up again. What is he charging these days for a rod? I couldn't believe that he use to only charge $500 considering the man hours involved in the building of a split cane rod. Pflueger Medalists are so cool. I have an old one and those suckers are indestructable. Cool that you had him refinish your rod. He does a good job with that whole refinishing contraption he built. I think all the Cane fishermen should have an outing one day.



Idaho Resident Craftsman/Artisan
You can definitely build them at home. You just have to be an engineering genius. That Ray gentleman is a just that. Thanks for posting!



Idaho Resident Craftsman/Artisan
Tight Loops,

Thanks for the info. I should have known that William would be a split cane guy.

As far as finding a rod to rebuild I have always had good success looking at local antique shops. That is where I have picked up the two rods that I have restored. The only problem is figuring out what wt. the rod is. Unless you can tell just by handling the rod, because chances are you won't find one that has the wt. written on it. I had no idea that my 7 wt. was a 7 wt. until I brought it to Ray and he tested it (he's got some scientific method for doing so) and it turned out it was a 7 wt. Here I was trying to fish it with 5 wt. line. hahaha what an idiot. And I thought, no wonder it didn't load like my old one.

Anyway, sorry I am rambling. You can expect to spent anywhere from $40 to $80 for a rod that needs refinishing. Unless you have the good fortune of coming accross an Orvis or something like that. Good luck.
I think he is up to $700 or $800 for a new custom rod now but Mike Galavan can build you a custom steelhead rod for $500 or less. He was a student of Dawn Holbrook and inherited all his tonkin cane, and equipment and backs up his work. An outing would be great.