Bamboo guys...What do you think?

Discussion in 'Bamboo, Fiberglass & Classic Reels' started by Jeff Hale, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. Jeff Hale

    Jeff Hale B.I.G.F.F.

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  2. Mike Monsos

    Mike Monsos AKA flyman219

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    I don't have any personal experience with these rods but Elkhorn will be at the Flyfishing Show in Bellevue so you could possibly cast one for yourself or at least look at them for yourself in person.
    Mike
     
  3. herl

    herl Member

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    From what I've read these rods are either made overseas or the blanks are, or they are assembled overseas... something to that effect. I believe it is the same for the Cortland, Teastick, and a couple other 'low cost' bamboo rods that are available.

    That is not exactly good or bad in itself. Lots of the graphite rods that people love are mad overseas. However, I have heard more bad things than good about the quality of the workmanship in these rods and their actions (not the Elkhorn ones specifically). Another thing to consider is that, as opposed to vintage or handcrafted bamboo rods, these new imports will almost certainly lose value over time, rather than gain.

    Certainly try one out if you have the chance, but I would guess your money would be better spent getting a 8 or 8 1/2 foot Granger or better off eBay (or even better, from a dealer). These rods are well known to fish well and hold or increase in value. Alternatively, there are a fair number of US craftsman type rodmakers that can build you an outstanding rod for a small amount more.

    These last two options will take some research to pursue. I would recommend clark's classic fly rod forum as a great place to start. http://p205.ezboard.com/bclarksclassicflyrodforum

    Thats my take on it, Eric
     
  4. Dan

    Dan Member

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    There seems to be some renewed interest in general these days for bamboo rods. I don't think that you can approach acquiring a bamboo rod quite the way you would a graphite rod. For one thing, rods by the classic makers are relatively scare and can be quite expensive. The wait for rods by some current makers can be 18 months or longer. There are exceptions, of course. I got started by hanging out on Clark's. As a baseline, I would start by looking at rods by AJ Thramer. You can go up from there.
     
  5. garystrome

    garystrome New Member

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    It grows native in S. Florida to 40 ft long. Cut it, dry it , lacquer it, pressure tape the handle. Under 10 bucks down there. I've snagged a few thousand mullet with them. You can't roll up your car window with a bamboo pole.
     
  6. Cliff

    Cliff Member

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    Superfly,

    Herl's advice is good. You won't know how good or bad the rod is until you cast it, and if they're coming to the Meydenbauer show you should send them an email and ask if they are bringing their bamboo and ask if you can line it and cast it. Just wiggling it in the aisle won't tell you much. Herl is also right on with his link to Clark's Classic Rod site. If you are really interested you should register and post a question in the "Fishing bamboo" room. Also do a search on Elkhorn because there may already be some threads on the topic. I'm not familar with Elkhorn, but my take on these lower priced bamboo rods that have been popping up in the last few years is that they're manufactured overseas in sweatshops, either complete, or assembled here as Herl says, and I've read that the quality is not up to snuff with current US rodmakers. In the advice you may receive here and elsewhere, bear in mind you may encounter all of the usual US snobbery and predjudice against cheap off-shore products -but the rod may be just right for you. You just won't know until you look at it and cast it

    I will be at the Meydenbauer show along with a very well respected bamboo rodbuilder and we'll be looking for these rods. If you want an expert's opinion (him, not me) I'll give you my cell number if you want, and maybe we can hook up. PM me if you're interested.

    I've been collecting and fishing bamboo for about 12 years now and there is a small learning curve here. A good place to start learning about bamboo is the book "Fishing Bamboo", by Gierach. It's getting kind of dated now but there is good advice therein. Also, hang out at Clark's web site, you'll learn a lot.

    Kent is really up on bamboo, so I'll be curious to see what his input is.

    Cliff
     
  7. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Dan, Herl and Cliff are right - there is renewed interest in bamboo rods, they're not the same as their graphite counterparts and there are some additional questions to ponder before plunking down $500 or more for one. The answers to these questions will determine whether your money was wasted or if you've made a wise investment in a quality flyfishing tool that will gain in value over time.

    In my opinion, the big three questions are: What taper was used to build the rod? What is the overall build quality (NOT the cosmetics)? What is the reputation of the maker?

    I believe that Elkhorn, like Sweetwater and others, is simply offering a Chinese-made rod that's been branded with their name. These rods have been in more or less continuous production for the past decade and marketed under a variety of names. The early verdict by cane experts was that they weren't worth much as fishing tools and even less as an investment. Their tapers made them more like sticks to cast, their build quality left glue seams and rounded shoulders between the flats, and nobody had ever heard of the maker, so there was zero demand for them in the used market.

    However, some reports recently suggest that the overall quality level has improved, making newer Chinese rods a better choice as a fishing tool. As an investment, they're still a poor choice IMHO.

    Compared with bamboo rods by the proven makers, an investment in a Chinese cane rod will probably depreciate just as quickly (if not quicker) than in a graphite rod by Griggs or Browning while costing a whole lot more up front.

    If it I was me considering a bamboo rod for $500 or so, I'd take a lot harder look at a used rod by a classic bamboo maker like Orvis, Granger or Phillipson, or to a lesser extent, Heddon. Being made from solid wood instead of hollow plastic, bamboo rods can last several lifetimes with just a moderate amount of care. As such, there's a robust market for used cane on eBay and on Clark's.

    For example, $500 to $700 can pick up a 1970s vintage Orvis Battenkill 7-1/2 foot 2/2 for 5wt. Many regard the Battenkill as the Chevy 283 of cane rods, holding them in the same high regard as a 1956 Bel-Air coupe. And unlike an Elkhorn or Sweetwater rod (or ANY graphite rod for that matter), you'll be comfortable knowing that you can fish the Battenkill for decades and that its value will continue to keep up with or beat inflation over the years.

    K
     
  8. Tom Bowden

    Tom Bowden Active Member

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    You could also go to the Wild Steelhead Coalition meeting in Seattle on February 10, and bid on a bamboo rod donated by a local amateur rod maker. This is a 7' 2/2 4wt. "Sir-D" taper - a great small stream rod.

    Hopefully you can open the attached picture.

    View attachment 7603

    Tom
     
  9. Cliff

    Cliff Member

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    Is this a Daryl Hayashida taper? Can you describe the taper and action?
    Thanks,
    Cliff
     
  10. Cliff

    Cliff Member

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    Good advice, Kent. The first thing that crossed my mind when I read Superfly's post was that I'd try to scrape up another hundo or so and start trying to find an 8'6" 5 weight Granger. as you know I'm terribly fond of that rod and it's my go-to rod, even though I have other production and hand-planed rods. Ditto on the used Orvis rods. I love my Orvis Shooting Star even though some rodbuilders sneer at impregnated rods. At some point I hope to add a smaller Light Salmon or 6/7 weight Battenkill to my stable. These Orvis impregnated rods are still a fairly good deal these days.
    Having said all this, I think a good, critical look-see at these Elkhorn rods are certainly warranted. Maybe I'll see you in Bellevue. Robert K. will be with me and he usually brings a rod.

    Cliff
     
  11. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    I'd love to meet Robert. Let's stay in touch about which day you two plan on going.

    K
     
  12. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    One thing I forgot to mention above is that bamboo rods are quite a bit heavier than graphite. The additional weight can be a bit disconcerting to some, especially when they find the balance point is several inches beyond the winding check.

    For that reason, I'd advise anyone thinking about bamboo to scale back their expectations about rod length. While 9' is a sort of standard these days in graphite, 7-1/2' is probably the most common and popular length in cane. A non-hollowbuilt 9' cane rod will weigh well over twice that of a similar graphite and takes one heck of a reel to balance it, another reason to stick with the 7-1/2' Battenkill.

    K
     
  13. Dan

    Dan Member

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    Kent,

    I had the same thought about rod length after posting. This is one case where longer is not necessarily better.
     
  14. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

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    When looking at 7/8 Battenkill rods, you might want to keep an ear to the ground for a Madison or an Equinox. Both also came in that weight range and are often impregnated. Many of the Orvis impregnated blanks and whole rods were made by Sharpes. Most of those will say "Scotland" on the butt cap. I say many and most not all.
    During a conversation with Marty Keene about my 7/8 Equinox, he said that the Battenkill, Madison and Equinox in that weight range were all basically the same taper.

    I cast two of Roberts rods at the Metolius Fair last summer. Of all the rods I cast there, his easily left the most lasting impression. They were "like butter".

    TC
     
  15. Tom Bowden

    Tom Bowden Active Member

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    Cliff & All,

    The Sir-D was originally designed by Wayne Cattanach in Michigan. Daryl Hayashida modified the taper by adding .002" to the tip and 5" station. I always make one tip with Wayne's original measurements and one with Daryl's, but to be honest, I can't tell the difference when casting.

    The Sir-D is a fast-action taper that works great for small streams and dry flies. It has a "dead spot" in the taper about 15" above the grip, which enhances the rod's roll casting capability. It's a nice rod for someone who has learned to cast with graphite. Many rodmakers recommend it as a first bamboo rod for this reason, and also because it casts and fishes well.

    Here in the Northwest, a 7' rod is a bit small for much of the fishing we do. But for small stream fishing, short bamboo rods are great. Graphite is too stiff to be useful on short rods, which is why you don't see many of them on the market.

    Tom