There is at least one guy that is a regular at Swede's that builds bamboo rods. If you start from the point of building the rod from cane, its a labor intensive, rather expensive (tool wise) love.
I would love to have the chance to check it out in somebody elses shop, but until then I am not building one from the cane.
Several internet shops sell the blanks either ferruled or not that one can build a handle on, and wrap. Its no harder than wrapping a graphite rod, but alot spendier. The blanks start at about $300 for cheapos and are more like $700-1000 each.
I have really looked into it, but I don't have the money to get the needed tools. I tried last summer to build a plaining form out of maple, but it is, and was really hard to get it right, I might try again, but I think I might just spend the money and get a nice one. I have done a lot of reading, and a lot of research on the subject, so I know how too (I am sure there are things that I would learn from buidling one but I know the basics). But like it was mentioned, it is a lot of work, so if you aren't good with your hands, and you don't have a lot of time to put into it than well I don't know what to tell you. It is a lot of work and moeny invested. If you are planning on building bamboo, I would say to think of building multiple rods because the tools alone will set you back a lot.
Good choice. If you build a graphite rod and deside that you don't enjoy or have the time to build rods than you aren't out that much money. All you need is a big book (tension) and a cardboard box with a couple "V" in it for drying the rod (but if you do this, make sure you spin the rod about 45 degrees every 5-15 minutes). A round file, some sandpaper, and a razor blade. Everything else you would need to buy no matter what kind of rod you build. Blank, reel seat, cork handle (or rings), epoxy, thread, finish, guides, tip top, and winding check.
E-mail me at [email protected]. I may be willing to open my shop later this spring and share with you and others the process of building a bamboo flyrod. I live in northwest Puget Sound.
I took the plunge a couple of years ago and have built several rods. You need to be prepared to spend at least a grand and that is building many of the tools yourself.
Also plan on 50/60 hrs per rod. If you love working with your hands and creating something beautiful with great Karma then go for it.
send me a email if you want more info.
I began building and restoring bamboo rods about 5 years ago when I retired. I, too, did not want to spend the considerable dollars to buy the planing forms and etc. I decided to start by re-buiding a couple of rods I bought on ebay. Once I figured out what I was up against. I bought a couple of inexpensive blanks and finished them out with some success. I have been doing that ever since. While I would enjoy splitting and planing my own strips, I am content doing what I am. Some day, I may go to one of the 5 day classes that are offered in the East and build my own.
I have many places to direct you to for information on building cane rods and sources for blanks and other components... just send me an email.