Winston bamboo rods

Cactus said:
but isn't that what Glen Brackett was doing when he sold it to an absentee owner?
Glen didn't sell to DO, Tom Morgan did. I've never really talked with him on this directly, but it seemed to me that he enjoys the craftsman side of it more than the headaches of the business.

I think the death of Winston (my favorite rod company since I first came to Twin Bridges in 1986) seems to be a larger symptom of the passing times. I feel like a grumpy old man, and I am only 32.

Glen and his crew are great guys. When I was a 20 year old fishing hack, he'd take time to go out behind the shop with me and taught me quite a bit about both casting and fishing--despite being busy at home and with work. I was lucky enough to carry around a whole bundle of prototype rods to fish with that summer, and my folks ended up buying me a rod when I graduated from college.

I have always been grateful for guys like Glen--guys that take snot nosed suburban kids like me under their wings and show them a different way of seeing things. He's made a tremendous impact on a lot of people's lives, and has done it just by being himself.

I wish the whole crew success, and will continue to buy rods from them as my budget allows. As for Winston? Well, I think those rods started to go downhill about the time they started putting boron in them. Give me an old IM6 or a Tom Morgan favorite anyday. Probably have to go out and horde them now, I really doubt we'll ever see those soft-tipped, slow action rods on the market again.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
90 days of training is a lot of time (hours) at the bench. If the person is already a rodmaker of any quality, that may be a very solid introduction.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
Bob, your point is well taken - I'm sure the two people who were chosen from the green line are capable guys and quick studies.

But while the process of building a rod from a blank is nearly the same for graphite and bamboo, there's a considerable difference between making a graphite blank and making a bamboo blank.

With graphite, it involves wrapping sheets of graphite around a machined steel mandel, trimming the excess and curing the laid-up blank. The process of making a bamboo blank out of six identical strips of bamboo, split and planed by hand to 0.001" tolerance is considerably more labor intensive. With no mandrel to insure an identical taper for every blank, there are a whole lot more chances for a minor mistake to turn an almost-rod into a tomato stake.

Anyone with $3K to spend on a cane rod understands the difficulties of the process. My guess is that darned few will pony up for a non-Brackett Winston any time soon, or at least until independent reviews confirm that the quality is worth what Winson is asking for them.


Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
My only point is that a person already familiar may have an distinct advantage. I doubt that they are totally in the dark regarding the bamboo process. Not to suggest it is a formal apprenticeship in rodmaking. Just a point that 90 days is a lot of hands-on bench time, especially for a person familiar with rodmaking, and who may already have "good hands".

David Loy

Senior Moment
A lot can be learned in 90 days. Some of it may pass over their heads at first only to become an epiphenal moment later.
dstreding - what a lucky guy!!! Glen sounds like an exceptional person anyone here would love to meet and chat up. That said though, I wonder how much interest he has in training his replacements. Weak as I am, mentally I'd be disengaged in maybe two weeks.
Side bar - I've always found the WTs interesting. They seem to have been phasing out already. I've always liked the feel but twice I couldn't quite buy one. Just a triffle toooo slow. Am absolutely smitten with a 4 wt LT though.
I digress though, not to hijack the thread... Like others here, I just won't easily get over the loss of company talent OR product. Have often thought my retirement gift would be a GB bamboo Winston to be designated later.
Unfortunately, much later...
All of this talk about building bamboo rods is sparking an interest in me to learn more about how they are built. Does anybody know if it is expensive to do? Is there a lot of equipment involved or are there simple hand tools that you use. Just curious.


Well-Known Member

Split bamboo rods can be made with all simple hand tools, but it's a lot easier with a few complex pieces. The string winder comes to mind - it winds string around the freshly glued sections in both directions simultaneously to keep the section from twisting. That can be done slowly by hand with a helper, however. Adjustable steel planing forms are used by most builders, I think, but you can hand plane the individual sections using a simple block of hard maple with 60 degree grooves of differing depths routed in it. It's easy to make a glue drying box out of plywood with a few light bulbs in it for heat. And you can straighten sections of cane over a gas stove, maybe electric, but I'm not sure if it gets hot enough.


Salmo g.
The best book I ever bought was the one by Garrison/Carmichael on how to build a bamboo fly rod. I invested $40 in it and was convinced that I never want to get involved with building my own rod. The $2K-$3K price tag is a good value. Just a thought.........

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
bucksnort said:
The best book I ever bought was the one by Garrison/Carmichael on how to build a bamboo fly rod. I invested $40 in it and was convinced that I never want to get involved with building my own rod. The $2K-$3K price tag is a good value. Just a thought.........
iagree I bought rodbuilding books by Maurer & Elser and by Ray Gould and came quickly to the same conculsion. Building a bamboo blank seems deceptively easy until one begins to understand the process.

There's a simple reason only a few people even start to build a bamboo rod, very few end up with one they can actually fish, and an incredibly small number who actually succeed in making one that someone else would pay money for.

Once you grasp how incredibly painstaking building a blank can be, buying an old Heddon, Granger or Orvis for a few hundred dollars or a couple thousand for a Winston or T&T seems like a bargain by comparison.


Tim Cottage

Formerly tbc1415
bucksnort said:
The best book I ever bought was the one by Garrison/Carmichael on how to build a bamboo fly rod. I invested $40 in it and was convinced that I never want to get involved with building my own rod. The $2K-$3K price tag is a good value. Just a thought.........
It's no wonder you came to that conclusion. You happened to pick up the least user friendly of all the commonly available cane rod building books.

The Masters Guide to Building a Bamboo Fly Rod was written by Hoagy Carmichael about Everett Garrison. Garrison was by education and profession a structural engineer who lived and breathed structural analysis. Deeply devoted to his micrometer and slide rule, he thought and expressed his ideas in terms of numbers, graphs and tables and Garrison loved to think.
It is fortunate that Hoagy was able to put Garrisons methods and reasons into laymans terms as well as he did.

Here is an example from the books forward.

Eventually Garry (Garrison) was to explain many of his theories in an article for Field and Stream. The words of this practical theorist trying to demonstrate his ideas to anglers at large, brings a chuckle. "I shall have to use a few engineering terms, which I shall explain as I go along" he wrote, "but I am leaving out the mathematics in the interest of clearness". Then, in almost the same breath, he postulated that "in a 'couple' composed of an area A at a distance h above a neutral axis and an equal area A at an equal distance h below the axis, the moment of inertia of the couple would be A times H squared, thus making it evident that this balanced couple is symmetrical about the neutral axis of bending and therefore that the working condition of the areas are equal and opposite"

There are a few other excellent books on the subject that are far easier to understand the first time through. In fact, they make the whole process seem very much within reach of the average person.

A great way to try your hand at rod making is to take a class. The instructor provides all of the tools and equipment, and shows you how to do each step. Without investing all of the time and money in tools and supplies, you can find out if rod making is for you. Plus, you leave the class with a bamboo blank that you made yourself - worth at least part of the cost of the class.

That's the way I learned - from Wayne Cattanach five years ago. When I got home I bought or made the various tools required, set up a workbench in the third bay of the garage, got a supply of bamboo from Andy Royer, and have enjoyed making about 40 rods since then. It's a fantastic hobby!