Bamboo for big poppers

Starting to get my feet wet in bamboo. Owned a couple bamboo rods over the years (the bamboo bug hadn’t fully hit me yet), and recently bought a new 4wt 8’ Bill Critchfield rod (haven’t had a chance to fish it yet).

As much as I love fishing small trout streams with dries, my real love is slinging big cork poppers (size 2 and bigger usually) for largemouth, and weighted streamers (bass turds and clousers) with an intermediate line for smallmouth. Usually I’m fishing out of my Kayak. Currently use a Sage Salt 9’ 8wt, and Hardy Pro Axis 9’ 6wt as my bass arsenal. I know bamboo is slower, and that’s fine. I’m usually only casting 50-60’ to bass, and don’t mind a bit slower action for those wind resistant bugs.

Looking for suggestions on a rod weight, length, and taper. A classic blue collar rod would be fine, or something to discuss with a builder (taper to copy). My knowledge of bamboo is just starting. Any education is appreciated. If anyone is willing to let me cast some rods, that’s even more appreciated. I live down near Chehalis, but travel the I-5 coordinator between Portland and Bellingham for work with some regularity.


Active Member
If I may say so, unless you have played around with a large bamboo rod before you should try one before you purchase. They're big and heavy and can cause some shoulder fatigue. I fish an older 9ft 8wt Orvis Shooting Star occasionally for bass. I bought the rod just because I wanted one and had planned on using it for salmon and steelhead (it was designed for salt). I really don't fish for big salmonids anymore so it's a sometimes bass rod. It is harder on the arm and shoulder than my big Loomis 8wt but I prefer it to graphite. With all that weight up there it loads much more easily than my graphite rod and really throws big bugs a mile. I live in North Seattle and if you would like to try it out we could meet at a local lake and give it a go. This is a vintage rod from the late 1950's so you would have to hunt ebay for one like it, but it will give you an idea of how a 9ft 8wt bamboo rods casts.

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