Bamboo Exclusively?

Greg Armstrong

Happy to see this new section on the forum.

I'm curious how many others use bamboo and if so, what percentage would you say you do use it relative to graphite or glass?

I'd say I fish bamboo 90% of the time, with the graphite being used only for the far too rare "tropical" trips I take for bonefish, tarpon and snook.

I got started using bamboo when I inherited my grandfathers South Bend and my great aunt and uncle's Heddons (nice tapers BTW for "blue collar rods). I like a couple of Goodwin Grangers I've acquired (an 8642 and a 9050, both "Victory" models) as well as a newer Thramer 4 Wt. I also fish an Orvis Battenkill impregnated in the salt for searuns. Also have an 8 wt. Winston steelhead rod I've yet to fish, and assorted Edwards, a couple of F. Thomas rods, and an old Leonard.

I've enjoyed fishing and learning the history of these old rods and have also fallen victim to acquiring and using a whole collection of old reels to go with them.

So I'm curious to know what bamboo rods, and what percentage do you all fish them relative to graphite or glass?


Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!
I only have one boo rod, a Headwaters 7' 4/5 wt that I picked up a few summers ago. I use a SA 5wt DT line for it and just recently got an old Orvis Clearwater reel (made in England) for it! Love the setup, but I don't fish it a whole lot. I've used it on the Sky for sea run's a few times, on the Snoqualmie and the Stilly for the same, and in Eastern WA a bit on small creeks. Caught a few brookies (6-8 inches) on it and it's great for them!

I do have a bamboo blank, that I'm going to work on. Don't know who its made by or the taper, but have some great components for it. It's a 3 piece 9' stick.

Anyway, planning on fishing my Headwaters more next spring and summer. I bought it to take out to MT, ID and of course stuff like the Yak.

I have used my glass rod a bit for steel recently, since it's my first fly rod, a Wright and McGill 8' 2pc 8wt. Slower than slow, but fun to cast every once in a while!


Love vintage graphite!
I started out fishing graphite, but I always gravitated to the slowest, softest graphite rods I could find. Then I discovered bamboo and realized that I had found what I was looking for. I loved woodworking and making things with my hands so I was naturally taken in by the craftsmanship of the bamboo rods as well. Being on a budget meant buying bamboo rods was probably not going to happen so I started to explore making them. I ended up taking a class from Bill Oyster and made my first bamboo rod. I was hooked and knew I wanted to pursue this craft, but again, time, money and a busy life just got in the way and all was put on the back burner. To fill the gap I began to acquire fiberglass rods,,,Fenwicks, Lamiglas, Browning Silaflex, etc. I now had a rod quiver that amounted to one bamboo rod and several fiberglass rods and I was a happy camper. Then recently I had the opportunity to be introduced to a very well respected rod maker in this area and after a few phone conversations, emails and visits I am going to be pursuing bamboo rod making as a serious hobby under his watchful eye. I know some fly tyers that only like to fish with flies that they tied themselves and that is where I am trying to get with rods. I want to fish exclusively with bamboo rods that I have crafted myself, and that goal is becoming more realistic every day as I acquire the necessary tools, gadgets and gizmos to start making cane rods.
I fish for trout 99% of the time and trout rods are what I intend to make. It should also be noted that I have nothing against graphite. I'm not a snobby bamboo purist who wears tweeds, smokes a merschaum pipe and scolds others on the way to fish "properly". Those that have fished with me know that I'm more likely to be in hip waders and a Pink Floyd t-shirt.....with my prized bamboo rod!


Addicted to Cane.......
I have fished cane rods almost exclusively for the past 10 years. I would say it breaks down as follows:

Trout: 100% of the time
Steelhead: 100% of the time
Salmon: 75% of the time. (Depends on when and how I am fishing)
All Other Species: Not worth my time.........


Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
I grew up on Glass rods. But was given a few of my Grandpas Boo rods (gear and fly). Still have them (from both sides of the family actually). I very RARELY fish them. In fact, the one has a broken tip, and the second tip seems week. I have used my other Grandpas boo rod. I have used that one a bit. It's one of the Japanese spin/fly rods. So I have a small baitcaster and flyreel to use on it. But I say I only use bamboo maybe way less then 1% of the time. Glass maybe 25% of the time (especially plug pulling), rest is Graphite.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
Graphite 50%; bamboo 45%; fiberglass 5%. I fish for trout exclusively, and about 90% of the time on stillwater. Since that involves sitting in a float tube, Watermaster or pontoon, I gravitate towards my graphite rods since their longer length helps keep my casts from slapping the water on either end. But on the whole I prefer playing and landing trout on bamboo, so my cane rods often get the nod, despite their shorter length.

My graphite arsenal includes 8'9" Sage SP 5-piece rods in 3, 4 and 5wt, and a 9' Sage SLT 5-piece for 6wt. My cane closet includes a dozen or so mostly vintage rods from an amazing 5'9" Orvis Ultralight staggered ferrule for 4wt to a 9' WM Granger 9050 Special for 5wt. Other rods from Orvis, Leonard, Pezon et Michel, Thomas & Thomas and Hardy fill in the middle lengths.

My only cane rod by a contemporary maker is a sweet 7' Catanach 7042 'Sir D taper' built a couple years ago by fellow WFFer Mike Monsos. For being just 7' long, it's a bloody rocket!

Besides several old Fenwick brown factory fiberglass rods I bought new back in the 1970s, I've also got a Lamiglas custom 7-1/2' 6-piece for 4wt a friend wrapped for me that makes a dandy backpacking rod.

I really enjoy reading these posts!

I've been making bamboo rods for 10 years now. I fish a lot in the saltwater for cutthroat and salmon, both wading the beaches and also from a sit-on-top kayak. I also fish lakes quite a bit, along with a bit of steelheading and small creek fishing. I use my bamboo rods for everything except for King and Chum salmon. For several years my Chum rod was an 8-1/2' Paul Young Para-17 taper, the one Ted Williams used for fishing bonefish in the Florida Keys back in the 50's and 60's. I caught quite a few fish with it, including one day when some gear-fisherman laughed at me for using a "dainty little bamboo rod" for salmon, and then proceeded to break their graphite rods while I landed several large chums! A few years ago I found an old 8-1/2' 9wt Fenwick Glass blank on E-bay. I like the strength of this rod, and it can handle large salmon a lot quicker than my Para-17.

There are a lot of very innovative bamboo rodmakers, including several in the Seattle area. I've attended the Corbett Lake gathering four times now, and every time I get new ideas and learn about new techniques and tapers.

The rods I've been using lately are 8-1/2 and 9 footers - hollow-built with integrated bamboo ferrules. The construction and taper allows for a long, light, fast-action rod that casts a lot like modern graphite rods. It works great for making long casts from a float tube or casting the larger flies we use for beach fishing. The two rods I've made this way have held up to heavy use for two years, but it's still uncertain whether the thin-walled construction and bamboo ferrules will stand the test of time. For this reason, most rodmakers would be reluctant to sell a rod like this.

I started out with a hand-me-down bamboo rod that was my Dad's. Then, when glass came along I went to that, then graphite, and now I'm going back to bamboo. I have a couple of old South Bend 359's that I like for fishing casts of wet flies, my wife has a couple of Montague Sunbeams that she likes because of the bakelite reel seats. The rods that get fished the most are a William Taylor Hollowbuilt 8'6" 6 wgt quadrate that casts like a bloody rocket and a wonderful 7'6" Hex 4 wgt built by the late John Channer. For Sea Run Cutts and summer Steelhead the Taylor 6 wgt often gets the nod, while the Channer is the rod of choice for trips to Idaho, Montana and local rivers.


Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Exclusively, no way. But, I do have a couple of older rods, a South Bend and Horrocks Ibboston. Neither are great but they were my intro to bamboo. I now have a Lew C Parks 7'3" 4wt that is hollow built and is way faster action than I ever expected. It is a moderate to fast action rod that truly impresses. I have cast my whole fly line just seeing how much it would deliver. At his price point I am overwhelmed at the quality and feel of this rod by Mr. Parks and in time might just see what others I could add from his bench. I have had chats with a few fine members here that have me interested in trying rods they have (Kent and Mike). When Bitterroot gets his building operation up and running I'll be waiting...

I have my share of fast to very fast graphite rods that serve me well, but have found some more moderate graphites to suit my fancy. I'm hopeless. I'll cast anything and some rods just feel like I should have them in my hand the next time I go fishing.
I'll wholeheartedly agree with Mumbles on his words regarding LCParks and the quality of his work. I own an 8' 3/2 5wt and a
7' 3/2 4wt. Both are "hollowbuilt" rods and very impressive in capabilities and finish. I like them far better than some costing 2-3
times as much.

Tim Cottage

Formerly tbc1415
I fish for trout. I use bamboo 99% of the time. The rods that I fish range from 1940's to 2010. They cover a wide spectrum of lengths, weights and tapers.
I have attended the Metolious gathering for the last four years. As I am not yet a maker, I have not attended the Corbett gathering.
I have been slowly acquiring rod making tools. Forms, planes, roughing beveler, etc. One day I will begin.

I am most fascinated with taper design and the almost limitless variations in approach and result. One of my favorite rod making friends and designers is Jerry Foster. This summer I brought home a copy of his Sinusoidal 8342. His web site is well worth reading through.

See this post about part of my collection of rods by the late Clifford Constable


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