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Fly fishing rods: Is bamboo worth it?

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by sernv99, Feb 8, 2011.

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  1. sernv99

    sernv99 Active Member

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    I thought maybe there would be some fly fishing aficiandos out there....anyone use a bamboo fly rod? Is it worth the investment for a high end bamboo rod over the standard carbon fiber/graphite composite rods out there? I have a mid-price Sage rod I bought about 10 years ago, cost me a good $500 or $600 at the time so I assume it's near the top of the line for Sage rods but I would to explore getting a custom bamboo rod done up...some of the big name companies I was looking at are Winston and Thomas and Thomas but just from googling I see there are a bunch of boutique, 'one man show" custom rod shops out there. If you have a recommdnation, I'm all ears. This would be for freshwater trout mostly.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. sernv99

    sernv99 Active Member

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    message delete...double post
     
  3. jlb

    jlb Member

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    I have only used old and relatively inexpensive bamboo fly rods and they are too slow for me. I think that a modern light weight rod might be lots of fun. I fish with a 0 wt Sage for small streams and it is a blast. A 12-24 inch fish makes you think that you have caught Moby Dick.
     
  4. blazer1

    blazer1 TS Member

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    If you have lots of money and require the finer things in life then Bamboo is the way to go. However, graphite today is dependable, inexpensive to fix (tips) and resistant to salts and the elements. So, in summmation if your trying to impress someone on the river, then I would honestly stay with Graphite. Don't look at brand name either, like sage, check out reddington, diamondback etc.. All of them come with life time warranties and for far less then the cost of sage, orvis,Gloomis, etc... I have flied fish all over the world with every type of rod you can imagine, Graphite is the best all around rod for presentation and fighting characteristica. Finally today's graphite come with different types of tips for presentation, stiffness and etc. Good Luck.
     
  5. idoc

    idoc Member

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    Yes and Yes What size fliies would you be fishing and where?............Rich
     
  6. ffwildcat

    ffwildcat TS Member

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    Been there done that. Bamboo is wonderful to fish and gorgeous to look at.

    BUT............(you knew that was coming)

    For my casting style and fishing needs I use graphite.

    You really can't go wrong with today's graphite rods, they've come a long way in the last two decades. A modern day high end graphite rod is a joy to cast. And just like you mentioned there is a number of boutique bamboo rodmakers out there, there are also a number of boutique graphite rodmakers out there. Technically the graphite guys are rod assemblers as the blanks are all made by the big name factories but the finish work is exceptional. The boutique bamboo guys are unreal - go to a rodmakers website and you'll find them.
     
  7. skeezix

    skeezix Member

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    These are made in Montana by the guys that used to make them for Winston. They are really nice.

    http://www.sweetgrassrods.com

    John
     
  8. snapthecat

    snapthecat TS Member

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    Blazer1 is right on. I used to build Tonkin cane rods until we bombed the gulf out of existence. I even built the complicated rod wrapping machine to do this with. Heck of a lot of fun
     
  9. FLAKETM

    FLAKETM TS Member

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    So many opinions, I almost hate to barge in. I have owned an expensive bamboo rod, 6 and a half footer. Too slow for me. But, you just sometimes get the itch to spend bucks on the prestige gun. I sold a TM1 that I shot well so I could get up in the world with a new MX2000. Didn't shoot it nearly so well. It went the same way the bamboo rod went - sold. I use a Sage 4 weight and a 20-year-old Orvis 6 weight, fishing mostly western trout streams. Love em both. Good luck with your choice.
     
  10. blackfoot

    blackfoot Member

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    No,not worth the money and trouble. They can "set" and are fragile in my opinion.I own about a dozen Orvis cane rods I picked up cheap at gun shows in Montana- they are on my wall of my man cave for decoration.

    I like a slow rod and only fish Dry flies- the best rod ever made in my opinion is the Sage LL series- it's a slow action and I think the best rod in the world. They are hard to find and pricey because they have a following and worth every $.I own a 8' #3, a 8 1/2 ' #5,and a 9'#6- and have enjoyed them for many years.They have cast # 22 tricos to # 8 Salmon flys w/ ease.

    Just one old guy's opinion who has chased trout on every continent that has them!
     
  11. sernv99

    sernv99 Active Member

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    ok, thanks for the opinions, looks like I'll put the bamboo idea on the backburner. My Sage is nice, coupled with a Ross reel,I am itching to get back into fly fishing this spring after a good 8 or 9 years of not fly fishing.
     
  12. sernv99

    sernv99 Active Member

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    Blackfoot:

    I am looking at my rod and it's a Sage SP 8'6" 5wt, 3 piece.....Just Googling around, it seems SP and the LL are on equal footing?



    Edit: reading up on some of the top tier non-boutique fly rod makers, it seems a lot of them have gone the way of outsourcing and taken over by management companies:

    - Sage still makes the rods in the US supposedly but it run by a management firm

    - Winston: the original owners it seems had a falling out with the new owners, some of the components are now outsourced and some have criticized them for letting their rods be sold by Cabelas

    - Powell Rods use to be a powerhouse fly rod company but it seems they went through a buyout and reorganization and some say quality has fallen off

    - Some of Orvis rods are outsourced to Asia....

    -I didnt read any negatives on Scott fly rods...

    -I didnt read any negatives about Thomas and Thomas...

    - I didnt read any negatives on Loomis....

    -I have heard one of the best companies making fly rod blanks is United Composite USA, the old Graphite USA company that was shutdown a few years ago, bought out and reincarnated to it's present day namesake.


    I may go the way of looking on fleaBay for some old vintage Sage or Winston rods like blackfoot mentioned or getting a custom graphite rod done up.
     
  13. riflegunbuilder

    riflegunbuilder Member

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    I have to disagree with many of you. A decent bamboo can be had in the $4-500 range, South Bends, Heddons, Phillipsons, etc. I started out with Graphite and almost gave up trying to learn to Fly cast. At a gun show found an older custom fiberglass and bought it on a whim. Loved it. All I fish is bamboo or fiberglass. Find a entry level bamboo and give it a try.
     
  14. TNCoach

    TNCoach Member

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    sernv99,

    First, you have to ask yourself one basic question do you plan on using it or collecting it.

    If you plan on collecting it, save yourself some money and invest in guns they won't depreciate over time.

    If you plan on fishing it, determine whether you like a fast rod like graphite or a slower rod like fiberglass.

    If you want a slow rod, there is a maker named Jim Beasley that makes some of the best rods in the country. Jim's rods rival the best.

    The fly shop that sells his work is Fly South - http://flysouth.net

    If you want a faster rod, contact Leo DeMumbreum. Leo is a rod builder that uses a wide variety of blanks and he can create a custom rod just for you. I bought a Leo rod a few years ago and enjoy fishing it every time I go to the Smokies!

    http://www.cumberlandtransit.com/forum/

    I've got a whole closet full of Winston graphite rods, but my favorite is Leo's!

    TNCoach
     
  15. sernv99

    sernv99 Active Member

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    TN: definetly for fishing, not collecting...

    I'll check into those rod builders you listed....my curret rod is a 3 piece and if I plan to air travel, I don't know how much of an issue is to check in a 3 piece rod. Maybe a 4 piece would be better to look at??
     
  16. blackfoot

    blackfoot Member

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    The Sage LL series is a graphite rod and is a slower rod.They can be found on sites like ebay and other fly fishing sites. The SP is a faster rod as is not as forgiving when you cast- not the best choice if you are a beginner. The SP is a good rod when fishing out of a drift boat whre you are moving and making alot of casts quickly. The LL is a good choice for wadinga nd casting to rising fish and is terrific when fishing for the big boys in spring creeks.

    So, you want slow rods when you are starting your fishing journey and fast when fishing in big water like Alaska throwing big flys , long distances or casting into winds after you know what you what you are doing. They both have a purpose.

    I also liked Winston Rods out of Twin Bridges Mt.but the fiberglass rods they made sucked.I thought Thomas and Thomas were over rated and the Orvis rods were getting junky- China crap.
     
  17. sernv99

    sernv99 Active Member

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    blackfoot:

    what current production rod (from any manufacturer) comes closest to the Sage LL series?
     
  18. TNCoach

    TNCoach Member

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    sernv99,

    Leo had quite a few examples of a South Bend 290 taper that was the fastest bamboo rod I have ever casted and in the hands of an expert (not me) I saw it throw a full flyline.

    I'm trying to find some photo of my rod, but they're on a hard drive somewhere around here...

    TNCoach

    I'm kinda surprised that nobody has mentioned A.J Thramer http://thramerrods.com/classic.htm
     
  19. sernv99

    sernv99 Active Member

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    I have been reading up on C.F. Burkheimer:

    http://cfbflyrods.com/

    They are graphite not bamboo but worth a look....
     
  20. RMR

    RMR Member

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    Reading through these threads has been interseting. Some of the information is correct and much is just opinions and should be taken as such, and some sound like its comming from folks with little to no real knowledge of bambbo rods.

    In addition to pheasant hunting, & bunker trap shooting my primary joy in life is/has been fly fishing- primarily the water of western MT. I have been an avid flyfisherman for 30+ years. I have also build bamboo fly rods for nearly that long also.

    The older production bamboo rods( heddon, Wright & McGill, South Bend....) are valuable only because of historical or sentimental value. They actully for the most part arnt that great of casting rods per say. I would also chime in that guys that sell graphite rods arnt rod builders- they are rod wrapers, the rods are made from someone else.

    The modern era bamboo rods ( those made in the past 15-20 years) arnt anything like the slow casting bamboo rod your granddad had. The newer generation bamboo rods are much crisper, with faster actions than the older bamboo rods many on this thread are talking about. That is in part to better tapers, heat treated bamboo, better quality bamboo today than what was available many yeras ago ( just because its pre- truman embargo bamboo doesnt mean its good- just sounds cool and sells rods), better glues, better varnish's..........

    Saying all that - as a general rule - bamboo rods have a slower action and a lighter cast than a graphite rod- even though there are many differrent graphite action available. 10-15 yeras ago it was all about fast long casting rods that Sage, Winston, Thomas and Thomas were pushing. Then we saw a trend back to slower to medium action rods more like a bamboo rod. Its all personal opioin and what you like

    The action of rod you want is a personal thing really. If you like to make super long casts - and look really cool on the water( but probably arnt catching or at least hooking many fish with thos super long casts) then a fast action graphite rod is what you want. However most fish - at least on a dry fly- are probaly caught within 10 yards from where you are casting - well within the range of a bamboo rod.

    What bamboo rods are not good for: 1) making huge long casts, 2) dredging the bottom with some huge stone fly nymph and 1 pound of split shot, 3) casting on really windy days. What bamboo rods are great for: 1) dry fly presentations at close- medium distances, 2) line presentation and controll - line mending is a lot easier with bamboo and its hard to make a fly/leader/ line slap the water and "line " the fish as is easy to do with an overly fast action graphite.

    Bamboo rods made from a reputable maker( and Im not talking about Orvis) will probably be in the 1200-1800 region depending on number of tips... There are some that are made from very well know makers that are in the 2000-2500 region. I know the initial reaction is - holy crap that is a lot of $$$ for a bamboo rod. What the typical person that says that doesnt know is- it takes 100-120 hours to make a truely hand planed rod, straighten it, wrap it and varnish it. A good bamboo rod maker probably has 20K in tools invested also.

    Lastely- as was said a graphite rod is like a car- as soon as you drive it off the lot- it just depreciated 25% and only goes down from there- there is almost no resale value on graphite- why ? because there are about 10 trillion of them out there. A well constructed bamboo rod will hold its value and probably appreciate with time ( depending on the notoriety of the maker, the rod weight/action, and how well its been taken care of). I currently have a bamboo rod made back right after WW2- its a 6' 9" rod- fairly low number made and I have been told its probably worth 2500+ because its rare and it pristine condition.

    If you see a bamboo rod builder charging 400-500 for a rod- its probably someone who just started building and may not be creating that nice of a rod( even though it may be a good casting and fishing rod). To get into a reptable bamboo rod you are probably going to need to be prepared to spend 1500 or so.

    Bamboo is not for everyone- but once you use it you will love the feel. Its kind of like shotgun sports- a good shooter can do just as well with a 1500 Browning shotgun as he can with a 15,000 Perrazi. I still fish with graphite depending on the river, how windy it is, am I mymphing...... but if its a nice calm day- Im sight fishing to rising fish I can wade to using a dry fly- I gop OLD SCHOOL BABY and break out the bamboo ever time.

    Hope this helps
    RMR
     
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