By Ted Knott
Some of the finest hand crafted bamboo rods available today are
being made by Canadians. Their work is the equal of the better known
American makers and is sought out by knowledgeable anglers. Most
of these craftsmen have a standard line of rods ranging from six feet
to eight feet and in line weights three to eight. Customizing your order
in terms of rod action, thread colours, reel seats or other special requests
is the norm. Prices range from approximately $1000.00 to $2000.00 Cdn.
depending on the amount of work in the rod and special features.
Considering that each bamboo rod requires a minimum of fifty hours to
build, the cost is quite reasonable. Nearly all operations are one-man shops
limited to a yearly production of between fifteen and thirty rods.
Interest in making and using split bamboo rods has grown considerably
over the past decade. I suspect that this is partly due to a resistance to
the high tech advances of graphite technology, and partly to a respect for
fly fishing traditions, and a desire to own a fine piece of craftsmanship.
This growth is reflected in the number of rod maker 'Gatherings' that are
held each year across North America. At a recent Ontario 'Gathering' nearly
sixty amateur rod makers met to share ideas and rod making techniques.
Most of these fly fishers make, or plan to make, one or two rods (often
of superb quality) a year for themselves or friends. A few, such as Jorge
Carcao of Ontario, and John Bokstrom, of British Columbia, do work
which has become a benchmark for the rest of us.
When I made my first split bamboo rod nearly twenty five years ago
there was very little information available and I learned by trial and error.
My first reference was a book by George Herter. A few years later I met
Dave Reid of Meaford who passed on to me a few of his 'secrets' of rod
making. Later I met John Palmer, of Toronto, who helped me with my
gluing process. The release of the Garrison/Carmichael book, A Masters
Guide To Building a Bamboo Rod in 1977 was a revelation, and probably
sparked the growth of interest that exists today. The first-time rod maker,
as well as the experienced maker, has numerous sources of information by
way of the Internet, several recent publications, and the regional 'Gatherings.'
The exchange of ideas, taper theories, planing techniques, etc. through the
Internet and 'Gatherings' is unquestionably the driving force in the quality
of work that is available today.
Cane rod building activity seems to be focussed in British Columbia and
Alberta in the west, and in Ontario and Quebec in the east. Going from
east to west, some of the better known makers are: (I apologize if I've
Terance Ackland, Montreal area
Terry has been making rods since the early '80s. Models range from
6' 6' to 7' 9'. Terry makes all of his components and states on his web
site that he makes 'rods designed to be fished, not collected.'
Ted Knott, Southern Ontario
Ted's rods range from 6'6' for a #3 line, to 8'0' for #7. His rods
are characterized by a flamed, tortoise shell, appearance. Ted has
been making rods since the mid '70s.
DeGiusti and Blades Rod Company, Southern Ontario
Roy DeGiusti and Ray Blades are two of the younger, newer breed
making cane rods. They make exquisite rods based on tapers they
have developed themselves, but can make most anything you want.
Don Anderson, Alberta
Don has been making split bamboo rods for many years and his work
is in high demand. Don is a frequent contributor to the Internet and
freely shares his experience with other rod builders. His web site
has thorough coverage of his rods.
Eden Cane, (Bernard Ramanauknas)
Bernard Ramanauknas, owner of Eden Cane, is a recent full-time
rod maker. He produces nodeless, semi-hollow built rods from 6'6'
to 8'0'. He makes his own reel seats and uses premium components
elsewhere on the rod. Most of his rods are sold through a dealer.
Bob Milward, British Columbia
Bob has been making split cane rods for over twelve years and
has models ranging from 6'0' to 13'0'. He divides his time between
architectural consulting and bamboo rod making. Bob is known
for his sharing, creative and artistic approach to rod making, for
example, the 'Milward Binder' for gluing strips, the 'Milward Beveller'
for roughing out strips, and for his beautiful hand painted bamboo
Split bamboo rods have a long tradition dating back to the late 1800s.
It's a superb material for fly casting rods and has proven itself over
the decades. Most makers agree its best use is in the rods from 6'0'
to 8'0'. Beyond 8'0' the rods get heavy and slow. Within this range,
however, the bamboo's action is pleasant and relaxed, and many anglers
are re-discovering the charm of fishing with this exquisite, classic
material. ~ Ted Knott