Why Bamboo and Why a Mountain Rod?

Why Bamboo: Years ago I built a number of graphite rods using premium blanks. Doing this, I learned both the strengths and weakness of graphite rods. First, what I couldn't do is control the most important thing itself - the rod blank. Contrary to popular opinion, no two graphite blanks are the same. I have had rods that have broken and the "exact" model replacement was a totally different blank. Second, I could not control the taper of the blank to create a rod for my fishing conditions. I had to accept general purpose tapers that appeal to the "mass" market. Third, graphite needs to load properly in order to make a cast. To load the rod, you need to use the fly line and speed to create enough energy to load (remember E=MC2). Graphite is not self loading since it has very little mass. Lastly, graphite does not dampen well - it just keeps on vibrating. In the end, I found my casting abilities exceeded the capabilies of the material to make the casts I wanted to make. I have a number of customers who become dissatisfied with their "favorite" rod and do not realize it was the graphite that was the problem and not them.


Over the years bamboo has been recognized as the premier material for building fly rods. The reason graphite replaced it is that graphite rods were cheaper to manafacture and gave you some degree of acceptable performance. Bamboo rods are labor intensive - approximately 60 hours go into each rod. With bamboo I found that I had a natural material that naturally dampens well and that I had total control of making the blank. I make each strip to .001" tollerance. I can get multiple rods that act and cast the same. Additionally, bamboo self loads so I could get rods that needed very little line and speed to load. This makes it easier to cast. With a bamboo fly rod I have found that it has the ability to make any cast I want and it performs up to anyone's casting ability.


Why a Mountain Rod?: Each rodmaker designs his rods to meet his particular fishing conditions. I found that there were few "classic" rods that were ideal for mountain streams. The reason was that the tapers were not designed to primarily make short casts (under 10 feet). Most were designed for "typical" Eastern fishing - making casts of 30-35 feet. A short cast was 15'. I have tried a vast number of rods and few meet the performance criteria for mountain rods. I have had a number of customers who believe that previously the best rod they had found was a Leonard #38. This was a good rod. They now believe that my Park Series of rods out peforms this rod.


Another misconception is that a longer (8') rod can be used. When questioned these people do not make short casts but prefer to "dap" the fly on the water. Unfortunately this can spook the fish and a lot of choice spots will be missed.


Once people get used to one of my rods they appreciate the fact they were previously working their butts off when now they have to learn how to relax and make the short casts. I find that I have to help people break bad habits brought on by previous rods. The hard part is to stand up straight and just make casts - rather than bend over and try and "flick" the fly line forward. My friend Steve finally saw what I was expounding upon him when he watched one of his clients fish his prior graphite rod. Making a short cast really helps in the presentation of the fly to the fish. A casted fly will land lightly upon the water and even "skid" slightly giving a life like presentation.


Lastly, a mountain rod will make all the casts required when fishing difficult conditions where clearance becomes a problem. I have learned many unconventional cast from roll casts, to half roll, and on to back hand side arm casts to present a fly when you know that you only will get one chance to do it right or the fish is gone.