Bamboo Fly Rods & Landing Nets by Joslin...a small website honoring the worksmanship of Bill Joslin's Handmade Bamboo Fly Rods and Landing Nets.
History of the Bamboo Fly rodUp until the 1830's flyrods were made of wood. These were very long, over 10 feet. They were fairly easy to make but had problems with warping and breaking, especially near the tip (and were also heavy). Many builders tried laminated wood for the tips - and later, in a further evolution, laminated bamboo strips. They used a type of cane from India called "Calcutta Cane". This was an improvement and with time the entire rod came to be built with laminated bamboo. At first just two strips were used but eventully the six strips we see in todays rods were used and by 1870 this was the accepted form used in most flyrods.
Around the turn of the century Tonkin Cane (aka. Bamboo) began importing into the U.S. The qualities of Tonkin cane so far exceeded those of Calcutta cane that it was quickly adopted as the primary cane used in flyrod construction. Within a few years a machine was invented that allowed the tapered strips to be mass produced. Bamboo flyrod manufacturing had entered the age of the Industrial Revolution.
In the early days rod builders were extremely secretive about how they build their rods. There were no books availble and information was very difficult to come by. The men who built these rods had to go through an apprenticeship and were naturally reluctant to see the knowledge of rod building become generally available. With time this changed and today there is a lot of information on building, restoring, and collecting bamboo flyrods.
Bamboo flyrods are still manufactured but each one is a handmade artifact. You can find bamboo flyrods for sale most anytime on Ebay. A friend of mine who collects fishing rods began to specialize in bamboo flyrods. His job took him into the homes of many elderly widows and he managed to bring bamboo flyrods into the conversation. It is amazing how many of these women would bring out old bamboo flyrods that had belonged to their husbands. There are still a lot of old ones out there, in every kind of shape from poor to excellent. Some are quite valuable while some are not. Do some investigating before you decide to buy an old bamboo flyrod. Many can be restored but even those that can't be have a special beauty and make great conversation pieces.