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Materials for Flyrods

There seems to be something very special about tonkin bamboo as a rodbuilding material. To me no flyrod made of artificial material has a fascination and natural beauty like tonkin bamboo.

At the time we have two materials on the market that fly fishing rods are made of.

Carbon graphite fibre, a man made, space age material that came up in the early 70s as a rodbuilding material and finally took over fiber glass within a few years. Now about 98% of all production fly rods are made of this material. New kinds of graphite materials enter the market, promising better and better rods, but are they really getting better ... ?

Split bamboo, a natural fibre material that is used to make the finest trout flyrods for over 150 years now. Although carbon graphite seems to be the only material of choice at the first glance, a fine bamboo flyrod not just has a certain, irresistable magic to it.

To me and many other it is more enjoyable to fish because of its special properties that graphite lacks.

O.K.,bamboo is heavier than carbon graphite, which is a drawback on longer rods beyond 8 1/2', but with shorter rods (between 6' and8' and line weights from #2 to #6), that are common for trout fishing around the world, the heavier material, combined with the high internal dampening produces a nice and easy to cast and fish action. A good bamboo rod almost seems to cast by itself, when a graphite rod has to be driven to throw the line.

From the many bamboos of this planet only one species is curretly used to make flyrods from. This particular bamboo that grows within a pretty small area of southeastern China is called Tonkin bamboo, it's latin name is Arundinaria Amabilis. So, what's so special about this bamboo? Arundinaria Amabilis is the strongest bamboo and the strongest plant fibre there is, with a higher tensile strength than steel.

There is still much to say about bamboo flyrods, but the best thing to convert from graphite to bamboo is to cast or better fish a good bamboo rod for an hour or so and get used to the own rythm and magic of that material.

Bamboo flyrods made by famous makers like James Payne or Everett Garrison are sold for thousands of dollars today. A high quality bamboo flyrod is long lasting, it will be fished 'til the end, until the rod is beyond repair or the owner is dead. Many bamboo flyrods were passed on from father to the son to grandson. In most cases an old graphite rod is just junk and will finally end up in the garbage can and is not even serviceable as a tomato stake.

To be a bamboo flyrod lover maybe also has to do with mentality, attitude towards life, loving the good stuff life has to offer. Bamboo flyrods seem to make flyfishing more enjoyable and the harmony they breathe. Fishing gets more relaxed and less competitive (the way it should be), the singing of the birds seems to be clearer. Just check out a bamboo flyrod and I am sure that you'll get an idea what I am talking about.

There still is much to say about split bamboo. A fellow rodmaker and fishing buddy Don Andersen has more to say on "Why Bamboo". Check out his website.

If you like to read a book about why certain people love fishing bamboo flyrods, John Gierachs book Fishing Bamboo might be of interest.

If you appreciate an old single malt Scotch whisky after a good day on the river (like I do), you will definitely love bamboo flyods, too...

Happy rodbuilding.