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john bokstrom - rodmaker

by Frank Neunemann

It was in early April 1992 when finally I finished preparations for my first trip to a destination outside of Europe. I wanted to meet my pen friend John Bokstrom in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. Furthermore I planned to attend a bamboo rodbuilder's meeting at Corbett Lake Lodge of which he had told me about 2 years earlier. The combination of opportunities of meeting a good friend in person, seeing a whole bunch of other bamboo rodmakers, and all this in beautiful British Columbia made the decision easy to buy that costly airline ticket. Besides that, Canada always was a dream destination of mine for many years.

I first came in touch with John in October 1990 after submitting an article to the Planing Form newsletter. I think that it was something on wooden reelseat fillers. A few weeks after the article was published I found a letter from John in the mail and I was very surprised that my article caused someone from the other end of the planet to send his comments to me, an amateur rodmaker living in Germany.

Who says that big fish can't be caught on a split bamboo flyrod?
Who says that big fish can't be caught on a split bamboo flyrod?

In that letter he introduced himself as a retired orthodontic technician who is making bamboo fly rods since 1974. As I read on I was pleasantly surprised about the open way he wrote and told me about details of his rodmaking techniques, preferences he has regarding taper design, where he gets his bamboo, wrapping silk and nickel silver ferrules from.

"That's amazing, I had a pretty tough time when I got started in 1985, and now after having successfully finished 8 bamboo fly rods I get all this information in a letter from someone I never met so far!", I thought.

Well, the most exciting part of his letter were the paragraphs about that rodbuilder's meeting he and Don Andersen started in 1988. He wrote about what was going on during those meetings, about the people attending it and that it was so tremendously successful that there would be another one scheduled for 1992...

"Great", I thought, "that's unbelievable! Here in Germany I feel like a loner doing this hobby, hardly anyone to talk to and exchange ideas.. And over there... apparently there is a healthy bamboo rodmaking scene, with a regular convention, swapping ideas, making friends and ample room for further development as a rodmaker!"

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