It’s springtime – while the base ball teams are all at Training Camps – maybe us anglers should take the lead from them. Spend some time tuning up your cast for the upcoming trout season. As you know I have a crazy obsession with fly fishing education, not sure, where it come from, maybe from my personal pursuit and how lucky I was to have a mentor and realize others don’t. I think it comes more from the realization that fly fishing is an absolutely rewarding hobby – but it takes commitment and time to become efficient. And, I may sound sharp but I feel like the fly fishing industry really doesn’t have a effective education model. It’s either a free two hour class or a guided day. There has got to be a better solution for all of us anglers.
That being said – I pulled this short casting video together. I hope it’s short and simple and gives you motivation to go out and practice the cast.
A few weeks ago at the Federation Fly Fishers International I had the pleasure of leading the Women’s Fly Fishing Workshop. I had an awesome crew of partner instructors and an tremendous group of students anxious to take their skills to the next level. All of us had a blast and regardless of being an instructor or a student we all learned something. I am not quite sure what it is— but I love the events when women anglers get together. Below are a few pictures from the event! Enjoy
Last week, Dave and got out on the Deschutes River to see how the Salmon Flies were doing. I chose to swing soft hackles – with a few grabs but not much action. Dave chose his 7′ 6″ 5 wt Freestone Series bamboo rod for the day. While there were lots of Salmon Flies and Golden Stoneflies on the bushes, and a few flying around, the fish seemed pretty disinterested in them during the sunny afternoon. Instead, he again caught several nice rainbows on a #18 Tan Lafontaine Caddis drifted towards the bottom. Dave may have been the only angler on the river during the day who was not throwing big ugly bugs. But, once the sun went down, the fish turned on to a #8 Clarks Stonefly on the surface. This pattern has proved to be the most effective adult stonefly for me lately. Even when the giant Salmon Flies are out, the trout have always seemed to prefer the smaller Golden Stonefly imitation. Here are a few photos of our day.
I have been guiding the last two days on the Salmon River. The Salmon and Golden Stones are abundant. Fish are starting to sporadically come up for either a Clarks Stonefly or a Chubby Chernobyl. I started to see a few bugs with eggs sacks – with the warm weather coming hoping we’ll get some better surface action. It’s odd but the best bet for subsurface is still small flies.
Wow what a winter we had in Central Oregon! At one point 28 inches of snow on the ground for multiple weeks. Turns out we didn’t have deer prints in the snow but belly prints from the dear drudging through the snow.
Spring is late to come and waters are high – but this last week I have been able to get out multiple days on multiple pieces of water . It was been splendid to be on the water. Water has been high on the Lower D, one day 6200 CFS but dropping, yesterday it was 5300 CFS. Both days we have good fish action -No big Deschutes Redsides – but some nice fish in the 12 to 14 inch. Amazingly nothing on the big stone fly patterns. For me everything was on a green rockworm pattern and Dave a Cadis Pupa.
Enjoy my photo essay!
Dave and I headed out to the Fall River today. As you can see from the pictures – we have had just a tad bit of snow. Since I finished the rod in mid- January today was the first day we were able to get on the water. And at approximately 11:30, Friday, February 10th – I hooked and land my first fish a 12 inch rainbow on my personal crafted bamboo rod! It was a joy to build this rod and a hoot to get that first fish. Dave offers Bamboo Rod Building classes – you won’t be disappointed in building your own and then fishing it.
Wow – my bamboo rod is finished. Last time I posted I had just completed getting my bamboo rod to a “blank” state. What remained was the finishing and wrapping.
For the finishing I used rub-on coats of Tru Oil, often used to finish gunstocks. Each application took 10 to 15 minutes. It pays to do multiple coats and have a good 4 hours of dry time between coats. For me this was completed in a period of 4 days.
With the finish as sharp as I could get it – it was now time to wrap. Rather than just do a one color wrap, I opted to do a two-color tipping. The main wrap is functional as it holds the guide in place – but the two smaller wraps really are accent colors. This was my second wrapping of a rod and I had never done the two tippings. Although tedious and many re-wraps I did get the wrapping done. I am very happy I took the extra time for the two color tipping. Each 5th wrap I would then stack the thread – to get a very clean look on the wraps. When a wrap was complete I applied one coat of varnish – to ensure it didn’t unravel. When all the wraps were complete I applied 10 coats of varnish – with two “sanding of the wraps” – again to get the cleanest look I could. Needless to say the wrapping did a good bit of time, about 20 hours. The varnish again, was a quick 10 to 15 minute task, but like the finishing, the dry time between applications meant it took multiple days.
I have to say – there was a time and duration investment in applying the finish, wrapping, and varnishing the wrap – but it paid off in a extremely clean looking rod. Yes I am proud of myself and would love to jump into building another rod. Thank you for following my rod building project.
As you will see by the end of this post – my rod is really looking like a bamboo fly rod. Reminds me a bit of like tying – starting with raw materials and uncertain of what the outcome will be – and with each build step it looks more& more like a fly rod! It definitely does now. After the gluing process – I had a bamboo rod blank! Next up the a series of steps to 1) fit the ferrules, 2) make the grip, and 3) prep the rod for the reel set.
Fitting the Ferrules
The first step was working through some numbers – One making sure I had the proper ferrule size and Two, determine the appropriate cut length for the tip and butt sections. There were lots of short steps to get the ferrules mounting all requiring precision work. The first was the first cut on the bamboo – scary. But really minimal risk if you “measure twice and cut once” I took a photo of the cross section of the rod at this point – I just love the cluster of power fibers you can see – these power fibers are what give bamboo it’s strength and sensitivity. Next, started the hexagonal shape needed to be “rounded” for the round ferrule. Additionally, there was flaring on the ferrule and bamboo to ensure a tight fight – thus distributing the pressure points so as to reduce the chance of breaking at the ferrule. Oh – it hurts to think about a break at the ferrule – but it can happen.
Making the Grip
The first step was to pick the 12 cork rings that would be glued together and sanded down to make the grip. Lots of sanding with the lathe to go from the cork rings to the final grip. And of course it fits my hand perfectly. Before the final sanding of the grip, I turned down the hexagonal shape to a round shape that the real seat fits over.
Turning the bamboo rod for the real seat placement.
Gluing and Bluing the Ferrules
No elaborate magic here – but a bit unnerving to light the glue to burn off the solvent.
Prepping the female ferrule for glue – cleaning out any dirt and grease.
It looks like a Bamboo Fly Rod
Wow – As I continue building my bamboo fly rod, I am developing a deeper appreciation for the “The art of craftsmanship”. Like many things in life – “doing it” – brings so much more meaning to “it”. I am experiencing just that in building my bamboo fly rod. I always heard many people from woodworkers to quilters call their craft an art. I now get it at a much deeper level – If your a craftsman your are an artisan.
Many anglers talk about the joy of catching a fish on their own flies! As I my progress on crafting my bamboo rod – I am beginning to anticipate the feeling of catching a fish on my bamboo rod. However, as you see, I may be getting ahead of myself – as I have many steps remaining on my bamboo rod before I can literally head to the river.
With the last few days I have taken my bamboo from planed split pieces to a rod blank!
To get from the split pieces to the rod blank – was simply a matter of gluing up as they say! I say. It was a bit more than that! My first steps was to mix up the mixture to create the glue and then apply the glue. Reminded me more of a home economics class than a wood shop class. The mystery process is rolling up the laid out glued-up pieces of bamboo into its hexagonal shape! Pictures can’s capture that. From there it’s the sticky mess of hand tying a few strings to hold the pieces together and then manual wrapping string up the entire piece, prepping for the binder.
After a clean-up of the hands – yes the glue is gooey! I stepped over to the binding machine to wrap the blank multiple times. The value of the binder is the tight wraps you get on the rod blank to maintain your taper and minimize any chance of glues lines between the 6 pieces.
From there it was place the two rod pieces, butt and tip, into a warm dust free place to dry for a couple of days. So now to the fun of undoing the binding string and dried glue from the outside of the rod. Yes put the process in reverse – first take off of the binding strings and then another “zen” process of filing and sanding the glue residue off.
Next up just a few more steps to prep the rod for adding the ferrules. One step is to check you rod thickness to make sure your finished product is as your rod taper design sheet prescribes. And then the removing any curvature out of your blank pieces.
Too fun! Too creative! I am mid-way through building my bamboo rod. I realized today how valuable this experience of building a bamboo rod is.
- I fish bamboo – but I am really learning the characteristics of the bamboo material and build process that make bamboo, such a great fly fishing rod.
- I am building skills with woodworking that I never had the opportunity to. If only I could have taken wood shop in high school! It feels marvelous to accomplish new skills.
- As a fly fishing instructor, this is a good reminder of how intimidating and overwhelming learning a new skill can be. A humbling moment – note to self “Remember when you teach fly fishing that you may know the ins and outs but the student doesn’t, so be cognizant and respectful of where they are at”.
So for the past few days I have been hand planing away at the rough formed strips of bamboo. I would hand plane a few hours and then take a break. All in all, I think I planed for about 10 hours. In all honesty, I was a bit overwhelmed and un-nerved with the first few strips I planed. With each new strip,I built confidence and appreciation for the hand planing process. I sensed a bit of sadness today when I finished hand planing my last piece, #12. I realized I had grown to really appreciate the zen and beauty of planing. It was amazing to see the symmetry of each piece and the luster of the natural power fibers of bamboo develop with each pass of the hand plane.
So let’s talk a bit about the hand planing process. For starters the planing form is set twice, once for the butt section and another for the tip section.
I always knew the hand planing process was time consuming and precision was paramount, but I never realized that a very important step between each strip was to sharpen the blade on the hand planer. At first, again I was skeptical of my ability to do this. However, by the last strip – sharpening the blade was as cool as hand planing. Making sure the blade was inserted precisely for the angle and depth is truly a hidden step of the accuracy and preciousness of each strips dimensions.
So I finished hand planing today. What was really amazing was to see the transformation in the pieces of bamboo. Check it out!