First fish on my Bamboo Rod – Yeah Rah!

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.

The hike to my favorite spot on the fall river!

The hook-up

In the net – whew!  This was a fish I didn’t want to lose!

Had to have a classic grip and grin shot of my first fish – and it was a rainbow!

Pure Beauty

Thanks Dave for all you guidance in building my rod – nothing like having my own built bamboo fly rod.

 

Building A Bamboo Fly Rod – Day 7

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.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABefore applying the finish – one more sanding of the blank.

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Before applying the finishing, I did make sure to get my signature and rod size onto the rod blank.

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An application of the finish.

 

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A  polish on the rod – before wrapping.

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.

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Wrapping the final tipping to the agate stripping guide.

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Packing the wraps

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Applying the first coat of varnish.

 

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.

 

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A close up of the reel and ferrule

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Voila – my custom crafted bamboo rod.

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Yes a bit of snow of the ground – but that didn’t deter me from casting. Love the action – has the guts to cast big flies in windy conditions.

Building A Bamboo Fly Rod – Day 6

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.

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Doing the math – so sort out the points to cut the bamboo blank

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Cutting the rod blank

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Check out the power fibres – I will always be in awe of strength yet sensitivity of the power fibers.

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Sanding down the ferrule.

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Fitting the male ferrule to the rod

 

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.

 

 

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Turning the bamboo rod for the real seat placement.

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Only the best cork for my rod!

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Gluing the cork pieces to the rod butt.

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The final sanding to on the grip.

 

Gluing and Bluing the Ferrules

No elaborate magic here – but a bit unnerving to light the glue to burn off the solvent.

 

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Prepping the female ferrule for glue – cleaning out any dirt and grease.

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Applying the glue

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Lighting the glue on fire – just for a second – don’t want to light the rod on fire.

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The Ferrules all glued on!

It looks like a Bamboo Fly Rod

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What remains? Multiple coats of a rub-on finish and wrapping the guides.

Building my own Bamboo Rod – Day 5

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!

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The split pieces prior to gluing!

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My bamboo rod blank – is now two solid pieces!

 

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.

 

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Mixing up the glue! Precise measurements!

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Yes that’s a toothbrush I used to apply the glue! Sometime it isn’t all high Tech!

 

 

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Stringing it up to create the blank!

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Hand-wrapping a string the entire blank – in prep 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.

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The binder – yes an interesting gizmo

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A close-up as I get ready the run the blank through the binder another time.

 

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.

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Manually – unwrapping the binding strings

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Gently & carefully filing off the glue residue. All of the residue has to be removed.

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My rod building mentor, Dave, doing one of his many quality control checks. This time is all the glue residue gone?

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.

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Right to spec with .067″ at the tip.

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Eyeing it up – is it straight?!

 

 

 

 

Building my own Bamboo Rod – Day 4

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.

  1.  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.
  2.  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.
  3.  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.

 

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A photo from afar – you can see the planing form, the hand planer and the pile of bamboo shavings that slowly grow with each new pass of the plane.

 

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A photo from close-up. Given you a sense of the progress, new shavings, that occur with each pass of the 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.

 

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After I finished the six strips for the tip, I re-set the planing form for the dimensions of the butt 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.

 

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Sharpening the blade with a black Arkansas stone.

 

So I finished hand planing today. What was really amazing was to see the transformation in the pieces of bamboo.  Check it out!

 

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The bamboo strips just after the hand split process.

 

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The bamboo strips after hand planing and all ready to glue up. 

 

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The tips of the rod – notice how fine they are up against the shavings.

 

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Just bringing the strips size into perspective. Each of the 6 strips that will be form the tip section are .032″ of an inch at the tip-top.  Looks smaller than a toothpick to me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building my own Bamboo Fly Rod – Day 3

Today, I continued with the process of building my bamboo rod. My start point today was with the 16 pieces that I had done the initial beveling to get to a triangular shape.  The first step was to send the pieces through the beveler to get closer to the final dimensions. We took off about .03 of an inch with each pass.

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Another run or two through the beveler shaving .03 inch of each pass.

 

At this point I picked the final 12 split pieces of bamboo from my initial 18 . I choose 6 from each culm – my choice selection was a mix of the look of each split and how straight it was.  3 pieces from each culm will make up the butt and tip sections. I set the other four to the side – just in case!

Next step  up – bevel in a rough taper into the final 12 pieces.

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The start of the rod taper – that determines the action of the rod.

 

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Another angler on the rough tapering step.

 

The next step was to straighten each strip of bamboo. Straightening the bamboo at this point will enable the hand planing process to be smoother and more precise.  To get the bend out of the bamboo you bend the rod in the opposite direction over a heat – until the bend has been removed.

 

 

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A bend that needs to be straightened.

 

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Apply pressure  in the opposite direction over heat to straighten

 

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A straightened piece of bamboo.

 

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All twelve pieces ready for the hand planing process. You can see the difference is the size for the butt versus the tip section

 

Next step – setting the depth on the planing form to create the desired taper for my 8′ 6 wt rod. Accuracy is key with this step – so I did double check my settings and then Dave checked me. We set the specific taper depth at every 5″ mark – the depth for the tip section started at .104″ and ended at .028″

 

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Setting the depth on the planing form with my taper sheet as a guide.

 

Today – I just got started on the hand planing process. I anticipate it will take me about 4 to 6 hours to plane all the strips.

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Planing my first strip – 1/2 way done with one strip and then 11 more.

Building my own bamboo fly rod – Day 2

Today I continued my pursuit of hand building my first bamboo fly rod!  My husband, Dave, has been building for years, so I am fortunate to have an excellent mentor. If your’re curious about building a bamboo rod check out his website.  My goal is to post a blog every day I work on the rod. My goal is to have the rod complete by Christmas – we will see how that goes.  I hope you join in to follow my progress and learnings.

Today – I spent about 6 hours in the shop taking my bamboo rod from the initial rough splits to rough triangle splits – ready to start planing!

My first step was to heat treat the rough splits about 9 per bamboo culm. This takes much of the moisture out of the rod and stiffens the bamboo. The heat treated bamboo made it easier for me to split the bamboo into sections small enough to rough plane.  There were 2 steps to split  each culm into  18 pieces.

 

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Step one – Start the split with a box cutter.

 

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Step two – finish the split on the vise, making sure the split stayed in the middle of the split culm.

 

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A close – up of the split culm – check out the power fibers that give bamboo it’s strength and feel.

 

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All  ready for the next step

 

At this point I selected 8 pieces of each culm that had an even heat treat and good width for the beveling step. You may wonder why eight pieces. Eventually I will use 6 pieces to form each section of the bamboo (tip and butt section) – choosing 8 pieces allows me to 1) pick the best six  split pieces for the final rod and 2) yes, allow a mis-step in subsequent steps:).

 

With my selected 8 strips from each culm,

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I belt sanded each split to remove the enamel layer on the outside of each strip.

 

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16 strips waiting for their next action!

 

With the rough sanding done – I moved to the beveller. I fed each strip through the beveller to get the rough tri-angler shape. I have to say running the beveller step was a hoot!

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Feeding a strip through the beveler

 

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A closer look of the rough beveling step – check out the triangular shape of the strip

 

A good stopping point for the day. The rough beveled strips patiently waiting for the next step!

 

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Whew! A good point to stop and

 

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Savor today’s efforts with a class of wine.

 

Building my own bamboo fly rod – Day 1

Today I started my pursuit of hand building my first bamboo fly rod!  My husband, Dave, has been building for years, so I am fortunate to have an excellent mentor. If your’re curious about build a bamboo rod check out his website.  My goal is to post a blog every day I work on the rod. My goal is to have the rod complete by Christmas – we will see how that goes.  I hope you join in to follow my progress and learnings.

The first step of course is to sort out the length, weight, and action of my rod. I have been mulling that over for the last few weeks, yes a difficult decision for me. I landed on building a 8 foot 6 weight rod that is modeled after a Classic Payne Fly Rod.  I already have  a medium-progressive action 8 foot 6 wt bamboo rod built on a Garrison taper. I love the progressive taper for its smoothness in casting, but I wanted my new rod to be a faster action rod to cast heavier flies in windy conditions. Can’t wait to test it out this May during the Salmon Fly Hatch on the Lower Deschutes. Trust me, I will be chasing bull trout on the Metolius in January!

Below is a graph that shows the rod diameter (y-axis) at 5 inch inch intervals (x-axis) with the tip-top on the left progressing to the butt of the rod on the right. I compared two Payne tapers to my Garrison 6 wt. I chose the Payne Choice A as the butt section on this rod is a bit thicker than my Garrison – allowing for bigger flies. It should also be better in the wind with the stronger butt section, allowing me to fight the fish a bit more aggressively in heavier current.

 

taper-comparisons

Now that I had chosen a rod length, weight, and taper –  I was ready to move to the shop to pick out the specific pieces of bamboo I would use. Such a tough decision – as this determines the look of the rod and degree of consistency in alternating the nodes on the final rod – more on that later.  My new rod will be made from two different pieces (culms) of bamboo.  The key decision criteria in choosing which two pieces of bamboo was the consistency in color of the two pieces and matching up the distances between the nodes.

 

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My final selection on the two pieces of bamboo to start with!

Next up was cutting the bamboo on a chop saw to 55 inches. I had never used a chop saw  before – too fun!

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Cutting to 55 inches on a chop saw.

Next was to mark the bamboo for splitting. I used a compass to measure the width of the splits.

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Marking the splits

Now to the fun part! Splitting the bamboo!  The first step was to split each bamboo section in half!  I was a bit tentative on the splitting process – but soon learned it was a fairly straight forward step. Just need to make sure I kept the pieces straight as I split the bamboo on my markings.

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My first “bonk” for splitting the bamboo

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Splitting the bamboo in half!

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Splitting into smaller pieces

 

The next step was to remove the interior node residue. That was done with a chisel and mallet!

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Removing the interior node material

Tomorrow – I will heat treat the bamboo and split the pieces one more time.