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.



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.



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!


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.


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.


My first “bonk” for splitting the bamboo


Splitting the bamboo in half!


Splitting into smaller pieces


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


Removing the interior node material

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


Any fish is fun – regardless of how long you have fished.

I remember my first fish I caught, over 20 years ago!  I was so clueless of what to do and clueless on what I actually did to land it! I never had it to my hand as I set the hook to hard throwing it over my head and then  repeating that motion forward. Needless to my dismay, I don’t think that fish made it!  I never  got the fish to the net,  so technically it wasn’t my first landed fish – but it was the fish fish I set the hook on!   As they say even a blind squirrel can sometimes find a nut!

After that experience I was totally hooked into fly fishing! Yes we have heard that before. From there I recall my goals were to land as many fish as I could, then I wanted to just land a big fish and then I started to chase certain species – the steelhead is always the most elusive – but I can say I have had the joy of losing a landing my fair share of steelhead. I also have the experience of chasing bone fish – too much fun – when one of those take your fly – as it a few seconds they can run 100 yards! So where am I going with this ramble!

Last week I snuck out to the Metolious for a few hours! I was reminded how renewing it is to have a fly rod in hand and to get on the water. I chose to Czech Nymph!  I didn’t catch any lunkers – but I did catch enough small guys to add up to a big fish! Does that count!

This leads me to the point of   rambling post – at some point fishing gets way beyond the numbers and the size. Fishing is about that connecting with nature and placing 100% of your attention to the present moment!

I hope you see the beauty I see in the small fish I enticed to my fly!


My first catch!


A Bull Trout!  – hope to connect with him again in the future!


Another fish – to catch another day!



Bugs Bugs Bugs

When I first started fly fishing I never gave enough credence to the importance of bugs. Now, I think you can’t know too much about bugs. I’m a firm believer that it’s a good idea to “check out the bugs” in the river nearly every time you fish, especially if you’re doing a lot of nymph fishing.  Dave and I were on the Crooked River last week fishing a spot we fish often and started with a bug sampling.  We have a small net that is about 15″ x 15″ that one of us holds in the water while the other turns over rocks upstream.  We then transfer the bugs in the net to a white bowl that aids in viewing and identifying.  For the particular spot we sampled, there were very nigh numbers of olive/tan scuds in sizes ranging from about #18 to #10, as well as black mayfly nymphs that were about #18 and #16 in size.  We both used euro-nymphing techniques for our fishing for the day.  Using #14 and #16 gold or tan scuds, #18 Psycho Mayfly nymphs, and #16 Black Beauties produced a lot of rainbows in the 6″ to 14″ range.  So, knowing the bugs in the water and matching those bugs certainly helped us.  Here are a few photos of the day.


Look at the diversity in bugs on the Crooked River.



A closer look at the PMD (Black) Mayflies, a scud, and then a small BOW.



The flies that enticed a good number of fish


A nice 14 inch rainbow – I was able to convince my fly was the real bug!

Deschutes River June 2016


A great way to end a great day!

The summer’s always get busy for me. So I  relish a day where Dave and I can enjoy the water together. Yes we call it our equivalent of a date night. This Friday we had our date on the Deschutes and the Deschutes showed us her better side. Or should I say the Deschutes Rainbows showed us some of her better red sides. Always a great Day on the Deschutes River – but extra nice when we can bring a good number of rainbows to the net.  The flies that worked the classic black rubber legs, sparkle caddis pupas,  and a BWO nymph! Enjoy the photos.


The day is made with just the essence of the massive Deschutes water & views


A selfie of Dave & I – Check out the view upstream


A beauty of a red side – check out the colors



My best catch of the day – on a black jimmy legs



Same Fish – just the full fish shot



Dave’s Catch of the day



Dave’s first of the day – a prelude to a awesome day



Took time to collect some bugs – is this an albino stonefly?



A green drake – just one of the many diverse bugs on the Deschutes



North Santiam –

Wow – early June and temperatures in the mid-90’s. Where to fish – someplace where waders aren’t required. The North Santiam  River was my destination on Sunday!  The balance between the cold water and warm air temperature – kept my comfortable  when I was fishing. More importantly – what a fun small stream to fish. Perfect for a small weight rod and dry flies.  I caught a good number of fish int he 8 to 12 inch range – but on my 7 foot 4 wt bamboo was a perfect match.  Even a 8 inch fish bends the rod deeply.

The North Santiam River is situated on the east slope of the Cascades. As you can see from the photos it is a heavily forested area with splendid water with riffles, runs, and pools all holding fish. Little fishing pressure makes this a great 1/2 to 3/4 day destination.


NS Up stream

Looking Upstream

NS -Views

Classic view of the numerous riffles, runs & pools to fish. Plenty of structure for fish everywhere.

NS- Keep em Wet 2

Keeping one of the many fish wet!

NS - Second Rainbow

Just a quick out of the water shot to show off the beautiful colors of the rainbow. Check out the dots, the red band, & red cheek.

NS - Looking Downstream

One last view – perfect water for your small 3 to 4 wt bamboo rod

Fishing Northern California

I just returned from a 3 day fishing trip to Northern California at Clear Water Lodge. I joined 16 other women anglers from the International Women Fly Fishers. Always a treat to hang out with women who have a passion for fly fishing. The service and accomodations at ClearWater were excellent. I recommend a visit if you’re looking to get off the beaten path and to be pampered.

It was a great get away for me. I caught up with old friends and met new friends. Lots of laughter I  explored new waters for myself Hat Creek and the Fall River – very fun and challenging water – both are spring creeks – each with it’s own beauty and challenges.

On Wednesday it was float on the Fall River not much was happening on the surface so it was long long downstream drifts – up to 50 to 6o feet with stealth pheasants and two bit hookers. With that long lenght of line I missed my share of fish – but did hook up on a hand ful and able to bring a few to the net.


Nothing better than a nice sized rainbow on my 5 wt 8 foot Leonard taper bamboo.

Nothing better than a nice sized rainbow on my 5 wt 8 foot Leonard taper bamboo.


First fish to the boat!


My second fish to the boat – moments after I lost a bigger one – famous last words!


On Thursday- it was a day of explored Hat Creek – with no success but a commitment to head back on Friday. Friday paid off – the morning was slow but in the afternoon I landed a good dozen fish and lost half as many – all with my Echo Czech Nymph set-up. All the fish were in the 6 to 12 inch range – but so fun to have a lot of action.


One of the many little guys


My trust little Purple Deschutes Fly – this fly has produced on every river I fish


First time I had success with the Stealth Pheasant Tail – sure to be part of my go to selection



May Fishing in Central Oregon

Wow – my last post was at the April 28. My goal is to post weekly!  Today is May 29th!  What happened to May. I know what happened to May – I was busy scouting waters, teaching fly fishing classes , a few private casting lessons, and yes a good number of days guiding!  I feel as I have been behind the 8 ball all month. A few days at home this week – and my to do list is getting reasonable.  Key word reasonable – not necessarily done. But you don’t want to read about my scrambling to get my to do you done – you want to read about my fishing.

I will start with a great evening Dave and I had with the Wild Women of the Water. They came over for an overview of building bamboo rods and socializing, of course. You can check out Dave’s Blog to see all the photos – but Kari running a strip through the beveler is my favorite.

Kari Splitting

Getting a short hands on experience with building a bamboo rod. TOO FUN


Now back to fishing! I have spent a majority of my time on the Deschutes River – plenty of stone flies out and about! Love the aggressive takes of the big rainbows as they take them. Amazing experience – if you get a chance in the next week get on the water. The hatch will be winding down in a few weeks.  A few photos of the fish, flies, and amazing shots of the real bugs.


Salmon Flies love grass! So of course they gravitate to bamboo!



Check out the egg sack on the Salmon Fly


The best part of the Salmon Fly Hatch – aggressive takes!


And fish in the 16 plus range are common


I have also been on the Crooked River imitating the Mother Day’s Caddis hatch with success!


Stream side on the Crooked. I will never tire of this view


A tattered but effective fly – a tie of my own


This rainbow was fooled by my tattered fly – A fly I have been successful with on lots of waters.


Central Oregon Spring Fishing

Last week I took advantage of some great weather ,  I placed a priority on fishing and got on the water 3 days in a row. It felt splendid to be on the water! Life has been too busy!

Like any day fishing each day takes a life on it’s own. Friday on the Deschutes was a bit overcast – and minimal wind. Saturday was a new day – sunny and windy on the Deschutes. Sunday – a new river was called for, so I headed to the Crooked. I got two weather days in one; before noon it was a light drizzle and then after noon the sun came out.  Each day brought a few fish to the net. On the Deschutes – it a lot of small steelhead & salmon smolt and a good handful of classic Deschutes Redsides. I was rewarded with a couple of very nice rainbow for my couple of hours on the Crooked.

Enjoy the photos –


Flies that brought fish to my net

Deschutes Fish on

Deschutes River – Redside on!

Deschutes Red Side # 1

Deschutes Trout!


Deschutes Riffle Fishing & sharing the river



Always fun for both anglers to play and land a fish at the same time


First Fish of the day on the Deschutes


Contemplating – what’s next


The Crooked blessed us with a few nice rainbows this trip

Great Article in the Sisters Nugget

Thanks to Craig Rullman for his fantastic write-up about my passion for fishing & teaching.

Crafting a Fishing Net

In the last week I have had a blast crafting my own fishing net. When I saw that my Central Oregon Fly Fishing Club was conducting a net building class, I jumped on board immediately. Our instructors Cliff,  Steve, and Dave (not my husband) did the work of constructing the net frame and then coached all of us on the remaining steps.  While working on it in our workshop I received additional  coaching from my husband, Dave! Would you expect less from the bamboo rod builder.  The pictures & captions below capture the process from start to end.  I have very happy with how the finished net looks. I can’t wait to net my first landed fish. Doing this project reminds me of how much I enjoy and how rewarding it is to work with your own hands – versus buying.  While finishing the net Dave and I chatted about building another – this time utilizing bamboo as the main wood.  However,  my first goal next winter is be to build my very own custom crafted bamboo rod.


Cliff demonstrating how they constructed the frames for us.

Drum Sanding

Step 1 First phase of sanding on the drum sander to begin smoothing out the interior & exterior of the hoop.


Step 2 Use a file to rough out the edges for a curved surface

Hand Sanding

Step 3 Lots of sanding with a block and hands to get the smooth final finish of the net on all edges.


Step 4 & 5 Finishing the net with a Gun Stock Oil & Wax

Attaching the net

Step 6 – Attaching the net

finishing product

A finished net! Next Step land a fish

Mary Ann, Ann, and Mary

Going from right to left to right ! Mary, Anne, & Mary Ann – not too many times you get this combination of names together