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 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 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.

 

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.

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Look at the diversity in bugs on the Crooked River.

 

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

 

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The flies that enticed a good number of fish

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

Deschutes River June 2016

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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.

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

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

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A beauty of a red side – check out the colors

 

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

 

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Same Fish – just the full fish shot

 

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Dave’s Catch of the day

 

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

 

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

 

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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

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

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Keeping one of the many fish wet!

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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.

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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.

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First fish to the boat!

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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.

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One of the many little guys

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

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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.

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

 

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Check out the egg sack on the Salmon Fly

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

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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!

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

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A tattered but effective fly – a tie of my own

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