A VERY OLD Leonard Bamboo Fly Rod

A fellow came over to my workshop a couple of months ago to show me “an old Leonard Fly Rod” he had to get my opinion of it.  Although I’m not a big collector of old bamboo rods, I always love to see what comes out of an old rod tube.  At first glance, here is what I saw on the rod sock:

This doesn’t look good!

Well, that didn’t get my hopes up….a Wright & McGill fiberglass spinning rod!!!  But, things changed when I pulled out a VERY OLD Leonard Bamboo Fly Rod that really got my blood pumping…what a gem!  This rod is from the Leonard Rod Shop when it was in Bangor, Maine from 1876 to 1878!  Overall, the rod is in reasonable condition given that it is 140 years old.  It is 10 1/2 ft. long, and has the most impressive morticed butt section, beautiful rattan grip, and spigot ferrules.  And, the reel seat hardware is in beautiful condition.  Unfortunately, all the guides had been replaced on the rod, both tip sections are about 1″ short, and there are two repairs that were done many years ago. Check it out:

Old Leonard Fly Rod

Beautiful Rattan Grip.

Morticed Butt Section.

Patent Date on the Ferrule.

Cool Spigot Ferrules and the H.L.L. Leonard, Maker, Bangor, Me. Stamp on the reel seat.

I’ve assembled the rod and “wiggled” it a little to see the action.  It has a very slow action, and at 10 1/2 ft. in length, it would be hard to fish with. I’m not sure yet what fly line would work best on this rod…I haven’t cast it yet.

Of note, an identical rod is pictured in Jeff Hatton’s book, Rod Crafting, on page 30. After conversing with couple of collector friends so  mine, I’ve discovered that these very old rods generally do not have a significant collector value but they have an important historical value.  The gentleman who brought this rod in doesn’t fly fish and was interested in selling the rod.  So, after little conversation about the value of the rod, it has now become mine.  My only problem….so do I keep it in it’s current condition or have a complete restoration done on the rod?  Hmmmmm…….