New Bamboo Rod Building Apprentice

I would like to introduce everyone to Olivia Elia, my bamboo rod building apprentice. Olivia built her first bamboo fly rod two years ago, and has a goal of taking her rod building skills to a high level. Olivia currently lives in Santa Rosa, CA, and we’ve worked a plan for her to apprentice with me through some time with me in my workshop, as well as through virtual connectivity for the two of us. Olivia is a very talented photographer, musician, luthier, and and fly fishing angler, and you can see some of her talents showcased on her WEB site at:

Olivia spent a couple of weeks with me in my workshop recently working on rods. Her workshop skills are at a high level, and she has demonstrated fantastic skills towards rod building. I worked with her on three new bamboo fly rods while she was here, passing on my rod building knowledge where ever I could. It may not be too long before she is teaching me a few things about rod building. Here are a few photos of her time in my workshop:

Olivia and I with beveled and heat treated strips for our rods.
Splitting Strips
Removing nodes.
Straightening Strips with the Heat Gun.
Running strips through the Bellinger Beveler.
We’re both hand planing strips.
Ferrules, Cork, and Reel Seats are done…ready to varnish bamboo and tie on guides.

Another bamboo rod building class is completed

It was busy in the workshop last week as I was conducting my bamboo fly rod building class for two great guys (Mark and Jeff) who came up here from Davis, California. First we got them on the Fall River to test out some bamboo rods to figure out what taper they each wanted. Funny…they each like the same rod, my 7′ 6″ 5 wt Progressive Action Signature Series Rod…so that is what they each built. We spent 7 days going through the bamboo rod building process. They each had strong woodworking backgrounds so they took to the rod building process well. Their rods came out great, and they are now back in California completing the final finishing steps on their rods. Here are a few pictures of our week:

Testing out bamboo fly rods on the Fall River.
A nice catch on bamboo.
Mark is splitting strips for his rod.
Mark and Jeff tag-teaming it on the beveller.
Jeff working hard on his hand planing of thin strips for his tip sections.
All glued up and checking for straightness.
Shaping the cork grip.
Proud and happy students with their bamboo fly rods.

My Recent Rod Building Student’s Experiences

I recently completed one of my bamboo fly rod building classes with a local Bend resident, Joe. He chose to build a very nice 7′ 6″ medium progressive action 5 wt rod. Joe was quite meticulous in his building efforts, and his new rod came out great. He paired his new rod with a Hardy-built Orvis CFO reel…pretty sweet.

Joe’s new bamboo fly rod

Joe got the chance to take out his new bamboo rod a few days ago on the Middle Deschutes River. Here are his great comments about his experience: “And there I was, catching a nice 14 inch rainbow at Steelhead Falls on a bamboo rod that I made, with great tutoring, and a fly that I tied. Great fun. Man, that rod flexes down to the cork. VERY COOL. Thanks a bunch, Dave! That’s about as good as it gets.”