What Is The Best Reel For A Bamboo Fly Rod?

I get asked occasionally “What is the best reel for a bamboo fly rod?”  Well, there is no one answer to that question.  But, a lot of the modern day reels are very light weight and don’t balance a bamboo rod very well, while many of the older reels that were made years ago are heavier.  And, there is just something about putting a reel with a “classic look” on a fine bamboo fly rod.  When I’m out fishing, I usually have an older classic reel on my rods.  I have several old Hardy reels and Pflueger reels, and also have a very nice Saracione reel and a Bellinger reel for my two-handed Trout Spey rods.  Here are a couple of photos of my set-ups:

A beautiful old Pflueger Gem Reel on my bamboo 3 wt Euro-Nymphing rod on the Metolius River.

A classic Hardy Sunbeam on a 7′ 0″ 4 wt medium action rod on Whychus Creek.

A Hardy Perfect on a 7′ 6″ medium fast action 5 wt rod on Silver Creek.

Casting an 8′ 0″ slow action 5 wt rod with a Saracione reel on the Metolius River.

Again, my old Pflueger Gem reel on my Euro-Nymphing 9′ 0″ 3 wt rod on Hat Creek, CA.

My old Hardy Sunbeam on the Upper Deschutes River.

My Bellinger reel on my 10′ 6″ Bamboo Trout Spey rod and a beautiful Cutthroat from the Salmon River.

My Hardy Lightweight on my 8′ 3″ Medium Fast Action 5 wt rod on the Salmon River and big Cutthroat.

Incredible colors on this nice cutthroat taken on my 8′ 3″ medium fast action rod with my Hardy Perfect reel on the Salmon River.



Bamboo Rods on the Owyhee River

While attending the 2018 Fly Fishers International Fly Fishing Fair in Boise, Idaho last week, I got the chance to fish for a day with my good friend from Australia, Noel Williams.   We drove the 90 minutes it took to get to the Owyhee River and tempted the big brown trout for the day.  Noel fished with his 8′  3″  5 wt medium action bamboo fly rod, while I used my 9′  0″  3 wt EuroNymphing Bamboo Rod.  We had pretty slow fishing early in the day, but the PMDs came out in the afternoon and we found an area with some rising fish.  Noel bested me for the day, landing his largest brown trout ever (about 20″)…on a fly he tied himself…how great is that.!  I hooked into a few nice browns but couldn’t land any of them.  Noel’s wife, Sue, joined us for the day, and although she doesn’t fish, she did a great job netting fish and taking some excellent photos.

Noel and Dave with our bamboo fly rods.

Nice Fish!

A beautiful 20″ brown Trout that Noel landed.


Fishing Bamboo on Whychus Creek

I hiked down to Whychus Creek recently at the bottom of the canyon just below our house for some morning fly fishing.  Whychus is a beautiful small local creek that gets almost no fishing pressure.  Most of the trout are on the small side (5″ to 9″) but it’s not uncommon to get into a few larger fish also.  Because the creek is heavily treed in along the banks, I like to fish the creek with a 7′  0″  4 wt bamboo fly rod. Longer 8 or 9 ft. rods are just too long for this little creek.  Nymphs tend to work well on the resident fish, but they’ll come up for dries occasionally also.  For the morning, I picked up about 15 fish on #18 black zebra midges, #16 black AP nymphs, #10 black stonefly nymphs, #16 copper johns, and #14 Royal Wulffs.  Here is a fun little video that I pulled together of my morning.

Costs of Fly Fishing Gear in 1925

I came across an interesting add in an old archived edition of a Central Oregon Newspaper (The Brownsville Times) this week.  In 1925, a Bamboo Fishing Rod was only $3.25, Leaders (the expensive ones) were 20 cents, and flies were 15 cents each.  Interestingly, Fly Books (the good ones) were $1.90.  Here is a look:

1925 Brownsville Times

Czech Nymphing with Bamboo Fly Rods on Hat Creek, CA.

I just got back from my annual “Guys Fishing Trip to Hat Creek” in Northern California.  I’ve been fishing with the same group of guys at Hat Creek on Memorial Day Weekend for the past 30 years.  We probably know every rock in the stream.  Nymph fishing was great in the mornings with #14 yellow sally nymphs fished with Czech Nymphing methods.  I used my 9′  0″  3 wt Czech Nymphing Bamboo Fly Rod and picked up quite a few nice fish in the 15″ to 18″ range.  Here are a couple of photos of our time at Hat Creek.

Fishing one of my favorite runs on Hat Creek with Curt, Ken, and Paul.

A nice 18″ rainbow that took a #14 Yellow Sally Nymph.

Lots of color on this 17″ rainbow.

Another pretty 16″ rainbow and my Czech Nymphing Bamboo Fly Rod.