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.

Traveling Bamboo Rod Show

Mary Ann and I were in Denver this past weekend for The Fly Fishing Show and we had the opportunity to spend some time with Jeff Hatton (also known as The Gnome) and his Traveling Bamboo Fly Rod Show. What a fantastic historical display of classic bamboo fly rods from the past. Here are a few photos:

Mary Ann and I checking out some great classic bamboo fly rods.
Having fun with Jeff Hatton
Lots and Lots of old classic rods.
Jeff explaining the details of an old rod.

Hand-Crafted Bamboo Trout Nets

I’m pleased to announce that I am now offering Hand-Crafted Bamboo Trout Nets for purchase.  My wife challenged me 2 years ago to build her a bamboo net from the same raw culms of bamboo I use for my bamboo fly rods.  It was quite a effort to figure out how to accomplish this with a piece of raw bamboo that is 12 ft. long and about 2 1/2″ in diameter….no straight surfaces or edges anywhere.  But, after several starts-and-stops with my design efforts, I finally figured things out and am now building and selling these great nets that are a fantastic compliment to your bamboo fly rod.  I build all my nets one-at-a-time on an order basis.  The nets have a hand rubbed oil finish, a clear rubber net, and a custom lanyard that I make myself.  I’m offering nets in two lengths, 27″ and 32″ long.  The prices for all nets are $400.  Here are a few photos:

Handles and hoop strips ready to glue up.

Inscription on nets.

Finished nets.

Fall Fishing on the Metolius River

I’ve been getting out on the beautiful Metolius River over the past couple of weeks before the closure at the end of October.  The Kokanee have come up from Lake Billy Chinook to spawn in the river and are very numerous in the shallower areas of the river.  While the Kokanee will occasionally take nymphs, we don’t target these fish and let them do their “spawning thing”.  Here is a quick video of the Kokanee doing their thing:

With all the fishy activity in the river, the rainbows also get active.  Earlier this week, I got out on the upper portion of the river with my good friend and local Sisters resident, John, for a few hours of afternoon fishing.

Dave and John on the Metolius River

The river is pretty small in these upper stretches, and the fish tend to be a little smaller than in the lower sections of the river.  But, I took out my 7′  0″  4 wt bamboo rod, which worked great to high-stick some nymphs through the shallow riffles.  The resident native rainbows were very happy to take my #10 October Caddis Pupa and my #20 Rainbow Warrior.  Here is a nice little fish from our day.

Rianbow from the Metolius River

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…….