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shouldofbeenhereyesterday 11-22-2010 05:53 PM

Wanting to learn how
I would appreciate any advice from experienced bamboo rod builders concerning how to learn and build these beautiful rods. I have looked into classes that are offered; such as those at "Oyster Bamboo" in Blue Ridge GA. What are your recommendations and past experiences.

501 11-22-2010 11:21 PM

If you already have basic rod building skills it is possible to purchase a bamboo blank and construct a rod. As a former professional custom rod builder(glass/graphite) I have done this with mixed reviews on the finished product. There are different techniques required and a lot depends on the blank you recieve. To build a bamboo blank requires carpentry skills and a lot of experience to get it right. Many blanks go in the kindling pile before an acceptable one is produced. Most bamboo builders have worked as an apprentice to a master craftsman for quite a while. I have nothing but respect and admiration for a master bamboo builder! I don't mean to discourage you but if you really want to get into this find a master to learn from and be prepared to put in the time to learn this vanishing skill. There are basic books available.

gmreeves 11-23-2010 12:20 PM

I'll tell you the way I started and I encourage anyone interested in learning to jump right in. I purchased the book by Wayne Cattanach and read it cover to cover. If you like building things, this will be an easy read. It covers everything from picking the piece of bamboo to building all of the tools required to complete your first rod. After readnig the book, I started with the first step. Work through the book step by step and one day you will have a finished rod. No step is difficult. I'll repeat that, no step is difficult. It just takes a little time before you find your way of accomplishing that task. There are several ways to do each step but I would encourage you to try and do it by the book first. The internet is a wealth of information but it can be distracting at times because everyone has their own twist on how to accomplish the same task. When you get to a point where you need a new tool or device for the next step, the book will tell you in detail how to make it. That's about all I got for now but if you ever want to talk more in detail, feel free to email me at maker AT gmreeves DOT com. Bamboo rod building isn't hard and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. It does take patience, some basic wood working skills, and maybe a half an arm or half a leg. My biggest advice to anyone interested is don't put off starting. You won't know if you can do it if you never try.

shouldofbeenhereyesterday 11-23-2010 03:34 PM

Thanks 501 and gm for your advise. I've always enjoyed working with my hands and actually built a fly rod from a Sage blank years back. Enjoyed the process and was pleased with the result. To get the ball rolling I'm going to pick up a copy of Wayne Cattanach's book. Read through it and take it from there. Thanks again.

Streamhound 11-23-2010 03:50 PM

Still like to know
I'd still like to know if anyone has the experience with the rod building classes/programs and what their thoughts were about 'em

gmreeves 11-23-2010 04:18 PM

I don't have any personal experience but know several people that have taken classes. I have heard nothing but good things from those that have done it and the rods they walk away with are wonderful 1st rods. If you have the money and think you are only going to make the one rod, I think the class would be the way to go. The great thing about classes is you get hands on instruction, top of the line equipment, and walk away at the end of the week with a rod ready to fish. The only bad part is if you want to make another rod, which most likely you will, you will need to purchase or build all of the tools needed. If you are interseted in building, chances are there is someone near you that has either made one, or someone that has made several. In Birmingham alone, I know of five people that have completed at least one rod and they were all very helpful getting me started. The bamboo rod building community is a very generous group of people and always willing to help someone learn the process.

Streamhound 11-23-2010 04:38 PM

thanks for the insight!

gmreeves 11-23-2010 05:24 PM

Anytime. Hopefully someone who has actually gone through one of the classes will chime in also. If not and you want to talk about building, send me an email. I could probably find some willing people near you that could help you get started.

501 11-23-2010 10:35 PM

Best advice is to go for it if you are so inclined-don't wait! I'm not a bamboo craftsman but there is nothing quite as satisfying as fishing a rod that you constructed yourself. You will probably want to do another one and may never view a "rod off the rack" the same again. Possible helpful books might include "Constructing Cane Rods" by Ray Gould and John Gierach's "Fishing Bamboo" for history and industry perspective. I know nothing about bamboo classes but wish you best of luck!


Knothead 11-24-2010 06:39 PM

I would suggest you take a class to see if you want to tackle it first. Then, count up what it would cost to get started. Quality hand planes can be very expensive. Go to and post your inquiry in the bamboo section. They can add their input and suggestions for classes, etc. There are some top crafters there. I have been to Oyster in Blue Ridge and he has some outstanding rods.

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