View Full Version : Wanting to learn how

11-22-2010, 05:53 PM
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.

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.

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.

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.

11-23-2010, 03:50 PM
I'd still like to know if anyone has the experience with the rod building classes/programs and what their thoughts were about 'em

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.

11-23-2010, 04:38 PM
thanks for the insight!

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.

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!


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 http://www.rodbuildingforum.com 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.

11-24-2010, 10:45 PM
www.rodbuildingforum.com (http://www.rodbuildingforum.com) is where a good bit of my working knowledge came from. It is a great resource. The thing about planes is kind of like fly rods, you can spend as much as you want. Often times, you can fine an old Stanley block plane on ebay for less than $50 while a new top of the line block plane will run you close to $300. The big cost of building a bamboo rod is the planing form. New, a top of the the line planing form will run you about $800 but there are cheaper ones but if you have a drill press, you can build them yourself for less than $100. If you don't have a drill press, you can buy one from Harbor Freight on sale for less than $50 and still build your forms for less than $150.

Also, if you don't want to build all your tools and you just want to build a bamboo rod, you can always build what is known as a PMQ or a poor man's quad. They fish great, look great, and cost next to nothing. It is basically two strips of bamboo that are planed without forms, glued up with common hardware store glue, and complimented with your choice of components. I have built several of these and most for less than $30 in parts. Actually, that is a way I accumulated a lot of my tools. While I was building my steel planing forms, I built my first PMQ. I then sold several of them to my friends and used that money to buy other equipment that wasn't necessary but sure made the rest of the process easier.

11-25-2010, 08:56 AM
gmreeves, do you know of any tutorials on building the PMQ rod? You have piqued my interest here.

11-25-2010, 10:10 AM
Their are several over on www.rodbuildingforum.com (http://www.rodbuildingforum.com). It really is easy and you will learn a lot of the steps involved in building a true hexagon bamboo rod. Head on over and have a look.

Here is one that I made for a coworker that cost less than $30.


11-25-2010, 11:39 AM

Where do you buy your boo? I can't find any blanks for under $200. Or where can I get some PMQ boo? Thanks in advance.

11-25-2010, 01:09 PM
Blanks are expensive but you can get bamboo for alot less. If you want genuine Tonkin cane that is used for "traditional" bamboo rods, you will need to order it from either Goldenwitch, Demarest, or Andy Royer. Goldenwitch will sell you a sample pack for something like $69 and is enough to build a couple traditional hexagon rods. That is about the best deal for the real deal cane. I think Demarest will sell you a minimum of the three 12' culms at about $120 plus shipping. But for a poor man's quad, most people go to the big box stores and buy bamboo used for tomato or garden stakes. It's not the real deal but it is still bamboo and gets the job done. I was fortunate enough to meet a generous builder in town that gave me a culm that he said wasn't "good enough" for one of his rods and let me practice on it. I think I made four or five PMQ's from it and also my first hex. Next time you are at one of the big box stores, head over to the garden section and see what they have in stock. If you can't find anything there, send me an email or PM and I might be able to hook you up with some extra pieces out of my discard pile.

11-25-2010, 02:33 PM
Ah thanks!

11-26-2010, 03:17 PM
There is a pinned tutorial on RBF under Bamboo- General. I tried a link but it wouldn't work.