Why Do Bamboo Fly Rods Come With Two Tips?
There’s been a recent resurgence of interest in premium split cane bamboo fly rods. This is a great thing for the industry, as rodmakers are now able to focus on making specialized models that weren’t possible before, and for good reason. There’s an art to building a bamboo rod that goes beyond the functional dimension; most quality rodmakers are equal parts engineer and artist, and will labor over many of the small details that make a truly special rod.
There are several different bamboo species that are suitable for rods, but the one that’s used most often is Tonkin cane (Pseudosasa amabilis). The reason for this is that it grows very quickly – it can be grown to a rod blank in about four years, compared to decades for wood. Additionally, this particular species of bamboo is incredibly strong and flexible.
Rodmakers take advantage of this natural strength and flexibility by carefully arranging the strips of bamboo in a pre-determined pattern, or “laid out.” When this is done correctly, nodes are staggered so that they’re not next to each other on adjacent strips. This is what makes a quality rod section strong and durable.
Once the rod is assembled, it’s soaked in a chemical mix that seals all of the fibers and then sanded and finished with various varnishes or hand-rubbed pure tung oil. It takes a lot of work to get a high-quality finish on a bamboo rod, and the end result is beautiful.
A lot of attention is also given to the rod’s hardware, and most quality rods will have custom-made ferrules. These are typically a dark brass, but they can be made in a variety of metals to suit the rod’s design and style. The guides are also important, and a good rod will have custom-made guides to match the rest of the rod.
While there are a lot of things that can go wrong with a bamboo rod, there are three common abuses that can cause a set. The first is improperly putting the rod together or taking it apart. The second is using the rod for heavier flies than it’s designed to handle. The third is not breaking the surface tension of the fly line when lifting it out of the water – this will cause a set in the rod tip.
Fortunately, with a little extra care, a quality bamboo rod will last for decades. It’s a good idea to keep the rod sections separate when not in use, and not put too much stress on the rod when storing it. And of course, if you’re fishing a bamboo rod, be sure to break the surface tension on your fly line before lifting it out of the water. It’s easy to do with a roll cast pickup, or by wriggling the rod from side to side while pulling on the line. This will help to prevent damage to the delicate rod tips, and will ensure a long life for your favorite bamboo rod!