I started on a new fly rod this weekend. When you’re crafting a fly rod out of a culm of bamboo the first several steps are the same regardless of what final rod you are creating.

  • Step one, split the bamboo – first in half then dividing it into progressively smaller sections until you are down to a minimum of 12 strips about 1/4 to 3/8 inch wide.
  • Step two, rough planing – using a hand plane work the strips down to about a 1/4 inch wide.
  • Step three, file the nodes – nodes are where the leaf comes out of the bamboo. There is a ridge there that needs to be filed smooth.
  • Step four, pressing and straightening – even after filing many of the nodes will have a distinct bump. To remove this you heat the node over and electric heat gun which will soften the fibers. Then you press the node into a vice to press it flat. After all the nodes are pressed you check the strip for straightness. Any kinks or sharp bends in the strip are removed by a series of heating and bending.
  • Step five, rough beveling – since the rod is made up of six individual pieces glued together to form a hexagon shaped pole each strip needs to end up at a 60 degree pie shaped angle. This rough beveling can be done with either a router or surface planer with a special jig. I use the surface planer method.
  • Step six, baking time – once the strips are rough beveled they are bound onto an aluminum form and baked in hot air oven. This process removes any excess moisture and straightens the strips for final planing.

Now comes decision time. The next step in the process is to set the taper of the rod and do the final hand planing. This is where you have to make the decision of what rod you are actually going to build. So what’s next?