bamboo fly rod,    bamboo fly rods,    bamboo rod mill,    chris raine,    hollowbuilt bamboo fly rod,    phillipson bamboo fly rods

Is The Modern Bamboo Fly Rod's Biggest Enemy The Modern Bamboo Fly Rod Buyer? (An Underground Semi-Rant)

Posted by Tom Chandler 3/26/2010 5 minutes

If we really needed further proof that bamboo rod makers are borderline OCD sufferers technically insane, we bring you YouTube video of Chris Raine's new computer-controlled, wholly hand-machined, completely over-the-top bamboo fly rod mill - in its first pass (at this point, it's shaping the delrin cutting bed).



I've been watching this beast take shape for upwards of a year in Chris' shop.

Frankly, I'm a little afraid of the thing; I stand in the other corner when I visit.

If you know Raine, you know he's a lifetime member of the Anything Worth Doing is Worth Overdoing School of Insane Behavior, and this is only the latest manifestation.

It's likely his bamboo rod mill and a handful of cockroaches would be the only thing in Dunsmuir to survive a direct tactical nuclear strike, and yet I've heard him state - without a hint of irony - that he'd really like to beef the thing up.

blog sign up

How do you "beef up" something already more massive than a woolly mammoth?

Raine's continuing to build fly rods the "old fashioned way" (and teach classes) while he puts the finishing touches on The Beast, though he's also building some new style binder that looks like it was stolen from the drive train of an Abrams tank.

(Crazy, it seems, tends to spread quickly over the whole shop.)

The impetus for this rant was an email suggesting a bamboo rod built on a mill wasn't a "real" bamboo fly rod at all.

If it wasn't hand planed, then it just wasn't real.

Hand-planing a rod offers satisfaction and a pleasing connection with the bamboo, but even those that like the process will admit it's hard work and the BFI part of the job (brute force and ignorance).

And yes, the time invested in hand planing a rod makes it hard to experiment with new rod tapers.

And before anybody chimes in to champion the concept of "nostalgia" or "tradition" in connection with hand-planed rods, I'd like to say that almost all the old bamboo rods - including the vaunted Paynes, Leonards, etc - were built on mills of some sort.

I wouldn't hesitate to buy a modern fly rod tapered on a mill, though plenty of bamboo snobs have expressed reservations about that.

It's one of the things that leads me to believe the bamboo fly rod world's biggest enemies are some of the people in the bamboo fly rod world - people who would rather we worshiped bamboo fly rods instead of fished them.

After all, I've seen bamboo rod builders - including Jimmy Reams, whose fly rods should be shot into space so aliens will mistakenly believe we're a tasteful, elegant species - accused of "not being 'real' bamboo rod builders" because they don't fab their own ferrules or reel seats.

That's like suggesting I'm not a "real" writer because I didn't code my text processor (Komodo Edit).

The case for "real" lies in the words or the fly rods, not in the tools, and while fly fishermen have a deserved reputation for being insufferable snots (me included), reality probably really has to kick in at some point.

I could also rant on about those who insist a bamboo rod isn't really a bamboo rod if its wraps are nylon instead of silk; its guides are ceramic instead of agate; or the rod bag wasn't sewn by a virgin (a hard thing in California).

But I won't.

I will, however, offer a rare celebrity endorsement of my position; in an interview with John Gierach, he told me he still fishes bamboo about 85% of the time, but has drifted away from the bamboo rod scene largely because of the people who populate it.

"I'd go to a gathering and see these guys bragging about their $3000 fly rods, but I couldn't help but notice most couldn't actually cast the things, let alone fish them."

Frankly, I'd love to see a machine-planed fly rod brand created in the image of Bill Phillipson's rods - excellent fishing tools that didn't cost the arm you cast them with.

Given the high-dollar prices charged for mass-produced graphite, I wonder if the time isn't right for a new mass-produced bamboo rod. After all, almost nothing fishes smaller streams better than bamboo, and enough people are fishing small streams that I'm using psuedonyms instead of stream names.

It's likely that investment in machinery would never be repaid, but if you can't wish for the impossible, well hell - there's little reason to write your own fly fishing blog.

Viva the Modern Bamboo Fly Rod - no matter how it's built.
Destinations
 (1)
Most everyone has heard of Aspen, known for its physical beauty, great access to skiing, high-end resorts, and home to innovative think tanks and institutes. Yet just a ½ hour drive ... morenorth on I-82 will take you to Basalt, a mile-high jewel of the Rockies. Surrounded on all sides by the White River National Forest, Basalt is also where two of the state’s best fly fishing rivers come together – the Gold Medal Frying Pan and Gold Medal Roaring Fork – and it’s a mere 30 minutes to the Colorado River.

Named for the nearby rock formations on Basalt Mountain, this town like many others in Colorado began in the late 1800’s as a mining and railroad junction. Trains were used to move people, charcoal and charcoal kilns, which at the time brought people to the area and employed many. Today the Frying Pan Kilns at Arbaney Park are an important tourist attraction.

//

Adventure sports and outdoor activities are the major tourist draw to the area. Within the White River National Forest there are 8 areas officially designated as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, including Eagles Nest, Flat Tops and the Hunter-Fryingpan. In addition, there are 10 peaks with elevations in excess of 14,000 feet including Snowmass, Castle and Gray’s Peak. The area also features a dozen ski areas including Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands, Beaver Creek, Snowmass and Vail.

Anyone planning a fly fishing vacation along with others not interesting in casting a line, there are scores of alternative activities to keep them engaged. They can choose from White water rafting on the Roaring Fork, boating on the Ruedi Reservoir, and needless to say, skiing. For those who like to bike, there are over a dozen, world class, cross country bike trails, as well as lift accessed down-hill biking throughout the valley. Hiking trails are numerous, varying in length, elevation and difficulty.

Not to be outdone by Aspen, Basalt is home to the Rocky Mountain Institute’s (RMI) new “Net-Zero Innovation Center,” located on the banks of the Roaring Fork. The Roaring Fork Conservancy is also currently building a new, state of the art center near RMI’s.

There are several ways to reach Basalt, including:

Fly into Grand Junction Regional Airport and drive approximately 2 hours

Fly into Denver International Airport and drive approximately 3 hours

Fly into Colorado Springs Airport and drive approximately 4 hours

Fly into Salt Lake City International Airport and drive approximately 6 hours
Fishing Waters
A well kept secret, the Eagle River, once desecrated by mining waste, is now a restored, healthy and great place to fish. This freestone river starts its journey at over 10,000 feet ... moreon the west side of the Continental Divide near Tennessee Pass. During its first 25 miles it drops over 2,400 vertical feet and can only be fished by wading. The first access site is near Camp Hale, famous for training the 10th Mt. Division during WWII, where it is surrounded by scenic Alpine meadows. Here the river is a near-perfect, brown trout habitat with fast water and numerous pockets.

//

Named by the Ute Indians, who compared the river’s many branches and streams to the feathers of an eagle’s tail, the river flows northward through the Vail Valley until it is joined by Gore Creek near the town of Minturn. At this point the river turns west and basically follows I-70 until it meets up with the Colorado River in Dotsero.

Although the entire river can be waded, because it is a freestone river, water levels can vary considerably throughout the year and conditions can be challenging. Strong currents are frequent as are swirling, invisible teacups. Slick rocks line the river bottom, often described by Eagle River vets as “greased bowling balls.” Before entering, you might consider bringing studded wading boots and/or wading staffs as well as obtaining up-to-date stream flow data.

The lower portion of the river from Minturn down can be floated in a drift boat, although going with a guide who knows the waters is also worth considering. Given that there are several privately owned sections of the river, a boat will give you entry to waters you might otherwise miss. The river is not known for an abundance of fish, but both the rainbows and browns are wild and often exceed 20 inches. The limit on the lower river is 2 trout per person.
Game Fish Opportunities:
 (1)
With a name like this you know there has to be a story. In fact there are several, but our favorite is the most obvious – that long ago there were so many fish (native cutthroat) they ... morejumped right out of the river and into your frying pan. It begins near Mt. Elbert as a stream fed, heavily pocketed, freestone river. From there the river turns northwest and flows into the Ruedi Reservoir, where since 1968, its waters have been dammed. This 14 mile, Gold Medal, section - from the reservoir to the Roaring Fork at Basalt - is considered one of the state’s best tailwaters. 

//

By definition, Gold Medal in Colorado means the fish are plentiful – a minimum of 60 pounds of trout per acre with at least 12 fish over 14 inches in length. Together with the designated 28 miles of Roaring Fork water, this is the longest, continuous Gold Medal run in Colorado. The introduction of the dam brought an unintended side effect when Mysis shrimp were introduced into the Reservoir to support a Kokanee salmon fishery that was never completed. The result – big boys, pigs, hogs, giants, or whatever you call them - the shrimp diet produces monster fish.

Add abundant, year round hatches and it’s no wonder anglers flock here to fish. The Frying Pan is known for its fabled Green Drake hatch that typically starts in late July and extends through October, drawing even the savviest fish to the surface. In addition to Spring Blue Winged Olive (BWO) hatches, this tailwater is one of only three that hosts the Serratella ignitia, a flightless BWO that attracts fish like ice cream attracts kids.

The river above the reservoir is less crowded and less regulated. The Gold Medal run is catch and release, artificial lures only.
 (1)
As a tributary of the Colorado, and the Frying Pan and Crystal as its main tributaries, it’s no wonder that large stretches of the Roaring Fork are ranked as Wild Trout and Gold Medal ... morefisheries. Originating high on the western edge of the Continental Divide near Independence Pass, this steep gradient river is aptly named. During its 70 mile run, the river drops over 7,000 feet, generating speed, turbulence and Class I to VI rapids. The Roaring Fork Watershed is vast, draining over 1,450 square miles, an area comparable in size to Rhode Island.

//

Above Aspen, the upper waters can be waded and are flush with brown and rainbow trout. Located in the White River National Forest public access is plentiful and well marked. The distance between Aspen to Carbondale, a 4200 ft. drop, is a highly regarded section for fly fishers and is also easily accessed off Route 82.

From Aspen to Basalt, the river loses gradient with another 1300 foot drop but picks up volume from surrounding mountain waters. Most of this section is designated as Wild Trout Water indicating that the river can support trout through an entire, natural life cycle. At Basalt the Frying Pan joins the Roaring Fork and the volume of water increases significantly. The 28 mile distance between Basalt and the confluence with the Colorado at Glenwood Springs is the famed Gold Medal run. The Crystal River converges with the Fork near Carbondale and maintains the Gold medal moniker that started at Basalt.

Restrictions apply in the designated waters and vary from section to section and from season to season, so it’s important to obtain current information before casting off. The Upper part of the river is good for wading. Floating is best suited for the lower stretches but requires someone experienced in whitewater navigation.
Trips
$
345
-
$
445
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 1 day
$
360
-
$
560
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day - 2 days
The Upper Colorado River flows westward from its headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park. We float fish a section of the river that begins at the Pumphouse Recreation Area near ... morethe town of Kremmling, Colorado. The river is wide and the scenery is beautiful. Floating the river you will find broad meanders, moderate rapids and areas of calm water. We fly fish primarily for rainbow and brown trout which vary in size from 8 to 18 inches and, although cutthroat tout are not as plentiful, we do hook them occasionally. We offer an overnight trip where we camp on the banks of the river. Dinner and breakfast are cooked at camp.
$
250
-
$
500
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 3 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 1 day
Destination:
With the flows pick up quickly, leave the Colorado alone at the moment. Unless we get a burst of colder weather which settles down the flows it won't be worth fishing.
Outfitters
 (8)
The lower elevations hit a peak in the melt earlier in the week and now the rivers have come down a little with some relatively cooler weather. The Fork is in good condition though ... moreflowing high. The Pan is very clear at its current flow. The best information is that the Bureau will run the Pan up to around 700cfs from the 3rd of June for the co-ordinated release. That will last for a week. Thereafter the flows should come back to remain around 250cfs. However if the Bureau has underestimated the amount of snow they may have to run the flows up again later in the month. The reason they may have underestimated the flows is because we have had quite a lot of rain which fell as snow up higher. There are not enough guages to indicate the snowpack up high so there is a little more guesswork involved than will be admitted.

In the meantime, the fishing on the Pan will be tough when the releases run high so make note. While the cooler weather prevails the Fork will be good above Basalt, but watch the temperatures, as that too could be short lived.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

22 comments
Turns out Raine leaves his shop from time to time to climb to a secret cave on the mountain, where he dons a goatskin loincloth and levitates 3.1416 inches above the ground for days a time, pondering tapers.At least that's he tells me. Personally, I think he's off getting drunk.
0
0
I have stopped by Dunsmuir Rod Shop on every trip I've made up there and I've never seen it open. I'm convinced that you guys are all fomenting a fantasy. I know the building exists because I've touched it. I've even knocked on the door and peered in the windows. I see shadowy images that could be the stuff of bamboo rod making, but it could just as easily be the place where the Nimbus 2001 quidditch ... more broomsticks come from. Perhaps the building's enchanted powers include divining whether I have the dough to be an actual customer and it refuses me entry, in the same way that I can't find my way to Platform 9 3/4, or score a reservation at the McCloud conservancy any time I can visit.
0
0
Ultimately, if it catches fish and you like it, what else matters? I love to see any work of art, such as a finely hand built bamboo rod. Having said that, I contend that you can rebuild an 8', fifty year old, Japanese rod, properly balance it, and it will perform splendidly. Just to prove a point to my fellow bamboo afficianados, I cut a stick of bamboo raw and green from a stand here in Florida, ... more cut it to 7', used an old reel seat from a daiwa spinning rod, fashioned the guides from stainless steel wire, formed the grip from scrap cork, and sprayed the rod with canned laquer a few coats.We put a 4wt. line on it and cast it down to the backing. Yes, all 90' of it, beautiful loops, and accurately.
0
0
While it isn't “easy,” it is not difficult, methinks, to buy a really good used cane rod for $600 and some less. I bought one of my favorites, a 1936 Granger, fully restored for $200. One possible key is to save your money and cruise the makers for a used rod before Christmas clearly stating your budget. Today's used rod market has become more reasonable since the big crash (saw a Phillipson 8.5 ... more Paramount on Codella's rod list for $425), but I've bought enough clunker used rods to be very leery of the process, and downright hostile to the idea for those without some expertise. One highly recognizable rod dealer sold me a "pristine" Orvis rod with corroded guides and clunking ferrules. A famous rodmaker sold me a Phillipson whose ferrules were worn but waxed (I learned they were loose when I deprived them of their wax, and tips would simply spin in the female ferrules). And that's without even diving into the horrors of eBay (I still wake up screaming sometimes). Often it works, but buying used bamboo is a bit tougher than buying used graphite...
0
0
Thanks Tom. Great topic. So much to say, so few brains to figure out how to say it. While it isn't "easy," it is not difficult, methinks, to buy a really good used cane rod for $600 and some less. I bought one of my favorites, a 1936 Granger, fully restored for $200. One possible key is to save your money and cruise the makers for a used rod before Christmas clearly stating your budget. Yes, I can ... more see Jerry in the corner. Love the Guy. We were very worried the year he didn't show at the Metolius Fair. He always brings a variety of rods for test casting. You're right, many people, me included, can't feel much difference. Well, I wander, as is my way. So long. As far as machine vs hand planing ..... burp ........... hay, I hand planed off the tip of one of my fingers! Want to see the scar ?
0
0
I would have to agree that there can be a level of snobbery among bamboo flyrod afficionados..especially from an internet perspective which doesn't reveal those who have no need to broadcast their expertise to the less evolved than they. However statements like “I'd go to a gathering and see these guys bragging about their $3000 fly rods, but I couldn't help but notice most couldn't actually cast ... more the things, let alone fish them.” exhibit a convolution of snobbery no different in effect than those being criticized. Owning and collecting and fishing bamboo is more about emotion and art interplay within the activity, and in order to participate at that level money must be spent. Kurt
0
0
Ahh, the old Journey vs. destination dilemma. Ultimately, this could allow bamboo to compete, on merits, vs the glass and graphite rods in the broader market.
0
0
Ditto Philip's last paragraph. I own one bamboo rod. I doubt that I will own any more. As far as my experience indicates, they are best used as a small stream rod. Since I get into arguments with rattlesnakes in order to fish one of those, I do use the bamboo several times a year. But I guess I'm too old and tired to stay in the "purist" mold that I used to aspire to. I just fish what I think will ... more work for the situation. That said, there is no question that a lovingly made bamboo rod is a work of craftsmanship that compels real admiration. Say Hi to the Wonder Dog.
0
0
Great post Tom Its writing like this that brings me back, to peek into a mysterious world where people CHOOSE how the y CATCH FISH. SBW
0
0
Since I know almost nothing about the minutiae of rod building, I may be all wet here; but this reminds me of the snob-appeal controversy over fine shotguns. The great English guns (of which I have a few) have far more hand work in them than the great Spanish and Italian guns. Ergo, the English guns are even more expensive, and rightly so, since there are fewer of them. But on objective levels, either ... more method can produce guns with excellent engraving, wood-to-metal fit, balance and function. For that matter, you can but a factory made gun from Cabellas that will provide a lifetime of satisfaction. Everything about fly fishing is irrational, which is why it is so essential to our sanity. I doubt that one caster in ten thousand could tell the difference between a hand planed and machine planed rod. Any technology that helps put more well-designed cane rods in the hands of anglers is wonderful. Cane is an antidote to the "second place is the first loser" attitude that makes its way from the basketball courts to our streams sometimes.
0
0
He isn't building with the mill yet, so your rod must be real. Still, I think you found the name for a new series ofRaine mill-built rods: iRods...
0
0
There's no denying it now - I'm an uber dork. That machine is cool as shit.
0
0
Yeah so that video is crazy. I couldn't quite see how it was working but it looks pretty rad. I too would have a hard time paying that much to fish w/bamboo. I do not see the value it creates? Maybe it is for the purists. Maybe someday I will only be guiding Utah's waters with bamboo rods, that will be my new marketing pitch...ha ha?
0
0
TC, you left out Jerry Foster sitting in the corner egging Chris on...those two in the same room with electronics and computers...I'm amazed the world did not stop spinning.
0
0
I have one of his Quad Rods. It never occurred to me it might not be real. So a Raine's bamboo rod must = i. ????
0
0
A truth that many hand-planing cane rodmakers won't admit is that it is impossible to replicate the tapers of an F.E. Thomas, Leonard, or Payne rod made on a beveler, with the relatively inelastic steel of a planing form. The bevelers allow minute adjustments while also permitting extreme drops in the taper. Also, unlike planing forms, they didn't build rods on 5" (what a stupid dimension to use) ... more centers -- they didn't need to compute centers. You should see some of the old machines that turned out the superb rods of Carlson and Thomas. These machines were made with massive wooden underpinnings and handcranks to advance the cutters, yet the strips came out pure and true. Sam had a wrapping machine made of 2x4s, iron plumbing pipe, and old clothesline pulleys - but it did the job.
0
0
I LOVE over-engineering! Damn the torpedoes Chris, full speed ahead! This thing was over engineered before he started over-engineering it.
0
0
I LOVE over-engineering! Damn the torpedoes Chris, full speed ahead!
0
0
See, I don't even know what you're saying here. When is Google going to create a Singlebarbed to Human translator?
0
0
As an admitted graphite or glass snob, I was incensed to read that the rod industry was refining nozzle apartures to change the sound a new rod makes when shat onto waxed paper a bird call - versus the flatulent noise of pent-up injected molded perfection. While I might buy one of these "tweet" rods for a child, I'd never consider such an obviously inferior rod for my arsenal.
0
0
It's hard to imagine a really good bamboo fly rod going for much less than $600. As for why you'd spend that on bamboo and not graphite, well, nobody can answer that for you. You probably won't. I have, and probably will again; bamboo (and fiberglass) feel exactly like a fly rod's supposed to feel (to me at least). I believe that's the essence of modern economics (I buy it because I want to and can), ... more though after "Too Big to Fail" my faith in economics has been shaken some.
0
0
Yep. The main reason I haven't bought a bamboo rod is cost. Yes plenty of people have said: you can get a good bamboo rod for $600-$700. I won't spend that on a graphite rod, why should I spend it on a bamboo rod? If someone wants to spend $1500-$3000 on a rod, well good for them. Side note:In Jackson WY I saw a very nice, and expensive bamboo rod, built by someone in my home state, New Jersey. Don't ... more they have rod builders in WY???
0
0

Discover Your Own Authentic Fly Fishing Experience

With top destinations, guided trips, outfitters and guides, and river reports, you have everything you need.