The Art of Elegance: Bamboo Rods

Fly fishing is expensive to take up as a hobby, but for the true fly fisher who wants to experience the art in the finest way possible, there is but one rod to have.

Nothing speaks elegance more than the split bamboo fly rod.

The rods are called split bamboo because each rod is made with six separate bamboo sections. The sections are shaped, milled and glued by hand, thus making the rods very expensive to own.

The advantage, however, is in the action of the bamboo itself. Unlike standard fly rods, bamboo is organic. The organic quality of the rod means the rod will have a certain feel, look and action that will be unique and individual. Once the perfect rod is matched to your specific needs, you will have an heirloom that will also function with flawless capability.

A bamboo fly rod is part art and part functional fishing rod. While the fine cork handles and multicolored threads that tie the eyes onto the rod are beautiful to see, it does not change the action and function of the rod.

Ultimately, the bamboo rod will come down to whether you want a custom rod or one commercially available. Of course, a custom rod will be considerably more expensive, but it is the tradeoff for a rod that is built to you, your needs and specific casting style.

Amazon.com has a few excellent choices for split bamboo fly rods, and the prices are reasonable for what you are actually getting.

Sonatore 3 weight

Sonatore Split Cane Bamboo Fly Rod 3wt

Sonatore makes handmade rods, and they feature some incredible details.

PROS

  • Reasonably priced for the rod
  • Two rod tips

CONS

  • 3 Weight only acceptable for light trout fishing
  • 6’6″ rod is short for a fly rod

Sonatore 6 weight

Sonatore Split Cane Bamboo Fly Rod 6wtA larger weight rod, the Sonatore 6 weight is more appropriate for most freshwater fishing.

PROS

  • 6 weight better for all around fishing
  • 8′ rod better for longer casts

CONS

  • 6 weight is almost too heavy for trout
  • Rod only; no reel, line or other

 

The Cascade model is made by Sonatore. It is a slight upgrade from the first two, and a perfect match to panfish and trout.

Cascade

PROS

  • Quality materials throughout
  • 4 weight, 7’6″ rod

CONS

  • A bit more expensive than the first two
  • Lacks much of the fine intricate details

The Orvis company makes some of the best rods in the world. Their commercial graphite fly rods are smooth casting and feature a backbone that will fight even the toughest fish.

Orvis’ Battenkill System A is a full fly fishing outfit and ready to fish out of the box.

Orvis Penns Creek

PROS

  • Full outfit
  • Two rod tips

CONS

  • 7′ rod – may be too short for most applications
  • Very expensive outfit

Orvis’ other full outfit is the Penn’s Creek Full-flex.

Orvis Penn Creek Full-flex

PROS

  • Full outfit
  • Two rod tips

CONS

  • 7′ rod – may be too short for most applications
  • Very expensive outfit

These are the only split bamboo fly rods available at Amazon.com, but they are not the only split bamboo rods available. Rod builders, or those who would like to try, will find this resource helpful. Additionally, here is a video on how to build one as well.

The page and video will no doubt give you some idea on the difficulties and skill necessary to build a rod well. It should also give you some appreciation of the artisan quality of the split bamboo fly rod.