Thomas Penrose's Bamboo Fly Rod Pages

Making a Split Cane Bamboo Fly Fishing Rod:

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The strips sometimes tend to tear at the irregularly grained node areas during planing. To smooth these areas out a scraper plane is used. Scraper planes are also often used to remove the last few thousandths of an inch of material to make the strips flush with the top surface of the steel planing form. Inexpensive hand held scraping blades will also work well for rod making.  A very thin spline for a tip section is being shown in the forms in this image.

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The bamboo strips being bound in a Garrison-style rod binding machine. This is a simple yet ingenious mechanism that binds the strips of the bamboo fly rod tightly together when they are glued, which helps to make the glue joints between each strip invisible. However, it is also possible to do a good binding job by hand, without the aid of a binding machine.

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A close-up of the rod binder.

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The glued strips after having gone through the binder two times (once to apply a clockwise wrap of thread, and again to apply a counterclockwise wrap). Note the excess glue coating the fly rod blank. This will be sanded away in the next stage.

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The completed 2 fly tip rod blank after being sanded with fine grit sandpaper to remove the leftover glue and the cane's natural enamel layer.

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A completed tip section resting on the steel planing form.  This end of the tip section is 74 thousandths of an inch in thickness.  Each of the six triangular splines it is composed of are 37 thousandths of an inch thick.

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A finished 8' two-piece (three tips) 6 wt. bamboo fly rod.


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Making Bamboo Planing Forms

Tonkin Cane Bamboo for Fly Rods

Making Bamboo Planing Forms using Lawrence Waldron's Layout

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Determining Ferrule Positioning on a 2 Piece Fly Rod

Determining Ferrule Positioning on a 3 Piece Fly Rod

Turning Cork Grips with a Hand Drill

For more detailed information on split cane fly rod making, look at these books:
A Master's Guide to Building A Bamboo Fly Rod, by Everett Garrison with Hoagy B. Carmichael.
Handcrafting Bamboo Fly Rods, by Wayne Cattanach.
How to Make Bamboo Fly Rods, by George W. Barnes.
Fundamentals of Building a Bamboo Fly-Rod, by George E. Maurer and Bernard P. Elser
Constructing Cane Rods: Secrets of the Bamboo Fly Rod, by Ray Gould
Splitting Cane: Conversations With Bamboo Rodmakers, by Ed Engle
The Lovely Reed: An Enthusiast's Guide to Building Bamboo Fly Rods, by Jack Howell
Cane Rods: Tips & Tapers, by Ray Gould


This site created and maintained by Thomas Penrose

All images and text copyrighted ©Thomas Penrose 1997, 2008