In 1954 for my twelfth birthday my father gave me his old steel pull-out fly rod and ever since fly-fishing has been one of my passions.
My friend’s father who would often invite me to fish with them had a bamboo fly rod that he could cast further than any other fly-fisher person I knew at that time and I promised myself back then that one day I would own such a fine rod.
Many decades later having an arsenal of steel, fiber-glass and carbon fiber rods I decided that it was now time to acquire a bamboo fly rod, but I not only wanted to own one, I wanted to build it my self.
Having retired two years ago in 2005 I thought the time was now right for me to take up my desire to build a cane rod. I started searching the internet for bamboo fly rod builders who would be prepared to teach me the rudiments of this fine art. Having read a number of books on the restoration and the fundamentals of building a bamboo fly rod from scratch, I had a fair idea of what I was letting myself in for.
So what made me choose ‘High Desert Fly rods’ for this experience?
Maybe it was the promptness that Scott Nilsson came back to me, or just his straight talk on the phone that made me want to go with High Desert Fly Rods. Well, what ever it was I believe I made the right choice to go all the way out to Boise in Idaho from Philadelphia to spend time with Scott building a superb cane rod.
From the minute I arrived at Scott’s home it was down to business. He came out with a dozen or so bamboo fly rods for me to cast out on the lawn. From the second I cast one I was convinced that bamboo was now the only way to fly-fish. After much deliberation I eventually decided that I would like to build a 7 ft 4wt two piece bamboo fly rod as this rod felt like an extension to my arm.
Although having read quite a bit about bamboo fly rods I had not realized the amount of work and attention to detail that is needed in building such a masterpiece, and a masterpiece it certainly is as every one is unique, no two bamboo rods can ever be exactly the same and that’s what makes them so special.
During the time I spent with Scott building my rod I found him to be attentive and helpful in all respects and a stickler for detail. “If it’s not done correctly then it’s not done right” and you start again. I now know why these rods cost so much and I can now appreciate that fact.
Working with Scott was a pleasure and I found him to be very open and more than willing to share his experiences and rod building know-how with me. I took loads of pictures and made half a book of notes and sketches.
It was a proud moment when I finally took the finished product it in my hand and cast it out on the lawn. I believe that in building it yourself it means so much more to you and you will treasure it for years to come as you have put part of your heart and soul into it and it becomes almost a living thing, one day maybe it will become an heirloom.
Terry F. Grills... PA
A very satisfied customer relates his experience here:
Bamboo Rod Building Class Overview
The class is a private, one on one class. I can, however, accept two students. There is an emphasis on having a great time and constructing a great fly rod. We will have after hour chats covering all aspects of rod making, fishing, fly tying, watching videos, (which you will get copies of ) Cost $1200.00 per person. One student can stay with my wife and I in a private guest room with bathroom. This will save on expense, however we expect you to share in meal expense. (Taking us out for dinner counts) If there are 2 of you, you will have to get a hotel. I recommend flights to Salt Lake City and a connection to preferably Pocatello or perhaps Idaho Falls where we can pick you up.
It will take approximately 6 days to have the rod ready to wrap. I encourage you to take extra time (4 days) to learn how to wrap and varnish the rod. There will be no extra charge for this time I spend with you. If you are unable to spend this time, or for some reason cannot complete your fly rod, I can complete the rod and ship it to you.
Upon your committment to my class you will be provided with a pdf of my detailed study guide before arriving.
Make sure to bring plenty of note paper (a couple of legal pads are good).
You also will want a digital camera and, or, video recorder or sound recorder.
The class will follow this outline.
1. Discuss the rod to be built and make sure you are aware of the behavior of the rod you will select by casting these rods.
2. Select the bamboo culm and prepare it for making strips(tiger stripe, flamed, or blonde).
3. Splitting the culm and making strips.
4. Preparing strips for rough planing (filing ,and or sanding, node spacing and heating and pressing nodes.
5. Rough planing to establish 60 degree angles
6. Binding and heat treating strips.
7. Secondary and final planing,removing enamel and plane blade sharpening.
8. Gluing strips and binding them together.
9. Sanding and scraping the blank to make sure taper numbers are accurate.
10. Ferruling the blank and and adding the cork rings that will form the grip.
11. Preparing and fitting the ferrules as well as sanding the cork to desired
12. Selecting hardwood for real seat and turning the wood on the lathe.
13. Discussion of guide placement and how to find the spline.
14. Making the snake guides.
15. Wrapping the rod and applying varnish to the wraps.
16. Final finish to the rod by sanding and use of the varnish dip tank.
All techniques and use of tools will be discussed during the above procedures. You will be given information on the best tools to use and where to buy them. Upon completion of the class, you will then be able to produce a bamboo fly rod on your own. You can get support from me at anytime in the future at no charge.