Gather up any group of fly fishermen (and women) and you'll soon hear them talk about their memories of fishing with their father and grandfather. I've heard more than one story of going through granddad's fishing gear after he died and finding his beloved bamboo fly rod. These heirloom fly rods are most likely still functional, but are probably best restored or kept as is and displayed above your mantle as a reminder of fly fishing's earlier days.
Are bamboo fly rods a thing of the past?
But are are bamboo fly rods a thing of the past? On the contrary, these rods are still being made today. You can buy one brand new from either the 'big name' rod makers like Orvis, Hardy or Leonard. You can also buy one that is hand-crafted over many hours by individual craftsman. Making a bamboo fly rod from scratch takes anywhere from 40-60 hours of attentive detail work. You can imagine that every hand-crafted bamboo fly rod is an individual masterpiece. Selling one must be like selling a piece of the makers soul! But knowing that his hand-crafted fly rod will become not only a functional fishing piece, but also a new family heirloom makes the process of parting with one just a bit easier.
I can hear some objections now …
"My carbon fiber rod is made of the latest in technology. Why would I want a bamboo fly rod?"
Bamboo fly rods aren't for everyone. If all you want is the latest CAD designed space-aged material technology to fish with, then there are plenty of models produced each year to choose from. However if you want a material that is warm to the touch, glows golden in the sunlight, and brings you closer to your natural surroundings, then a bamboo fly rod is for you.
Where can you find bamboo fly rods?
Even today, bamboo fly rods are being crafted by individuals in their own homes and workshops. These handcrafted rods can sell for upwards of $ 1000- $ 2000 dollars, and frequently come with a lifetime repair guarantee by the maker. Most of the major rod manufacturers also make bamboo fly rods. But you can also find used, antique and vintage bamboo rods for sale online. The condition of these older rods varies from those that are coming unwound and unglued to rods that have been refurbished and are in excellent condition. Whether you choose to hang the rod on the wall for display or take it to your favorite stream for fishing is up to you.