As I sit here wrapping a rod for a customer I have been reflecting on when this journey started. Trying to do this by memory is not an easy task these days! Seems that I remember the year 1991, I had just met my wife to be, though I still didn’t know that! Kinda like not knowing where my new found interest in building a bamboo fly rod was going, funny how that worked. We were on one of those weekend drives, you know, new girl friend, getting to know each other, drive up to the mountains on a nice summer day… well we were passing through Lyons Colorado and I had heard of South Creek Ltd. seems there was a guy up there making bamboo fly rods! “Let’s stop in here and see what this is all about” I said to my new gal! We were greeted by Mike and he showed us what he was doing! Then I started to look at some of the rods on the rack and quickly realized that this was just a dream, I could never afford the prices for a fishing rod! But… I knew right then and there that I could make one! It seems to me that it was on that first visit that I asked Mike if he had any information, but I may have thought about it for a while and then come back, just don’t remember that detail. Anyway he sold me a book that he had in stock “The Bamboo Rod And How to Build It” by Claude M. Kreider, I have that book in front of me as I write this! At the time there was not much in print about this subject. The bible, ” A Master’s Guide To Building A Bamboo Fly Rod” by Garrison/Carmichael was out of print and “Handcrafting Bamboo Fly Rods” by Wayne Cattanach was not out yet.
So I read my book cover to cover and found that there was a copy or two of the Garrison book avalaible at the Library. I would go to the Longmont library and check it out for as long as I could, then go to the Denver library and do the same! At some point I started to make a set of forms (still use them today!) and started acquiring the tools that I felt I needed. Looking back on this, if there would have been a class avalaible I could have paid for it with the money I spent on tools that I didn’t need!
At some point I went back to see Mike and told him that I was ready to try my hand at making a bamboo fly rod! He sold me a culm of cane and was nice enough to throw in a partial culm that he had taken a section out of for a repair on another rod! “Practice splitting this one he said, then you can go to work on your good one.” Well that is just what I did… the splitting went quite well! I’ll just keep going until I screw it up I thought! Well long story short I ended up with a one tip 8 ft. rod based on a Winston taper that I got out of the Krieder book! Still have that rod though it belongs to my son, (that story to come later) Now I wish I would have dated that rod, though I did sign it (not very well) and it is a pretty good effort if I do say so myself!
And so it began…
More to come, I hope you enjoyed my reflections … as I sit here wrapping a rod!
Joe E. Arguello