When I started making bamboo fly rods back in 1991 it seemed that it was somewhat difficult to find components that I felt would compliment a fine bamboo rod. Aluminum reel seats have never been an option for me although I know many great makers used them. 18% Nickel silver was and is my choice of reel seat hardware material as well as ferrules. I also felt that to make a rod truly custom one should make as many of the components as possible. So I have always tried to do just that. This was written in Ed Engle’s book “Splitting Cane” as I was doing this even back then. I must confess that I did, for a time use commercially available components. What I did not like is that all the rods on the market were starting to look alike, regardless of the maker! So…
The last couple of year I have been spending a great deal of time doing R&D, making tools, and refining my processes. I am now in a position where I can make everything that goes into one of my rods. The only thing that I am not making on my rods currently is the tip tops, but I do have a design I am developing, I should be offering them soon. I feel that I am not only making truly custom rods but I am making some of the finest rods available at any cost. There is just something about drawn reel seat hardware that give the rods a warm custom feel to them. I have also acquired a roll stamp to put my name on the butt cap. This hardware can be fitted with whatever kind of wood and I have come to use Olive wood from Jerusalem as my standard filler wood, but there are options that I will consider. The lines of the drawn hardware are just right and they don’t have that machined look.
As I stated in one of my previous blog posts, I started making agate stripping guides by cutting and polishing the agates, this is so time consuming that I had to quite making them. I have recently found a source for finished agate rings and have started making my agate stripping guides once again. The frames are hand twisted from 18% nickel silver wire and the stones are bezeled in 18% nickel silver bezel material. The agate stripping guides are made to jewelry quality and are the finest available. Snake guides that are hand twisted out of spring tempered wire can be made just the way I want them and I feel that the nice flat profile when you look at them from the side is not only pleasing to the eye but also has less resistance to a fly line as it makes it’s way through them. I prefer the English reverse twist as do many of my customers.
Ferrules made from both nickel silver tubing and also drawn from flat nickel silver stock can be made to look and function better than anything commercially available. They can be sized to fit a taper exactly. All hardware is offered in both silver or oxidized. Upon the choice of hardware, everything is considered to make the rod as ascetically pleasing as possible. The finest cork avalable is used for the handles. Fine silk of the proper color is used to wrap the guides onto the rod blank, as well as the signature and ferrule wraps. I shoot for a very simple understated beauty, not unlike that of a fine English double barrel shotgun!
Last but not least I have recently modified my forms, which I made before I ever made the first rod, to incorporate a swelled butt when desired, this will be the standard unless someone wants a very specific taper. Each rod is hand inked by myself with my name, the rod length and a serial number which is made up of the year and number of rod for that year. I finish my rods in several coats of varnish which are carefully applied to obtain a flawless finish. A rod bag is sewn, by myself to fit the rod perfectly and a powder coated aluminium tube is fitted to the rod. Leather rod tubes are in the future.
So to sum up I am offering truly fine custom made Bamboo fly rods that are the result of many years of experience and always striving to improve on my technique. I feel that I am in complete control of the process and can make a rod that is one of a kind. My customers find themselves in possession of a fly rod they can use for a lifetime and hand down as a family heirloom. Rarely do you see a J.E. Arguello fly rod on the secondary market and I am very proud to say that my customer do not give up their custom rods.
I take great pride in my work and would be happy to make you a truly custom fly rod you will cherish.
Joe E. Arguello