J.E. Arguello Rod Company going full time!!!

I am happy to announce that I have decided that it is time for me to retire from my day job as an Operations Manager at a data center and go into my rod building full time. This decision did not come easy to me as the security of a good job is not easy to leave. That being said I have been spending more and more of my free time in the shop as things have progressively gotten busier! It has become very hard to keep up with my rod orders and now that I have started selling my hand made agate stripping guides… well it is time. As some of you know I also make Damascus knives and I have not even had time to think about those! So…

Between now and the end of the year I will be transitioning into becoming a full time builder of fine bamboo fly rods and all the other custom items that I make. This is very exciting as I am always torn when I have to leave the shop to meet my other responsibilities (day job) this should give me more time to get to some of those projects that I have had to put off and to take more orders. I am also considering teaching some classes if time permits.

I am now taking rod orders for 2013, if you look at my price list you will notice that I have changed them… what I have done is include some to the options that were upgrades! These options are Agate Stripping guides, trim wraps, and blackened hardware, these three options were an up charge of $150 and are now a savings to you! This pricing will remain in effect until the first of the year. I am now making most of the components that I use on my fly rods, and I will be changing my prices in 2013 to reflect the added labor that is necessary in order to do this. Order today don’t miss out on these prices! Please be aware that you rarely see my rods on the secondary market! I do not claim to have made as many rods as some other builders, but I do have a couple of hundred out there! My customers buy my rods and keep them!

Last but not least I will be adding Quads to my bamboo fly rod list, I have always been fascinated in Quad construction but have not had the time to get into them, I have acquired a set of forms and my quads will be hand planed in the same fashion as my hex rods.

I want to express my gratitude to all of my customers over the years, you have made it possible for me to continue to perfect my craft and I am always happy to make you a fine bamboo fly rod that you will cherish. I look forward to hearing from you.


Joe E. Arguello

Maker of fine bamboo fly rods… and other stuff!


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A walk in the Park…RMNP !

Well as I said last time I was off fishing, it was Saturday morning and I needed to do a bit of soul searching! So off I went half-cocked, didn’t really know where exactly I was going. I drove up through Loveland, CO and up into the Big Thompson canyon, figured I would stop when the mood hit me! Well I ended up all the way up in Estes Park and still didn’t find the right place for the day. Since I was there I decided to call my friend Frank Drummond, “Wanna go up into the Park for a couple of hours?” I asked. “Sure, swing on by” he said. Well when I got there it was already 9:00 AM and the road into Bear Lake was already closed so that was out! Where we gonna fish today? Let’s go fish the meadow part of Fall River! So off we went. The flow is way down and we figured it would be a challenge, small flies and long tippets! I picked out a parachute BWO in a size 20 to start! Seemed like a good choice since it looked like it wanted to cloud up and it was a bit cool! The water was gin clear and  real low. This ain’t gonna be easy! Well a guy’s gotta work on his skills once in a while even if you get skunked! I remember when I first started fly fishing, didn’t have a clue what I was doing so catching a fish was not an easy task and it was always easier to just put away that new fangled cheap fly rod with the miss-matched level fly line and pick up the ultra light spinning rod! Now we can catch a fish!… Well I realized that I had better tough it out and started leaving the ultra lite at home to force myself to either learn to use a fly rod or go fishless! Best thing I ever did for myself! Then I got to the point where it was always easier to put on a strike indicator and a beadhead. Now we can catch a fish!… Well I remembered my old lesson and gave away all my nymphs! Better learn to dry fly fish or go fishless! This is simply what I wanted to learn, I will be the first to admit I am not the best fishing partner as I can be a real snob! But I have become pretty good and when people tell me “you catch more fish with nymphs” well I suppose that may be true but I catch enough fish …and in the way that I like to fish. OK enough of that! We could see fish rising in the distance, the trick was to make a long cast putting the fly just upstream of the fish and not line them in the process! And get a decent drift without drag! This can be a challenge, but really it’s easier when the water is as calm as it was here! Much more challenging when you are fighting faster flow with those currents that go in several directions within the distance of your cast! Well it wasn’t long that we spotted a rising fish that looked like he wanted to play! I must have cast at that fish 6 times without putting him down! Just a bit short on the first one, that’s OK gotta get the range down without lining him! Next cast, not bad, he looked at the fly! Well I finally got one just above him with the right drift and he came up and ate the fly! This is just too much fun, just the way I see it in my mind’s eye when I am sitting at my desk dreaming about fishing! Oh yes believe me that happens… more often now than it used too! It’s a good place to go when the rat race is getting to you! Let’s call it my ‘happy place’… I was talking to a lawyer friend of mine and he told me “You know Joe, when the stress of the job gets to me I always remember that time when you and I were walking up both sides of the Encampment fishing dry flies and just catching a bunch of fish…that is my ‘happy place’ makes life just seem not so bad” I really liked that idea and have incorporated it into my life as well! So upstream we went, we kept going around each other and at times fished together, which really meant one of us was simply watching the other and enjoying the day! You notice that there is no mention of any kind of competition here? Not important who caught more or bigger fish! Just enjoying the day! That is what a good day of fishing with a good friend is all about…well at least for me! Did I mention that I may not be the best fishing partner? Too snobish! So we caught a few fish and all in all had a great time for about 3 hours, just about the limit for me. I don’t do the marathon all day on the river type fishing, getting to hard on an old fella! Besides that I mentioned to Frank that my thoughts were changing from fish and fishing to Cheesy Lee’s! Ah yes a ‘Fourteener’ (one of the items on their menu) Frank agreed that Cheesy Lee’s sounded pretty good right about now! So we walked back to Frank’s jeep and got our gear off and put away. We talked about the days adventure in the way that you would have a corporate meeting when writing a business plan, leaving nothing undiscussed, anylizing every cast and bend in the river! Our stategy was flawless! But like all meetings you need to move on to the next topic on the itinetary… Pizza !!!!!!!!!! We got to Estas Park and found our way to Cheesy Lee’s, what a great place! The owner asked “well how’d you guys do?” OK we said, caught a few fish, had a great time, now we are hungry… how about a ‘Fourteener’ and a couple of soft drinks? “Coming right up!” Well you know he had to come and sit with us at the table… he’s just too nice a guy and besides that he wanted a bit more detail on the day, whether he admited it or not! So we sat and talked about the day of fishing, and moved on to our passion for bamboo fly rods, dry flies, etc. And then here comes the eagerly anticipated ‘forteener’! What a way to end a great day of fishing with a good friend!

The answer to whether I should retire the first of the year still has not come to me! Kinda didn’t really come to mind at the time!

Here’s some pics, thank you Frank for taking the time to man the camera!

Click on any photo to start the slide show, or you can choose ‘stop slideshow’ at the bottom of any pic.

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Bamboo Rods…Agate Stripping Guides…

Well, It’s been a while since I posted anything, sorry about that! You know it’s been crazy busy around here with the job and all! As many of you know I started offering my Agate stripping guides for sale! I was a bit reluctant about doing this until I retire because I really don’t have a lot of time on my hands. Some people have asked me if there is a 50 hour day in the Joe E. Arguello world! Well I sometimes wonder what I am thinking taking on the projects I do! Anyway so I decided to go ahead and put the word out that I was offering my agate strippers for sale to other rod builders/makers since I had received several requests for them. Another consideration was the availability of cut and polished rings… was I going to be able to get a good supply? Well I am happy to say that I have acquired a couple thousand rings in a few colors and sizes, and I have more coming with an assurance that the supply should be good going forward! As the investment has been quite substantial I guess I am now officially in the agate stripping guide business! Wow! I can’t believe the interest I have received for these stripping guides! Seems that everyone is more than happy with what they have received and some have gone as far as saying that they are the best they have ever gotten!  I have to tell you I am sending these things all over the world! I am international! Cool! Well come to think about it, I have been doing that with my rods for a long time!… Even cooler!

So I am seriously considering retiring in January! I will be 62 years old then and I really want to concentrate on my rod building and related things such as these agate stripping guides! Oh yeah have I mentioned that I also make bamboo fly rods? :>)  Well I do and have some orders for these as well! As it stands now I work a full day, commute the 35 miles in really bad traffic to Denver every day and then come home and put in 4 or 5 hours each evening to keep up with my new found interest! I really like my job and the guys that work for me don’t want me to leave! I have the best crew that a man could ever ask for! I am not complaining but it is getting to where I need more time to work on my rods and related projects! Then there is always the R&D as I am always trying to improve on my craft! So there is my dilemma, not a bad thing, but I am looking at this with mixed emotions! What to do?

Well, since I have filled a couple of orders this morning, I think I will go to the place where I do my best thinking, out on the river! I am going fishing! Don’t quite know where yet, maybe I’ll know it when I see it! Kinda nice to live where there are so many choices! Besides that I need to do some field testing! Maybe the answers to what I seek will come to me!

Well, as I have kept my prices down on my rods for the longest time I will probably be raising them soon! So if you have been thinking about ordering a new J. E. Arguello fly rod, perhaps you should get your order in! Just saying… a word to the wise…

So what do you guys think? Am I truly insane? Well like they say “You don’t have to be crazy to make Bamboo fly rods…but it certainly does help!”

Oh and if you look at your agate stripping guide inventory or you have a rod you are working on and need a new stripping guide, well go to the agate page on this web site and put in your order, I will do my best to get it to you ASAP!

Joe E. Arguello

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A little time with friends… a nice lunch!

Well I know it’s been a while since I posted anything but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks here, I am still alive and kicking!

A couple of weeks ago I got word that Bret Reiter was gonna be in Colorado Springs for a while as he works for USAA insurance and is here to help with the fire claims due to the unfortunate losses caused by the Waldo Canyon fire. Well my friend Mike McClain who lives in the area sent me an email and said he was gonna meet with Brett and I said I would like to come down and maybe we could have lunch and just chew the fat! You know talk about Bamboo rods and all related things. A lunch is not really enough time to get to know another bamboo person, but we did extend it to more like 3 or 4 hours! I can only speak for myself but I had a great time, it’s always nice when you can put a face to a person whom you have ‘known’ for a long time as is the case with Bret, he and I have been friends via email for many years and it was good to finally meet him. Mike and I have known each other for a year or so, he emailed me asking if I was doing rod building classes and I had to tell him that as I am still working a full time job my ‘spare’ time would not allow me to give a class the time necessary. I have taught a number of people and really do enjoy doing that, but to be fair I would need to dedicate more time to it. I have toyed with the idea of getting back in to it when I retire. (Perhaps the first of the year?) Anyway I redirected him to a friend of mine and he was very pleased with the outcome. We have become a bit more than mere acquaintance, or at least that is my take on it! OK enough of that…

So when I got to Mike’s house Bret and Mike were sitting there talking hand tied leaders, Bret had a wallet full of his own makings and was quick to dig one out and say “here try this out! I want feedback!” It is always cool when you get to try out different things others are working on! Bret had asked me to bring along some of my rods as he had never seen one. Well all I have is the ones I fish with as with my limited time I just manage to keep up with my orders now a days! Bret bought some Garrison type reel seat hardware from me a while back and I told Mike about that and he asked me to bring him a set if I would …so I did along with some of my new agate strippers that I had just finished! So we exchanged ideas and looked over our stuff and talked about all kinds of stuff. Next Mike said “well let me show you guys my shop set up!” and we spent a good half hour or so talking shop stuff. You know everything from planes, forms, ovens, dip tubes, varnish, bamboo culms, staggering, …on and on! Great time! Well we were working our way outside to look at my rods! I just happened to have a reel with me and since all the rods I had were 4 wts we could cast them all and compare. First I brought out a 6′ 4 wt based on a Wayne Cattanach taper. Guys liked it! Next I brought the 6′ 4 wt that I have designed to my specs which is simply a modification of the aforementioned rod. I fish small streams in my area and have spent a lot of time tweaking this rod to do just what I want. The guys really liked this rod and Mike asked me if I would mind sharing the taper with him as he would like to build one… “I don’t mind at all” I said! “What else you got” asked Bret! “Well the only other thing I have is this 7′ 4 wt based on a Garrison 202e” I said and we strung it up! Well I have to tell you if you don’t already know, it’s quite nerve racking to hand your rods to other builders who know what they are looking at! But I think that the guys really liked my fishing rods (nothing special, just what I use all the time!) Bret asked me what I was getting for my rods and when I told him he said, without hesitation “You’re not asking enough for these, they are really nice! “Thank you!” I said! (loss for word… I know… hard to believe!) You know when I retire and start taking more orders prices will go up! A word to the wise…

“Guys! I getting hungry” I said. “What do you guys want to eat?’ Mike asked. “I was thinking Italian” I said and everyone agreed. This is your turf Mike, lead the way. So off we went to Biaggis Italian Restaurant. Well long story short (kinda late for that!) we sat and ate and talked more about all things fishing and bamboo! Mike was gracious enough to pick up the tab! Thank you Mike! Like a good fishing trip this too had to come to an end. We said our goodbyes and all went our separate ways. I was hoping to get back and through Denver before it was too late as I had some things I needed to get done.

Well I fought traffic and an accident all the way back most of the 100 miles I had to travel to get back home but all in all it was well worth it.

Had a great time …just like a good fishing trip… with good friends.

Joe E. Arguello

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Now About Safety… Rod Safety That Is!!!!!!!!!

Let’s talk a bit about safety! I’m talking rod safety here! You got that nice new rod, you know you’ve been on that waiting list for who knows how long! To your surprise the maker has called you and you are gonna be able to get that rod in time to fish this fall! Cool! So you jump in the truck and carefully put the rod tube in there somewhere so it doesn’t get scratched, maybe even leave that plastic bag that it came in around the tube! That will be there for a while until it gets to be a bother! Anyway you get to the stream and you are so excited to fish that new rod that you just can’t stand it! You take the tube out and assemble the rod…OK hold on here! First off maybe you should get your waders on first, and your wading shoes, and your vest. Now then that rod is still in the tube safe and sound. This may sound funny but think about it for a while! It is a law of nature that if you assemble that rod first you have to put it somewhere while you get dressed. So you lean it on the truck or somewhere close. Just as you are tying your wading shoes, you know in that awkward position, trying to bend enough to reach the darn laces anyway (get harder as you get older) and a gust of wind comes up, you look up just to see your new rod sliding down toward the open door…which has also been caught by that gust of wind and is now closing on it’s own. Never has the timing of the universe been so well done…kinda like the timing of a fine Swiss watch! Oh crap is all you have time to say (believe me you don’t move that fast!) and SLAM!!!!!!! the door latches closed! Never have you seen anything look so bad in your life, believe me! If you are lucky (well we already know you are not) the door just broke the tip section, now you know why bamboo rods come with a second tip! You can still fish for the day if you want to, but your day is already ruined. OK, so that didn’t happen, but it could and has so maybe you’d better be aware of that and be careful…get dressed first!

So we dodged a bullet there and we are off to the river, super! It’s gonna be a great day! Look over there…nice brown rising! You tie on your favorite dry fly, or match the hatch and position yourself for that perfect cast (in your mind anyway) and on your first back cast you snag a tree (pine tree no less!) Darn, well a couple of snaps forward with the rod tip should get it loose, I hope you say! Snap you just took off the first 5 inches of the rod tip, why didn’t you just point the rod at the fly and use your hands on the fly line to break that $2.00 fly off instead of that $250.00 rod tip? Well now you know why bamboo rods are made with a second tip! So you walk back up to the truck and get the second tip, replace it and decide to lean it against the truck while you get a drink of water…wait a minute there cowboy we should have learned that lesson already!

OK, so that didn’t happen but it has and you should be aware of it and be careful! So since none of these things could possible happen to you and your new rod, you are down at the river and remember that nice brown rising over there? So your cast is perfect and he takes the fly on the first cast, he is bigger than he looked at first glance and off he goes, you try to keep him upstream of you (well that ain’t gonna happen) and downstream he goes…into the current and in the white water over all those rocks, you gotta turn him or at least stop him! So you remember those old picture of men hauling in tuna from the side of a tuna boat, you lean into the rod, pull it up at a 90 degree angle and …well maybe not that extreme but you need to know that you should fight you big fish off the butt of the rod, no 90 degree pulls, point the tip a bit more toward the fish, maybe a 45 degree angle or so! I once watched a fly fisher trying to land a fish with a Garrison 201 copy that I made and while the fish was at his feet the rod was being held high in the air resembling a shepherds cane! I brought this behavior to the attention of the owner as he bought the rod from me and is a personal friend. Well a couple of years later he called me and said “I snapped the tip on my Garrison…it was my fault, I did what you told me I shouldn’t!” well I made him a new tip and reminded him that the correct way to land a fish is to hold the rod over your head and point the reel upward causing a much less severe arch. I hope that he remembers it!

OK, so I don’t land fish like that you say. You have had a great time with your new rod. After several hours on your favorite stream catching so many fish that you lost count, you head out. Back at the truck you lean…OK you learned that lesson. You take the rod tube out of the truck and break down the rod before you do anything else. You even wipe it down if it’s wet before you slide it into the tube… wait a minute there! Many rods have had their stripping guides broken right at this point! Or snake guides with one foot pulled out from under the wraps! How in the world did this happen you ask yourself when you take the rod out the next time? It was fine when I put it away! Well here’s how that happens… when you are sliding the rod into the tube you need to be careful not to hit the opening edge of the rod tube with a guide! Make a temporary opening with your pointing finger and your thumb to cushion the rod tube opening! If you do this you will feel the guides as they slide past your hand not as they bump the hard rod tube opening!

Well, this article has been full of fictitious scenarios…or are they? I’ll bet some of you have cringed at reading this and wondered where was Joe standing when I did this? Worse yet some of you will do this in the future and say to yourself…I should have paid attention to Joe’s blog!

Should we talk about not submersing your rod and reel to get that photo effect you see in the fly fishing magazines…nah you wouldn’t do that anymore than you would bite down on the handle to get a picture of that fish and your rod now would you?

Did I ever tell you about the time I tried to pole vault with my 7’6″ 4 wt. ?…well that’s another story for another time!

Take care of your rod and it will be a friend for life and the two of you will have many great memories to come.

Joe E. Arguello

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The right tool for the job…trying out new gear!

Many years ago a couple of friends of mine and myself were kinda scouting around trying to see where the fish were most willing to come out and play! Just a lazy kind of day where we would drive a while, stop and fish and decide where else we wanted to go, either later in the day or next week, didn’t really matter. While we were sitting having lunch by one of the streams, we were discussing what we were finding. One of my friends, who is a very good fly fisher made a statement that has stayed in my mind ever since! He said “There is just something missing about this stream and I can’t figure it out!” So every time I would fish that stream I realized that he was right, there was just something not right! Now I gotta tell you that over the last few years that stream has become one of my favorite places to fish! I love that stream. So what is it you ask, what was missing?

Well I found out that what was missing for me was that I was using the wrong gear! Yup that was it! Like many when you first start fly fishing you go to a fly shop and they tell you what is the latest and most popular gear that you absolutely have to buy! Besides that when you go to that crowded tail water in pursuit of that lunker brown you saw in the magazines or in a picture posted on the wall at your favorite fly shop (caught by the owner!) well you just gotta fit in! If you hire a guide he will put a fly rod in your hands that they sell in the shop he is working for! Probably a 9ft rod for a 5 wt. Line, with a reel that they also carry. All this along with flies that they sell and are sure to work, based on the guides experience. This is in no way taking into consideration what fits you or the water you are fishing! But you will catch fish, leave a big tip and hopefully go back to the shop and say I want a set up just like the one I was using. Here’s my credit card! What’s wrong with that? Well maybe nothing and to be honest, you will probably end up with a pretty good outfit, especially if you buy the upgraded version of the outfit you were using! (ka-ching!)This should ‘work’ on most waters and streams but…when you get over the ‘crowd fishing’ on the tail waters, maybe you even got that trophy and move into the next level of fly fishing, maybe even get into bamboo rods and dry flies, and start enjoying the solitude and intimacy of smaller waters (you no longer need to impress anyone!) well…This is when you really need to figure out what gear works best! Remember that lunch I spoke of? By the side of that stream? Well, I must be slow as well as my friends or maybe it’s just the fact that buying a different rod for every situation can cost you a marriage and a house! But it sure is fun! And your fly fishing experience will get to be much more fun, it’s a whole new world! I guarantee it! It took me all this time to figure out why I wasn’t enjoying fishing on those small intimate streams…they were full of trout! Some even have some decent fish in them 10 – 13 inch average and sometimes much bigger ones! And they are wild and natural! Many times I fish for hours and don’t see anyone else on the river!

Now let’s take a look at what is the right gear. I have been talking about small streams but that is not always the case, if you are fishing for bass in a friends pond you can have a blast! I think that is where a nice 6wt graphite rod is in order! Yes I said it, graphite! Although you might want to look at this link scroll down to the last testimonial! The right tool for the job at hand! And as far as salt water or salmon fishing, I have never done either but I would probably go with a large graphite rod for these situations! Here again I know of several bamboo rod builders making spey rods, some with splice joints that are really cool! That tail water fishing we were talking about, you know with several nymphs, a half a pound of lead and some kind of a bobber (strike indicator) would probably warrant that you keep that first rod your fly shop sold you (you probably would lose too much money if you sold it anyway!) This is in all honestly the right tool for the job, maybe second to an ultra light spinning rod! But then you couldn’t say you were fly fishing could you? OK, that’s not fair and I did do my share of nymphing with strike indicators, just not my cup of tea these days, but how do you think I know about the crowded tail water thingie?

So back to that small stream that was ‘missing something’ turns out it wasn’t the stream! I first noticed that it was quite a bit more fun fishing it with a Garrison 202e copy that I made. But I found that getting around the brush was still a bit of a challenge… maybe shorter? A good friend of mine gave me a Paul Young Midge for Christmas and the next summer that stream came to life…WOW what a difference! Shorter? I made up a 6′ rod for a 4 wt line, Cattanach taper. Now we are talking, on the right track! Well I spent the next couple of years tweaking things and trying new tapers and finally developed a taper that I really like. It’s a 6′ for a 4 wt. line. Now I thought about going with a lighter line but here’s my take on that. A 4 wt. line can handle the wind quite well, with the right rod, you can have all the fineness you need to present a fly just right. What more would one want? And yes I want to sell you one of these but to be fair it doesn’t have to be a bamboo rod…just short, and honestly I have played with the idea of having some blanks made to my specs for just this type of fishing and offering a line of these rods. Maybe some day, who knows!

Well to sum up here, this is not an all inclusive review of gear, just trying to give you food for thought! And I realize that unless you fish small streams a lot or have money to burn a 6′ bamboo rod is much too specialized. So here’s the rub… if you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods give me a call, I will put one of these rods in your hands and we can go fishing! I just don’t want to hear you say, on our way home…”maybe I can sell my motorcycle!”

Get out and try some different gear…find out what is missing in that stream close to home! That’s how I found one of my favorite streams was there all along! And besides that you wouldn’t go play golf with only a driver would you?

Joe E. Arguello





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A day in the Park with a friend…fishing in Rocky Mountain Park!

Well, this weekend the weather and our schedules were all in sync.! My good friend Frank Drummond and I were able to get a day when we could finally get out and fish for the day! So off to Rocky Mountain Park we went! Now before I go to far here it might be a good idea to say that Frank has been guiding that park for 11 years! So as you can imagine he knows every rock and twig by name!

We met at Frank’s place in Estes Park at about 7:30 AM and got his gear into my truck in very short order. “Where do you want to go?” Frank asked. “Well this is your turf!” I said, you’re the one that know the best places! “Well, you know there are a bunch of great places I take clients, how about we hit some of those places?” Frank said. Frank followed up by saying some of these places are kinda hard to fish, real brushy, lots of willows, etc. But there are always fish to be caught there!


I have to say that fishing small rods really shines when you are in those kinda places. I love fishing my special 6 ft rod that I have designed over the years for just this kind of small stream fishing. So off we went on our adventure!

Well, when we first walked in we found a couple of places that look like they came right out of a magazine article, and quite honestly not hard at all to fish, but then… well we got into some of those places that Frank was talking about, we were catching fish all along the way I might add, and some were quite nice. There were browns, brooks, cutthroats and rainbows to be had! And we got ’em all!  A double Grand Slam! Frank is such a good guide and it is in his blood, at one point I had to remind Frank that we were just a couple of good friends enjoying a day out on the river and that he really didn’t have to cater to me, although it is nice to have your own personal guide that you don’t have to pay for! Now one thing I have to say is that the fly of the day was a Caddis pattern that I tie. I use Muskrat for the body and deer hair for the wings then hackle it with grizzly hackle. Makes a great Caddis pattern and the one that the fish really liked today. And I have to say that every hole that Frank pointed to and said “There’s always fish right there” was just as he said it would be! Now tell me that he doesn’t know that Park!

One thing that I thought was pretty cool is that Frank, even though he makes a very nice Bamboo fly rod, elected to fish his J.E. Arguello 7 ft. 202e that I made for him when we first met back in 2006! That rod is numbered #0609. So we fished until noon and decided to call it a day. The weather was great, no wind, nice sunny morning but the clouds did start sneaking in over the divide. Just when we got to the truck and got our waders off it started to rain! Talk about timing!

Well we talked about our experience all the way back to Estes, and just as we were getting into town, I told Frank “Let me buy you lunch” (least I could do) Frank said OK and asked me what I wanted to eat. I had to remind him once again that this was his turf! Without hesitation Frank said “Cheesy Lee’s!” Well I have to say that Frank, once again, didn’t lead me astray! Best Pizza I have ever eaten! “The Fourteener” Frank suggested! Kinda reminded me of when Frank was saying “there’s always fish right there”

Frank knows guiding… and Pizza!

Thanks for a great day on the river my friend… we’ll do it again soon.

Joe E. Arguello

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Fishing in the wind! … please be careful!

Well, yesterday I got up and decided it was time to check out Rocky Mountain Park! Got everything  ready and jumped in the truck. You know ate breakfast, got a couple of cups of coffee in me, made sure I had some extra bottled water etc. Decided to call a friend of mine who guides up there all the time and lives in Estes Park to get some ideas. “Windy up here” he said! Well I thought I would drive up the Big Thompson canyon and decide where I would stop to fish! As things turned out the further I went up the canyon the more the wind seemed to be blowing. Well, it’s not bad in the truck I thought! So I just kept driving, and looking, let’s call this a scouting trip I convinced myself! Yeah that’s what it is! So I kept driving, past Drake, passed Estes, and into the Park! At the Fall river entrance, I asked the warden if I could get into certain areas of the park as I knew there is road construction going on up there this summer! “If you get in by 9:00 AM you’ll be OK” he said as the roads are closed from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM daily! See I said to myself this is a good day to check things out! Well I squeaked by  into the area I had in mind, just in time! “OK Joe” you say just exactly where did you go? Well, a feller’s got to have some secretes! Anyway I got passed where they close the road at about 8:50 AM.

Well I drove up to a place where my friend from Estes and I have fished a couple of times and stopped thinking that I might just brave the wind, and it was a-blowin’, and try to fish for a while! As soon as I stepped out of the truck my favorite Hardy ball cap blew off and I had to chase it for a bit, funny how fast an old guy can be when his favorite lucky hat is in peril! Besides that, it was a gift from my friend, who lives in Estes! Have I mentioned that I don’t like to fish in the wind? Well I don’t!!!!! So that was a bad idea! Let’s do some more scoutin’. Maybe things will settle down a bit! So long story short I drove all over the park for a couple of hours, and I have to say that the stream flows look very good this year!  But the wind never did quit! I can’t wait until things settle down a bit and I can get out to enjoy the kind of fishing I like to do. Kinda got spoiled in my old age and I just do what I want to do!

On my way back I thought I could detect the faint smell of smoke! I hope people realize how dry things are up here this year, I thought to myself. I have been in many beautiful areas and the next thing you know they are ugly burned places that will take decades to come back! Well upon getting back home I heard that there was a pretty big fire up by Ft. Collins (4th one this summer!) seems that it was several hundred acres already! Man I thought, and with all this wind? Well by night fall it was up to 5000 acres and still growing at an alarming rate! Today, the last I heard was that it had doubled in size! And the wind is still blowing! So I guess this is a good place to say “Please be careful” if you smoke, use your ash trays, if you’re camping remember that a cold hot dog now is much better than many cold meals in the pokie! Do you really need that campfire that is banned anyhow? And those firework you’re thinking about buying, well if you have to do that …maybe you do need those cold meals and quality time with a cell mate! OK enough said.

Well, I guess I will mow the lawn and get some of those chores off the ‘Honey do’ list! And get ready for next week end! I also need to spend some time in the shop. Never a dull moment.

Did I mention that Joe doesn’t like to fish in the wind?

Have a good summer! And please be careful!

Joe E. Arguello

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Wrong place at the wrong time… funny story!

A while back a friend of mine and I decided to place an order with Mike, back when he still was making Snake Brand guides, well he’s actually back at it again and doing an even better job is what I hear! We came up with a number and my friend placed the order, quite sizable I might add! One day my friend called me on some other issue. I was at work and took the call as I sat in our break room sipping a cup of hot chocolate. We visited for a while and I thought about our order and that it had been some time and I hadn’t heard anything about our guides! “Have you talked to Snake?” I asked my friend. I really didn’t realize that one of the sales engineers was at the coffee machine getting a cup of coffee…..didn’t really give it much thought at all! Well I kinda have a reputation of being kinda a street guy as I often talk about my homies or my peeps, home boys etc. and I use that lingo quite often. The phone conversation with my friend ended and Tim the sales engineer, kinda sheepishly walked over and sat down at the table where I was sitting….finishing my hot chocolate. Finally he mustered up the nerve and said, with kind of a worried look on his face: “I really wasn’t listening in on your conversation… but I couldn’t help but hearing…Uh… do you really know somebody by the name of Snake!!!!!!!!!” After I stopped laughing and wiped the tears from my face… I explained to him what the conversation was all about… I was tempted to say something like…..

“you’re better off not knowing nothin’ about this…you didn’t hear nothin…we was never here!…Entiendes?”

But I caved! I could have pulled it off if I hadn’t been laughing so hard!

 I guess you just had to be there!


Phone conversation… a quarter?

Snake guides… couple of hundred bucks!

Expression on Tim’s face… priceless!

Joe E. Arguello


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A break from tradition…Or not…You be the judge!

There was recently a quite passionate discussion on a well know mailing list that most of us belong to. Well I thought that rather than get into a debate on that mailing list I would try to do an unbiased review on the subject. The topic was about “Breaking From Tradition!” I will try to look at this in both pros and cons if I may. First I must say that I am a very much traditional kind of builder, and I have my reasons and beliefs but I will try not to let this skew my thoughts here! So here we go:

First off lets talk about why we love our bamboo fly rods! The reasons are many! Once you can get away from all the hype about the ’44 million modulus graphite with carbon twill’ in the newest generation of carbon fiber rods, and are no longer swayed by the millions of dollars the big boys put into marketing, you are on your way! Granted it is tempting when you look at all those ads in the fly fishing and just plain sporting magazines. Then you get together with the boys for a fishing trip and you don’t have the latest and greatest gear, well…you don’t even have anything to talk about! Or do you?

OK so let’s talk ‘Custom Handmade Fine Bamboo Fly Rods!’ Well like it or not you are taking a step back into a more traditional piece of equipment! It takes a while of casting bamboo to get over the graphite method of casting which…OK I’m not gonna go there! Once you start to feel the cane rod load and start getting a nice tight loop and just realize that ‘this here stick feel really nice’ you’d better watch out, maybe it’s too late for you! If you get hooked ‘there is no known cure to man’ you will just have to live with it and treat the symptoms! (Buy another cane rod, build a cane rod, and fish bamboo…) well one thing is for sure your fly fishing skills will improve but more important you will enjoy it much more! And about having something to talk about…well just attend one of the many bamboo gatherings that are becoming more common every day, and you will see! Here makers, collectors, fishermen and just people who are interested, don’t stop ‘talking Cane’ … Back to that ‘breaking from tradition’:

Let’s talk in the sense of building rods! Do you do it the traditional way? Or do you break from tradition and go more of a modern way of doing things? First and most important question is why you are doing what you are doing! Is it that you feel there is a better way? Or are you trying to simply make things easier so you can make more money? Well in my opinion, the first reason is the only one that should be taken into account, although the second reason is why many ‘break from tradition’ and use all kinds of methods and materials.

First order of business…do you hand plane or use a machine? Even a CNC machine? And why? Not much to say about this other than many of the old companies did use a machines, both rough beveling and finish milling machines to make their blanks. But these were production rods! Your choice here? I think either one is OK, CNC is of course less traditional simply ’cause they didn’t have computers back in the day! Talk about taking the time to make a piece of equipment! If you want truly custom rods, well maybe hand planing is the choice!

It is well know that buying all of your hardware is much easier and cost effective than making it. It is much easier to simply assemble a rod from parts made by someone else. Now that being said, there are a number of companies and individuals making some really nice hardware. If you do not have the equipment or skills to make all or some of your own hardware you only have one choice, but your rods may look like most rods out there! Now if you have taken the time to acquire or make the tooling to deep draw your own reel seat hardware and ferrules, make your own agate stripping guides, make your own reel seat fillers, or even twist your own snake guides, you are in complete control over how these parts are made and you are not hostage to whatever is available. Most of the old companies made their own hardware simply because that was the only way to get it! As far as the material to use, nickle silver is the traditional material to use for ferrules and reel seat hardware. Precision hard drawn tubing is very expensive to acquire and making or buying dies to deep draw from flat stock is also quite involved, although in my opinion produces the best ferrules and reel seats that can be made! Hardware machined on a CNC just doesn’t look right on a custom bamboo rod. Many builders break from tradition here by using different materials (IE. aluminum, duronze, brass, or even bamboo) now the people doing this will justify and argue all day long that this is a better way! Is it? Or is it that these materials are simply easier to get? Or does this fall into that second reason?

Now how about adhesives no lets call it glue! Here is an area that I believe that most builders use what they think is the best for various reasons, I don’t think that any builder uses a glue that is less expensive just for that reason. I don’t think that anyone makes a decision here based on availability either as I have heard of the trouble many go through to get the glue they want to use. I have also seen guys use stuff that if you are not careful you can end up poisoning the pets and small children or at least gluing them to the work bench! Not to speak of the mess. As far as glues go I think just about anything available today is much better than the hide glue of day gone by. This is probably the best area to break from traditional materials.

How about the stripping guides and snake guides? Boat guides and Mildrum SRMC guides were very commonly used, as well as agate stripping guides. When I started making rods, agate guides were as rare as hens teeth! I took a class is lapidary and jewelry making so I could make my own agate stripping guides! Many have heard me comment about my $600.00 stripping guides! I called them that because if I could have charged even a modest minimum wage for the time spent to make them, that is what I would have had to get for them! Today I have found a supplier of agate rings (which is the hardest part of making agate strippers) so I make some pretty nice ones. I know of several people who are at least attempting to make agate stripping guides, some are doing a very nice job of it. If nothing else they are readily available. The making of snake guides is less common but I like to do it because it gives me control over what I use, I can make them in the color I want (silver, bronze, black) and the style (american or reverse english) they don’t look like the ones every one else is using!

Well I have touched on many methods both traditional and modern. You as a rod maker have to choose what best suites you. You may be motivated by money or you may want to make the best rod you possible can. You may simply want to make a rod as quickly and easily as possible or you may be sicker than most and really get into doing something different. You may want to follow in the footsteps of your favorite rod builders of day gone by. Most builders make at least some of their stuff, at least reel seat fillers. A select few make most if not all their parts!

Well to sum up this rather lengthy rant, this has not been a complete view of the topic but it should give  you some food for thought! I hope I was able to stay somewhat unbiased, I think as builders we should always strive to make the best ‘Fine Bamboo Fly Rod’ we can. And if you are totally motivated by money…well, such is life!

If you have managed to read all of this, you are probably addicted… you are not alone, there are many support groups out there, this is one of them, good luck!

For treatment to your addiction click this link and call me in the morning!

Joe E. Arguello

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