I hollowbuild all my bamboo fly rods. This technique was first developed on the West Coast by E.C. Powell and Winston’s Lew Stoner. They wanted to build the bamboo rods capable of handling wind, big rivers, and big fish — yet still be light enough to fish all day.
The Hollowbuilt Bamboo Fly Rod
Today — more than 70 years after hollowbuilt fly rods were developed, I am one of a small handful of builders who are refining and improving these techniques — and producing some of the best-casting, best-fishing bamboo fly rods ever made.
My techniques are descended directly from those developed by legendary builder James Reams, one of the best builders working in the craft today.
Internal Tapering for maximum performance...
Unlike some builders, who simply remove a set amount of interior “pith” from their bamboo blanks, I also alter the rod’s internal taper (as well as the easy-to-measure external taper) for maximum performance.
It means embarking on a time-consuming process of building, fishing, changing tapers when I’m developing a rod, but it also results in a rod that performs better.
Cast one. You’ll be surprised.
Each rod is painstakingly crafted by me from a hand-selected culm of bamboo to exacting tolerances.
Each represents more than 50 hours of labor, each is hand-wrapped, and each is varnished with Epiphanes Spar Varnish in a climate-controlled, negative-pressure “clean room” which results in a glass-like finish.
Imported from Holland, Epifanes is a high-solids spar varnish with greater UV inhibitors that not only coats a blank beautifully, but it goes on wraps like glass.
All my rod sections are glued with traditional urea formaldehyde resin glues – adhesives that have withstood the worst fly fishermen have to offer. There are no short-cuts to quality.
My Smooth, Responsive Hollow-Built Hex Tapers
Six strip rods — “hexes” — are the most common bamboo fly rod design. Tested, classic tapers abound, and these rods hollow build quite nicely, though not as aggressively as the quad (four strip) design. Most of my hex rods have their roots in the best of the “classic” tapers, though I’ve modified them for hollow building.
8’3” 5wt 2/2 “Simplicity”
This is staggered ferrule rod is the bamboo connoisseur’s rod; an absolute delight to cast and fish. Its secret? The lower ferrule has been placed below the midpoint of the rod, which smooths and optimizes the rod’s action. As a result, the tip is slightly longer
than the butt, strategically placing the nickel silver ferrule at a point on the rod that lightens its feel in the hand and doesn’t impede rod action.
It’s one of the smoothest casting rods you will handle. It’s the result of a truly empirical quest; a wonderful blend of high performance and delicate presentation. Those who enjoy the intellectual pursuit of trout will appreciate this rod as one of the best trout hunting tools they have cast. As with all of my rods, this is hollowbuilt in both butt and tip. It features a short ferrule, (described by some builders as a “micro ferrule”) which decreases the weight as well as minimizes the interruption of the rod’s flex.
I am closing up my place on the AuSable this weekend. It has been an interesting season. We have had frost every month this summer. Very cool and I mean that literally and figuratively. I just want to say one of the highlights of the season is receiving and using your rod. A number of my bamboo friends have also used it and it has garnered rave reviews on all occasions. The looks are impressive, but the way it handles a line, point and shoot, and working fish is everything one could ask for.
I hope our paths cross again in the near future. C. H., Ann Arbor, Michigan
7′ 4wt 2/2 “Kimsey’s Favorite” Based on the legendary Paul Young Midge (lengthened slightly, and modified to accommodate my hollow building process, making this taper even more of a joy), this might be the perfect small stream rod. This was one of the first tapers I developed after moving to Dunsmuir. Joe Kimsey, the former owner of Ted Fay Fly Shop, called this his favorite bamboo rod! Joe left us to fish brighter waters this spring. Joe was an extraordinary man, led an uncomplicated life, and was loved by all whose lives he touched. This rod is named for him, in remembrance of his importance in my life. Extremely delicate, it’s lively and fun to fish. Stalking small brookies with this surprisingly versatile taper in the shadow of Mt. Shasta (or your home water) is an act of joy. A smaller cigar grip with a small Struble nickel silver uplock reel seat complement the feel and action of this rod.
7.5′ 5wt 2/2 “The 90DF” This is a quick, crisp dry fly rod with a slightly swelled butt — great for throwing tight loops under overhanging branches or dries at fussy, rising fish. This is a great example of what E.C. Powell did for the fly fisherman. Based on one of his “B” tapers, this is a fine way to introduce yourself to bamboo fly rods. An extremely lively taper – made more so by hollow building. It’s also a great rod for graphite fishers who want to divide their time between longer graphite rods and short, lively cane. If you fish a 905 graphite rod, and are looking to step up into a fine bamboo rod, this is a great choice.
8′ 5wt 2/2 “The Upper Sac Special” Developed to fish Northern California’s blue- ribbon freestoners, this rod is a solid performer. Very light in the hand, this smooth- casting, medium-action taper is very reminiscent of the legendary Granger 8040, but livelier and lighter. Perhaps my best all-around hex taper, this is a great rod for dry flies, pocket water, and everyday use. Gold tone bamboo, pale yellow wraps and blackened hardware.
8′ 3′′ 4wt 2/2 “The Spring Creek Special” The only way to build an effective long 4wt is to hollow it. This taper feels authoritative in the hand yet presents a fly with amazing delicacy; never soft or weak. Ideal for spring creeks, but is fine with wind and big fish. If tough trout in tough lies are your fly fishing challenge, this rod is for you. Whether on Hat Creek at dusk or Silver Creek in the morning, this rod is the answer when anything but a delicate presentation sends trout running for cover! Another best seller!