Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo rods.

Originally written by me and some friends 2002-04 for the Virtual Fly Shop, Flyfisherman Magazine Online. Feel free to discuss the series and if you would like to become a member all you have to do is post something. The Cracker Barrel has been published in book form with the limited first edition hard cover sold out and a paperback version will be available early 2011.

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fishnbanjo
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Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo rods.

#1

Post by fishnbanjo »

This was written in 2002 so it's bit dated as
my knee has been repaired and I managed to make it to the Miramichi the
following year where I lit into a 40 plus inch Atlantic on my 9' Winston
Bamboo. Enjoy...........


I tried to master a flyrod back in the 70's when I found one in a little out of
the way whatever shop, it was glass and what looked like Conlon blanks (from
what I know today but back then you could have told me it was bungee cord and I
would have known no better). Tried every possible way of learning the casting
technique and it was a pain!


I didn't know anyone who flyfished so finding someone didn't work so well. I
finally fished it with a worm and caught my first fish on a flyrod (a sunny)
and it felt like a 4 lb Bass to me (later in life I'd find out what a 4 lb Bass
really felt like and boy, was I wrong!!). Anyhow, since my progress was dismal
with the flyrod I packed it away but the feel of that fish made me want to
learn but it was gonna take some help.


I moved to Maine shortly thereafter and got into salt water fishing in a big
way but didn't have the money to get the gear I wanted. A guy at work came in
with a pile of salt gear one day and was looking to sell and I asked what he
wanted for it, to which he said he wanted to get back into flyfishing and was
looking to gear up. I said I had some stuff but didn't know much about it but
if he was interested in looking at it I'd bring it in and maybe we can work
something out.


I brought the rod in and the Pflueger 1492 and the extra stuff I had. He loved
it and said he'd trade me even and I said OK. We each went off happy and that
was that. As time went on I got the urge to try flyfishing once again and this
time I had found a wealth of information to be had i.e. magazines, library
books, video tapes, a couple of fly shops and people who knew how to do it.


I bought my flyrod right off at our local sport shop (Kittery Trading Post in
Kittery ME) and to show you how little I really knew it was an Orvis package
with an Orvis Graphite Reel and plastic tube, an 8 WT. Followed all of the
stuff I read and people tried to help and it was hopeless I hated the rod
(still have it, still hate it but it trolls well). Got an award at work for
doing a job beyond expectations so I went back to the KTP but this time I went
armed with questions as well as the $'s. After several hours of trying things
out finding a rod I could cast very well the fishing dept. manager said I
should try bamboo as the rod I picked was similar to bamboo in how it cast and
it was his personal favorite graphite rod (it's a 6 WT Sage from the early 80's
which is soft compared to todays rods and I still like it).


He then walked me over to the little display case and showed me 4 bamboo rods
by REC and when he told me the price I said I'd buy the Sage, a 6 WT Scientific
Anglers flyline, the Marryat 7.5 and spare spool but there was no way I had anywhere
near what he wanted for a bamboo rod, but he planted a seed. I managed to do
well with the rod and saved my money to someday buy another and maybe it would
be bamboo.


As time went on I started travelling for work as the work I did was needed at other
facilities but they didn't have the expertise and each trip found me stashing
$'s away. I finally got the chance to get a job for 13 weeks in Scotland and
was dizzy with excitement about it and it was at this time a gentleman who
recently passed away came into my life as a friend.


While in Scotland I ended up with a virus that caused a disorder called
Guillane Barre' Syndrome and was shipped home. GBS attacks the motor muscular
functions and other memory functions so it was an ordeal. Once diagnosed, my
Dr's. set a course of rehab for me which included having to relearn skills I
already once knew how to do. My wife took it upon herself to rent some videos
on fly fishing since I was not responding very well and she figured maybe this
was the incentive I needed.


My friend that I mentioned earlier stopped by and we talked for awhile and I
told him about how disappointed I was about having to leave Scotland and never
being able to fish but that I had visited a tackle shop in Glasgow and saw some
really neat bamboo rods. The next weekend when he came up he said he had
something for me and went out to his car and opened the trunk. He took out a
tube and handed it to me and told me it was his dads and since he was getting
on in years he no longer fished for Salmon so he thought I might like it.


It is an F. E. Thomas 9 1/2' 3pc 2 tip Salmon Dry Fly rod with add on ext.
butt. The videos my wife rented did the trick as casting became part of my
muscles rebuilding exercises and that Thomas became my friend. I had to really
pay attention to the rod or I would become very tired very quickly as that is
how this disease is. I learned to really feel what the rod was telling me and
found that since I had limited movement I didn't want to waste extra energy
casting and I became very prolific in my casting abilities.


When I had rehabilitated to the degree where my Drs would allow me to return to
work I did so with a new outlook. When I fished I enjoyed the experience of
feeling the life of the rod beneath my hand and used its secrets to bring fish
to the net. Since bamboo was now under my skin I tried to learn what I could
about the lovely reed and the makers who transformed a once living plant into a
lively fishing companion. I found it interesting reading about all the people
it took to get the bamboo to the makers and the processes that it took to make
a rod and how many lives it touched along the way.


I earned another award (a large one) and found myself back at the KTP and I had
enough $'s to purchase one of the REC cane rods (REC was ceasing operations at
this time) I left with a neat 5 WT 7 1/2' 2 pc 1 tip called Golden Shadow. I
then started searching out rods by famous makers to see them, feel them etc.
What I experienced was amazing as each had a different personality just like
human beings.


As I shifted jobs to one that allowed a certain flexibility in lifestyle (the
opportunity to purchase bamboo rods) I found myself making friends of more and
more bamboo rods but specifically used rods. I work in an extremely high tech
stress oriented job that chases electrons and bits and bytes all over the world
and with users who for lack of any better reason are just too thick headed to
ever become literate with a PC that I find life consoling knowing when I go
home I have some old friends sitting there waiting for me.


When I cast or fish them I see the Chinese farmers who grew them and the
cutters who harvested them and washed them to ready them for their journey. I
see the packers and shippers that moved and warehoused them, the sellers that
sold them and the parcel workers who delivered them. I feel the lovely
personality endowed to them the maker put there after many hours of toil and
when I catch a fish and feel the life at the end of the line I feel like we are
all tied together as one.


I fish bamboo to capture a life with a substance that once had life to fulfill
my life. I feel that bamboo retains not only its own unique spirit but it
carries the spirit of all that have moved it along on its journey to me and since
I will someday cease to exist as I do now I am reassured that my spirit will
someday stand along those that live in each of my bamboo rods.


The past 6 months have been a challange and those events that caused it need
not be revisited and I have been having great difficulty with my legs and not
feeling up to my usual self but hopefully with the physical therapy I'm
undergoing and the opening of fishing season around the corner these old bones
might get a renewal. Just past yet another birthday which kinda gets old but I
also got an invite to fish the Miramichi with some good friends in mid April
and perhaps that old Thomas will go back and try to bring in a bigger Atlantic
than it did the last time it went in 1954 but that 38 lb'er might be the best it
will ever see. Come on spring........


banjo

authors note: I did return to the Miramichi but did not bring the FE Thomas Rod, I did land a 44 1/4" Atlantic Salmon on a 9' Winston bamboo fly rod and released it unharmed.

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pvansch1
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Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo rods.

#2

Post by pvansch1 »

I have read this story so many times, always a pleasure, even more more of a pleasure listen to you tell it over a nice single malt.

Hope all is well my friend,

Pete
Pete

John Palumbo
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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#3

Post by John Palumbo »

I read it for the first time today. It will not be my last.


thank you

Stevefx
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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#4

Post by Stevefx »

What a beautiful story; one with all the elements of a wonderful movie: an engaging, challenging, personal endeavor; a lovely, supportive leading lady, and a memorable conclusion…which is really only the beginning of the next chapter.
Thank you for sharing.
Warm wishes,
Steve

magicman
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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#5

Post by magicman »

First time I have seen your story. And yes, it would make a wonderful film.

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jhuskey
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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#6

Post by jhuskey »

I'm not sure how many times I've read your story, at least six but most likely more like a dozen. It always pleases me. I have come to bamboo later than I wanted, and now that I'm here I regret not acting on my gut desire sooner. I lived in the UP of Michigan for a number of years and find Dickerson, Young and Summers of great interest. Streamer is making me a 7613 and patiently waiting about a year now but know it will be worth the wait. Thanks for sharing your love for bamboo, and the knowledge gained on your journey.

Best Regards,

John

ablecane
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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#7

Post by ablecane »

My first time read also.
Very inspiring, banjo. Praise to you and your spirit.

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fishnbanjo
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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#8

Post by fishnbanjo »

I am greatly humbled, and inspired, by the last several postings, thank you for your kind words, warm regards.
banjo

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dale
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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#9

Post by dale »

I haven't seen this story in print, but I have heard it in a podcast interview with Zach Matthews long ago. It is a pleasure to hear it in Banjo's own voice:

http://www.itinerantangler.com/blog/pod ... podcast_7/

Dale

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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#10

Post by jhuskey »

fishnbanjo wrote:I am greatly humbled, and inspired, by the last several postings, thank you for your kind words, warm regards.
banjo
Personally, I would love to see some more Dickerson rod stories. Surely there are others - we know you have many things tugging at your time and energy, it's just that your knowledge, wisdom and passion are so greatly admired.

John

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fishnbanjo
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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#11

Post by fishnbanjo »

Gosh John I don't know what to say. I do have several more to write and have planned to visit with my good friend, rod maker Fred Kretchman, to cast and review several Dickerson models I don't own or have cast. I hope that when I finally weather the current storm, sort of like that fellow in Lil Abner with the black cloud over his head, I hope to complete an interesting series of reviews to compliment what I've already written, thank you for your kind words, it is truly a salve.
banjo
jhuskey wrote:
fishnbanjo wrote:I am greatly humbled, and inspired, by the last several postings, thank you for your kind words, warm regards.
banjo
Personally, I would love to see some more Dickerson rod stories. Surely there are others - we know you have many things tugging at your time and energy, it's just that your knowledge, wisdom and passion are so greatly admired.

John

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JFL
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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#12

Post by JFL »

I tip my to you Sir, well written and well fought. Keep at it.
Jan Fredrik
www.paintthewater.com
Paintthewater.com © 2019

Montana
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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#13

Post by Montana »

You write as elegantly and as enduringly beautifully as the tobacco pipes you pursue...always a treasure to savor. Thank you.

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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#14

Post by jhuskey »

All wishes for your continued progress - it is nice to read you posting with some regularity again banjo!

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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#15

Post by georges »

Banjo,
We have never met in person, or on-line but your post really hit home for me. I thank you for a well written expression of life past the, "mid-life" stage. Congratulations on your most recent salmon successes, and hopefully many more will follow.
At 81 years things become difficult, to say the least but we continue on. I'm still buying new rods, (bamboo of course) not so much for me but for my 26 year old son who will hopefully put them to good use once I'm gone or maybe a son-in-law not yet on the horizon. I cant wade the water I once commanded, but I'm out there catching and releasing fish of all sizes and variety.
My next test will be back to Colorado to fish with my son. I just hope that I don't slow him down as he scrambles over those algae covered rocks as I once did.
Anyway thank you for the uplift your message provided for me.
georges

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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#16

Post by Rockthief »

I just read this again. Always makes my heart and spirit smile. Recently I have been thinking about all of the people who raised and handled the bamboo that eventually found their way to me and to streams and ponds. Every rod has all of that bundled energy in it.

Paul

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Re: Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo r

#17

Post by DUCKMANNM »

I fly fish and use bamboo because that is what my Father taught me to fish with. Been fly fishing since 1978. I say that because I started when I was ten and got away from it during my (ahem) formative years, but back to flyfishing seriously in 1978. I have glass and graphite rods too, but mostly fish bamboo. When other people see me fishing bamboo, they almost have an awe appearance on their face. Either they think I'm an old fogy (I'm 72, so I guess I am) or I got stuck in the past. When someone comes up and asks me about the bamboo, I usually let them cast with it. The looks on their faces are "Priceless." No further explanation is usually needed.

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