The journey from bamboo culm to precision fishing instrument is a lengthy and detailed one. Done well, it is part science, a great deal of design, and a little bit of art. With over four decades of building rods our process and design philosophy rests on the following pillars.
From bamboo to cork, we use the finest materials available anywhere.
Our tapers have been refined over four decades for maximum accuracy and performance.
The difference is in the details, and ours show through the rodmaking process.
Steeped in the catskill rod tradition, we seek a refined aesthetic, blending classic and modern styling.
While there are many steps involved in making a quality bamboo rod one of the most important is the selection of materials. We begin with the best premium bamboo, and of all of the stock that passes through our hands, only a tiny fraction is selected for our rods. Culms that have water marks, lack straightness, or possess other irregularities are summarily discarded and of the remainder we use only the finest—straight, hard, and well-aged tea-stick cane. The same approach is taken with the cork selected for our grips, the silk thread for wraps, and the wood chosen for our reel seat spacers. It is a laborious process, however fine rods deserve no less than the very best components.
Many features contribute to a fly rod’s performance but the most vital of these are its tapers, and a tremendous amount of work goes into finding that magical combination which yields a powerful, precision fly rod. Our tapers have undergone a series of developments and refinements over the years, a process that has been achieved largely through research, trial-and-error, and continued testing under a variety of conditions. This process has allowed us to continually improve performance. Roughly speaking the actions of our rods depend on whether they are two-piece or three-piece construction. Our 3-piece tapers are loosely modeled after modern Leonard Maxwell tapers, and possess a fast dry-fly action designed to offer powerful performance and pinpoint accuracy. For those fisherman who tend to do a good deal of dry-fly fishing, or who might be making the transition from stiffer graphite rods, we recommend this action. It is smooth and powerful, yet also provides the necessary “feel” needed to make expert presentations, and is probably our most popular action. Our two-piece models tend to have a more medium action and are intended to feel lighter and more delicate while still maintaining a fast line delivery (we do also make a few 3-piece medium action rods – our “M” designation). This medium action is achieved by matching a fine but slightly steeper tip with a flatter butt section, yielding an elegant compound taper. It is suitable for a number of types of fishing and is often chosen by those who posses a somewhat softer and more deliberate casting stroke.
We also incorporate a number of other important steps to maximize performance. All bamboo, for example, is oven tempered in order to enhance its strength and minimize the likelihood of the rod acquiring a set. We also heat press all of the bamboo’s nodes with a displacement system that helps compact fibers and avoids the structural weaknesses that can occur when nodes are simply sanded down. Our Spring Creek and Hunt Pattern rods also possess a three-up node pattern which distributes these nodes evenly throughout the rod (the Spinoza uses a Payne-style node placement). Together, these measures make it possible to build a rod that is both powerful and graceful, with our tips typically measuring around .055-.060” depending on line-weight.
Throughout Marc’s career superb finish-work has been one of his signature traits. In fact it's often one of the first comments that comes up when we talk with our customers and other rodmakers. There is no secret to this process, save a considerable amount of work, and we generally coat our rods with at least three to four coats of spar varnish in order to achieve such a result. As you can see, our rods come with a perfectly smooth, super glossy coat that is applied over the wraps (which have themselves received several earlier coats of varnish). This process not only gives the rod a beautiful finish but also protects it from harm.