Though a bamboo rod is far more durable than most people realize, a little care on the part of its owner will go a long way toward guaranteeing its performance for many years to come.
For starters, the number of people that we come across who have accidentally broken rods via car doors, trunks, and so forth, is tragically high, a misfortune that is easily remedied with a little care. In fact the first thing that we do when coming off the river (especially at night) is to break down our rods, wipe them dry, and store them safely in their tubes before we do anything else, so as to avoid precisely these sorts of accidents. It may seem an obvious point, but if our experience is any indication, it is also one that bears repeating. Occasionally your bamboo rod may acquire a “set”, or a slight bend somewhere along it’s length. These are easily detected by sighting down the length of the rod, and are usually the product of either fighting a particularly large fish, or occasionally from an eccentricity in one’s casting stroke. The casting stroke we can do little about, however there are several rules of thumb for properly fighting a fish. First, it is often a good idea to turn the rod so that it is facing away from the fish you are playing, so as to not have the pressure always pulling the rod in the same direction. And secondly, try to avoid putting too great a bend in the rod (a “j” or a “u” bend) when landing a fish, something you can generally achieve by always trying to keep the buttcap pointed away from your quarry. If a set does occur, there are several things one can do; first you may try and gently bend the rod in the opposite direction, and if the set is very minimal this will often do the trick. For a more serious set, it is probably best to have the rod straightened by a knowledgeable rodmaker. In either case, a set is generally not something that you should worry too greatly about, however just be aware that they will occur over time given enough use.
Finally, a word about rod assembly. When putting rod sections together, be sure to line up the rod appropriately beforehand. Never twist it after it is joined. You will also want to keep your hands close to the ferrules when putting the sections together, so as to maximize control and avoid undue stress on the bamboo itself. Conversely, when separating the rod, hold your hands farther apart in order to maximize your ability to pull it apart truly and with a minimum angle. If all else fails simply remember the adage “Hands apart, rod apart: hands together, rod together.”
Taking care of ferrules, both male and female, is a must. We take great pains to make our ferrules fit perfectly, and keeping them clean will ensure that they continue to do so. It’s generally a good idea to wipe the male ferrules with a cloth before assembly, as well as to periodically clean the inside of the females with a q-tip or a small shred of paper towel. You may also use a small bit of fine steel wool to clean your ferrules, though never anything more abrasive than that, and it is often advisable to keep a small bit of bar soap or paraffin handy to lubricate them now and then to ensure that they won’t seize or bind.
Moisture, needless to say, is not good for a bamboo rod. Nor is excessive heat. It is a good idea to wipe down a rod with a soft cloth before putting it away. It is also a good idea not to leave your rod in the trunk (or on the dashboard) on a very hot day, as the heat inside the rodtube can reach harmful levels. When storing your rod try to keep it in a relatively cool, dry place. Many people will actually take the rod bags out of the rod tube and hang them in the back of a closet during the offseason, since the humidity and temperature is likely to be at safe storage levels.
Ultimately, a good deal of effort and care goes into building a bamboo fly rod, and we are confident that you will enjoy owning and fishing it. And with a little care you can easily ensure that that enjoyment will last for many years to come.