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Old 01-04-2018, 10:39 AM
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Ragen Ragen is offline
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Beginning a couple of new rods

A couple of friends were recently married. They are just getting into fly fishing and spend time on the streams up north together. I was asked if it were possible to make them fly rods from bamboo grown together from the same area. I told them that I would do them one better and make the two rods from the same culm. We discussed the rods and how they intended to use them as well as the cosmetics. They decided that they wanted 7' 6" two piece rods in 5 wt's. Both rods are to be identical with the same tapers and both to be flamed. The guide wraps will be specific to each of them although the hardware is to be blackened on both rods.
I figured I'd document the making of rods here on this site. I tried this years ago and ended up stopping due to all the BS I was getting about how "others" make rods. So from the beginning let me say that what works for me may not work for you... If you ask 100 rod makers you'll get 101 ways to make a rod. I'm not the expert or the all knowing grand guru of bamboo fly rod making. I have made a lot of rods and as far as I know they are all still being fished. At least I hope they are and not sitting in some closet or on some wall.
So a little information about the rods:
7' 6" two piece 5wt rods with 2 tips each. Payne 101 taper (faster action)
Flamed rods with blackened hardware. Down locking reel seats with a combination of cork and birch bark grips. Yli Silk colors to be determined. I prefer Pearsall's Gossamer but the two pefer the color range offered by Yli.
Now off to select a culm...

Edited note... Didn't mention it before but I guess I need to... I don't sell rods. These two bamboo rods are being made and given away free of charge. The only caveat is that they be used and used well. It's good to see new fly fishing folks learning the sport.

Last edited by Ragen; 01-05-2018 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 01-04-2018, 10:29 PM
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Ragen,
I remember back then when you were explaining bamboo construction, but I was not aware then that you were being harassed by other bamboo builder(s).
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Old 01-05-2018, 07:36 AM
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Ragen Ragen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe View Post
Ragen,
I remember back then when you were explaining bamboo construction, but I was not aware then that you were being harassed by other bamboo builder(s).
Yeah... Some folks think that info shouldn't be shared and that there is only one way to make a rod. In fairness it wasn't maker(s). It was "A" maker that was being a BH off site.
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Old 01-06-2018, 11:17 AM
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Ragen Ragen is offline
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Selected and cut the culm

I got a chance to select the culm of bamboo for the rods. I needed a culm with at least 6" of circumference around the top of the 12' culm. 2 rods with 2 tips each with 6 strips to a tip. 24 strips in total. Strips are at 1/4" so even at the 6" circumference there is no room for error. This culm was 6 1/2" so I get a couple of extra strips... I also had to make sure there were no bug marks, leaf nodes, burn marks, or anything else that would make any of the strips unusable. Tips are planned and tapered thin so I can cheat with the tip strips at 3/16" but anything less than that and it gets a little skinny. The last thing I checked for was the density of the power fibers. The higher the density the better. When all of the strips have been planned to 60° equilateral triangles you want the power fibers to extend all the way to the apex of the strip. Here's a photo of the culm. The power fiber photo is of the bottom of the butt section. Power fibers thin out as you progress up the culm. I've also included a photo of the bamboo nodes... These outside nodes and their corresponding inner nodal dams are the curse of bamboo rod makers


Last edited by Ragen; 01-06-2018 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 01-06-2018, 04:26 PM
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Ragen,

High school geometry is helpful for me to understand the different cross-sections of bamboo rods like the 360/60, 6 sided design you are building here. High school geometry is also a building block for all the 3D development software, like "Solid Works".
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Last edited by joe; 01-06-2018 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 01-07-2018, 01:15 PM
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Node work

Worked on the nodes for these culm halves. Of all the steps to make a bamboo rod I think this is one of the more important. If I don't get the nodes filed and smoothed correctly from the start I'll be fighting them through the whole process. The outside ridges need to be FLAT! No little bumps no little dips... They need to be flat and level to the rest of the culm. That little bump or dip can cause chipping or tear out later when planning the strips. They cause the strips to set proud or low on the anvils or in the planning forms so you'll plane bumps and dips into your strip. Poorly prepared nodal areas are where I normally see any glue lines when the strips are glued together. The nodes should be correct before you split the culm into strips. I really take my time with getting this right. The inner nodal dams aren't as critical although getting them right before I split the culm helps to make splitting the culm a little easier. I'll point out that on a blond rod you can always work the nodes until the strips are planned to the final taper numbers and are glued. You can also do the same on a flamed rod but any sanding or file work on the nodes is going to show lighter against the flamed portion of the rod. I'm going to go over these culm halves once more before I flame them


Last edited by Ragen; 01-07-2018 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 01-08-2018, 06:47 AM
creekhiker creekhiker is offline
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Ragen,
When handling the nodes and getting them smooth with the rest of the culm do you file them down? Heat/Press them? Where are the power fibers in little 1/2", out on the edge or still inline with the rest. Hard to tell from the pictures.
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Old 01-08-2018, 11:00 AM
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Ragen Ragen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creekhiker View Post
Ragen,
When handling the nodes and getting them smooth with the rest of the culm do you file them down? Heat/Press them? Where are the power fibers in little 1/2", out on the edge or still inline with the rest. Hard to tell from the pictures.
In selecting the culm photo above what you’re looking at is the end grain of the culm. A bamboo culm consists of 3 parts. The enamel, the power fibers, and the inner pith. The enamel is just like the bark of a tree. It has no strength but acts as a barrier to protect the underlying structure. The power fibers are the dark “tubes” that are densest towards the outer edge and become sparser as they get closer to the inner edge of the culm. These are the strength of the rod. The inner pith has no strength and it is what is planned away to taper the strips. What you see in the photo are the ends of the power fiber “tubes”. The power fiber tubes travel the entire length of the culm. They are denser at the bottom or base of the culm. It’s like holding a fist full of drinking straws. When you look at the end all you see are the holes but the straw tubes are actually 6 or 7 inches long. Same with bamboo. Because my culms are 12’ feet long the power fibers (tubes) can also be 12’ long. They travel more or less straight the length of the culm. They do get bent and/or terminate at the nodes. That’s why a bamboo rod’s weakest point is at the nodes.
Filing of the outside node ridges and the removal of the inner nodal dams is the initial step in prepping the nodes. This step needs to be done before you flame the culms and before the culm is split. Once the culm has been split I will be filing the inner nodal dams again and compressing the outside nodes with heat and a vise. The nodes will be continued to be worked on during many more processes. I use an old wood lathe roughing gouge to remove the inner nodal dams and a ba$tard file to file the outside node ridges smooth at this step.

Last edited by Ragen; 01-08-2018 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 01-16-2018, 09:34 PM
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Flamed the culms

I've been busy with work and other home projects but I finally had a chance to finish the pre-flame node work. I flamed all 4 culm halves today. I used a Bernzomatic torch nozzle and MAP gas to do the flaming. I've used a weed burner torch nozzle and propane gas in the past but I find the Bernzomatic is easier to maneuver and hold. Most of the rods I make are not flamed. I tend to agree with the the old timers like Vincent Marinaro and Robert Crompton as well as the recent research done by Bob Milward in Bamboo fact, fiction & flyrods II. Their research shows that excessive heat can cause damage to the power fibers and reduce the life of the rod. Other makers believe that flaming causes the rods to feel a little crisper and resist taking sets. Until I know for sure I'll stay with blond (non-flamed) rods for myself. In this case the couple getting these rods wants them flamed for cosmetic reasons only.
I hope to start splitting the half culms this weekend.


Last edited by Ragen; 01-16-2018 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 01-18-2018, 06:20 AM
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fishunter fishunter is offline
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Looking good..thanks for the update
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