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Fishing/Weight if bamboo fly rod


I love the feel of old bamboo fly rods. It makes me feel history.  I have a couple and would like to buy another one. My question is:  How do you determine the weight of line that is appropriate for a bamboo rod?

Hello Mike...

I share your appreciation of the split cane rods! They truly are a form of artistic history and a great example of what fine craftsmen can do.

Most of the rods are produced by the maker with a specific line weight in mind. While there is no formula that is published, most craftsmen come up with a blueprint or "cut" that they like or for a given line weight or one in which others have agreed would best facilitate a line.

We are blessed with technologically superior lines when compared to those from the days prior to graphite, boron and fiberglass rods and most are designed for thelight weight materials in use today. That said, a 6 weight double tapered line from, let's say Cortland, may feel very different from one by another manufacturer like Scientific Anglers.

With that, what other rods do you have? Have none of them been marked with the line weight by the crafter? If they are marked, you can compare a few things from them to one that is not marked by:

    -The diameter of the butt.
    -The diameter of the tip(s).
    -The length and number of sections in the rod.

So if you have a split cane rod that is marked by the crafter as a 6-7 wt. and the measurements are similar to those of the unmarked's a good guess that it will handle the same line or range of lines. But remember, if you are fishing a line on the rod that casts well under a variety of conditions and allows for a nice presentation, then the line, leader and tippet you are using is a good combination. The parabolic action of most split cane rods make them very forgiving. And although they are heavy in the hand, they can truly cast a properly matched line with ease and accuracy.

Virtually every professionally crafted and many amateur crafted rods have been marked with the description in black India ink, prior to a finish being placed on the shaft. If any you have are lacking this, it may have simply worn off or been refinished.

To sum things up, I would consider picking up (more like investing in) a nice selection of quality fly lines in different tapers. Then load up the reel you feel fits the rod best and get outside and practice cast to get a good feel for each. So since there are no dyed in the wool formulas, with the exception of personal notes kept by crafter, a little process of elimination will likely be in order.

Mike, I hope this helps out. Get out there and do some fishin'!

Thanks for the question- feel free anytime!



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Mark Rimmer


I have been actively fishing for forty-five years! For nearly 15 of those years I was able to fish nearly 200 days per year. Those wonderful days have left me with a plethora of knowledge to share. I have fished from the Marianas of the Pacific to the quiet tidewaters of Virginia and North Carolina, Antigua the gulf coast of Texas and many places in between. My home waters are those of the west. I am passionate about bass fishing, tournament as well as recreational. In addition, I am well versed in fishing for most other species...(Okay, although interesting, I'm not an expert on British or European style competitive carp fishing...chumming with a slingshot anyone?). I am intimately acquainted with the San Diego County Lakes, Diamond Valley reservoir in Riverside County California and numerous other exciting fishing waters from Texas (Travis County) to the Pacific Coast and south to Cabo San Lucas. I have many years of experience in blue-water as well as inshore angling of all types in Southern California with both artificial and live baits; high country fishing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of my beloved Golden State with nothing but a backpack and a fly-rod. There are still a lifetime of adventures to undertake, together with my lovely wife, Christine. I am an expert rod smith and have vast experience with both the construction and repair all types of rods including split bamboo (new or vintage) and hickory as well as graphite, boron composites and all types of fiberglass. I spent 20 years in the retail business of which 6 were spent owning and operating a successful tackle shop, specializing in custom rod making, rod and reel repairs and a full scale tackle selection. Uncommon topics I love to discuss: Fisheries Management; Tackle Shop/ retail management; Ethics and responsibilities of anglers; Repair and maintenance of rods/reels; "How to"...any topic in fishing.


I took a few years off,(5 to be exact) from answering questions for but I'm back now! My experience? Forty-Five years of bio-observation, fishing numerous types of waters with virtually every type of tackle: Casting, Fly, Spinning, Offshore/blue-water, Coastal, Surf, Tournaments: ( Bass, Local Saltwater), Alpine lakes/streams, ditches, canals, sloughs, marshes, creeks and swamps; if there is water, I usually throw a cast or two. Tackle Shop ownership and management, Expert Custom Rod Construction and repair (Big-game, Long-range stand-up, Live bait, jig sticks, Casting, Spinning and fly- including split-cane). I have personally constructed over 700 custom rods of all types...nearly half of the rods the shop turned out. I also have performed hundreds of reel repairs of all types- antique to modern. I do not typically offer valuation of tackle. This is very difficult without inspecting the tackle first hand and leaving valuation far to subjective. I will be happy to offer other experts for placing a value on your tackle.

NRA forever...(Gun rights...Guns and fishing rods belong together right?), belonged to BASS for most of my life but keep forgetting to renew. I like Trout Unlimited but again, keep forgetting to renew...gotta more tank of gas and some fresh line...or memberships? Hmmm.

None yet...why aren't they chasing me?

"Roads" Scholar. Life-long independent study of fisheries biology, ichthyology, aquatic/marine biology, ecosystems, angling techniques and observations of animals, fish and humans: both smart guys and knuckleheads.

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Self-Proclaimed tackleshop of the year! The California Tackle Box- Oceanside, Ca.

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