There is much more that goes into making you a great fly rod than taper alone; a bamboo fly rod is the sum of all the steps and considerations that the maker adds to his process along the way to come to the finished fly rod. To that end here are the concerns and details I put into making your J.M. Reid bamboo fly rod.
All of my in house bamboo fly rod tapers have been developed through a combination of initial concept, design, and on water, real world field testing. I describe these tapers as a balance of traditional feel with modern response. J.M. Reid Bamboo fly rods strive to strike a balance between soul and performance, beauty and power, traditional and modern. My family of rod tapers are equally at home with traditional presentations as they are with modern methods such as larger weighted flies or sinking tips when matched to an appropriate line. I consider my rods tailor-made for the modern angler using modern lines and contemporary methods coupled with all of the feel, soul, tradition and pride of ownership that only fishing a split-cane fly rod can offer.
Hollowbuilding and internal taper
In my opinion these two features go hand in hand to both lighten the static weight and aid the balance of your rod. Hollowbuilding reduces swing weight and increases the speed of recovery. This last point about increasing speed of recovery is the single largest reason I hollowbuild your bamboo rod – it directly translates into increased feel and responsiveness to you on the water. In this way a hollowbuilt rod transmits energy developed by the angler to the line and fly more quickly and efficiently. The same holds true regarding input from the fish to the line and back through the rod to you, the angler.
Reelseats and grip shape
The use of a down locking reelseat on all my rods allows the angler to reap the rewards of using a lighter weight reel to balance their fly rod. It is no secret that moving less weight will allow for quicker, more precise movements and greater enjoyment of your time on the water. The shape and diameter of my “hourglass” grips on both my single and double handed rods fits comfortably in your hand and offers a variety of different hand positions both for comfort and during power application in the cast.
Rod joints and connections
Rod section joints and connections all have their pros and cons, period, no way around it, that’s just the way it is. Traditional nickel-silver ferrule connections are convenient, beautiful and very durable when the rod has been taken down for transport or storage. The same nickel-silver ferrule introduces a stiff spot in a fly rod designed to flex in addition to having a far greater mass for its length than the surrounding bamboo in the rod. This stiffness and extra weight must be compensated for in the design of the rod’s taper. I feel the spliced joint connection has some distinct advantages over the nickel-silver ferrule in many applications and I choose this connection as often as design consideration allows. A spliced joint in a bamboo rod weighs an average of 50% less than a nickel-silver ferrule for a similar diameter rod joint. Spliced joints will bend and flex with the rod allowing smooth transfer of energy and the sensation of casting a one piece fly rod. The spliced connection will not ever twist resulting in misaligned rod sections or work loose during a day fishing; loose ferrules are a major cause of rod failure regardless of material. These qualities are why I have chosen to make many of my rods with spliced joints. The tradeoff being that it will take slightly more time to both put up and take down a spliced jointed rod and that some extra care will need to be taken to protect the fairly thin tip end of the splice when the rod is not put up. I supply splice protectors with all spliced rods that are quick, easy to use and effective protection for this area of the rod.
Impregnating and oil finishing
These two processes contribute both speed and power to the rods I make. Impregnation of the bamboo involves incorporating organic compounds into the structure of the bamboo itself and adds a degree of stiffness and resiliency to the cane. These qualities allow me to build you a smaller diameter rod for a given line weight and as such, a lighter rod. The impregnation of the cane also offers a pseudo-finish and some protection to the rod allowing the use of a very low build, hand rubbed oil finish that adds virtually no diameter or weight to the rod. Adding weight to the outer diameter of a bamboo fly rod can have a dramatic effect on the rod’s speed of recovery and feel as the taper attempts to overcome its own mass and inertia to return to centre. While I do still offer a traditional varnish finish on some rods, the finish is as thin as possible while still protecting the bamboo.
When building your fly rod I also take into consideration guide size, weight and placement as these can all affect a rod’s character, feel and balance. I choose your rod guides based on the lightest snake guides available for that rod’s intended purpose with durability being of equal concern to weight savings. Guide size is also chosen to aid in your rod’s ability to shoot the line and to allow for the greatest variation in fly line diameter to pass freely through the guides. Guide placement is determined by how to best distribute the line load evenly along the length of the rod.