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Split bamboo care

You might find the amount of advice a heavy one. But to keep a bamboo rod in good condition is only a matter of common sense and the routine is simple.

  • Store the rod in a wardrobe or where the temperature is free from moisture, sunrays and one sided heat. Let it hang loose, the heavy ends down.

  • After fishing, wipe off water and damp. Let it dry completely before putting it back in the rod bag.

  • Join the rod sections by holding Your hands as close to the ferrules as possible and push straight in. Don´t twist ferrules! To take the rod sections apart, keep Your hands as long away from the ferrule stations as You can and pull straight out. Before that the reel should have been removed or its weight will create a side force which will cause the ferrule to stick.

  • Don´t overload the rod with too long casting or too heavy lines. Don´t use it as a lever to bring back a fly tangled in the bushes, and such.

  • Keep an eye at Your casting style. Do You twist the rod in the back cast? Do You tip the rod too much to the right? If You do, You will overload one side of the rod over the other and a “set” will eventually occur.

  • Keep the ferrules clean. Wipe off any residue with a toilet paper. Use a cotton ear top to clean the female section. Never use any chemicals as they will dry out the nickel silver Nickel silver contains zinc which makes the metal “self lubricant”.

  • If the reel seat wood filler has an oil finish, give it a treatment now and then. If not, the wood soaks and You will find the reel stuck one rainy day.

A very good Grayling small

Chris Carter fighting a very good
graylingwith his "Midsummer Rod"


Rod length/line weight ratio

People usually expect a 7 ft fly rod to be matched with a # 4 line , an 8 footer a # 5 or 6 line and so on. Why is that? Is it by tradition? Or is it physical reasons, the rod being a lever, the shorter the rod the lighter the line?
Well, half right, I think; two more variables should be considered: how the rod bends (the action) and the fisherman himself.

Two persons may push a rod in two different ways; one finds the rod O.K. The other one, a more robust caster, thinks it is too weak. His force can´t be caught up by the rod; he "pushes through" the rods action (optimal bending curve). So he breaks the backbone of the rod.

If the same rod could have another action (utilizing a steeper progression), or the rod made shorter or made for a heavier line, he might have approved...

Generally speaking there is a harmony between rod length and line weight. This is a sound fact to start from, but very decisive factors are the action and who is using it. However, there are many a rod
constructed for the most "odd" line weights that perform splendidly, say eight footers for # 3 lines - or
# 8 lines ...!
To achieve this it´s always a question of using the appropriate action.

7 ft. Parabolic, # 4http://www.splitcane.se/plugins/system/jcemediabox/img/zoom-img.png

What line weight?

A good rod responds well to two line weights or more; if it is an 8-footer or longer probably three or four different line weights could be cast without a wavering line or the rod being overloaded. But you will certainly favor one weight over the other as that weight brings out the action in a way that
suits you.
Maybe you even favor one brand over the other, both line weights the same. It´s quite normal.

Split Bamboo or graphite

If you own a graphite rod to your liking, you don´t need a split bamboo; many good graphite rods are around. But the makers are often large companies who must produce large series. These series are
meant to attract many people. And they meet a stiff competition from other companies. People nowadays are less inclined to be subdued by other arguments than real facts. In order to win the market rod companies can fight with two weapons: Strength and weight.

Spö vid träd

  • If a rod is stronger it is a better one. 
  • Of two strong rods the lightest is the better one.

  • A stronger rod helps to cast longer than a weaker one.

All arguments point in the same direction, a point far beyond what the fisherman previously has been able to achieve, the "ultimate long" cast ...

Hence the struggle for new "space age" fibre materials .

This battle influences the action philosophy, which explains the trend towards actions more or less picked up from the casting pond.

But you should choose your rod for other reasons than a few physical facts; this rod will be your fishing buddy, you will be a team, you must get along ...

Graphite as a material is´nt restricted to stiff, tippy rods. It could quite well match the bamboo in many ways. Many times I have wondered what had happened if the graphite rod makers had abandoned the "weight doctrine" and made the rods homogeneous...What good and powerful deep action rods could be had!
The weight had increased, but is that a bad thing really? Why do so many find split bamboos more comfortable to use? A Norwegian friend of mine uses 14-15 ft bamboos for heavy salmon fishing because he´d be tired out with a light but faster graphite; he just waggle his split bamboo a few times and the line is out there instead of putting lots of effort to get a graphite rod work properly.
Weight is a part of the cast; it slows down the rod so it can recover over a longer period of time = exert an influence on the line over a longer period of time. This "long impact" takes over much of the casters work. And it allows the rod to brush out most of the timing faults, making line correction easier; it is

Bernt och Atle         Bernt & Atle
Bernt och Atle - two of my fishing buddies for many years

Bamboo , glass , graphite – a brief comparison

If you look at a given section of equally powerful rods  in GLASS (black ring), BAMBOO (red hexagon) and GRAPHITE (blue ring) you will immediately notice that the glass-rod is considerably thicker.The difference between bamboo and graphite, though, is slight. This has to do with the strength of the material, of course. The rod which slices the air most easily is naturally the thinnest, i.e. graphite, with the bamboo rod close behind.

The glass rod meets a much heavier air resistance, to such a degree the rod gives an indistinct feeling as it must be driven harder in the wind than more powerful materials.

The bamboo rod though, solid and heavier than graphite, will penetrate the air / wind with less effort than graphite (see above in a previous chapter).

Anders Ekstorp, the late rod maker of Sweden, used to say a rod should “whisper, not whistle“. He meant the whistlening sound of a fast driven rod revealed a less clever taper design, a taper that leaved the casting effort to be done mostly by the caster.
The same goes for a material which needs a heavy impact to respond.



Rod actions and curves

What is ACTION?

You´ve certainly heard definitions like "medium action", "Payne action", "dry fly action" and so on ...
What do they mean ?
Well, to the fisherman who uses them they certainly mean exactly what he wishes to express - but to everybody else?! What is "fast action", "nymph action"???
You will find such definitions varying among fishermen. Giving a definition like that is to state a personal view only, these expressions being subjective, no more. We certainly lack a working terminology here.
Until we get one, an action could only be described by how the rod bends, leaving it to be explained by graphs and figures. (By logic, there is no "set of actions" to choose from; the sincere rod maker should be skillful and experienced enough to calculate the formula for that very rod from scratch.)



rodcurves small

This is how actions normally be presented in articles

While planning a rod together with a customer on what action to be used some confusion may arise, since no rod maker could expect the client to be acquainted with actions and tapers described this way. 
Therefore, the discussions are so important, enabling the maker to get some idea of what the fisherman needs and what he will be pleased with. Sometimes I have felt inclined to say the key to successful Custom Rod Making is "knowledge of the human nature" - well, at least an ability to estimate people ...

To me this, sometimes long, process before You go to work is fascinating. In fact it keeps me going; 
making split bamboo rods becomes routine after a while, working close to people like I do never does! 
Truly, it is rewarding to create something that is unique, "one of a kind" which a True Custom Rod always is!


In his book “Om Fluefiskeri“ (Skandinavisk Bogforlag – Ejnar Munksgaard , 1958 ) Svend Saabye , famous author , artist and fly fisherman , wrote :

”From France emanates a construction theory for a fly rod called the Parabolic Action concept.

As the name indicates such rods always bend to form an arch of a parabola, which seems to provide utmost utilization of a cane fly rod; unsurpassed durability over time, greatest resistance against various impacts, maximal casting ability in relation to rod length and weight.

FlyrodTheir success over the World can be explained by the fact that they are as useful to the wet fly man as to the dry fly man .In my experience such rods are very comfortable  and less tiring to use“.

As time goes on I have more or less been associated with the Parabolic Action, and it is true. I have devoted much time to it, in theory and in practice.

I also favor this action for my personal rods and have done so for many years. And there are many qualities that speak in favor for it, regardless you like the feel of such rods or not. It should be appropriate to comment this action further.

You will recognize a parabolic at the first glance; its butt section will be much slimmer than the average rod and you will easily wiggle it well down to the grip.

The word “parabolic” itself derives from the fact that the bending curve is reversed in comparison to standard action rods. That is, most of the bending is forwarded to the butt instead of gradually increasing the bending from the tip, like in a “progressive” rod for instance. This bending allows for interesting features:

The rod will respond quickly to the slightest movement and offer a maximum of leverage. So, you are able to start up casting with little effort and still get enough thrust on the line.

As the rod “kicks back“ from a very low point and transfer it to the tip via a stiff center it will exert an impact on the line  well after the caster has made his push.
You get the feeling of an almost dynamic effect, which compared to common tapers seems to accelerate (of course it doesn’t).
This thrust over a longer time is a great benefit;it helps to push the line through the wind and permits an easy line lift as well as smoothen out bad timing.
False casting is reduced to just a few strokes as the rod works on the line  next to continuously.

As a parabolic responds so easily it isn’t finicky about line weights (three or more line weights can be used) and consequently it will respond to a short line as well as to a long one. It will cast with authority over all practical distances and be gentle on tippets at that.

Diagram Parabolic vs. Progressive

The graph illustrates the differences in taper between two otherwise identical rods. The red line shows a semi-parabolic rod, the blue one an ordinary progressive rod.

Maybe all this gets you think a parabolic must be slow. Well,you can throw a very slow line and let the line hover over the water but also speed up the line for a fast delivery.

You can reach maximum distances in  three strokes.If you wish to dig deeper into this I recommend “A Fly Fisher´s Life” by Charles Ritz (ISBN 0370013964) where the author (recognized to have “invented“ the parabolic rod) explains his “High Speed/High Line “casting system"..

For the fly fisherman You could as well read it : “ Any Speed / High Line “ as the high back cast is essential for a successful ,effortless cast regardless of casting speed .

All parabolic rods have one feature in common, the low butt power zone and the stiff center .But they don´t need to be all alike.
Changing flieFlugbyte
The Parabolic Concept allows for modifications up and down from slow , long rods like  Pezon “ Michel´s “The Sawyer Nymph Rod “ to rather fast interpretations like Paul Young´s “Parabolic 15“ and they can be modified to very delicate creations too.

I use three different formulas, one which is very close to the original definition, one somewhat faster for general use, and finally a fast action formula, close to the limits of a parabolic rod “pàr definition“.

All three are calculated to develop maximum efficiency and delicacy. I simply call them “Parabolic”, “Semi-Parabolic” and “Parabolic Extreme “.

When I started experimenting with parabolics I wondered how far I could go and still have a useful rod .For instance I feared the butt would be too weak in a short rod. This proved to be otherwise

In fact, calculating a short light rod of an ordinary action is much more critical than calculating a parabolic.If you make an error of, say, 1/10 mm, you will end up with too stiff or too weak a rod.

.In parabolics the limits are more generous.This also applies for line weights. I have successfully made Parabolics from 6 ft, # 2 lines and all up.
I remember one rod particularly, an 8 ft for heavy line meant for dry fly salmon fishing. We tested it with a # 9 WF-line. It was able to throw out 30 yards in two or three strokes.

Ed Engle, author of “Splitting Cane“, once asked me what rod I would choose if I had to pick just one.
I said that would be an 8 ft parabolic for # 5-6 lines. He admitted such a rod was a splendid “all-rounder” and that he had often wondered why such rods hadn’t caught on in the US except for among Paul Young devotees.
Neither have I an answer to this, but it´s a pity since there is so much that speaks for them.

Parabolic bending curve

Approximate bending curve for a Parabolic rod while under the impact of casting. Please note the stiff center,which directs the force from casting down to the bottom of the rod. 

Carl in Norway 2014Today many fishermen tend to look at split bamboos as an alternative to fast graphite rods. Often they want something contrary to the fast synthetic sticks.

Is there a too big difference to overcome if you choose a bamboo parabolic? Frankly, I don´t know. What I do know is that a committed caster can adapt to a new action within 30 minutes or so.

That goes for parabolics as well. Let me give you some advice:

    • Keep the back cast higher than usual.
    • Relax! The timing isn´t that critical as you might used to.
    • Raise your elbow somewhat in the back stroke. That makes for a higher back cast.
    • Use a gentle forward stroke haul to achieve greater shooting ability.


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