For quite some time now I've been surrounded and, by association, completely immersed in the world of bamboo rods.
Many, if not most, of Jacob's friends are also builders or at least bamboo collectors and aficionados. Thus, I hear about this craft a lot. A LOT!
This week Jacob and I attended the Carolina Cane Gathering which gathers once a year to talk, fish, cast etc... bamboo.
One of the presenters, a good friend of ours, Aaron, spoke about a mill that he's spent a good portion of his time over the past year building and perfecting. He asked me if I would take some photos for the talk as it is far too large to move and in far too small of a room to gather a group of people.
Since the presentation has been made and the event was over I found it appropriate to share a few of these photos as well as a short video of the mll operating.
I am by no means a builder, have no desire to be, but I'm still amazed by the craftsmanship that goes into creating a fly rod, grass or glass.
I highly encourage anyone who is able to purchase a fly rod from and independent builder. The time, effort and artistry that's put into these rods are unparalleled by any mass produced company.
Dogwood winter. It's a thing here, happens every year. Just when you've really gotten geared up for spring, the sunshine welcomes your face every morning, those sweet little flowers make their appearance, and the dogwood trees begin to bloom. Bam! It's winter again, and it'll happen again when the blackberry bushes start to bloom.
This week has been filled with unproductive days on the water and busy days spent in the shop. Which means few moments spent with trouts, but I can't blame them, water levels and temperatures fluctuating to such extremes, I wouldn't want to play either.
Sunday we were able to escape for just a few hours. You see, the guiding season has also kicked into high gear here, which means less time spent on the water with my favorite angling model and therefore fewer photos. I'm not so into selfies.
For only a few hours, it was wildly productive, other than only silver fish being caught... Damn silver fish!
Jacob and I have had a longstanding rivalry, a house divided if you will.
Glass vs. Grass.
He's a diehard bamboo angler and I'm pretty partial to fiberglass. We've both retired all of our graphite rods into "the guide business" and moved on to more classy equipment.
We have this funny way of talking about our rods like they're doing the fishing.
"oh, looks like the glass beat out the grass today"
"Seems like the grass has more fish in her today"
Recently I purchased a new fiberglass rod. I'm not one to make purchases lightly, I have to research, reading and watching everything I can find on the product. I have to know all of the reviews, compare those reviews and specs in pie charts and diagrams. It's taken me months to commit to buying something. Even then, in the case of a fly rod, I have to cast it multiple times to find out if it "speaks" to me or not.
For being as free spirited as I am, I suppose this is my one grounding quality.
When I began looking for another glass rod, one that could hold more weight, but have a little more reach, I kept finding these incredible casting videos of a man, Tim Rajeff.
That's what put Echo Fly Fishing on my radar. I started the process, reading retailer reviews, looking up the threads on The Fiberglass Flyrodders, and finding an older post on The Fiberglass Manifesto.
Two months later, I was ready to commit.
The Echo Glass is truly an amazing rod! I love it!
I purchased the FG-690 (9', 6wt), as previously stated, for reach and larger nymph rigs/streamers. But, I've fished also used it for teeny, tiny midge fishing as well, when I need that extra length or when casting distance in the wind.
The first thing I noticed about this rod is that it is deadly accurate! In about every situation imaginable. I've chosen to underline it with a 5wt, Intouch Rio Perception line, for the smaller midge rigs and use the Royal Wulff - Bamboo Special 6wt for larger flies.
In addition to matching my casting style superbly, the rod also offers an incredibly sensitive tip, even in the 6wt. I fish primarily based on feel. I can't see indicators, so I don't even mess with them, rather spending my day's tight line nymphing when dry flies just aren't getting it done. This rod gives me the extra sensitivity that I desperately need, but with a strong butt section, handling a 20" brown I caught a few weeks ago with ease.
Almost everything about this rod is spectacular. It's an excellent price point, comes with a lifetime warranty, and is a lovely honey, orange color. Seriously, all around great! The only thing I dislike about it is the reel seat, but I'm sure that comes from living with a rod builder, which leads to my wish that this rod was available as a blank.
We've had some pretty bizarre weather here in the Southeast for the past few days. Summer one day, tornadoes the next and possibly snow tomorrow.
Mother Nature, I'm sick of your schizophrenia.
(I also fully accept that it's man kinds fault.)
We woke up yesterday morning in hopes of fishing ahead of the front and catching some wildly hungry browns.
It didn't happen.
As soon as we got to the river it started to thunderstorm. Rain, no problem. Struck by lightning, I think I'll pass.
And so, we headed home to work. There are rods that need built, restored, put back together and socks that need sewn.
Over the past few weeks I was able to collaborate with a bamboo rod builder out of Montana to create a sock with ferrule plug pockets that would not be overly bulky and not contain any buttons, clasps, or velcro.
I think what we came up with is pretty great and I couldn't have done it without him.
Thanks, Don for all your efforts and I'm so happy we came up with the product we did.
If you've never hear of Don, check out his site here.
Kind words from Don:
Rod socks, rod bags, fly rod under ware, whatever ya wanna call 'em came in the mail today, and they are quite nice! Love the first two you made for me, and I say 'first two' because there will be more...
I will be in touch!!!
Thanks, glad I found you!"
Here's an update on the socks I'm currently offering and a price list.
Standard, straight hemmed cotton twill sock
Standard, straight hemmed cotton twill sock with ferrule plug pockets
$25.00 + $5.00 per pocket
Standar, straight hemmed cotton twill sock with flannel lining
Straight hemmed solid color flannel sock
Cotton twill sock with flap
This week I had several rod socks head out of my shop and into the world.
They were all different sizes, color variations, and styles.
I continue to be amazed by how many rod builders there are out there and how different their ideas of a perfect rod sock are!
It's really great to play a small part in the building process.
These are just a selection of some!
Here's an update of what I'm offering and the pricing:
Standard six - ounce cotton twill sock - $25.00
Standard six - ounce cotton twill sock with flannel lining - $35.00
Shown below are a few of my most popular fabric color options.
Standard six - ounce cotton twill sock with ferrule plug pocket - $25.00 PLUS $5.00 per pocket
With my pocket, there's no buttons, clasps, or velcro, which could be potentially damaging to the rod. Instead, I'm utilizing the cuff which runs around the sock, keeping the plug secure while rod is in use.
Thanks so much to all those who've ordered socks!
It's really been a phenomenal experience and I look forward to "meeting" more builders and making many more custom rod socks!
If you're interested in a sock or would like more information, please fill out the form below or feel free to e mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I first heard the term "Boo Widow" on our blog just about a year ago. I had no idea what it meant, and so I decided to google the phrase. I was left even more confused and slightly offended.
Don't google it.
Later on that night I shared it with Jacob, and he explained that it was a term for wives/girlfriends who have been left by the wayside for the love of bamboo. He tried to convince me that I was not one of these women, but I knew better.
There is no doubt in my mind that I am a Boo Widow.
But, that's ok. I'm even a little bit proud of the term.
You see, Jacob is not going out and having adventures without me, I get to tag along on every one.
He hasn't "traded me in" for anything better, he's simply found an art form that he loves and his fondness shows.
I'm privileged enough to be able to watch a stick of bamboo become a fly rod. Get to see the horrific vintage rods come home and leave a couple of months later restored to their original beauty.
I know what a ferrule wrap is, the difference in guides, what goes into making a reel seat or grip. I now understand the differences in hardware's and tapers and how to scarf a tip. I've acquired quite the education and a pretty impressive vocabulary to boot, which makes me appear a whole lot more intelligent than I am.
I've even been able to find my little corner of the rod building world through my rod socks. I've had the privilege of meeting and working with some incredibly talented builders that I would never have had the opportunity to.
Jacob just recently finished restoring a South Bend rod. Right now he's rewrapping a few guides on a vintage fiberglass, and I'm preparing to sew up some socks, all because I get to be a Boo Widow.
Over the past month I've had the privilege of working with some amazing rod builders and creating some incredibly unique rods socks! This has really been a phenomenal experience and I'm looking forward to more builders and more socks.
Thanks to the design initiative one builder had, I'm now offering both flannel and flannel lined socks as well. They were such a great pleasure to work on and really add a uniquely vintage look.
Flannel lined socks start out at $35.00 a piece.
The traditional, un-lined socks start out at $25.00 a piece.
Discounts are given for multiple orders or for builders.
I'm currently taking orders for this month.
A special thanks to all the builders out there, y'all have been great!
Please feel free to send me an e mail
or fill out the form below
It was the best of days.
65 in January.
We literally chased trouts downstream all day.
Not one broke off.
Take note; to bend to life, chase it, and not break.
You wake up, it's still pitch black out. You can hear the rain pouring down outside.
Drink coffee. Grab fishing gear. Bundle up. Make sure you are as waterproof as you can be.
You leave the house and head out. Sure it's wet and cold, but the fish are already wet and cold, so it really doesn't matter.
You arrive at a soft, still, run; bubbling from what appears to be rain. The closer you get, the subtle differences between a raindrop hitting the surface and trout feeding on the surface becomes apparent. Every so often you can see bright, yellow tails break the surface, taunting you and making you even more aware of their presence.
Every cast is an effort in futility. Size 24 dry flys are no match for the mighty raindrop.
It's an excruciating process, one you only participate in if you are truly, certifiably crazy. But you will be rewarded for your mad routine, with gold, in the form of a brown trout or two. So, you continue this crazy pattern until your hands are so cold and wet you can no longer set the hook. You warm yourself with good conversation and beer and go at it again, only to repeat this pattern as well.
Eventually, you decide that you're soaked and good conversation can only go so far to warm you, the car heater does a much better job. You make your sojourn back to the car, soaked and tired and slightly buzzed. You may look broken down and smell like a wet dog, but you leave knowing that you are worth your weight in gold.
I woke up this morning to air filled with smoke, so thick you could hardly see what was right in front of you. It hits your lungs hard and weakens your body almost instantly. We decided that for today, the trout would have to wait. There was plenty to accomplish in the workshop.
And so, we set to our tasks.
It's good to sit down an create. It's good to make something out of nothing. It's good to restore something to its original glory. There is work to do, and it is as important and meaningful as exploring the hills.
I spent my day in front of my machine, sewing away, wondering why in the hell a rod sock would possibly need pockets. But, the rod sock got pockets.
Jacob completed one restoration and began a second build. The workshop smells of varnish, warm bamboo and pipe tobacco. It's a good smell.
Jacob is a fly fishing guide with a passion for conservation and brook trout. He is an accomplished rod builder and restorationist.
Jillian is an outdoor photographer and blogger, using her voice for Public Lands and Cold Water Conservation. She specializes in trying to out fish jacob whenever she puts the camera down.