Split bamboo fly rods are works of art with a practical purpose. Watch as this Iowa man shows us how he works his magic.
Steve Pennington’s first split bamboo rod took him over 80 hours to build. Now he figures he puts in about 10 hours per finished fishing rod. Using techniques that are more than 100 years old, Steve has made over one thousand hand-crafted fly rods that are being using by fishermen around the globe.
Bamboo is one of the strongest natural fibers, and a completed rod is lightweight and easy to use.
The process begins with splitting the raw material into long sections that are the width of a pencil. These strips are then molded into casting form with a hand plane. Once optimal shape is attained, Steve rolls six strips together with glue.
The glued rod piece is smoothed down with steel wool and sandpaper. Then he attaches the reel seat, cork handle, and line guides. A nice even coat of varnish completes the rigging.
One of Steve’s finished rods is a thing of beauty. Not only do they look great, these split bamboo fly rods are fish-catching machines.