Best Bamboo Fly Rod – 5 Top Rated Options Reviewed
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What is the best bamboo fly rod on the market today? When looking for contemporary versions, manufacturer, price point and of course the quality of the bamboo used are all important factors. Essentially you should opt to buy a rod created with the best level of craftsmanship you can afford.
To this end, there are 3 kinds of bamboo-rod makers available to you: the traditional brands such Winston, Orvis, and Thomas & Thomas, (beware of the price tag); custom makers that might be local to you, and brands that are able to produce less-expensive bamboo rods overseas.
To help you in your search, we have carefully selected 5 top-rated bamboo fly fishing rods from the latter category; affordable, yet high-quality bamboo fly rods that are available online.
For our findings at a glance, just head to the table below. For a detailed review of these bamboo fly rods, with the pros and cons of each, keep on reading.
Best Bamboo Fly Rod – Top 5
TOP PICK: Headwaters Bamboo Fly Rod
7' 0" 4-wt Medium Action 2-piece 2-tips Deluxe Series Santiam Model
The presence of a well-straightened spine and a furled leader helps to boost the rod’s performance and also provide good and easy casting.
The rod features a number of good qualities, for example, the double locking nuts and a perfect agate stripping guide and solid chrome snake guides which are resistant to rust and eliminate shock rings.
The cork grip of this rod is also very well constructed.
Pros of the Headwaters Bamboo fly rod
It provides an amazing casting experience. Casting is effortless and easy when using this rod. You are also able to achieve that perfect loop.
It has a remarkable design. This rod has been well crafted and styled.
Reliable and experienced manufacturers. With over 15 years of experience in the field of making bamboo fly rods, Headwaters Bamboo is always certain to impress.
It has a good feel and touches on it. This will give you an easier time when fishing.
It is a high-quality fishing rod. The materials used on this rod ensure its durability.
It takes time to load and to cast this rod as compared to graphite rods.
This rod is also a bit heavier compared to graphite rods.
Transitioning from graphite rods to bamboo rods may need some getting used to as they are different.
The Headwaters Bamboo fly rod is something any discerning fly fisherman would want to use. The build quality is second to none, with the overall finish exuding superior craftsmanship at every turn.
Picking one up and using it will be a game-changer for you. The main problem being, it makes it difficult to go back to any standard rod after you have experienced it.
Our number one choice bamboo fly fishing rod for good reason.
2. The New Splits Tonkin Bamboo Fly Rods, 2 piece 2 Tips, 7’6” for the #5 line Wt
The New Splits Tonkin Bamboo Fly Rod is a 2 pieces with 2 tips fishing rod and has a weight of 2.95 pounds making it light enough for efficient casting. It is made by Zhus Rods.
The reel seat features an up-locking mechanism that aids in ensuring the proper attachment of the reel to that particular rod.
This cork grip is designed in a traditional western style. The windings of this rod are red in color and made of silk.
These red windings are enforced with thin black windings on both the top and bottom of their tips. The windings help to firmly hold the guides of this rod into position.
Spar varnish of good quality is used to coat this rod. Three coats of this high-quality finishing varnish are applied on the rod. The coating helps increase the durability of this rod.
The rod also features well-fitting ferrules made of nickel silver. When the rod is pulled apart a sound is produced to ensure that you are aware of the separation.
This helps prevent unfortunate situations where you are unaware of the separation and end up damaging your rod.
Pros of the New Splits - Tonkin Bamboo Fly Rods
It is very affordable. Not many fly rods come at the price that this one offers making it a very pocket and budget friendly rod.
It has a good finishing. The spar varnish finishing is perfect for ensuring the durability of the rod.
The rod is of good quality. A thorough inspection is usually done of these rods and hence ensuring production and distribution of only the best. It can be considered among the best quality fishing rods in comparison to others at its price.
The guides are perfectly aligned. The alignment of guides is usually a very important factor to consider and this rod does ensure it is perfect.
The ferrules fit perfectly together ensuring your rod is firmly held.
Although it is a good quality rod, its design and materials fall short of our number one pick.
The Tonkin Bamboo Fly Rod is a budget-friendly rod well worth considering.
Although a bit simple compared to the others, it is well crafted and designed to meet all your needs when it comes to fly fishing.
If you’re on a budget that puts our top pick Headwater out of reach, then this is a good option instead.
3. The New Bamboo Fly Rod Blank 6’9″ for #4 Line Wt,2 Piece with 2 Tips
The New Bamboo Fl-y Rod Blanks 6’9” for the #4 line Wt, as the name clearly states is a bamboo blank. It is designed for those who fancy themselves as craftsmen in the field of making bamboo fly fishing rods.
Bamboo fly rod blanks come at different sizes, shapes, designs, materials, and prices. This one is a 6’9” bamboo blank and features 2 tip sections for each piece.
This blank is also made from the popular bamboo species Tonkin Cane and hence commonly referred to as the Tonkins bamboo fly rod cane.
It is the most common type of bamboo used to make fishing rods. The bamboo blanks are split and shaped for you saving you that problem.
With enough skill and learning, you can be able to build an outstanding fishing rod using this blank. The blank is already coated for you with spar varnish for protection of the bamboo blank.
You may be able to spot some glue line on this rod but they are usually very little and hence shouldn’t be a big of a concern to you.
Pros of Bamboo Fly Rod Blanks-New
The bamboo fly rod (New) blank is very affordable. It is cheaper to purchase this blank as compared to other blanks.
The blanks are of decent quality. Although cheap, the blanks are of decent quality and cannot be regarded as bad.
Purchasing this blank can help you harness your skills in making a fishing rod.
You will still be required to purchase all the other components required to make a fishing rod such as the reel seat and cork grip among others.
Making a good fishing rod requires some skill. This is only a blank and hence you will be required to learn or have skills in making a fishing rod.
The Bamboo fly rod blank is an ideal blank to buy when you want to make your own fishing rod. It is both cheap and of decent quality and hence a good way to start practicing your craftsmanship.
However, if you are uncomfortable in making your own fishing rod it is advisable that you buy a cheap complete fishing rod as they can always be found at a price slightly above this one.
All in all, the bamboo fly rod blank is designed to ensure the fishing rod you make works like a charm.
Choosing which bamboo fly rod to buy can be a difficult task.
While there are countless more graphite models on the market, these generally have reliable reviews in abundance. They can also be categorized much easier through specification and style.
The bamboo fly rod is a little different in this regard; the custom nature of many of them makes reliable reviews hard to come by.
Not only that, what works for some in the way of build, weight, and style might not be applicable to another user.
So if you feel lost when searching the internet looking for a new fly rod, (and the 5 we have selected above do not tickle your fancy); here are a few questions you can ask yourself in order to better navigate the buying process.
What is your budget?
Your answer to this question is likely to cut down the available options a great deal.
Most of us mere mortals will only be able to allocate a few hundred dollars into the purchase of a bamboo fly rod, (maybe a little more if the wife doesn’t check the bank statements).
Whittling down the choice of rods by price is a good move though. It will help you focus on what is a realistic buy, and hopefully, stop you pining for those out of range.
Because let’s face it, a vintage rod by a famous maker, (this beautiful Lyle Dickerson for example) will set you back a few thousand dollars.
And I don’t know about you, but with my available budget more geared towards mass-produced overseas models; that is where I should be focusing my attention.
Does the name or brand matter to you?
This is another way of narrowing down your options until you find the best bamboo fly rod for your specific needs.
If brand name and heritage does matter, it makes sense to head to the websites of the likes of Winston or Orvis in order to find a quality rod with a brand history behind it. (better still, check out William Oyster or Rolf Baginski)
You might be interested in having something bespoke from a local craftsman, there’s definitely a good reason to head down the buying route.
Or again, your needs may be less stringent, but based on the budget the offerings much like our top 5 selection above and more suitable.
Are you looking for a piece of art or something to fish with?
Those that decide to buy a bamboo rod, are generally led by an aesthetic appreciation for these wonderful instruments.
And while the majority of rod builders will ensure that their creations look the part, there is a range.
Are you interested in something that has all the bells and whistles and would look better hanging on the wall; or would you like to do some proper fishing with this rod, (and the wear and tear that comes with that), so a more utilitarian design would be appropriate.
Yes, anything with an exotic-wood reel seat, fancy guide wraps, and agate guides will look absolutely stunning; but the high price and delicate function could easily make it a non-starter in line with your needs.
The Practicalities – How are you going to use your rod?
Okay, so from the question above we have established that you will actually be fishing with the new cane; but the questions do not end there. Exactly how will you be using it?
There are so many different lengths, actions, and designs available narrowing things down to your own required specifications is a must.
Will you use it for all kinds of fishing or just dry flies?
A “medium-action three-weight” description does not help here; there could easily be five different models in the store that fit that description.
Custom craftsmen are very specific in their designs; that’s what makes the rods such a joy to use. Only by casting a few yourself, will you get an understanding of the various quirks and potential idiosyncrasies.
This is what owning a bamboo fly rod is all about, however.
The bamboo fly rods mentioned above as well as our short guide on questions to ask should help narrow down your choices when buying a new bamboo fly rod.
Take heed of the advantages and disadvantages; and if you remain undecided, maybe check out some of the resources in the further reading section below.