One of a Kind!

I had the pleasure of testing out an 7.5 ft. 4 wt. bamboo rod that was custom built by Art Palmer, who is one of our customers at The Angler's Den.  Art makes many types of custom built rods.  I had never used bamboo before, so it was quite an experience for me.  I paired it with an Orvis Power taper 4.5 wt line.The first day I tried it out, I used it just for nymphing.  I admit, I missed a couple of fish because I was so afraid of breaking it!  I barely hook set on any takes.  With all the trees around, I imagined myself breaking the tip in the trees!  I used an indicator and  Czech nymphing rigs, and the rod was able to turn them over with no problem.  The tip is very sensitive, but there is plenty backbone on the rod to control big fish.  The next evening, I tossed some dries.  The rod's cast was smooth and took little effort at all.  I was so amazed at the accuracy of the rod.  There is no side to side wobble.  Where ever that tip points on your forward cast, that's where it goes.  I was sticking my Iso parachute under branches, along the far bank, basically where ever I wanted to.  I was happy to be able to land a nice brown on it.   Art did an absolute amazing job handcrafting this one of a kind beautiful rod.  He wrote the next passage for me about the blank and the pieces he used to make it.  Its a great story about these one of a kind blanks.  I have to admit, if I knew the story behind the blank before I took her out, I probably would have only cast it in my yard because I have been know to break more than a few rods a season! 

The blank is Tolkin cane (the only cane used for rods since the 1890's). It was built by Robert Gorman of Green River rods. He is known to be a bit of an eccentric. He learned his craft at Thomas & Thomas. Since then he has built a reputation as one of the best, actually a bit of a legend. His rod tapers are exceptional. There action has been described as mystical and magical. Bob was wiped out by Hurricane Irene, he lost everything. Last year he put up for sale the few blanks he had salvaged. I was able to obtain several of them – he had never sold any of his blanks nor will there likely be anymore. The nickel silver reel seat was made by Robert Gorman as well and has the Green River logo. The guides, hook keeper, winding check and tip top are made by Snake guides ( the best available), Mike McCoy and his wife Pat run a great business based in Colorado. The ferrules are made by CSE, again the best available. The agate stripper was made by Golden Witch (Russ and Erica). The windings are Gossamer silk. The finish is 12 hand rubbed coats of a Tung oil/ urethane mix. The cigar cork grip was turned by me to fit the rod and left slightly over sized to allow a custom fit for a buyers hand. As for the 2 tips which are bookmatched (made from the same culm of bamboo), it is traditional to supply 2 tips with a bamboo rod. It is good practice to alternate tips to avoid getting a set in a tip from over use and if you break one you have an extra. New tip sections are expensive. I had several priorities in building the rod, 1. that it be as good as Bob Gorman intended it to be, with the same quality and attention to detail he would have had. 2. All parts to be the best and made by American craftsman. 3. layout of the guides so that the rod can reach its full potential.4. To be beautiful to look at. The design idea was for a small stream rod that feels completely natural, to cast with no effort and true to the traditional overall feeling one gets when casting an excellent bamboo rod. Double taper lines usually work best on bamboo rods, I have recently discovered Royal Wulff long belly fly lines – I would recommend them for any bamboo rod. Why did I build it? I've fished all kinds of rods over the years, nothing, nothing compares to the feel of a bamboo rod. This was an opportunity to build a rod on a blank made by one of the few masters left. To be able to fish one of these rods is a rare thing. Bamboo rods are every bit as durable as modern materials, in some ways more so (you can repair a cane rod). No other material casts like bamboo, even today rod builders still compare their rods to the casting ability of bamboo. The damping effect of cane on the forward and back cast has had builders trying to duplicate it for years. It allows a gentle presentation of a dry fly and saves tippets from being snapped off. I fish a Heddon 14 6wt for streamers, its over 70 years old – ya its durable, how many graphite rods will be around in 70 years. Why the feather? A beautiful lady should have a little jewelry. Actually in lew of a signature wrap, I have been using a small feather inlay – a great rod should have a little flash.

If you are interested in learning more about Art's work, send me an email to

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