Monday, December 23, 2013


I thought this to be an interesting story and worth sharing. The story goes like this:

My wife's grandfather loved to fish. He especially liked going to Bennett Springs State Park. It's about the nicest version of what Missouri has to offer in the way of trout fishing. On his passing about 20 years ago the family wanted to do something for Bennett Springs to honor him. He loved to sit on the bank and watch, when he himself wasn't fishing.

Their first idea was to donate a nice bench in his favorite spot so that others could enjoy watching the experience as well. However, the people that ran the park felt like they didn't want benches in the park. So my wife's family asked them what it was that they would want, since they didn't like any of their suggestions. The answer they got was a nice table. This was for the fisherman to sign their daily tag on. The family thought that this was a very nice idea. They spent several thousand dollars on this table so that it could be enjoyed by everyone at Bennett Springs.

However, after about a year the table disappeared. The family looked around and asked about its location. They found the table in another building at the park. When they asked why it was moved it was said that the table was to big for the location. The table became home to pamphlets and brochures on trout fishing and the area. It was in a building that most people didn't visit in an off the beaten path location. Here it remained for the next few of years. Since most people didn't frequent the location we didn't either.

A few years back we went to the previous location to look for the table. The table was gone and we couldn't get an answer to where the location of it was. None of the park employees were sure what happened to it. My mother-in-law was pretty upset by this. Another item that didn't help her feelings was that shortly after they bought the table and it disappeared, the park started letting people purchase benches for the park to honor family members.

After a campaign to find the table, my mother-in-law finally found the park manager. He knew exactly where the table was and offered to let her have it back. Her first response was that she wanted the park to keep it and use it. He plainly said that it wasn't something the park would ever use. So her and my father-in-law picked up the table. In the pictures you will see three cut outs where oak boxes sat to hold safety pins, string and pens. These were in pretty bad shape. I plan to have those fixed to their original state. Since the table had only been used for one year in the main public and sparingly for paperwork, someone had not been very nice to the table. This really hurt my mother-in-laws feelings.

I now have the table and plan to incorporate it into my families love of fishing. I don't get tired of looking at the hand carved fishing scene.

Monday, December 9, 2013


This picture is of a mid section that belongs to a 8'4" 3 weight 3 piece rod. I have worked on this taper for awhile and I think this is it. When this rod is done it will be heading to Switzerland.

I will be hollowing for most of the day and then I will be glueing up tomorrow.

It looks like I am going to have an extra 8'4" 3 weight 2 piece rod available by Christmas if anyone out there is interested. It is dark flamed with a Koa reel seat.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The 8'6" prototype is complete

Some time ago I had several requests for a 8'6" 4 weight rod. I had always planned on building in this length, but had never gotten to it. However, I can't say that anymore.

This rod is comes in at 3.32 oz. and has a medium fast action. One can use either a 4 wt line on it or a 3 wt depending on what the weather/fishing conditions might be. It does have the new Hariki extra small ferrules on it and they are very nice.

This rod will start going out to customers next week for their approval.

The line I plan on using with this rod is a Terenzio Silk line. This was sent to me by a good friend that loves these lines on my rods. I have never used one of these types of lines before so I am very excited about getting out on the water with it. This line has a designation of 3.5 weight line. So it is suppose to be right between a 3 and 4 wt line. I hope to have a report about this combination later on.

I want to speak briefly about taper platforms. On my rods I have basically three platforms that I make rods off of. The newest will be the 8'5" and 8'6" platform. My most popular rods are on the 8'4" platform and then there is the 8' platform. Obviously since these have different lengths things have to be changed with in the numbers to achieve the feel I like. Also, the platforms have different inside tapers that are achieved through different hollowing. As one can imagine since the longer rods have 6" more material than the shorter rods. Larger pockets are placed in different locations within the rod in order to have a crisp rod that doesn't break down under the casting.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Customer Pic

Last year I was experimenting with tapers for 1 wt and 2 wt rods. I came up with a good 2 wt, but the lines are so light that if you fart the line gets blown around. It was very difficult to cast with any distance and if there was any wind forget it. I made some interesting rods when this experiment was going on, but have since moved on. One of those rods was a 8'1" 2/3 weight. I really enjoyed a 3 wt line on it because I am a C+ caster. I hope that I am not being to generous to myself. Bamboo rods are wonderful fishing instruments. Unlike their graphite counterparts you can usually use a multitude of lines on a particular rod and get a range of good actions. This particular rod would cast a 2 wt line with speed and precision through any kind of wind. This also helps us casters who struggle with fishing and casting at the same time!

Then along comes a group of fisherman that are professional casters. The kind of people you don't want to stand close to when you are casting. They love medium flexing rods so they can feel the rod well into their hands. They love medium action rods because they know how to cast too. It reminds me of story, yes story time. Some years ago I played golf. On one particular Monday I was suppose to play golf with a friend and a couple of his friends. One of his friends was Tom Watson. I was very excited to get to play with the world famous golfer. However, as fate would have it Tom won a big tournament that weekend and didn't get back to town by Monday. One of the other people I played with that day was Stan Thirsk. Stan discovered Tom and was his early coach. We played 9 holes together that day. I played the best golf I had ever played for about 4 holes. The other 5 holes not so much. I was so proud of myself. If I remember correctly I believe I almost hit Stan with a ball when I was hitting out of a sand bunker. Then to smooth it over I jokingly said I did it on purpose to make sure he was paying attention. The old reliable joke didn't go over so well. However, back to the morale of the story. At the end of our golf outing I asked Stan what were a few things that I could do to improve my golf game. He said this, "It's not what you are doing wrong, its what you are not doing right" and then he proceeded to say about 5 things I was doing wrong, none of which I really remember. I feel this way sometimes about my casting, especially out west when the wind is blowing. A great cast is not bought, but earned! It takes time and dedication to teach your muscles what to do and when to do it. This group of great casters has a leader and his name is John Juracek. John is a great caster and very knowledgable about fishing. I am fortunate enough to see John every year and have him give me pointers on my casting. I am pretty sure they have been the same suggestions each year, but do to my lack of dedication to the matter the basics must be mastered before you can move on. Like you must learn addition before you can move onto multiplication.

The rod mentioned above was a special rod. It was built for myself as a 2/3 weight. I brought this rod out to the group to cast as an after thought really. I wasn't that proud of it. When the group asked for a 4 wt line the rod came alive. I was amazed and embarrassed at the same time. Its somewhat like the old phrase about beauty, its hard to describe but you know it when you see it. You could tell just by watching the rod that it was casting great. It is a great casting rod that has a medium flex. I never really thought I was a fan of that slow of a rod, but I am now. At times I still get a little embarrassed when I think that I was off by 2 line weights on that rod, but I quickly tell myself how lucky that I am to have found it.

I sold that rod to a first time buyer to the bamboo world Dan Daufel. Dan and his brother are certified fly fishing junkies with Dan being a former employee of Simms. I have attached a photo of his brother with the rod. I hope they catch a lot more fish on that rod.

As soon as I got home from the Henry's Fork I started another 8' 1" 2/3/4 weight for myself.

Monday, October 21, 2013

1st Rod going to Japan

Here is a picture of the first rod that I am sending to Japan. I will be traveling there next year to exhibit with Shuichi Akimaru. It's a 8'4" 3 weight rod. This is by far my most popular taper. Its darkly flamed and will be one of the last rods that I do like this.

Friday, October 11, 2013

New Rod

Here is a couple of pics of a rod that I sent out this week. Its an 8' 3/4 weight. I have made several of these recently in a beautiful natural blonde color. I am currently making myself one since I sold mine at the Henry's Fork rod gathering this summer. This rod has a 13 cork grip. I go back and forth about whether I prefer a 12 ring or 13 ring grip. This month its 13 rings! I am trying a new process on my rods in order for the blueing to last longer. I hope to get some good reports from customers about this process and how its holding up. My goal is that the blueing will look brand new 10 years from now no matter how much you fish the rod.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Strip Saw!

Well, it was Christmas in October today. My new strip saw arrived. I wasn't really sure what to expect since Bellinger hadn't been marketing them, but I love it! I would say it is easier to use than the gangsaw. Two reasons why I think this; the first is its lighter and the other is it is much shorter. It doesn't take up half of the workshop with the long runners that the gangsaw had. Another bonus is that its a lot quieter than the gangsaw. I had to wear ear protection with the older version, but the strip saw is  pretty quiet.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New Reel Seats

The pictures below are of some up locking reel seats I am now offering on my rods. They are beautiful burls that have cork centers. The main thing I like about these seats, besides their looks, is there weight. Normally when you talk about burls they are usually pretty heavy. These seats actually have a cedar/cork center which brings the weight down considerably. The one downside to these is the cost. I have to charge an extra $125 for these. There is a lot of time put into these seats, but I think they are worth it.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Flaming and Sanding

The temperature's finally come down below 100 degrees so I have been out flaming and sanding. I am getting it all ready for my new strip sander that is coming. I currently use the Bellinger Gang Saw. This is a new tool that is replacing their Gang Saw and is called their "Strip Saw". This will cut the bamboo into perfectly straight strips and then can be milled down to the 60 degree angle pieces needed to fit the plane.

This fall and winter I will be making rods that are lightly flamed and blond.

On a different note I have some new reel seats that are available for my rods. I will take some pics in the next few days and post them.

My current wait time for a rod is 1 year. Thanks to all of those who have put orders in lately.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hariki Ferrules

I am excited to announce that I have received my first shipment of Hariki extra short ferrules. They are slightly longer than the CSE micro ferrules, but almost exactly the same weight. There are several very well known builders that use these ferrules and feel they are the best in the world. I plan on using them exclusively for the next year to see if they live up to all the hype. Due to the cost of getting these ferrules and several other improvements I will be raising my prices. The price increase only reflects the increase in cost of materials. I strive the make the best fly rods out there and these things will only continue to help me do this.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Customer Pic

Here is a pic from a good customer in Alabama. I even like him after his football team kicks the crap out of our football team here in Missouri. Thanks Page!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Henry's Fork Gathering part II

As many of you know I have small children so making it to rod gatherings are few and far between. However, the one event that I try to make it to each year is the gathering on the Henry's Fork. I always learn so much from the other builders that it has progressed my rod design by years. One of the highlights of this years gathering was listening to Glenn Brackett and Tom Morgan talk about Winston. There is so much history there I truly enjoy listening about it. Here is a couple of picks of Glenn talking about Winston.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A New Rod Going Out

This is a 8' 7" 6 weight. This taper is based off of a Powell B taper. The reel seat is of my own creation with a Cherry insert.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Henry's Fork Gathering

I just returned from the Henry's Fork gathering. It was a great time as usual and I am very excited to get back to building rods. I also come back with new ideas and improvements for my rods. I have always liked Japanese rods because of their simplicity. I will use some of those ideas to improve my rods.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Before I started building, I collected rods. As a school teacher I couldn't afford all of the rods I wanted to own. So that is one main reason I started building. One thing that always amazed me was that builders would give you an estimate of when your rod would be ready and it would NEVER be ready on that date. Sometimes the rod wouldn't be ready anywhere near that date. I just figured when rod builders went to bamboo rod building school they offered a class on how not to deliver a rod on time. It had something to do ultimately with making their rods more desirable. Well, the shoe is on the other foot and sometimes I have a hard time delivering rods on time.

There are many reasons for not delivering rods on time and doing this blog isn't really one of them. Since switching to micro ferrules there is an increased time that goes into fitting and setting those. I didn't realize it at first, but quickly found out that the smaller ferrules don't set straight on the blank like longer ferrules do. The added time in assuring the ferrules are straight can be maddening. Another factor is the varnish I use. I want my rods to last a very long time. The particular varnish I use has tung oil and linseed oil in it. These two additives take longer to dry. Since I hand rub most of my rods with about 6-8 coats of varnish it can take almost a month just to do the varnishing and letting it cure. There are many other factors that play into delivering rods on time and it seems none of which are ever the same with each rod.

I am currently in the process of making 9 rods. I am closer to finishing some than others. After my trip to Idaho and Colorado I plan to take a several month break working on a couple of new tapers and lengths before I start my fall orders.

An added note I would like to thank who ever is visiting my blog from Iran. I didn't realize they fly fished in that country, but have been thinking if more people in that country did fly fish and with bamboo we would be whole lot closer with them!!!! :-)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Another Rod!

Thanks for the response on the rod I posted Friday. I do appreciate everyone's compliments. Here is another rod that is about to go out. It is also dipped.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Rod Going Out Today

This is a 8'2" 5 weight that is going to a customer in Alabama. I haven't dipped in awhile, but I remembered quickly why dipped rods look so good! It does add weight to the rod, but it also has many advantages. In the next few days I will post some more pics of another rod that is being dipped as well.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Inside Taper and shirts

Here is a picture of an 8'4" 3 weight that I am working on. When hollowing rods you can also include an inside taper to your rod. I take a lot of things into account when deciding how much to hollow and what spacing I should use with that spacing. A couple of things to look at are the size of fish you will be fishing for, what type of line you will use and weather conditions (windy). The depth of hollowing also determines how far down the tip I will go with the hollowing process. If I am hollowing to .040" of an inch you can go down pretty far. I will do that on a lot of my 8' 3 weight tapers just because of the type of fishing most of the owners will be doing with those rods. I will probably stay around .060" on tips for 5 weights and above. Hollowing to different depths is very easy to do with my Elder hollowing mill.

Please remember if you buy a rod from me you get a free t-shirt. My new shirts just came in today! If you don't want to buy a rod the shirts are $30. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


After some deliberation I've opted to make a small change to my rods.  The signature will be shortened to "Carpenter" in order to maximize the natural beauty of the bamboo.

The next series of rods will be crafted with a lighter color bamboo.  Please see the lighter cane on the two quads pictured below--an 8'2" 4 weight and a 8'4" 3 weight.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Quads Are Coming!

I will have several hollow built quads for sale over the next couple of months. The rod I really like is the quad version of my popular 8'4" 3 weight.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spey Rod with Carbon Fiber Ferrules

This rod is a project I have been working on for about a year now. I started off with a trout rod using this form of ferrules and now I have employed them on this spey rod. My major objective is to save weight off rods that would normally be heavier. This is going out to a friend in Washington to use and get feedback from. I don't see myself making a lot of these rods (spey), but its fun to do something different than trout rods all the time.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reel Seat Hardware

Well, the 2 wt demo didn't last long! The second person trying it out bought the darn thing. He loves light line rods and it was exactly what he was looking for.

I spent the morning cleaning the shop and organizing reel seats. I am not sure if I have enough hardware or not. I use two different types of reel seats. The hardware that you see in the box is what I use for my lightweight seats. They come with a Spanish Cedar insert. The nicer seats that I use are purchased from Bellinger or Snake Brand. I just received my first Buckeye Burl seat from Mike at Snake Brand and its stunning! I will definitely be ordering more from him.

I hope to have some photos up soon of my Spey rod with Carbon Fiber ferrules.

I am now up to about a 9 month wait.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Couple of New Rods

Well, this weekend was a tough weekend on the building. I had most of Saturday to work, the wife had taken the kids out for the day. It didn't go as planned. I started working in the shop and I had some problems right off the go. After about an hour of problems I gave up. I went and did some other things around the house. When I came back to it I saw a rod in the corner of my workshop that I had put up sometime ago because of orders. I thought I would give it another go. It was a 8'1" 1 weight rod. I had broken the butt section doing some sloppy tests on it. So I rebuilt it. I am not real sure why or where someone might want a rod like this, but I thought it was fun to work within this length and weight. I taped guides on this morning and WOW! I really like this rod. It has a nice medium fast action and with a tip right at .058" it has enough strength to hold the line up right. I have been thinking about sending this out as a demo, but I keep coming back to the thought of just fishing it myself. Blank weight on this rod is 1.9 oz.

The top rod in the photo is the 8' 2 weight demo that I am just about to send out to the first person to try. I believe I have talked about this in previous posts about how excited I am about this rod. This is another rod that I hope to spend a lot of time with this summer. It has a medium fast action as well and tip size right at .062". The same parameters apply for this taper as the 1 weight. The finished weight on this rod was 3.19 oz.

A small paragraph about weights on a rod. I find it hard to stay much below 3.1 oz when using standard or even mini ferrules. The spanish cedar insert I have for these two rods is even lighter than using cork! I don't stabilize the cedar because it adds weight to it. I am under premise that it is lighter than cork and more durable than cork so it should be better to use than cork. If I am wrong on this it wouldn't be the first time. :-) I also have mastered the Carbon Fiber ferrule. I have done this with the spey rod I am working on. This also came on Saturday's break down. I am not going into details on what I have done, but I should be able to make a rod with fiberglass/carbon fiber ferrules in the 8'6" range and keep it right around 3 oz. I have a 8'6" 3 weight that I took out to the Henry's Fork this summer that I fished with on the river that I plan on retrofitting this rod with to see how it performs. I am very curious to get the spey rod out and see how it performs.

The last note about the fiberglass/carbon fiber ferrules is that I want these rods to be affordable. I don't want to make rods that cost thousandS of dollars. Its not who I am and what I want to do with my rods. I have told some people this story, but here it goes again. Before I started building I fished with nice rods. The nicest of these rods was several Mario Wojnicki rods. They were beautiful and great rods, but I never felt right fishing with them because of the cost. As a school teacher at the time if I broke one of them I would be out of a lot of money. I had even bought some very nice reels to go on them, like a Bogdan. I never felt right with that much money on a rod/reel. I hope I can stay true to this philosophy.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Spey Rod Continues

I have been slowly working on my first spey rod. I have always liked the idea of alternative material ferrules. So I am going to make my first spey rod with fiberglass ferrules. Right now the design is an overlapping style. After I test this method if it holds up I will go with that or insert a spigot and try that method. I know of at least one other builder that does this so I will give it a try. I have went with a natural fiberglass color. I thought it would be interesting to hold it up to light and be able to tell if you have it securely in place.

With all of that being said I might still change my mind and go with Carbon Fiber. It looks better with the darker flamed rod, but it makes the rod so dang fast. Right now the blank weight of this rod with the fiberglass ferrules is 8.1 oz. I am not sure what a good weight of a Spey rod should be, but hopefully this is in the bottom tier.

I "HOPE" to have a ferrule system that I am happy with by this summer. I can use that on my trout rods and be able to produce longer and very light rods. My goal is still to produce a 5 weight rod that is at least 8' 6" and weigh under 3 oz.

I am also nearly done with a demo rod for my 8' 2 weight rod. I have had several questions about it being a true 2 weight. I wanted to get a demo complete so I could give people a chance to try it out and see what they think. I know that a lot of builders don't build 2 weight rods, but I really like this taper and think there is a future for it. I should have it ready in about 2 weeks if anyone wants to try it out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Introducing the 8' 2 weight

After several prototype rods I have finally come up with a taper that I really like. In the pics below you will see an 8' 2 weight rod. With the cork grip it comes in right at 3 oz. One is able to cast 50-60 ft easily with this rod. It has a bigger tip size (.062) so that you can fish close in as well and keep control of the line with the tip of the rod. Right now I am working on a 8'3" 2 weight version. This rod is based off the 8'4" 3 weight taper platform.

I am still working on my first spey rod. I hope to have an update soon. I can see why builders charge so much for spey/salmon rods! On the next few orders I have I will be returning to dipping the rods. I believe that bigger rods = bigger flies should probably be dipped in order to preserve the cane against wear and tear. I stopped dipping some time ago because it added weight to the fly rod. However, in the case of bigger rods I think that longevity trumps saving a few tenths of an ounce.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's Day fishing

I just got back from a trip to Colorado. I was anxious to do some winter fishing while taking the family on a ski trip. I was probably a little too anxious! The only real place to fish this time of year in the Taylor River area was at the DNR or what others call "The Hog Trough". The morning that we arrived to fish the temp was -5 degrees, by the time we left it had made it all the way up to 10 degrees. Talk about feeling warm.

In summer time you can sight fish to very large fish at this location. However, this time of year produces very low water flow so most of the fish move up into the area just below the tailwater and you are not allowed to fish to them. I was still able to catch some nice browns ranging from 16" to 20".

I got to test out my rod that I had recently built for myself in some pretty harsh conditions. As the eyelets froze up I would have to dip my rod in the water to get the line through. So my rod spent a lot of time submerged in the water. I had left my rod in the car for the three previous days with temps around -25 in Crested Butte. The rod held up fine and looks great. The guy I went fishing with kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to fish with bamboo. He really thought that I was going to break my rod.