The annual gathering of the world’s bamboo rod makers has come and gone. In my last column, I wrote that I had no intention of buying yet another bamboo fly rod. Despite having the opportunity to cast several fine rods from various rod builders, I did not weaken. There is no new slender silver tube residing in the rod rack built for me by Tom Brown.
Per Brandin ran the casting contest, which was based on both accuracy and distance achieved. I found myself in the unexpected position of being the official score keeper for this event. The winner, for both accuracy and distance, was the redoubtable Mike McFarland from Tyrone, PA. This same gentleman had won the Hardy Casting Cup in August. In reality, it is not necessary to be able to cast a fly into the next county when fishing for trout. Accuracy is the name of the game and Mr. McFarland is also a deadly accurate fly caster. Those who golf say, “You drive for show, but putt for dough.” The same is true when you are casting a fly to a trout. This gathering has become so popular the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum had to turn away more than 40 people who wished to attend.
I have said that fly rods are never broken while being cast. However, Mike McFarland broke a Mike Canazon rod while casting the rod for distance. To my surprise, this did not bother Mr. Canazon at all. He later told me that he had made that rod from some odd sections he had laying around in his shop. That rod was never intended for sale.
Sunday morning, Joan Wulff gave a short demonstration on fly casting. I am always amazed at how effortlessly that little bitty lady casts a fly. Physical strength is not needed in fly fishing. Timing and rhythm are the keys. Hers are perfect.
The 13th of September, the “Bamboo Gang” had a y’all-bring-something party to celebrate a fishing season that was slowly coming to an end. Some five or six years ago while fishing at Centerville on the East Branch a voice had unexpectedly called down from Route 30, “Hey Clem, is that you down there?” I cannot hide with those Texas plates on my van. It was Dave Brandt who then joined me in fishing the pool. As dusk approached, Dave hooked and landed a beauty. I was skunked. That chance meeting led to Barb and me having an opportunity to meet the raffish members that make up the “Bamboo Gang.” Despite our shortcomings as fly fishers, we have been allowed to blend in with these experts on fly fishing and bamboo fly rods.
At that last meeting, Dave Brandt showed off his newest bamboo fly rod. This two-piece rod is a bit of an oddity, since the male and female ferrule is made of bamboo rather than nickel silver. Naturally, we all had to cast this rod and give it our enlightened opinions. The rod had been built by one of the four builders who had come to the gathering all the way from Japan. Japanese rod makers, like our friends Takatoshi Kumakirri and Masaki Takemoto, know how to build quality fly rods. The quality of bamboo fly rods today is the equal of the expert makers of the past. Of course, old timers like Bob Taylor and Walt Carpenter would probably dispute that statement. This would simply prove my belief that you cannot get fly fishers to agree on anything. Herding cats would be far easier.