Four String Binder for Bamboo Fly Rods

Four String Binder for Bamboo Fly Rods

Four String Binder 253x168 150x150 Four String Binder for Bamboo Fly Rods

Four String Binder, Motorized


Brasstown Creek began using a Garrison style binder to provide the binding force holding final planed strips together while the glue set on each section.  A Garrison style binder uses one string, so each six-strip section must be passed through twice (the second time with the binding string set to wrap in the opposite direction).  This is necessary to provide a counter to the torque that results from the first pass and thus eliminate, as much as possible, the resulting twist to the sections of your bamboo fly rods.

But we recently acquired a motorized four string binder and now use it exclusively.  A four string binder is constructed such that two spools of twine wrap the rod section in a clockwise direction and two more spools of string wrap in a counterclockwise direction.  This provides a torque and counter torque to the section with only one pass of the section.  The two differently colored twine serve simply to show contrast as the different colors wrap in clockwise and counterclockwise directions.  We have cheap sections of PVC pipe inserted into the entrance and exit points of the bamboo sections which can be removed for cleaning or, when glue becomes a problem, simply replaced at little cost.  This really helps with clean up.

To help with the process, we installed a foot pedal that lets us control the electric power to the four string binder thus freeing up both hands to feed the rod section through the binder. It is a simple device, purchased on Amazon; the foot pedal plugs into the power source, then the Four String Binder plugs into the foot pedal.

Note that the masking tape and tan paper are used to facilitate clean-up of the binding glue.

Bamboo Fly Rod Reference Books

Anyone interested in building bamboo fly rods probably wants to read as much about them as he can.  There are many good bamboo fly rod reference books, but my favorites are listed below:

Fundamentals of Building a Bamboo Fly Rod, by George E. Maurer and Bernard P.Elser.

The Lovely Reed, by Jack Howell.

Cane Rods – Tips and Tapers, by Ray Gould.

Handcrafting Bamboo Fly Rods, by Wayne Cattanach.

Constructing Cane Rods – Secrets of the Bamboo Fly Rod, by Ray Gould.

All these books provide their own unique insights into making bamboo fly rods, but my personal favorite is the first one listed, Fundamentals of Building a Bamboo Fly Rod.

PID Controller (Proportional Integral Derivative) for your Bamboo Oven

PID for Bamboo Oven 150x150 PID Controller (Proportional Integral Derivative) for your Bamboo Oven

PID Controller for Bamboo Oven

A Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) Controller can be an excellent addition for your Bamboo Oven.  At Brasstown Creek we place our bamboo strips in heat treating fixtures from Harry Boyd ( which assists in keeping the strips straight during the tempering process.  The oven we use was purchased from Bret Reiter at

In order to obtain a more accurate (and much more consistent) temperature inside our Bamboo Oven than was possible with the standard electric oven thermostat control that came with the oven, we did two things:

First, we replaced the dial type heat control (it is analog) with very accurate high heat temperature digital probes which enabled us to identify temperature gradients within the oven while tempering of the bamboo strips.  We placed one probe approximately one third the distance from the door of the bamboo oven and the other probe approximately one third the distance from the back of the oven. The accurate digital thermometers indicated that the standard oven thermostat can vary significantly (sometimes by as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit) in temperature during its on/off operations.

Second, we replaced the old thermostat control with a PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) controller to keep the temperature variations in the oven to within a few degrees.

The PID maintains our desired 180 degree Centigrade temperature control to +/- 1.25 degrees Centigrade.  We are happy with that!  In the photo of our PID Controller (see upper left of this page), you can see that the desired temperature is set in GREEN and is 180 degrees Centigrade.  The PID has just been turned on and the current temperature (in orange) is 13.2 degrees Centigrade, and climbing.  As the actual temperature approaches the desired temperature, the PID starts adjusting in fractions of a degree.  Once the goal is obtained, the PID Controller maintains the temperature very, very closely.

For a more detailed discussion of our PID, see the Tips section on our website.

Waxing Bamboo Fly Rods

In late 2014, a member of a fly fishing forum I am on asked the group about waxing bamboo fly rods, specifically whether or not he could apply wax to an Orvis Bamboo Fly Rod he owned that Orvis had treated with an impregnation compound.

I repeated his question on several forums which focused on making bamboo fly rods and I received ten comments regarding waxing an impregnated bamboo fly rod. One guy said he has waxed Orvis rods for 40 years with no problems. Another says the rods have gone as long or longer without any wax.

Of the comments, most use wax, about a third don’t, nobody saw any ill effects. Some additional comments were that:

Applying wax can give a gloss to the finish, rather than the satin finish of impregnation.

Several thought the application of wax was good for the varnish over the thread wraps.

There were several wax recommendations, but one that kept coming up on other forums was Butcher’s Bowling Alley Wax. A Google search turned up several sources, but a good one seemed to be
If you go to:
you will see that Butcher’s Bowling Alley Wax is manufactured by BWC ; Butcher’s Wax is a blend of carnauba and microcrystalline waxes with mineral spirits as a softening agent.

There was a caution on the forums against the use of waxes containing Silicon; Silicon is supposed to cause a problem when refinishing with varnish.

Finally, I went to the Orvis website ( and I saw this:

“Bamboo Fly Rod Care Tips From Orvis Master Craftsman: Ron White
Polishing bamboo fly rods

Bamboo fly rods are more than just fishing tools; they are true pieces of art. Wiping them clean is the most important step in keeping them beautiful, but to bring out the best shine and luster, polish the fly rod with a furniture polish and a soft cloth. Whitey prefers a paste style polish for the job.”

I then called Orvis’ Customer Service and talked with Paul. Paul contacted Ron White and here is what Ron said (loosely translated):

–Most paste waxes are good. Most paste waxes contain some amount of petroleum distillates, but if the wax is applied according to directions and in moderation, there is no damage to an impregnated rod. Ron recommended both Butcher’s Bowling Alley Wax (Clear) and Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax. Both have solvents in them but if used as directed they have never caused a problem with the finish, wraps, or bluing. Ron said that the absolute best wax to use is Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax.–
If you go to either or or
you can find a number of good waxes, including both the ones recommended by Ron White. The Butcher’s is about $18.99 for 16 ounces and the Renaissance is about $15.99 for 65 ml (yes, that’s milliliters).

I have been using a small tin of pure Carnauba Wax (sold for guitars) and am happy with it.


Ferrule Care on your Bamboo Fly Rods

Regarding Ferrule Care on your Bamboo Fly Rods, for years I have heard that you should never apply anything in the form of a lubricant to the Nickel Silver Ferrules on your Bamboo Fly Rod.  I was told any form of lubricant collects dust and grit and can scar the metal.

Well, I have become a convert.  I have done a lot of research and have found that many makers and builders (some quite well known) use beeswax or soap (lightly applied) to the male ferrules on their fly rod.  I have tried Ivory Bar Soap (99.9% Pure, of course) and have been very impressed.  The ferrules slide on great, pop well, and are easier to remove.

Certainly you should clean the soap off at the end of each day’s fishing, but a very light application of Ivory Soap (that’s what I use) smoothed on the male ferrule and any excess wiped off truly facilitates the smooth seating of the ferrule.  Thus far I have seen no problems at all from this type ferrule care.  An additional advantage of using soap as opposed to something else (beeswax for example) is that soap comes off cleanly with water.

Another thing I have done (and continue to do) is carry a small piece of 0000 Steel Wool with me on fishing trips.  Sometimes is seems the Nickel Silver on my fly rod oxidizes and no longer fits.  A few twirls of the bamboo rod while lightly holding the steel wool on your male ferrule is usually sufficient to knock off any oxidation.  You don’t want to do this unless necessary, however, because if the ferrule is ever turned down too much, you have a problem.

Preparing Nickel Silver Ferrules

Preparing Nickel Silver Ferrules before affixing them to your fly rod is very important.  Most Bamboo Fly Rod builders and makers use Nickel Silver Ferrules on their rods.  Generally, these ferrules will have to be lapped and their tabs will need to be feathered.  If the owner prefers, then the tabs will also need to be crowned.

But regardless of where you purchase your ferrules, before you begin the lapping process, you should always:

1.  Clean the inside of the male and female ferrules where they mate with the bamboo.  This is important to make sure your epoxy has a clean metal to adhere to.  In addition, and this is especially important with ferrules made from solid nickel silver bar stock, there can also be metal residue which should be cleaned.  We use Q-Tips dipped in alcohol or acetone to take care of this.

2.  BEFORE you begin to lap the male slides, check the interior of the female ferrule where it mates with the male ferrule slide for burrs.  We suggest that if you have any question at all about the smoothness of this portion of the ferrule, take some 0000 Steel Wool, wrap it around a Q-Tip and spin the steel wool around inside the ferrule until you are sure there are no burrs and the nickel silver is as smooth as you can get it.  Then clean it with a Q-Tip dipped in either alcohol or acetone to insure there is no metal residue.

Now you can lap the male ferrule slide.

Baked White Fish Recipe

This Baked White Fish Recipe was acquired from a tugboat captain in Mobile, Alabama by my Dad around 50 years ago. It is very easy and quite delicious.

You will need:

  • A medium size covered dish, suitable for baking in an over (Corning Ware, Pyrex, etc.)
  • Heavy aluminum foil
  • Several thick fillets of white fleshed fish (Snapper, Flounder, etc.)
  • Butter
  • Large Onion (cut into moderately thick slices)
  • Worcester Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper (preferably freshly ground)
  • Loaf of French Bread (thickly sliced, butter between slices, wrapped in Aluminum Foil)

Now, line the baking dish with Aluminum Foil and then place several pats of butter on the foil.  Lay onion slices on top of the butter spread loosely over the bottom.  Then place pieces of fish on top of the onion.  Now place butter on top of the fish and douse liberally with Worcester Sauce, finishing off with salt and pepper to taste.  Repeat this cycle for two more layers, close the Aluminum Foil, place the lid on the dish, and put the whole thing into a preheated 350 degree oven.  Cook about 45 minutes, placing the buttered and wrapped French Bread into the oven about 15 minutes before you remove the fish.

The fish will be well seasoned and the juice can be ladled over slices of hot French Bread.

Southern Rodmakers Gathering

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Southern Rodmakers Gathering:  In the middle of October, my son and I drove from Atlanta to Mountain Home, Arkansas for the 2013 Southern Rodmakers Gathering (SRG).  Although this gathering of bamboo rodmakers has been around a long time, this was the first time we went; 95 rodmakers participated, apparently a record attendance.

The gathering was held a short distance outside Mountain Home at a fishing resort located on the White River.  The resort is very small and only has a few rooms, so participants commuted from home (if close) or stayed at hotels in nearby towns. Those lucky enough (or smart enough) to stay at the resort had an opportunity to fly fish before and after each day’s activities in the White River which flowed only a few feet from the cabin doors.

For just a $60 registration fee, there were days packed with demonstrations, tips, and techniques on building bamboo fly rods and lunches and suppers covered by the same $60 registration.  The educational opportunities were enormous and if you were careful to take good notes, you could, in a few days, learn some tricks of the trade that would take years if you had to discover them on your own.