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.


Southern Rodmakers Gathering

thread10l 300x199 Southern Rodmakers Gathering

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.