Care of Bamboo Fly Rods

    1. Care of Bamboo Fly Rods is an important skill.  Bamboo fly rods are expensive, but they are not necessarily fragile, contrary to their reputation.  High-end/high-modulus graphite can shatter if a bead-head nymph strikes the rod on a back cast; a similar accident with a bamboo fly rod will, at the worst, make a small “ding” in the bamboo.  But like any fly rod, keep your bamboo rod out of ceiling fans, car doors, confined spaces smaller than the rod length, high-sticking a large trout, and the like.  Make a habit of ensuring that disassembling and storing your rod is the first thing you do when you get back to your car.  Leaning your rod up against the car while you do other things is a great way to forget and close a door on it, back over it, or drive off with the rod on the roof.
    2. Before assembling your fly rod, clean the male and female ferrules to be sure there is no grit that can scratch the nickel silver alloy.  You can use soapy water with a rinse in clean water.  Also, alcohol swabs (you can get them at your local drug store) are handy to clean with, but be sure you don’t get the alcohol on the varnish as the alcohol will damage it.
    3. When assembling or disassembling your bamboo fly rod, use the phrase “pull apart, hands apart; put together, hands together”.  Using this technique reduces the chance you will twist the rod; keep your hands close to the ferrules when assembling and well away from the ferrules when disassembling.  Avoid twisting the rod at the ferrules when assembling, disassembling, or aligning the guides.  If your ferrules are not aligned when you are assembling the rod, pull the sections apart and try again.
    4. Nickel Silver ferrules are made from an alloy of Copper-Nickel-Zinc (sadly no silver).  Over time the alloy can oxidize/corrode and you will need to clean them.  You can buff out the oxidation by lightly twirling the ferrules between your fingers while holding 0000 steel wool against the ferrules, but remember that although the steel wool (don’t use anything more abrasive than 0000) doesn’t remove much of the alloy, it does remove some.  You could also use 1000, 1500, or 2000 grit sandpaper (same comment regarding removal of some alloy applies).  Clean your ferrules after using the steel wool or sandpaper in order to remove any residue.
    5. Some very well known rod builders use a small amount of beeswax or soap on their male ferrules.  I have begun carrying a small chunk from a bar of Ivory Soap (99.9% Pure!!) and rubbing a tiny amount on the male ferrule slide.  It works GREAT!  And, since it is soap, it is water soluble and therefore cleans up easily.  Of course, it can also unintentionally clean up if you dunk your ferrules in the water.
    6. Bamboo fly rods are made to fish with so they will get wet.  But they aren’t meant to be submerged and left to soak.  Dry the rod off when the day’s fishing is done and place it back in the rod sock and tube for transport in your car.  When you get to your hotel or home, be sure the rod is dry before leaving it in the tube for any length of time.
    7. Store your fly rod in its rod sock and rod tube, not propped up in a corner or hanging horizontally on hooks, it can cause a set in the rod.
    8. Over time, tiny hairline cracks (sometimes referred to as “casting checks”) will almost certainly form in the varnish at the junction of the ferrule and the bamboo.  This is due to the difference in flexing of the bamboo and the of nickel silver ferrules.  After you are sure your rod is dry, you can apply a good paste wax to impede moisture absorption at those points.  You can also touch up the scuffs and scratches that come from hard fishing with the application wax.  Be sure the rod is cleaned and dry (to be sure you aren’t unintentionally rubbing in grit or sealing in moisture), rub in the wax, let it dry, then buff it out with a soft lint free cloth.  We use Carnauba wax, suitable for fine guitars. It is a good idea to apply a light coat of wax at least annually for the overall care of your rod.
    9. Don’t store your rod where heat can be excessive (such as in a closed car, attic, etc.) as this can result in warping or de-lamination.
    10. Sometimes a rod section, usually a tip, can take a “set” (mild bend) in it.  This is easily remedied by applying heat to the bend and slowly straightening the rod (usually a slight “over-correction” in the opposite direction and holding it until the bamboo cools down. Do not over-heat the bamboo (if it is too hot to touch, it is probably too hot) else the epoxy could soften too much and the rod de-laminate.  Use a heat gun or hair dryer.

Summary:

    • Don’t twist your rod when assembling or disassembling
    • Keep your ferrules clean and free from grit
    • We find applying a light film of Ivory Soap (bar) to male ferrules facilitates a smooth fit
    • Never store your rod when damp, leave it in a hot car, or propped against a wall (long term)
    • Avoid ceiling fans, car doors, and confined spaces

Brasstown Creek’s Stream Side Ferrule Care Kit:

    • 0000 Steel Wool
    • 1500 grit sandpaper
    • Alcohol Prep Pads
    • Cotton Swabs
    • Cotton Swatch
    • Ivory Soap (bar)