Sweetgrass Bamboo Fly RodsIn the articles below, we hope to answer questions you might have about the relationship between bamboo, specifically tonkin cane, and fly fishing without overwhelming you with information.  Whether you choose to nibble at it, or dive in, remember that we are also available by phone (406-684-5440) or email to answer your questions.

Why Fish Bamboo?

Why Fish Bamboo?It is our sincere belief that every serious flyfisherman should own and fish at least one bamboo rod.  The reasons are myriad, and sooner or later, most flyfishermen come to the same conclusion.

In close, where most fish happen to be swimming, a bamboo rod loads and casts sweeter than anything else.  At distance, the deep flex stores energy and transfers power smoothly to your line, making long casts possible.  This energy-storing characteristic also reduces the need to push the rod—bamboo rods, it has been said, do much of the work for you.  The slower action means one must slow the cast down, but this, too, is an advantage in that the need to frenetically false cast is eliminated. 

The challenge for most people new to bamboo is learning to read the rod.  These rods feel different from graphite, but when Glenn and Jerry came to Sweetgrass, they adjusted the tapers a bit, speeding them up just a tad.  This makes Sweetgrass Rods a great bamboo rod for someone coming from a graphite mindset. 

For someone with familiarity with bamboo, a Sweetgrass rod represents the pinnacle of taper development.  Designed and built by people who fish, and fish hard, our rods will deliver outstanding performance.  


The Sweetgrass SeriesSweetgrass makes two basic models of rods.  Our signature series we call The Sweetgrass Rod.  With higher end hardware and an extra tip, the Sweetgrass Rod exemplifies the marriage of beauty and performance.   The Mantra SeriesThe Mantra Rod comes with good quality hardware designed more for performance than appearance, and a single tip.  At about ½ the price of the Sweetgrass Rod, the Mantra Rod is a great way to try bamboo at an affordable price. 

Additionally, we have made a number of salt-water rods, switch rods, and spey rods.  Prices vary, so call to discuss.  The fact is, we love bamboo and we love making fishing rods out of this natural material.  Got an idea?  Give us a call and we’ll see if we can help.  We’ve even made a few spinning rods out of bamboo!

ALL rods come with our unconditional warranty.  If it breaks, for whatever reason, simply get it back to us and we’ll take it from there.  Why do we offer such a warranty?  Two reasons:  1)  very few of our rods break, given the remarkable durability of bamboo; 2)  we want people to feel comfortable fishing with these works of performance art.  They are meant for fishing, not for wall-hangers!

The Sweetgrass Spey Bamboo Fly Rod

Why Bamboo?

Bamboo rods, paradoxically, represent where flyfishing has been and where experienced flyfishermen aspire to go.  Modern flyfishing has roots extending back centuries, but bamboo rods became popular in their own right in the late 1800s.  Construction processes used today are similar to those of the 1800s:  split the cane, shape it, glue it, add guides, and go fishing.  Still, Why Bamboo?today’s bamboo rods are, generally, markedly different in action and durability from rods built back then.  Better adhesives, varnishes, and evolving tapers have brought us rods which excel in many ways over their ancestors, and in some significant ways, over modern graphite rods.

A word or two about graphite.  Graphite’s remarkable characteristics cannot be dismissed out of hand — they are light and many very capable graphite rods have been built.  The trouble begins not with the material itself, but with some manufacturers’ ongoing pursuit of speed and power at the expense of finesse and grace.  Perhaps you have noticed the emphasis some graphite makers place on terms such as “modulus of elasticity”, ”speed”, and “power.”   In the drive to make rods that cast farther and faster, many graphite rod makers seem to have forgotten that the point of flyfishing is not to cast the line to the other end of the parking lot, but rather to present a fly to the fish in a realistic fashion.  A fast rod typically requires more line to load it; casting in close is an attribute of bamboo rods that most graphite rods simply cannot match.  And if you think about your best days of pursuing finny prey, we would venture to guess that most of those fish you caught were not a parking-lot-distance away.  That said, the deeper flex of a well made bamboo rod employs natural power fibers running all the way into the grip of the rod, and this means that on the rare occasion when there is such a need, you can hit the other side of the parking lot, too.

Accuracy, finesse, surprising power:  these are reasons to consider a bamboo rod.

Progressive tapers perfected through decades of flyfishing experience and rod building expertise:  these are reasons to consider a Sweetgrass bamboo rod.

Wall of Bamboo

About Bamboo

Cross section of Tonkin CaneTonkin cane, as it is called, is the variety of bamboo used for most bamboo rods built in the past century.  Other species, and even the same species grown in the US, simply do not have the density necessary to create a bamboo rod with the casting characteristics consistent with Sweetgrass Rods quality requirements.  The density and strength of this material is noteworthy.  In cross section, one can see the dense “power fibers” that give bamboo rods their remarkable natural qualities.  Used for scaffolding on skyscrapers, the strength of bamboo is as noteworthy as its resilience."

Sweetgrass’ bamboo comes straight from Aozai, China, a small community in the southwest part of the country, somewhere around 4 hours of driving inland from the modern-day city of Guangzhou (Old Canton). Bamboo scaffolding is commonly scene on high-rise constructions projects in Southern China A very rural area, comprising only about 30 square miles, the families in this tight-knit community have cultivated bamboo for various uses for nearly a century.  When Glenn and Dave visited the area with bamboo broker Andy Royer in 2009, the Cai family welcomed them with unparalleled hospitality.The Cai Family of Aozai - Tonkin cane growers









Sweetgrass Rods ~~ P.O. Box 486 ~~ 121 West Galena ~~ Butte, Montana 59703
406.782.5552 ~~ sweetgrassrods@gmail.com
(shipping deliveries to 60 West Galena)

©2017 Sweetgrass Rods, All rights reserved