Oyster Bamboo Rod Building Course

Thread starter #1

GLS

Classic Southern Gentleman
I retired September 28th and hit the ground running in Blue Ridge, Ga., Monday October 1 through the 6th, for Bill Oyster's course. I have for decades been hankering to make a split cane rod, but never got the round 'toit. I've had the cane, planes, forms, etc. for over 15 years but didn't feel comfortable getting it out of books so when my wife offered me a fishing trip getaway, I opted for the course instead. He's been teaching bamboo fly rod building for over 20 years and has never had a participant fail to complete the rod. He and his protege, Riley, are talented and levelheaded and show one how to do it and supervise the 8 participants from beginning to end. We flamed the raw cane, split it, straightened and flattened nodes, planed the strips and glued and rolled them up, sanded, wrapped on the guides with silk thread, coated the thread wraps. The sections were given three coats of dipped varnish with sanding and steel wooling in between coats. We had previously mounted ferrules and turned the grips on small lathes with sandpaper. It took several days before the naked blanks resembled something that could be made into rods. It's boot camp fast, but progress to the next step is not faster than the slowest (me) maker, with long hours, but at the end, one has a rod. The youngest participant was 10, his son; the oldest, 87. Participants are given the choice of line weight and length. Folks from all over the world attend. I was hoping to baptize the rod near Brevard this weekend with my daughter Julia on our annual trout trip, but Michael has something to say about that. Gil


 
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Coenen

Senior Member
Wow. Wow. Wow. That's cooler than cool.
 

Nugefan

Senior Member
Man , that is some kinda awesome ....
 
Thread starter #4

GLS

Classic Southern Gentleman
The flame blackened half culms before splitting into strips:

Strips upright on workbench before removing internal nodes:

Unflappable Bill, the master, demonstrating to class straightening out splits with alcohol lamp:
(note raw cane stacked behind him)

Making progress on tapering the six strips for the butt on the forms with planer:

Almost there:
 

Nicodemus

FREELANCE ADMINISTRATOR
Staff member
Dadgum, Gil, that`s gonna be one mighty nice rod.
 

NCHillbilly

Administrator
That is awesome, I'd love to learn how to do that! I love cane rods. I have a blank that I need to finish up.
 
Thread starter #11

GLS

Classic Southern Gentleman
I want to do Bill's course so bad. Those rod's are beautiful and his engraving work is unbelievable.
His classes are booked solid until September of next year. However, if you contact Shannen, she will alert you of cancellations and get you in, especially if it's just you, and you can be flexible. I called in July for a cancellation starting October 1, and got lucky. I looked at the expense as tuition with the bonus of a finished rod. Because of location most of the pins in his shop USA wall map are concentrated in Georgia. The only state where there is no pen is North Dakota. Bill's wife, Shannen, told us at the rod presentation dinner Saturday night that in one class, two students came from New Zealand and that neither knew the other until arriving in Blue Ridge. One of the Kiwis fished across the USA with the rod he made. Gil
 
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Thread starter #14

GLS

Classic Southern Gentleman
Here's close-up of the cut-off piece between the rod sections. (The rod is 7'9" for 5 wt.) It's from the butt section and is about .375" across the flats. The darker power fibers are in about an 1/8" from the outside inwards. Every effort is made not to compromise or thin the outer portion. The white area is the pith which adds weight and nothing else. Advanced techniques of rod building eliminate as much pith as possible. Tonkin cane is the only cane used in rod construction. It grows in about a 40 square mile area in China and is cultivated and not Panda food. It's primary use is for Asian skyscraper scaffolding which is lashed together. It's tough stuff. Oyster does a video demonstration of him jumping up and down with his booted heels on a butt section (his wife's rod) to no ill effect. Try that with graphite. Not to say the rod can't be broken by over flexing the tip. Each of the six strips of cane have a cross section of an equilateral triangle.
 
His classes are booked solid until September of next year. However, if you contact Shannen, she will alert you of cancellations and get you in, especially if it's just you, and you can be flexible. I called in July for a cancellation starting October 1, and got lucky. I looked at the expense as tuition with the bonus of a finished rod. Because of location most of the pins in his shop USA wall map are concentrated in Georgia. The only state where there is no pen is North Dakota. Bill's wife, Shannen, told us at the rod presentation dinner Saturday night that in one class, two students came from New Zealand and that neither knew the other until arriving in Blue Ridge. One of the Kiwis fished across the USA with the rod he made. Gil
I have much more than his booked schedule in my way right now but hope to be able to do this one day. And very interesting information Gil. Thanks for sharing.
 
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