The Downeast Lakes Land Trust was pleased to welcome back David Van Burgel and Kathy Scott from Ardea Bamboo Rods. Students from all over New England and the Mid-Atlantic crafted, under David and Kathy’s gentle instruction, bamboo fly rods from raw cane to ferruled blanks.
As they worked, David and Kathy shared a life immersed in bamboo. Respected on a national level, David has been making split cane fly rods since 1997. Meanwhile, Kathy has written three books documenting the process. Her work has also been highlighted as part of “A Graceful Rise: Women in Fly Fishing, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow -” at the American Museum of Fly Fishing.
David and Kathy led participants through each step in the process. Seldom looking up from their handiwork, students spent five days (and several evenings) planing, gluing, and binding their rods. Kathy and David offered constant and steadying advice as the super-sharp tools moved over the thin whips of bamboo. “Bamboo is a natural composite” Kathy explained as she showed participants the ‘power fibers’ of a split cane.
She explained how bamboo is naturally designed to bend and return in the wind. Bamboo’s high density fibers produce rods that are strong and flexible with a smooth, fluid backcast and their own ‘damping’ effect. Forward casting, the springiness of bamboo accelerates the line through the air with the same ‘damping’ effect, which lays the line out over the target water with smooth, precise placement.
Amid the wood curls, glue, and coumarin-green smell of shaved bamboo, students leaned over their work, and became true believers in the traditionally built fly rod. “Some of these folks are back for a second class, and Doug here has signed up for two more classes we are doing,” said Kathy with a satisfied smile. Under the tutelage of David and Kathy, the future of traditional bamboo fly rod making appears to be not only assured, but growing,
The Downeast Lakes Land Trust regularly hosts speakers, sponsors workshops, and leads outdoor adventures that highlight the natural and cultural history of the Maine woods and waters. These programs support the DLLT’s commitment to protecting both the environmental and economic health of the Downeast Lakes region. Visit their website to discover what is happening next.