About the Maker
After a long career in finance, I decided it was time for a change, and set out on a journey to build a business that would satisfy my creative needs as well as allow me to work with my hands. Throughout my previous career, in my spare time I found great satisfaction in making furniture. While I was exploring my options, my oldest son (an avid fly fisherman) asked me to look into building bamboo fly rods, arguing that through making furniture, I had already developed the skills required to make rods and the technical aspects of understanding the engineering and math of fly rods would dovetail nicely with my skills and approach. So I began to look into it.
I researched the different methods of making bamboo rods, and then I went to Bozeman, Montana to work with the master craftsmen at Tom Morgan Rodsmiths to put my acquired knowledge to the test. The only rod that I won’t sell is the 7’6”5 wt. that I made in Bozeman with Matt, Rick, and Joel. Once I was convinced that I had the skills necessary to make an attractive and functional rod, I acquired the equipment necessary to make my own rods. Gunpowder River Rods is the result of this effort.
About the Rods
Tonkin cane from China ( Pseudosasa amabilis) is just about the only bamboo that is used by rod makers world-wide. Each GRR rod is made from a single culm of bamboo. The orientation of the bamboo in the blank is the same as how it grew in the field. We use Tonkin cane for our blanks, Flor cork for the grip, and nickel-silver components for the ferrules, reel seat hardware, winding checks, stripping guides, and hook keepers. We use Snake guides and tip tops. We finish our rods with Waterlox and every rod comes with a custom case or aluminum tube and rod sock.
We make each rod by hand, using traditional techniques to split the bamboo and cut it into strips. Strips are sanded to remove nodes and dams and then roughed into equilateral triangles. The strips are then hand-planed to exacting tolerances (error rate of less than 1/1000 of an inch) according to the requirements of the length and weight taper.
Rods made for line weights 5 and 6, and rods over 8ft in length are hollow built to reduce weight.
All rods have wood reel seat inserts. As I noted the hardware is nickel silver and different woods are available for the insert. Stock rods usually have curly or birdseye maple, I also have some with darker wood inserts including walnut, koa, and rosewood. Wraps are available in any color that you want. Traditionally, bamboo rods are wrapped in darker colors. Stock Gunpowder River rods are wrapped in Hunter Green and tan. I have wrapped rods in Maryland-themed colors, including the colors of the Maryland flag as well as indigenous birds of Maryland. I have done Blue Heron, Oriole, and Cardinal color wraps.