Orvis has been making fine bamboo fly rods for almost 150 years, and even in today’s high-tech world, these angling tools are prized as the ultimate in craftsmanship. For many fly fishers, their first split-cane rod is a sign that they have achieved a high level of proficiency and acquired a finer appreciation for the tools of the trade.
There’s just one problem: Because creating a bamboo fly rod requires rare skill, materials from overseas, specialized equipment, and hundreds of hours of the rodmaker’s time, the finished product can be quite expensive. Many fly fishers–no matter how proficient–are simply priced out of the bamboo market. Until now.
Introducing the Orvis HG Bamboo Fly Rod! A triumph of science and craftsmanship, this new rod puts bamboo within reach of every angler, and it makes a great project for the whole family to enjoy. The HG is for “home grown,” because you actually start with a seed and grow a complete bamboo fly rod from scratch.
A Chance Meeting
Orvis’s highly skilled bamboo-rod craftsman, Shawn Brillon, grew up just two towns south of the Orvis Rod Shop, and although he loves creating the works of angling art his customers crave, he’s often wondered if there is a way to get bamboo rods in the hands of more fly fishers. A few years ago, at a meeting of the Green Mountain Bulldog Owners Club, Shawn was introduced to Eden Poales, PhD, a researcher at the University of Vermont School of Plant Science. When she learned what Shawn does for a living, Doctor Poales grew animated and spent the whole event picking Shawn’s brain about his job.
It turned out that the focus of her research was how the unique properties of bamboo—it’s the fastest-growing plant in the world—could be combined with advances in biogenetics and cybernetics. She wondered if there were a way to grow a bamboo rod instead of building it; the new science would allow them to “program” the plant to incorporate the metal guides and ferrules, as well. Shawn was incredulous, but intrigued, and the pair began sharing their expertise. It took three years of experimenting, trial-and-error, and product testing, but they actually did it.
Doctor Poales explains how: “We discovered a unique subspecies of bamboo that grows tapered, instead of straight. Then, instead of altering the genetic code of the plant, we add a whole bunch of information to it. [That’s why it’s still considered ‘Non-GMO.’] These additional bio-genetic and metallurgical ‘instructions’ are what turn the regular bamboo culm into an actual fly rod. The bamboo plant undergoes its regular fast growth, while all the other parts of the rod form around it. The science is proprietary, of course, so we can’t go into the details.”
As a result, these rods grow to their predetermined size, straight from the soil, in about 90 days. All you need to do is attach the grip and reel seat, which are included in the Orvis HG kit, and add a reel of your choice. If you’ve planted the seed on Christmas Day, you’ll ready to start casting a Blue-winged Olive to rising trout in late March. You’ll be astonished by the slow, smooth action, which rivals some of the expensive hand-constructed rods from well-known craftsmen. When you’re out on the stream with your Orvis HG, you’ll be the envy of every other angler who sees you laying out delicate, accurate casts.
The best part? Because so much of what goes into the traditional cane-rod-making process has been cut out, the cost of materials, shipping, time, and labor are not passed on to the consumer. You can be a member of the ‘Boo Club for just £99.99!
Available in 7, 71/2, and 8-foot lengths, each fly-rod grow kit includes a seed packet, plant food, cork grip, reel seat, rod tube, and complete instructions.