Bamboo Flyrod Finishes
Bamboo rods are actually very durable and one should never worry the rod to death. My rods have a very high grade Marine spar they are dipped in. With four coats of spar varnish and wraps that sit on two layers of spar there is little to worry about. Spar is a great medium that is very forgiving because it can be polished and feathered. Spar dries, but like pitch and artists oils, it remains flexible and polishes well. If your rod becomes spotted with water marks or even scratched you simply take 1 part rottenstone and 2 parts tung oil mix it together and wipe on with a soft piece of t-shirt material. Slowly buff it evenly, then wipe down the entire rod with warm soapy water. Make sure you use the mixture sparingly and do not get any on the grip or hardware. I typically do this free of charge for my clients after several years of use, and sometimes re-dip if the rod is in need of a new coat. My personal rods are so heavily used that the tips get sanded and re-dipped every five or so years. I only fish with bamboo and with less than a half dozen rods so my quiver takes a real beating. Occasionally I replace guides, this never really presents a problem because they sit on two layers of spar with two coats on top. This allows no penetration of water to mold the substrate. All my thread tunnels are filled which helps keep moisture out of the wraps completely. Moisture is a bit of a naughty word when it comes to bamboo but what people have to keep in mind is that moisture is in everything its a matter of keeping it at bay. Rods should never be stored wet, they should never be kept in a moist place like in a garage or basement for prolonged periods of time. I have restored many rods that were stored in garages and attics and the long term affects can be devastating to say the least. Finishes tend to crackle and gum up, wraps loosen, sets occur throughout the length of the rod, and moisture can play an evil part in this metamorphosis. Simply keep your rod dry and store in a cool place. Rotate the tips when it is heavily fished, and take it out of the tube every so often and hang it up on both corners of the bag so it hangs straight. Usually you can find a space in a bedroom closet. I just hang them on the wall over my fly tying table. I also have a nice rack I made about fifteen years ago out of cocobolo that keeps the rods upright on the wall. Never ever store or even leave a rod in a hot car, it is one of the worse things you can do. I use aircraft grade epoxy for most parts of my rods including the gluing up of the splines. Aircraft epoxies sre very heat resistant, some rod builders although use Titebond 3 which is not as heat resistant and will actually delaminate at extreme temperatures. I got a call from a guy a year ago that had a rod from a fairly prominent builder out west that uses Titebond and evidently the rod was left in the trunk of his car for four or five hours. The owner of the rod said it delaminated in two spots. The rod probably would be fine under normal circumstances but trunks of cars get very hot and can get up to 140 degrees in the summer. It is simple common sense, treat a cane rod like you would a musical instrument, or fine shot gun and it will last a lifetime and then some with simple care. The horror stories are usually out of negligence, the mantra is “fish it, wipe it down, hang it, and store it”.
To keep the ferrules clean, take a Q-Tip and put a little denatured alcohol on it and wipe the inside of the female ferrule, use the opposite side of the Q-Tip to wipe off any excess alcohol. Never put anything else in the female ferrule other than the male counterpart. Wipe the males off as well and keep them clean. Remember rods are intended to fish not worry about, just use common sense.