How to Identify Bamboo Fly Fishing Rods

How to Identify Bamboo Fly Fishing Rods
Bamboo fly rods were once the pinnacle of technology in the fly-fishing world. Today, bamboo fly rods are highly prized and sought-out classics, worthy of collection and use. Many of the bamboo rods from years past still exist and are fully functioning pieces of fishing gear. Knowing how to identify these classic rods allows you a sense of peace when shopping and collecting, as you are less likely to be taken with bogus rods being passed off as legitimate bamboo.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Small magnifying lens
  • Bamboo rod guide
  • Paper and pen
  • Digital camera with macro lens
Step 1
Take the rod to be identified out of any case or bag, and begin to count the number of rod pieces (also called blanks) with the rod. Notate any serial numbers or markings on the rod and write them down.
Step 2
Hold the magnifying glass up to the ends of each rod section, checking for integrity on the material. Look for any cracks, slices or breaks in the rod blanks. Look for any color discrepancies on the rod ends, as this may indicate prior breaks and repairs with epoxies or glues. Take pictures on the macro setting of the ends of the rod pieces.
Step 3
Note any names on the rod. Look for such names as Heddon, Granger, Horrocks-Ibbotson, Bellinger, Dickerson, Devine, Young, Phillipson, Payne, Thomas, Leonard and Hardy, Abbey, South Bend, Imbrie and Abercrombie and Fitch. These are bamboo rod makers from years past and indicate a valid and authentic bamboo rod. Photo any names or serial numbers with the digital camera.
Step 4
Use the magnifying glass to check the grain of the bamboo. Notate the grain, and pattern to the bamboo, then learn the difference between Tonkin cane and Calcutta cane, the two bamboos used in rod making. The type of bamboo also helps indicate age.
Step 5
Take the notated information, and any pictures you took of the rod, and cross-reference it with the bamboo rod guide. Look for materials used on the make and models of the rod you inspected, using the serial numbers and names photographed and notated.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.