Bamboo Tips - Contributors - Spezio, Tony

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I was born and raised in North Jersey.   I met a friend  my first year in High School in North Jersey who was a fly fisherman. That was in 1944. We were 14 at that time. He introduced me to fly tying and fly fishing. My family moved to another part of town later that year and the neighbor was a fly fisher. Between the two I got hooked real bad. I bought a bamboo rod in 1944 for 25 cents in bad condition and thought myself to wrap a rod. Showing it to my neighbor, I ended wrapping a couple of rods for him. He also gave me a 1934 issue of Paul Young's book on tying flies. I still have the book and the rod. Then he found some other people that needed a rod wrapped. I was charging 5.00 a rod to wrap and refinish. Big money for a teenager back then. I was always fascinated on how six strips of bamboo could fit together like they did. Fly fishing in North Jersey back then was not really accessible and waiting for trout season to open was a big thing.The war was still on and gas was hard to get for anyone to take us to the trout rivers. That is another story.

I always loved airplanes and in 1946, it took over my life. I started flying and the tying and fly fishing took a back seat. Fast forward now. After a stint in the Air Force, married, kids, living in Oklahoma, flying for a company and building a folding wing airplane (see tuholer.com), very little fishing with a fly rod was done. In 1988, My flying days were over due to heart problems.

I was introduced to spinning rods in 1951 and went that way. I always had the notion to try to make a bamboo rod. I was back in Jersey at the time. I saw a little ad in a fishing magazine about learning to make bamboo rods and sent a request to Ron Barch. I was told about the Gathering in Carlisle PA at Barry's book show I think it was. I was scheduled for back surgery 4 weeks before the date. That was 1990. My wife drove me to the show. I met Wayne and Ron and watched the presentation. I thought it was so complicated and never thought I would make a rod. I then talked with Wayne several times at the east coast shows. When Wayne came out with his book, I bought one of the early copies, #75. I was still confused about all of this. I finally decided to make a set of forms. I found some scrap steel 51" long, 5/8" thick and 1 1/2"  wide drilled and tapped the bars but could not find anyplace to get the groove milled. The bars were that way for about 5 years. Fast fwd again. We moved to Arkansas in 1994, the following year Wayne was doing classes in the next town from where I lived and I visited with him again. We talked about the groove and I mentioned the forms. Wayne said, You built an airplane you should be able to do the groove your self. He did a bit of explaining and I got on it. In three days the forms were ready to use. I still use those forms today  I had a culm I got from a shop in Vermont that bought all of Jim Payne's stuff. I had bought it some years before my move to Arkansas, Wayne had also left me a culm from his classes. I was just not ready to get started because I was tying for the shops and very involved with our fly fishing club teaching fly tying and was too intimidated to try splitting the bamboo. I was also getting a show going, the "Sowbug Roundup" that has become one of the best fly tying shows in the country.  I found out about the list and signed up. The list gave me the final push I needed to get started. Then I got an E mail from Harry about doing a Gathering in the local area. By then I had built my forms, binder, oven and drain tube and starting forms that I never used.. I just got to attend for a couple of hours as I was scheduled to tie at the FFF Conclave that same day. I did my presentation that morning and had to leave. My presentation was on the tools I made and had on display. When I mentioned I had not made a rod yet, I thought I could see some eyes roll, I guess they were thinking, the first presentation by someone that has not made a rod.

I also got a culm from Harry at that time. I decided I was going to make a rod after that. My first splitting of that culm was almost a disaster. I did get a one tip rod from that culm. After mentioning this on the list, help in splitting came from a list member in Maine. He said, Bend the Fat side away from the split to have the split come back. That is all I needed, have had no more problems with splitting.

I got started on the rod one afternoon and was casting it six days later. No fancy wraps, cheap hardware I had laying around, nylon thread, a 5.00 reel seat, glued up with Elmer's carpenter Glue  a wipe on water base finish and no glue lines. I have over 3000 fish on that rod, it is a Sir" D". I was so intimidated and it was all gone after the first rod. My goal then was to make things simple for myself and others. That is what I have been trying to do so that other potential makers will not be afraid to try making a bamboo rod.

I have to thank this list for getting me off my butt after almost ten years of thinking about making a bamboo rod.

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