I'm sure my own problem with getting started was "suppose I spend all this time and/or money getting the tools and make a rod only to decide I never want to make another???"
I took a class first, used the instructors' tools (I had my own block plane and gloves, etc.) THEN I started getting the tools together to do it on my own. (Neil Savage)
That approach sounded good to me too until I considered that for about what it costs for most rodmaking classes these days (for example Chris Bogart charges over $800) you can buy a good set of steel forms, a plane, cane, and just about everything else you need to build a rod. If you then build it yourself you get to discover all the tricks through the mistakes you make. Also that investment is an incentive to stick with it. Then if you decide you don't want to build any more you can always sell all that stuff and get back most of your investment. After the class you have the rod blank you made plus all the memories of handing your $800+ over to the instructor and that's about it. Then if you decide you like it and want to build more you gotta explain to your wife why you need to spend another $800 to get all the stuff to build rods with. So speaking for the cheapskates of the world I'll take my chances. (Larry Puckett)
I started by taking a class - was the best thing I did - I'd bought the Garrison book and was totally overwhelmed - Wayne simplified things and made everything achievable - plus If I had tried back then to carve out the time, as opposed to going away for a week on vacation and doing the class - I would never have got started. (Chris Spurrell)
It seems that as in most things rodmaking related, we all approach the rodmaking process in a different way. This includes getting started. I can honestly say that I am not quite sure why it is I got interested in this. That is to say I could list a running tally of the tools I've bought, the tools I've made, the books I've read, the unending questions needing resolved and so on, but I do not quite understand what it is that gave me that extra little nudge to get going in the first place. I had never really fished good cane, after all, so why on earth would I decide to spend countless hours of precious fishing time, not to mention more money than I really should have, on making something I wasn't sure that I would even care for? Perhaps that is why. Perhaps I just saw it an exciting way of not only introducing myself to bamboo rods, but also to immerse myself into what I thought (thankfully rightly so) would be a fascinating subject. It turns out to be a fascinating experience. I will say that while I started blindly and alone, save the written words of Cattanach first, followed closely by Maurer and anything else I could find, I have since found that I am approaching something resembling blurry sight into the subject matter and many wonderful individuals that patiently contend with my questions. Nearly all of these are people I have met directly or indirectly through this listserv.
The point I am apparently avoiding is that I approached rodmaking in my own unique way, just as all of you have approached, or will approach it in your own unique way. If you feel that lessons are the best way to go, then lesson away. I remember a particularly frustrating time when I was having trouble with something to do with planing. I don't even remember what it was, but I remember about a week where I seriously considered a class. This was well after ruining the first culm I tried to split. That was shock. What I experienced with the planing was more akin to panic. I see no problems with taking a class to get yourself going. Heck, I know of at least one rodmaker that in my estimation already knew what he was doing that took a class. I have no regrets about how I have gone about things, but a clearer thinking person than myself might have done right in buying a ferruled blank, slapping on a prefabbed grip and reel seat, whipping on the guides, rubbing some tung oil on the sucker and seeing if cane was the thing for him/her or not. I see no problems with finishing a blank to get yourself going. I have acquired more tools than the bare-essentialists have deemed necessary for the rodmaking process both in making and in buying them. Yes I have enjoyed this, and I see no problems in amassing tools to get yourself going. Whatever it is that gets you going doesn't matter. As has been pointed out, what really matters it to get going at all. However you do this is your own business. (Carl DiNardo)
I can pinpoint the day I started. My dad got me put down my GL Loomis rod to cast this old bamboo thing that seemed to take until next week to load on the back cast and I broke the bloody tip when it finally did finish the back cast with the hook in a twig. Took forever to find some bamboo to fix it and by then I got into it mainly just as a suck it and see (I noticed Peter McKean introduced the concept to the list) situation. I can honestly say I no longer even remember what ever happened the the #5 Loomis though I do still have a 8-9 wt taking up space waiting for the extremely rare outing I take it on SWF. I would use a Stephen Brothers graphite rod if I wasn't stuck on bamboo though. (Tony Young)
And that is probably the best of all possible worlds.
I must say that my opinion was very much a product of the Australian scene, in which going to a course with an instructor is just not an option, and in not allowing for that possibility I was a bit blinkered.
I was incredibly lucky in that Tony Young was always available for some help and support on the phone, but in several years of rodmaking, I have only ever managed to come face to face with Tony once. For that reason, the Wayne Cattanach video was a seminal experience for me, as I could actually see him doing the stuff!
I was not knocking the idea of a kit, save in the sense that when I was a boy, building a model aircraft meant building it from scratch in a post war era when you couldn't always buy the balsa, and there were no things like disposable scalpel blades, so we tended to scorn the later model builders who just bought all the bits and assembled them.
Mind you, the dope was probably cheaper then in that it had not at that time acquired any recreational value other than the obvious one of stiffening tissue paper.
I don't know whether buying a kit represents good value or not, really. It just seems to me that one still needs to get the forms, the planes or planes, the measuring apparatus, and that in one sense the bits that actually make up the rod are the cheapest part.
It's just that I read stuff here all the time from potential new rodmakers who are obviously as keen as mustard, and who are in real danger of becoming tired of the craft before they even get started, through over emphasis on the trivial bits! (Peter McKean)
I had never been fly fishing until AFTER I made my first cane rod. My son-in-law and my son are avid, and they got me into tying flies first. Then my son-in-law told me about how nice cane rods are -- he has a Waara five weight -- and told me a couple of times about John Long and Ron Barch's class, finally talked me into it. Yes, it's a lot of money, but it's also no more expensive than a week at another nice resort, meals included etc. It was well worth it TO ME. (Neil Savage)
At the Fly Fishing Federation's International Conclave in Livingston, Montana this past August (2002), several list members attended a rodmaking school conducted by several other List members, such as Ralph Moon, John Zimny, Ray Gould, and others who will not allow themselves to be remembered on such short notice and lack of caffeine. I do not know the particulars of this school, only that it was a nonprofit venture for the instructors, though I do believe the cost was $600.00. I think Ralph is away right now, but some of the others who either attended or instructed might shed some light on this. Last I heard, there was to be another school conducted at this year's Conclave in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to be held in August. (Martin-Darrell)