Published Feb 1. 2001 - 23 years ago
Updated or edited Sep 13. 2015

Book review: Fundamentals of Building a Bamboo Fly-Rod

George E. Maurer & Bernard P. Elser
The Countryman Press, Woodstock VT
Publishing year: 
255 pages, hardbound, illustrated, B/W photos
Reviewed by: 

Surprisingly, in an otherwise literature rich sport, there have been few quality fly-rod-building books. The ones that come readily to mind are AMATEUR RODMAKING, by Perry D. Frazer in 1914, A MASTER'S GUIDE TO BUILDING A BAMBOO FLY ROD, by Everett Garrison in 1977. Thus, when a book on fly rod building is published, it is greedily snapped up. Usually, however, the new books turn out to be both poor in quality and short on useful information.

With the publication of the authors' book a new star has risen in the craft of fly-rod building. The book is clearly written with excellent editing and superb layout and design. The reader will gain the necessary information to successfully build bamboo fly rods. Moreover, he will thoroughly enjoy doing so because of the fine writing. The photographs clearly illustrate the text they accompany. If there is a downside to this book it is the average quality of the photograph reproduction. While the photographs are clear enough for the reader to understand what is illustrated, they are not up to the same standard as the rest of the book.

What the authors have done is combine the years of experience of a professional bamboo fly rod builder with the questioning insight of a beginner to provide a book that clearly teaches the reader how to successfully build a bamboo fly rod. Everything in the way of tools, materials, and procedures is here. Moreover, it is provided with enough detail to allow success without unnecessary minutia to cause confusion. For example, instead of dozens of rod tapers, the authors provide the reader with 18 rod tapers, which provide great fly rods while being straight forward enough to allow the beginner to find success from the start. At the same time the authors provide a clear and concise explanation of taper design to allow the reader to develop more involved and personalized rod tapers as he gains in experience.

The book contains a good list of suppliers of all of the tools and materials the bamboo rod builder requires. In addition, the book contains clear and concise descriptions and instructions for building the tools that are either unavailable commercially, or as an alternative to expensive ready-made products. Also included is a glossary of technical terms used in the bamboo rod building craft. The book simply will not let the beginning rod-builder flounder in the dark.

Countryman Press must also take credit for a wonderfully designed and implemented publication. The binding, paper stock, dust jacket photograph, and overall printing are all of the highest quality. These factors are not often appreciated, but go a long way toward making this book as easy to read.

Overall, one of the finest instructional books you will find, and a must have volume for any serious fly fishing library.


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